August 22, 2006 / Sapporo, Japan
General Comments about the game:
I thought our guys played well. Slovenia lost a very difficult game in
there last game and I thought they played with great courage and execution.
I was very impressed with them.
Do you think the
USA team can resume the dominance that past USA teams had?
I don't think there will ever be dominance. The world
is too good in basketball. For us to think we are going to dominant is
very arrogant and not what we believe. We just want to play at our best
and we think we have to play at our best in order to have a chance to
beat the best in the world. Their (Slovenia) team did a great job tonight
of attacking our pressure, they were the best team that we've played so
far in transition offense. Our goal is to be the best we can be and hopefully
that will be good enough to compete for the World Championship.
We're very impressed with Italy. The Italy-Slovenia
game was a great basketball game. They have gret shooters and dept and
an amazing traition. It will be for first place in our pool, both of us
have 3-0 records so it will be a big game for us.
We were playing pretty well and we're a little disappointed that we let
that lead go, but in some repsects that will keep us at the right level.
Our 3-point shooting was good
and we missed a lot of open ones too. Our guys have to keep shooting.
We have confidence in our shooting. Chris and Kirk have done a great job
of pushing the ball down the court and getting it to open people so they've
got to keep doing that. We've been pretty unselfish, our ball movement
has been good. I think the more we learn to play with one another, that's
one reason we kept those unit together like that, they're learning a little
bit more about playing with each other.
I thought until we got that
big lead late, in the middle of the game, the second and third quarters
and even the start of the fourth, we were playing about as well as we've
played. Sometimes when you're playing three games in a row, especially
with Italy tomorrow, there's just a little pause and I thought we had
that. But we closed the game well, so overall I'm pleased. You always
want to play perfect, but overall it was good.
What are the keys
Defending their shooters. If we let them run their plays they're going
to get good shots. We have to play really good team defense tomorrow against
them because they have a lot of guys who can shoot.
About playing Italy tomorrow:
Were looking forward to playing Italy tomorrow. We know its
going to be a good game, a physical game. We are looking forward to playing
Talk about tonights game:
We started out a little sluggish. We were going basket for basket,
something we didnt really want to do. But in the second quarter
we picked it up. We picked up guys full court, got some steals and never
What is it with your sluggish starts?
I dont know what it is, but we cant keep doing that. We have
teams like Italy coming up tomorrow and there are teams like Argentina
and Spain out there, so we cant keep starting slow like that.
Game against Slovenia:
I thought we played well in spurts. We played against a team that
didnt give up again tonight. Slovenia showed a lot of grit. We made
a few key plays when we had to.
We tried to push the tempo today and I think we did a good
job of that, But Slovenia did a very good job of pushing the ball back
at us. Italy has more talent than Slovenia, so it is going to be a tough
game for us tomorrow.
Team defensive play tonight:
We didnt start out very well on the defensive end. It wasnt
until about 7 or 8 minutes into the game that we picked up our defense
and were able to open up a lead. I think we are learning that if we want
to win this thing we have to play defense from the beginning of the game.
Your own individual defense
has been great:
Well, I try. Im trying to earn my hotel room, my uniform
somehow. If I can just run around, get a couple of loose balls, make some
shots, thats my job.
What about the tournament
Obviously as we move on here we are playing better teams. Slovenia
is the best team we have played so far and Italy tomorrow will be the
same thing. Its exciting to play good teams. We need to keep improving
and keep playing good defense. I think we need to concentrate a little
better. We get a little lax at times and give the other team opportunities
to make runs against us.The really good teams, the teams that keep winning
like Spain and Argentina have jumped on opponents and kept them down and
havent let them come back. We need to do the same.
I feel our team played very well. Slovenia started off very strong,
played very hard, very well. We just have to maintain our focus on each
task in hand. Each game we need to pay better attention to deatail. When
we're up 31 we need to keep playing well and keep playing hard.
How do you account for the difference in
the way you guys played in the second quarter versus the first quarter?
It's a game of adjustments and they were executing very well. We brought
up our intensity and our defensive started getting steals and we got into
the open court and we limited them to two or three 3-pointers in the first
half. Once we stepped our defense and adjusted we played better, much
Have you ever played a style like this
No I have never played a style with two teams rotating but it seems to
favor our team because we have guys buying into winning and playing hard
once they're out there. You don't have to pace yourself at all because
you know you're going to get a certain amount of minutes, you know you're
going to be in there, you know you're going to play, so once you're out
there you play hard and try to wear down teams. But these teams can play
well too, and they can shoot.
On the game tonight:
We started out slowly, but our energy level picked up in the second
quarter. We played hard, but we just have to finish games off better.
Weve had a couple of games where weve gotten up big and had
some slippage. We need to keep it going for the full 40 minutes. Its
not an excuse, but there isnt much energy in the arena and when
you get up like we did tonight, its easy to relax and we just have
to do our best to guard against that. We have to not worry about the score
and keep playing.
Was this your teams best defense
I think it was, but I think
we are fouling too much and putting the other team in the bonus. I think
we are still adjusting to international basketball, it is a different
game from what we are used to. And thats something we have to do
a better job of defensively.
About your play tonight:
I just go out there and play hard and play aggressive, try to rebound,
block shots, run the floor and play good defense.
On how Team USA prepares for its
We prepare for each game by watching film. Going to the games,
our coaches do a great job of scouting and we prepare ourselves the best
possible way to go out and play each opposing team.
We play against Italy tomorrow. We have to be ready. Italy is a good
team, just like us, so we have to be very aggressive.
Is there an adjustment from playing 40
plus minutes a night in the NBA to the 20 or so you are playing for team
I think at first there was an adjustment, but we are all used to it now.
We are doing the five in, five out thing every five minutes, so you go
as hard as you can and then come out and get some rest. Our team is winning
like this, so its good for us.
Playing hounding defense like your team
is doesnt really seem to be your styleor many of the players
style in the NBA. Has that been much of an adjustment?
That style is going to help our team win. Of course you cant do
that for 40 minutes a game, 82 games, plus the preseason, plus the playoffs
like we play in the NBA. But you can do it here the way we are set up.
Putting pressure on guys like that disrupts the offense and takes time
off the shot clock.
Talk about your teams second and
third quarter play:
It was good. We started off slow. We have had a problem starting
out slow lately and we have to get that situated. The second group came
in, put extremely good pressure on and then the first group came back
in and kept up the pressure. We got some easy buckets off our defense
and took care of business. Its very important to keep it up in the
second half. Halftime is one of those times where you can get a letdown
if you arent careful.
Tonight we didnt let that happen. We knew that Slovenia is a very
good team, so we had to take care of business.
On the game tonight:
We didnt do a good job as far as starting the game out, but
we kept our composure, did the things we wanted to do in the second and
It was disappointing towards the end of the third and going into the fourth.
We just have to do a better job of concentrating and playing a full 40
minutes of basketball.
Coach Ks role and hw he has been to play
Hes done a phenomenal
job. They definitely picked the right coach for the right team and the
right situation. Hes a good motivator. He knows the game of basketball,
of course. Hes done everything as far as letting everyone know their
roles on this team to, most importantly, having us prepared for every
game. He has been doing a tremendous job since day one.
About playing Italy tomorrow:
Its going to be a tough
game. I definitely think Italy will be our toughest opponent this far.
We just have to do some of the things that we did in the second and third
quarters, when we played some great defense. Were focused. It will
be a good test for us. It will be a stepping stone to see where we stand
General comments regarding the start of
They came out very aggressively in the first quarter. We
have a very deep team and we can bring different guys at them. So, once
we got the lead in the first we kind of took it from there.
Was this the USAs best
No, I think the China game was our best. Today, we played in waves.
When we played good defensively, we looked great but we also looked average
at times, defensively. We need to get better as a team. We still have
a couple more games (in preliminary round) to get better.
How hard is it to stop this
team Team USA?
Its very hard. We havent shot the ball the way we know
we can. Thats a positive for us. We have to try to break the game
open. We have some guys that can step up and hit threes. Once that
is falling, then our strength is penetrating and pressuring the ball.
On Coach Ks tactic of
substituting in waves:
I like it! Im not sure if Coach is going to keep it that
way, but I like it. It gives us a chance to know that we are going to
be out there for about five minutes, so you can go very hard. Its
also two different teams that you see. The first team is different than
the second team. Its helping us tremendously, so hopefully we stick
with it for a little while.
On the things the USA has
to work on to improve:
We have to fine-tune all parts of our game. Offensively, we have to be
a little more crisp. We have to continue to have more killer
mentality. We were on the verge of beating this team by 30, but we let
them back into the game. But that was their will not to quit.
On the big games against Slovenia
and Italy, the two toughest opponents in the pool:
Today and tomorrow are the two games we have really been looking
forward to test how good we were as a team. Today, we did a good job,
but tomorrow (against Italy), is going to be even tougher. Well
be ready. This is what we came together for.