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James Harden

Additional Quotes >> USA 112, Puerto Rico 86

  • Date:
    Aug 22, 2014

New York, New York

USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski

On trimming the roster before leaving for Spain:

We’re going to try and go with 12. We’re going to go back now, just like we have after every practice, every game, and put our names on the board. Again, where are we at?  And then, in the morning, talk to the guys who aren’t going to go forward, and we feel that it’s better to go with 12, because it’s really difficult on anybody if they’re not going to be on the team to travel that far. But at any time before the competition starts, if there was an injury or a family emergency, we could call one of these guys, too. I think that’s what we’re going to say to each one of these four guys who will not go forward.

On who his starting point guard will be against Slovenia:

We’ll determine that. That’s going to be one of the big meetings on the plane. My feeling is that Kyrie [Irving], you know we have to see how Derrick [Rose] reacts to tonight – I thought both those guys were really good, and then we played them together, too. And then [Stephen Curry] didn’t play bad point guard for us either, so we have a little bit of depth on that.

On whether he knows who the 12 will be:

No, no. Again, like anything, it’s a collective decision, and Jerry [Colangelo] puts the final stamp on it. We haven’t had a chance to discuss the new input from tonight, but I thought we got some really good performances. Rudy [Gay] keeps getting better. That was very good. And Kenneth [Faried], you know we told him we were only going to play him a few minutes in the first half, so the second half I thought he gave us, that four position, gave us a lot tonight. That was really encouraging.

On his team’s defense:

Our defense, overall, has been outstanding because of the defensive effort.  I don’t think what we asked our players to do in the first half, with a little of more unusual subbing that we made, that we were that good at blitzing, trapping, you know, stuff like that. It hurt our defensive rebounding balance. They played a great, great first quarter. Then we adjusted in the second half, but our guys want to play really good defense. They’re busting their butts defensively.

On how he would describe the team:

It’s very close. These guys, they’re terrific. That’s why the selection is so difficult. And Stephen [Curry] and James [Harden] have developed into our leaders, you know, we thought that going , and that’s emerging. I think they’re unselfish and hard working.  They have each other’s backs. They don’t care who scores. They all want to win. And I think another unifying factor, and it helped being at West Point, they’re really proud to play for our country. They’re very proud to play for the United States.

DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings)

What would it mean to you to make this roster?

It’s been my goal for the summer. It’s a huge honor. Who wouldn’t want to represent their country?

How much did being on the select team help you coming in here?

It helped out a lot. You know what to look for, you know what to expect and you can take advantage there.


Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)

On the game:

We didn’t start off well. Like coach said, defensively, it was trying to adjust to their point guards coming off a lot of screen-and-rolls, and the way they moved the ball. It was a good test for us to deal with a little bit of adversity and things not going our way the first half, and finally to be mentally focused in the second half and get the job done. Not every game’s going to be pretty when we get to Spain, so this was a good test for us and good experience for everybody on the roster, and just thankful we got the win and can look forward to our travel day.

On being a part on Team USA:

This is an awesome experience for me. In 2010, after my rookie year, I had high expectations to make the team when I came, but didn’t really know what my role was, especially with that brand new group that was assembled then, so I learned a lot.  Exposing me to the international game was definitely good for my game going into the next NBA season. But now, I’m during an important part of my career, and just excited to have more of an impact on the team as a leader and on the court. 


Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)

When you’re with team USA, what are the types of skills that you feel are the best for you to be working with?

Everything. I have my coach here with me, so whatever he needs me to do, I’ve been working on it with him. That’s a good thing for me. I work with him a lot, whatever it is, shooting, ball handling.

What are the specific things you think you’ve learned so far?

I’ve been doing a great job playing with the team, great job defensively. Keep sharing the ball. Puerto Rico was on our heels the first half, but we came out and played defensively and aggressively.

(Coach) Krzyzewski said he was concerned about you guys jelling after the loss of Durant. How do you feel you guys are doing as one of the leaders of the team?

I think we’re doing a great job. It still hurts that he left, he was part of our brotherhood and still is, but at the same time we have to make sure that we go out there and do what we have to do to win gold.

The first half it seemed both teams were playing fairly even, did you think it was only a matter of time or?
We have to play defense. There were a lot of open threes. We cut that out the second half and took our lead.


Rudy Gay (Sacremento Kings)

What’s it been like playing catch up?

It’s been pretty good. Obviously coach has been helping me get into the swing of things. And my teammates have been helping me as well. It’s kind of tough, especially since we’re in the middle of what was supposed to be my off season, to get back into game, playing shape. And also playing a different role, because I’m using a lot of energy being a defensive guy.

Did you call them (USA basketball)?

Actually my team owner (of the Kings) called. He is pretty big up when he wants you to do stuff. So he called, and then my agent called. He kind of persuaded me into wanting to do it.

What was it like being on back on this stage? I know you were here back in 2010 or 2012. I know it was a little bit upsetting. What was it like to come back?

It feels good to be back and to get back into the swing of things. This is the most productive way to spend your summer. Obviously, I didn’t have any playoffs last year or the year before, so this is a good way during the off season for me to get in shape and also get back into playing shape and mentally get back into playing shape.

James Harden (Houston Rockets)

On DeMarcus Cousins:

DeMarcus has brought physical presence to the team. Obviously, he’s a great player and shoots the ball really well. There’s going to be games where we really need him to do well. Once he gets into his rhythm, we’ll be good.

On how well Puerto Rico played tonight:

Every game is not going to be an easy 30 to 40-point win. I think in the first half we were only up five. They made us work and shot the ball well. In the second half, we picked our intensity up, which is exactly what we needed.

On Derrick Rose:

Derrick brings something that we don’t have as far as being able to push the ball so fast and get into the paint. He made a couple cross-court passes for open threes. He really looked phenomenal.

On roster cuts and the team:

I just try to focus on myself, individually, and our team, and how we can get better. Whoever it is, I’m sure they’ll be ready to come in and contribute however we need them to.

On tonight’s game:

I didn’t play well, especially offensively, but I just tried to do everything else to help my team win – rebounding, passing the ball, grabbing a couple steals. I was in foul trouble, and guys still played well. That’s what we’re going to need. Every game, guys are going to play well, but if we have other guys that can contribute in other aspects of the game, then we should be pretty good.


Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)

How did you feel about Derrick (Rose) coming off the bench tonight?

It’s just coach’s decision. We all are talented in our own right, so we’re just trying to go out there and do whatever it takes to win. I know both of us are used to starting for our respective teams, and honestly he started and then I started, so it all depends what coach wants. Honestly, him and I could be playing together, especially in the fourth quarter like we did in Chicago and I know coach likes that look, so we’ll see what happens. 

How did you think he (Rose) looked?

I think he looked great. I know he’s still excited to come and play for USA Basketball, especially in MSG, and it’s easy to get up for this game. I’m really excited to be playing with him.

Talk about DeMarcus (Cousins) and what he’s brought to this team?

We’re kind of guard dominant right now, and we’re not trying to take anything away from DeMarcus. His touches have been more passive than he has been; especially he plays for the Kings. I’ve been telling him just to be aggressive and do whatever it takes to get out on the floor and do whatever it takes to stay out on the floor. He’s doing a hell of a job of just continuing to be consistent every day in practice and every day in games when he gets minutes.

Do you feel like that’s something that separates him from the rest of the bigs on this team?

I think it’s just his competitive fire and his toughness as well. We’re going to need that going over to Spain, and we’ll see what happens.

Do you think the offense is flowing a little better than it was last week?

I think we’re figuring out each other’s spots and where we like the ball. It’s still not going to be perfect, and obviously we’re just going out there and being basketball players and making plays off one another.

Is it going to be better to start to work with a 12-man rotation after cuts are made this weekend before heading over to Spain?

Yes. To have a definitive role, and you kind of figure it out once the roster is set, and it will be exciting with the 12 guys that are going over there to figure it out as quick as we can. Every team is going to be gunning for us, and that’s what you want as a competitor, so I’m looking forward to it.

On the game:

It was a test of adversity that we faced there, a good team that’s guard dominant, . .Barea and Carlos (Arroyo), and their bigs did a good job of setting screens and getting them open. First half we were up, and it was a test of our will. We went out there in the second half and took it to them. I think we’re figuring out each other’s spots and where we like the ball. It’s still not going to be perfect. We’re just going out there being basketball players and making plays off one another. No game is perfect. We just want to continue to share the ball and continue to push. 

On defense:

We were trying to chase them off the 3-point line. Obviously J.J. (Barea) and Carlos (Arroyo), we wanted to chase them off of ball screens. They had a shooting big and ran a lot of dribble hand-offs, so, we had to adjust and figure it out. They were getting downhill every single time and we wanted to pressure them and I think we did a good job of that in the second half.


Mason Plumlee (Brooklyn Nets) 

What do you think you bring to this team and why do you think you’re a good candidate?

I’m a mobile, athletic big that can get out, defend, play with energy, and I just have a good understanding of the game by getting guys open and setting screens, which is what big men should do. That’s what I try to show in this time. Hopefully that’s what they saw.

When you first started with the Select Team, they said there is no way this is going to happen. How nice is it to be in this spot?

It’s great, and it’s been a positive experience. Just to work out with the older guys is great. It really opened my eyes because I got to play with a lot of talent, and I picked things up from other guys.

What has this done for you as a player? What have you improved on?

Just seeing how deliberate guys are at making decisions – there’s no hesitation. They just play off instinct, and that’s something that I realized at the highest level with the Steph Curry’s and the James Harden’s. That’s what they do.


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