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Additional Quotes>> USA 113, China 71 (Quarterfinals)

  • Date:
    Aug 14, 2014

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

USA Head Coach Don Showalter (Iowa City H.S., Iowa)

On today’s game:

After watching China and Italy play the other night, as a coaching staff we were concerned with a lot of things that China did. (Yanhao Zhao) is a great shooter and we did a great job on him. Fergie (Terrance Ferguson) and V.J. (King) and whoever else, we had different guys guarding him, but we held him to 11 points, which is way under his average (22.3 ppg. in China’s first four games)

We kept their bigs off the boards. Diamond Stone played very well, Caleb (Swanigan) came off the bench and played well. Really, all of our bigs did. So, that was big for us, too.

And, how we got started out. We had to get started out in a way that China was always trying to make a comeback as opposed to playing on top. That’s what they did against Italy.

Are you worried about the flat play during a few of China’s spurts?

At times when you’re up by 25 or 30, sometimes you don’t play as hard as you’d like to play overall. But then we’d put a spurt on and score like 10 straight points. Sometimes our lineups, we just have to experiment with what lineup does well and that may change from game to game.

On the USA’s 12-0 run to close the first half, which expanded to 30-2 over the first four minutes of the second half:

We always want to end up the quarters strong. We switched defenses a little bit there. Henry Ellenson had a mammoth game with 21 points. A lot of those came at the end of the half, and he finished with a nice dunk. Then we came out in the third quarter really focused, had some great stops and jumped out on them there. When a team is down, they want to get back into the game slowly. If you take that away from them, then it’s pretty much a game where we can do whatever we need to do.

We keep talking about the team’s depth, but it’s really important in a tournament like this.

The nice thing is that when we feel there are guys out there not giving us what we need energy-wise, there are seven guys on the bench who are dying to get into the ballgame. So, that really makes a difference. It makes everybody play a little harder. I just think the kids are buying into the fact that we are playing at a high energy level and that’s what we have to do to win a gold medal.

 

Henry Ellenson (Rice Lake H.S./Rice Lake, Wis.)

On scoring 10 of the USA’s 12 points to end the first half:

I just brought energy. That’s what we needed. I just got after it defensively and it turns into offense. That was a fun spurt for me, for sure.

On the USA’s highs and lows during the game:

I think sometimes we just didn’t bring the energy. We were just letting them do whatever. So, coach called a couple time-outs when we were dead. We just got on our guys to bring the energy, to get the run going because we don’t want to give them any hope to get back in the game.

You’re heading into the semifinals, right where you want to be with two games left to go. How does that feel?

It feels good. We got a big win against China. We came here for the gold, so it’s another step closer to our goal. It feels nice.

 

Harry Giles (Wesleyan Christian Academy/Winston-Salem, N.C.)

What did coach talk to you about during the time-out in the second quarter after China cut it to 14 points?

He just said that we dropped the energy level. We were acting like we won the game already and we had them where we thought they were going to quit, but then we gave them a light to get back in the game. So, he just got on us about not letting up because China is good, they can come back and make a run. If we let them get close, they’ll come back. So we went out there and picked up the energy again and got back to where we wanted to be.

And then you closed with a 12-0 run:

I loved it (lauging)!

What did coach stress at halftime?

That if we let them come back within 12, 14 points, then they would think they had a chance to come back. We had to go out there and take their heart out of the game as soon as possible. He said the first five possessions of the half are the most important, so we had to go out there and play hard and make sure our energy level was up and we’d win the game.

It looks like you’re all having fun playing together and feeing off each other’s energy. Is that the case?

Coach said that we’d start coming together in the end. Games get tougher the closer you get to the gold medal game and we would start getting closer as a team. That’s what’s starting to happen. We’re starting to come together and play together as a team. We’re enjoying being around each other on and off the court, so we’re really starting to come together as a team and it feels good.

 

Malik Newman (Callaway H.S./Jackson, Miss.)

On China’s team:

They just are a real aggressive team. They give up at times, but if they stay in the game, they’re a hard team to beat.

How is the team chemistry?

It’s so much better. The team keeps getting better. The players are getting better. We’re feeling each other out more. So, I think the chemistry is getting there.

On the 12-0 run to end the first half:

Henry was a big factor for us. He came off of the bench providing energy. In front of the press, he provided energy. He played a big part in our win tonight.

What did coach stress at halftime?

He was telling us that China, they can always get back into the game. The game wasn’t over, so we played as if we were down.

On being in the semifinals:

We just have to keep pushing to get better, break down film, look at film, watch more film. It’s just the small things right now that we have to work on and being mentally focused and ready to play.

 

Diamond Stone (Dominican H.S./Milwaukee, Wis.)

On today’s game:

We were taking plays off. We were relaxing after we got a big lead in the first quarter. We should just keep pushing and try to keep them out of their comfort zone. Italy had them relaxed and trying to get them out of their comfort zone (in the round of 16), so they would turnover the ball and stuff like that. I think we just need to constantly pressure teams until they give up.

Teams will get tougher over the last two games. You can’t have the let-downs like you had today:

I don’t think it will be a problem. We’re just too fancy. We want to be on the ESPN Top 10. We should have waited for the fourth quarter, after we blow the team out, to start getting fancy. I think he realizes that right now.

What did coach stress at halftime?

He said let’s bury them. Let’s do the same thing we were doing the same thing in the first quarter. He said that China was going to come out in the second half and push the tempo, try to get into the 10-12 range, but we have to bury them.

Does the team feed off the energy of your teammates, especially when someone makes a great play?

It gets us fired up a lot. Anybody dunking or making a play gets us fired up. When we get into the locker room we’re all hyped up for each other and want to go out there with energy.

 

Jayson Tatum (Chaminade College Prep/St. Louis, Mo.)

On today’s game:

We started off a little slower than expected, not enough energy, especially coming off the bench. But, I really think in the third quarter everybody picked it up and that’s how we blew the lead out.

On the 12-0 run to close the first half:

Like coach says, Henry (Ellenson) just goes out there and plays with energy and it showed with all the points and the rebounds, the steals and that nice dunk at the end. He really gave us a spark.

Do you all feed off of each other’s energy?

Oh yeah. Basically you just feed off of one another and that’s how we all come together.

There are two games left and right where you want to be. How do you feel about the next two games as the opponents will certainly get tougher?

We have to stay focused. We have to respect our opponents, come out there and play our game and we should be fine.

 

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