September 1, 2006 / Saitama, Japan
BASKETBALL MANAGING DIRECTOR JERRY COLANGELO
When we started this whole thing, we had to show respect for the
world basketball community because we knew the gap had really shrunk.
By our performances in the last world championships and the Olympics,
so we didnt have delusions coming into this championship.
We do respect these teams. The fact that four undefeated teams, the four
finalists, said something about the quality of all four teams. Greece
shows that they know how to play the game. They controlled the tempo of
the game, they made shots. We never got anything going. I think we had
four steals tonight, we had been averaging 12. Our defense was never really
a factor, they picked us apart. That is something to be said for Greece
and they deserve it.
From my perspective, we have a young team. We average 24 years of age.
For some, this was a big game, in terms of pressure. Its only a
step. Well have to qualify next summer. I think we learned a great
deal at this tournament. Big time.
Our goal and our objective are to try to win a gold medal in Beijing,
which is 08. So, we have a lot of work to do. We have to build on
what transpired here. There were a lot of good things and there are some
things that we are going to have to do better. Thats how good the
What are the things to do better?
Well, I think in the make-up of our team
from the physical stand-point.
The physicality was a factor tonight. Not just the shooting, in terms
of Greece shooting the ball as well as they did. Defensively, we may have
to take a look at how we play, in terms of our basic format, defensively.
The pick n roll was a killer for us tonight, it really was. They
made great passes and they executed. So, Ive been saying this all
year long. The game, the rules that are played, internationally, are different
than what our players are accustomed to, in the NBA. Things go on that
would normally be fouls. But, they have to learn to adjust and thats
part of the learning process that I am referring to. We have to play a
different game, because we are playing different rules. And, I believe
we can do that.
We didnt have as much time, as I would have liked to have had.
The difference, what the Greek coach (Yannakis) just said, regarding his
team being together for years and learning to play together. Ive
seen many of the Argentina players quoted, saying the same thing. Well,
you can throw a lot of great players together but if they dont have
a lot of time, and I mean years of time, it comes back to bit you- potentially.
So, we want to keep a lot of our players together and learn from this
Quite often, before you get to the finish line, youre going to have
some knock-downs, if you will. This one hurts. We would have liked to
have won this. That was my personal goal and anything short of that was
going to be disappointing for me. It is.
It means we have to go back to work and get ready for next summer. For
the qualifying, then hopefully were there in Beijing in 08.
Will you bring in different players?
Were going to take a little time to analyze everything. The flexibility
we have on the national team, will allow us to do that. I think our guard
play showed inexperience. Those players are going to be a year or two
older by the time were competing in the Olympics. Thats a
factor. Its a great bunch of guys. I think we have a terrific head
coach, in Coach K. The bottom line here tonight is that Greece
had a game plan. They executed. They shot the lights out and they beat
a very good team, our own team, the USA team. The credit goes to them.
On personnel, there cant be too many
I dont anticipate that. These players have put in a lot of time
and effort and theyve built equity, in terms of being part of this
team going forward. No question about that. We also have some players
who are on the national team that are not with us. They will all get together
next summer. If theres a change or two, thats ultimately what
I see, if any. That is the flexibility that we have built into the system.
No, were not throwing out the baby with the bathwater.' We
love all of our guys, they played hard and nobody quit tonight. We just
On the reception of loss back home?'
I dont know. I think a lot of goodwill has been created by what
we have accomplished, thus far. Ultimately, you are judged by whether
you win or lose. And, obviously, we didnt win tonight. So we can
expect, whatever. But all of us are competitors. Well all get over
this and well start building and preparing for the future.
On player reaction:
Pretty somber. Theyre really down in the locker room. We will need
to keep their spirits up. They are young guys. You dont want them
to break their real confidence. They are as disappointed is Coach K and
me. You would expect that. We are going to hurt for a while, for sure.
But, we have to play a game tomorrow.
On quick turn-around to play bronze medal
Its kind of interesting. I guess its somewhat unusual
that the bronze medal game would be on a separate night than the championship
game. But it was for draw purposes, and I guess they were
right. Regardless of who we play, its going to be quite a match-up.
In some ways, its good for our group to have to play tomorrow (Sept
2) night. Not, have to sit on this for two days. Were going to have
to play the game, finish on a positive note and go home and look forward
to the future
HEAD COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI
On the game with Greece:
The Greek team and their coaching staff did an amazing job today.
It's not surprising, I've known their coach most of my basketball life
and this team plays like he played and we knew that they had great heard
and togetherness. I though that our kids played with great heart also.
We lost to a team that played a great game. I'll take responsibility for
the loss because my guys played hard, they played with all their hearts
and they played against a team that played with all their hearts. Like
I said when we started this whole thing for this year that if someone
does that we should go over and shake their hands and I shook his hand
and gave him a hug because he deserves that.
What will you be working on for the next
This is the start of a process of building a program. I think coach's
(Greece coach Panagiotis Yannakis) comments are well taken in that they
have a program that starts from youth on up. We're starting a program
that starts at a little bit different place, it starts off and hopefully
we can get our whole country behind it over the years. We knew when we
started this that it was going to be a journey not a short trip. We have
to learn the international game better and we learned a lot today because
we played against a team that played amazing basketball and plays it together.
They've been together a long time. Our guys are together. We have a really
good group of guys, they're trying to play as one but they haven't been
one for a long time, it's been a short period of time. That's what we
hope to solve over a period of time is to get continuity because I think
that is essential if you want to win at the level we would like to win
At one point it was 33-21, what did you
see that either clicked in for them or started to go bad for you?
The very first thing is that we knew they're not a team that's
going to give up. We were in foul trouble in each of the first two periods
and we fouled a couple of 3-point shooters. I think when you see the ball
go in like that - they banked a 3-point shot in and then got those two
three free throws so that's nine points there. Our defense was doing a
good job and all of a sudden you see the ball go in. I thought number
four (Theodoros Papaloukas) was spectacular in the first half, number
seven (Vasilis Spanoulis) was spectacular in the second half and number
15 (Mihalis Kakiouzis) in the second half hit huge shots for them at the
end of the clock. Their offense beat our defense, I'll take responsibility
for that. My players played hard, we win or lose together but I think
a coach when there is a loss should take more responsibility than anyone.
The Greeks scored 50 points in the paint
tonight, was that a key?
They threaded passes. Number four (Theodoros Papaloukas) was brilliant
in the first half. I mean some of the plays he made, that why he's been
a top player. He plays with one of our players, Trajan Landon, and I knew
him. We respect him, he was just terrific. Basically I couldn't device
something to stop them. Again, congratulations to him, he played beautiful
basketball. We didn't get beat by a team that didn't play great, they
played great and deserve all the credit.
I want to congratulate Greece for going out there and competing
the way they did, playing so hard, coming back from down 10 in the second
quarter, going on a 14-0 run and never looking back. I want to take my
hat off to them for playing so well and so hard down the stretch.
Why did the USA have so much trouble stopping
them in second and third quarters?
We'll have to go back and look at the game on film. We can't really
tell during the game. We tried to switch, we tried to put a big man on
the guard and that wasn't working. It was just some adjustments we had
to make during the game and by the time we made them it was a little bit
How much of a shock to the system it is
to go out like this?
To lose any game is a shock to us. We came in with the mentality
that we wanted to win this game and move on and hopefully win the gold
medal. Unfortunately the Greeks came out tonight, especially in the second
half and went on a 12 or 13 point run and they never looked back. At the
end of the day we've got to go back and get ourselves together, we still
have one more game to play. It's not like it's the end of the world for
us. We came into this thing together, we win together, we lose together,
so that's how we've got to go out.
Was defense the problem tonight?
Yes, we didnt do a very good job on defense. Obviously, a
lot of that had to do with Greece, because they played a very good game.
But, you cant expect us to win a world championship, allowing a
team to shoot 63-percent from the floor. There guys are tough. We knew
they were going to play tough. They are a tough, experienced team and
they showed why they were the European champions.
On adjustments the U.S. tried to make?
We attempted to make the ball handlers change direction. Their guards
did a good job of making the floor rotation. Then Schortsanitis, the big
guy, did a good job of making us pay for the double team. So, from there,
we tried to go small and make them switch the pick n roll, and that worked
for periods of time, but not enough.
On game change in the second quarter:
The game changed when we were up by 10 and we fouled on a 3-point
shot and we did not react to that call. Greece went on a run and they
took the lead from us and we didnt show very good composure from
that point in the game. We were forced to go small to try
to force the tempo and to create some turnovers.
They play good basketball. They played like a champion plays. They had
guys, like my future teammate, (Vasilis) Spanoulis, that did a great job
of controlling the tempo and we knew exactly what they were going to do.
We knew they would pass the ball around to try to break us down at the
end of the shot clock. A lot has to do with the Greek execution.
On overall feelings:
We respect the game of basketball. We are disappointed, but we have to
use this as a building block. We all signed up for a three-year commitment,
so were going to come back tomorrow and bring back the bronze medal.
After that, well have to re-group, go down the Venezuela and qualify
for the Olympics. Then, well look to Beijing in a couple of years.
Its all a part of a process and the direction that we are going.
At the end of the day, the team that walks away from the tournament with
the gold medal is the team that plays well together, makes basketball
plays and play with their heart. It sounds simple, but very few people
can do that. That is why being a champion is so hard to do.
Reaction to tonights loss:
I expected to win, but they outworked us. They just played better
basketball the whole way.
What did Coach K say to you at halftime?
He talked about the one high pick and roll they were running, thats
the main thing they were hurting us with. We tried to make adjustments
but they kept running the same play. Any other play they ran we guarded
pretty well, but they took advantage of that play. You have to give credit
to their coaches, they made some adjustments, kept running that same play
and we never got used to it.
I think we helped make it easier for them. We didnt really move
the ball or move on offense like we have been. That hurt us.
About Greece's pick and roll:
We began the game just trying to show and stay attached and that
kind of hurt us, because we had somewhat of a smaller lineup and theyve
got big guys rolling to hoop with someone smaller picking them up. We
tried to make an adjustment to switch and that fared better.
Were you surprised by their defense at times?
Somewhat surprised, but they
played a great game. They got hot when they needed to and hit some big
shots. We couldnt separate ourself in the first half when it got
to nine or 10 points. Theyd get fouled and knocked down their foul
shots. They hit a big three off the glass. They did everything they needed
to do to win the game. They hustled hard. They won.
Is it a bad day for team USA?
Im very disappointed, but it is a three year commitment the
guys made. Its a step. Some guys have played in the Olympics. Ive
played in prior World Championships. The guys know what we have to do
in order to win.
What do you think about the Greek team?
The Greek team is a great team. Not just in this tournament, if
they played in the NBA or whatever theyd be a good team. They have
shooters, they have guys who can defend, they have big guys who can do
decent things in the paint. They should be proud of themselves. We take
our hats off to them.
You have to give Greece credit, they did a great job. Obviously
it wasn't our best defensive effort, we gave up a lot of points tonight
and we got down and just couldn't get back. I've got to give them credit
they did a good job of stretching the game out and made big plays.
We'll have to bounce back. No matter what happens in the second game,
we're going to play a great team tomorrow and we're going to have to bounce
back and play a lot better than we did tonight that's for sure if we're
going to win and bring home the bronze. There's a big picture here, we're
getting ready for the Olympics, then at the same we've got to come back
tomorrow and send a message.
On tonights game:
It was a disappointing loss. I feel we could have played a little bit
harder at both ends of the court. I tried to do whatever I could when
I was in the game. But we just came up a little bit short.
Give Greece some credit. They couldnt miss. They played well and
hit some big shots. They executed very well. They played hard.
On the Greece team tonight:
They played well. They ran one play very well and we just couldnt
stop them. I dont think we made enough adjustments to counter what
they were doing. They made the right adjustments. So, good game for them.
It was a disappointment for us. We just have to get better.
Was it basically the pick and roll with
the big guy that was causing most of the trouble?
Yeah, because they had shooters spaced out, all the wings out on
the side and they had one screen and roll and the big guyand he
is a big guyrolling in front of our guards. It caused matchup problems
for us and we just couldnt stop it.
What do you take out of this experience?
Its been a great experience for me and for all of us. You
always want to be victorious, but at the end of the day it has been a
Even though you are disappointed now,
is there anything you can build off of for the future?
We get another year of FIBA basketball. We can always build off
of that because it is a different kind of basketball. We have two more
summers of growth. This is the beginning. Weve improved since 2004,
weve improved since training camp began. This is a three-year commitment.
We just have to keep getting better.
scored 100-points (101-95). We couldnt get a shot when we needed
to. You need to compliment Greece for taking advantage of the things we
couldnt do right and for the way they played the game.
The last three or four games, the defense has been the reason we won.
Tonight, to play this way, is a disappointment.
On the mood of the team:
Horrible. Our goal was to win this. We came up short. The guys
are upset. We are disappointed. When we needed to play our best game,
we didnt play. We didnt overlook this game, what-so-ever.
Like I said, you have to give Greece all the credit. They came out, they
We are going to have to put this behind us. Come out tomorrow and win
the bronze medal.
Reaction to having to compete in Olympic
qualifying tourney next summer?
It wasnt what we had planned. Its going to be interesting.
Hopefully we can stay positive and do the things we need to do in order
to be successful. We knew this was a three-year commitment no matter if
we won or lost. The only difference now is that instead of being together
for a week next summer, we have to go through another tournament, but
thats the price you have to play when you dont come out and
win. We just have to keep our heads up high and go out there and be ready
for the next game and next summer.
Some people are saying that the level of
competition before this game wasnt all that good. Did that hurt
It wasnt our fault. Thats the draw that we had. Its
the way the brackets were set up. We knew we had an easier route to get
here than the other three teams, but having said that you still have to
step up and come out and play well. We never overlooked Greece. We knew
they were a very talented team. I thought it would be a great matchup,
but thats behind us now. You have to give them credit for coming
out and executing and doing the things that they did to win. To say the
way the brackets were set up didnt provide us wth a test to prepare
us isnt right. We are all professionals here. We knew what we had
to do and, unfortunately, we just came up short.
On Greeces offense tonight:
They were doing the things they wanted to do offensively. They would run
the clock down to the last 8 or 9 seconds and thats when they would
run their offense. During the third and fourth quarter they just picked
us apart. Their pick and roll, I mean we just never made the adjustments.
In order to win in this tournament you have to make adjustments quickly
and we didnt. They played well. Once they got their confidence and
the lead, they just started playing freely, up tempo. They came out well,
they executed. Their coaches did a great job as far as putting them in
the right positions and making it tough on us.
They were very effective on the pick n roll. Or, just kicking
it to the corner. They ran that play and pretty much won off that play.
We tried to make the comeback. We did as much as we could. We tried to
fight the way the game was being played and the way it was being called.
And, we came up short. Give a lot of the credit to Greece. They hit shots
when they needed to hit them. They didnt miss the whole third quarter
and played a perfect game to beat us.
We all wanted to play. Everybody wanted to play on the team. Thats
our competitive nature inside of the guys.
We wish we couldve done something about it. You look back now,
and wish you couldve changed defenses, maybe played a little zone.
But, when they needed to hit a shot, they stepped up and somebody hit
a big shot. We kept coming back at them, but they continued to hit big
On mood of the team:
Disappointment. Its pretty much, that we didnt expect to lose
the game. Were a very talented team, a confident team, and they
beat us. We have to re-group tomorrow. We will have to come back and try
to win tomorrow and then in 2007.
This is a first step. Were not saying that were crying over
losing. No. We wanted to win, and it didnt happen. We have to try
to win the next game. Then, in 2007, weve got a lot of guys.. some
guys that didnt play this year. We got some experience.