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Additional Quotes: USA U17 Men 83, Greece 73

  • Date:
    Aug 8, 2014

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

USA head coach Don Showalter (Iowa City H.S., Iowa)
On the Greece team:
This was probably one of the best teams we’ve faced in all the U17 games (2010 and 2012). They had four guys who played in the (2014 European) U18s. (Vasilis Charalampopoulos) is a really good player. He was all-tournament at the U18s. And the big guy (Giorgios Papagiannis) has got a really nice touch around the basket, so we knew they were going to be a good team. Our kids knew it was going to be a battle the whole game, which it was.
 
On the game tonight:
Looking at the stats, I like the way we had 17 assists, which is really good. But, we had 16 turnovers as well. They did a great job on the offensive boards. They had 22 offensive rebounds and that’s too many for us to give up. Their 3-point shooting hurt us at times, but they were 6-of-29, so in the long run their 3s might hurt them down the stretch. I think they were looking for that a little too much.
 
One of the things I really liked about our team is that the guys off the bench came in with really high energy every time and our defense was pretty good down the stretch. We had some really good stops against some really good guards. They had two guards who played at the (European) U18s as well. We played a really good team and we’re really proud that we came away with the win tonight. We knew it would be a battle.
 
What can you do better?
Rebounding. We gave up too many offensive rebounds. They had 22. We need to cut our turnovers down a little bit; we had 16 turnovers. Some of those were our guys trying to do a little too much. We did have nine steals, so that was a nice thing. They had 15 points from our turnovers, which is a little too many, but we had 46 points in the paint and that’s our bread and butter. As we get going with that people are going to have to guard us in the paint first and then guard our perimeter.
 
The rebounding, was that due to the fact that they had the 7-foot-1 guy taking up the middle?
A little bit, but a lot of it was that they took a lot of 3s. They took 29 3s, so there are going to be long rebounds. We just didn’t get a lot of those long rebounds like we should have. We were turning and going to the ball and the long rebounds came out. I think with that, we can work on that. Overall, they were 23-of-70 from the field and we were 31-of-62, so we shot 50 percent, which is pretty good for this level of play.
 
Was it good to get a test like this right out of the gate?
No question. Our kids, we don’t take anybody lightly. We’re the team that everybody shoots to play well against. We’re going to get everybody’s ‘A’ game.  We got Greece’s ‘A’ game. They are very well coached; they did lots of really good things offensively. They kind of strung us out a few times where we couldn’t get help, so I give a lot of credit to Greece. We could meet them again down the road.
 
Josh Jackson (Consortium College Prep H.S./ Southfield, Mich.)
On tonight’s game:
We came out expecting to beat them by a whole lot of points. Playing in the (2013) U16s, we kind of dominated everybody. So, it was kind of a surprise to come out and see how good they were.
 
Was it good to start the tournament with a tough game like this?
Yes. It shows us that we have to respect our opponents. We have to treat every game like the gold medal game. (Vasilis Charalampopoulos) scored a lot of points. He’s just non-stop for them. So, we tried to contain him and do the best we could. It worked; we got the win.
 
What do you still need to work on?
We need to work on rebounding, finding the open guy and moving the ball around a little more.
 
Malik Newman (Callaway H.S./Jackson, Miss.)
On tonight’s game:
It was a good game. Basketball is a game of runs. At first we got kind of shook up by it, but we had to think about it, toughen up and believe in each other, trust in each other and just fight through it.
 
There were 25 fouls called on the USA team, is the way the international game is called a difficult adjustment?
Not really. It’s the same thing in America. But with the game played different, it is something we probably need to adjust to.
 
What did the team do well and what do you need to tighten up?
We did a great job believing in each other and staying together as a team. When people make early runs, we need to keep the trust and keep believing in each other.  On the other side, we allowed too many offensive rebounds tonight. We need to work on that.
 
On the play of Diamond Stone:
Diamond was great. He was a big factor for us because he can work from the inside-out. For us to feed him early and for him get going kind of opened up the game for us guards.
 
Was it good to start the tournament with a tough game like this?
It was. With the scrimmages that we had, we were winning, but they were competitive. But, something like this with the crowd, with the refs, the great players that Greece had, it was good. It let us know that we can’t just walk on the court and beat someone by 40 just because we’re the USA. We have to play hard to get the win. 
 
Diamond Stone (Dominican H.S./Milwaukee, Wis.)
On tonight’s game:
We got the win. This was a big deal for us. Greece is a great team. We just came out of the gate and were attacking the rim. Our coach told us not to settle for jump shots, so we took that into consideration and started attacking the rim and started increasing the lead.
 
Is there a lot of room to grow for this team as it goes along in the tournament?
Yes. No one’s perfect. I need to increase my stamina so I can be able to last on the floor long enough. I get tired too much. My post defense needs work. It’s just about becoming consistant.
 
Was the tough game a good start for you?
Yes. I think today we came out thinking we were going to blow this team out and it wasn’t that easy. So, now we have that chip on our shoulder and we’re going to bring it the rest of the games.
 
Did you watch any of the other games and what do you think about the other athletes?
We watched Puerto Rico and Spain play today and we watched Angola against Philippines. They’re great. They’re the best in their countries. We’re playing the best teams in the world, so we can’t take any of these teams easy. We have to push it.
 
Do you feel like you have a target on your back, that every team is going to come after you with their best?
Yes, every game is going to be the best. We’re the USA, so every game is going to be a grind, so we just need to overcome that.
 
Jayson Tatum (Chaminade College Prep/St. Louis, Mo.)
On tonight’s game:
At first we had to adjust to the rules and the refs. A lot of guys were in foul trouble, like myself. But, it was still a physical game inside. We just have to play smarter and more unselfish.
 
Was it good to have a close game like this to get more focused?
Yes, it does help us. Most of us came out thinking it was going to be a cakewalk. This helps us to prepare better and get more focused for the next games in the following days.
 
On the play of some of his teammates against Greece:
Diamond (Stone) definitely helped us out, especially in the beginning. He was really strong on the glass and scoring inside. Malik (Newman) did as well. He was strong for us. Then Josh (Jackson) really picked it up in the second half.

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