Additional Quotes >> USA 98, Turkey 77
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski
First off, I thought Turkey played a great game. They’re extremely well coached, they have veteran players, they did a terrific job of controlling the tempo. (Omer) Asik really protected the basket, and the tempo of the game the entire first half was dictated by Turkey. We never really attacked the way we were able to and the way we did in the second half. I think sometimes when you have a game like we did the night before where you’re just scoring at will, you can take it for granted. The big lesson for our team is you can’t take things for granted especially when you’re playing teams the caliber of Turkey.
I thought Kenneth and Anthony in the second half played at an extremely high level and we responded to game pressure very, very well, and really played an outstanding second half and played a very poor first half, and we can’t do that going forward
The third quarter was the turning point…your team only attempted three 3-pointers during the third quarter, was that a strategy or what did you talk about at halftime?
Well, we had no movement whether it was against zone or man, we didn’t have good player movement and we were settling for jump shots instead of driving the ball, so we wanted to start driving the ball and penetrating, whether it be against man or zone. The very first play we did that. I thought we were playing really hard and then Turkey responded with an incredible number of threes in a row. That’s where I was most proud of our team. You put in an effort and you get a little bit of a lead and all of a sudden - boom, boom, boom – you know they respond and we responded again. So that second response by us showed me that my team is very good and really wanted it, and you don’t find about those things until you are put into game situation like this and Turkey is so good. They had a poor game yesterday and they responded today. You just can’t have poor games, or poor halves, it’s one and done. You don’t get these things to do over again.
What were the details you changed at half?
We just talked about the fact that we all knew we didn’t play well in the first half and to just say that it’s because of us is wrong. Turkey is good, so they made us play poorly. How did we counter that, we went through steps of how we wanted to counter it, and our guys did that and did things on their own that we didn’t even tell them. I think Kenneth’s play, I think it was 64-60, we had missed a couple of close-in shots and he got that steal and dunk that put us up 66-60, and I think that was the biggest play of the game. It was by far the biggest play of the game, and it seemed like we went from there.
You gave your starters considerably more time today more so then previously games. Is that a strategy you’ll use in games with high ranked opponents?
It’s not a pre-game thing that you plan. Obviously the group that was playing was playing well. It’s not blatant, you might never get a chance, so you go with the guys that are playing well and if someone is playing well off the bench you would go with them. It just so happened that our starters really turned it on, so they got more minutes. We used a timeout to get them rest. I couldn’t afford to take guys like him (Faried) out. It would really not be a very smart thing to do. He asked to come out in the fourth quarter for a little bit, and I told him to just get a real quick rest. When someone is playing that well you keep him in, or a group’s playing well you play them. You just go with the feel of what’s going on. We expect everybody on this team to contribute and a lot of guys had that opportunity tonight, and a certain group took advantage of it and we rode them.
What do you know about New Zealand?
I have not watched New Zealand. We have a day in between, and I’ll watch them. I saw the Turkey game, but I was watching Turkey when I was watching, and it looked like New Zealand should have won, or was in a good position. So if they had a change to beat Turkey, they must be pretty good. We’ll respect them with our preparation, and I know from past competitions Penny is a heck of a player. I’ll know about them after tomorrow.
What is the lesson you learned from this game?
Just don’t get behind. Be ahead at the end of each quarter, I think that’s the main lesson learned. To try not to let your opponent dictate tempo. I just thought no matter what we did or what we tried to do in the first half, we were never able to generate that tempo. Then in the second half we scored 63 points, that’s a lot of points but it was at our tempo, and that will be a key thing for anybody who is going to win this thing – play at the tempo that affords them the opportunity to play at their best.
Do you feel like they ran out of gas?
I thought the tempo in the third quarter was what we wanted, but they countered with four of five threes. We had a chance to get knocked back and we didn’t, and that was a really great thing for mental toughness.
We won and we won because we deserved to win. Our guys played their hearts out, and that was a big win for us against a really good team
On Kyrie’s play:
Kyrie played a heck of a second half, and he was a key guy for us.
On the game:
They slowed the tempo down, and it took us a minute to adjust. We knew that our defensive pressure for forty minutes would wear on them. We’re a very deep team, so if we don’t get rattled and stick to what we do best –that’s play defense, we’ll be fine.
Was the USA’s athleticism the difference?
We’re a very deep team. We got twelve guys that can go out there and play significant minutes and produce on both ends of the floor. We like to pressure full court for the full forty minutes. If a team is able to withstand that, then they’ll be in good shape, but I don’t see how they can do that with how much pressure we put on the ball.
On New Zealand tomorrow:
We watched the game they played against Turkey, and they played them strong. It took Turkey a fortunate comeback down the stretch, so we have to be ready for their energy. We don’t know exactly their system yet, but when they play a team like Turkey tough like they did yesterday, and I know they didn’t fare well today, but they’ll be a tough opponent. We have to come out focused.
Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)
Did you guys learn anything about how you have to attack teams when they play zone?
They went zone almost the whole game. We got to come out with a sense of urgency from the beginning. I think we did that in the second half. That’s what let us be able to get that lead.
On the crowd and fighting from behind:
Most of us are used to it from playing in the league – go somewhere in an arena where guys don’t like you and they boo you, so we’re kind of used to it. But it’s a different type of energy (here). They are here for the whole forty minutes, cheering their team on. So me personally, it brings out the best in me. It made me want to go out there even harder, play even better, and I’m pretty sure it does for the rest of the guys as well.
On the halftime talk in the locker room:
We all had to look in the mirror and know we had to play better, whether offensively or defensively. Coach did most of the talking and just told us what we had to do, kept it real with us and told us that we had to go out there and play. We can’t go out there and lollygag or procrastinate. We had to go out there in that third quarter and get it done.
Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets)
Well, first thing I think tonight we learned a lot about each other and learned a lot about ourselves. We had to go out there and grind out a win. Basically we have to have everybody buy in to what coach has been telling us, which is we can’t take no games off or just think we’re going to walk in because we’re the United States and win.
You scored 22 points, eight rebounds, three steals, two blocks and some momentum changing plays, where do you get that energy from?
Well, my energy? I don’t know. I just love to play basketball. Every time I step on the basketball court, you never know it could be your last game, so I like to play my hardest in every game. When you love the game like that it tends to reward you back.
On the first half:
We came out too relaxed and we had to pick it up, our intensity. We had the will.We just weren’t focused on the right things, and all we had to do was stay together.
Too relaxed because?
Last night’s game was pretty easy, and tonight was going to be the same way. But, Turkey came out and gave us their punch from the beginning. We took it, and we were sluggish. In the second half, we played a lot better.
Your bigs were a difference tonight:
Yeah, Kenneth changed the game. With his intensity, his defensive effort, his hustle plays, block shots. He did everything tonight. That kind of got us going a little bit. Anthony picked up the slack, finishing, doing what he does best. Overall, a collective great win for us tonight.
Thoughts on Omer Asik:
That’s my guy. We’re going to miss him in Houston, but he played well. He rebounded the basketball, made some really good passes. Like I said, they are a really good team. They played in the first half very good.
How have you grown as a player?
I just try to stay in the gym. This is my job, and I’m very passionate about it. I want to get better, and this is a great experience for me this last couple years. So many different things have been thrown my way. For the most part, I just tried to stay focused and do what’s right.
What was the difference in the second half tonight?
Just our focus. Just paying attention to detail. In the first half, we separated as a team a little bit. We had some adversity. We faced it. Going into the locker room, we just came together as a team. Coach just had us talk. We brought it together. We told each other what we needed to do adjustment-wise on both ends of the floor. I think we did a great job of executing in the second half. That’s what it boiled down to. They are a great team, a great Turkey team. A lot of veteran leadership on that team. I feel like we just buckled down in the third quarter and the fourth quarter and just took it to them.
Did it feel like they were playing that deliberate style to frustrate you?
They just did a great job of slowing our pace down in the first half. They played a matchup zone. We weren’t attacking it as much, including myself. All the guards, in the first half, were being tentative on our decision making, a lot of indecision. But in the second half, we started trusting the pass, trusting the penetration in the zone and started making shots.
On playing for the national team:
It’s been very emotional. It’s my first time playing on a national team on a national stage in another country. Opposing fans are going against you. As long as we all stick together, all the guys in the locker room, I feel like we have a great chance of winning a gold medal
What are the biggest adjustments you’ve had to make in the FIBA game?
Just getting used to the pace of the game. Obviously, yesterday I made a little mistake, trying to call a time out from out of bounds, and only the coach can call timeout. Just the pace of the game, physicality, getting used to the way the games are reffed. We’re doing a great job of transitioning the NBA game into the international game.
On playing for Coach K again:
This is by far in my career the best experience of my life. Honestly, to play for my coach again, get a chance to play for a gold medal especially with a guy I was with for a short time. But this is our chance to rekindle the flame in sort of saying of going after something bigger than ourselves, and that’s a gold medal for our country.
Do you have personal goals for your time here?
No, no. There are no personal things, just win a gold medal. That’s it.
Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls)
About the game:
The first group did a hell of job with starting the energy, getting the energy going, and the bench just came up and tried to follow up behind them, and tonight we got the win.
How good is a game like this to test and push the USA?
These games are always needed. You definitely want to go through them, but you always want to get rid of a team early; but to compete against a team like this, they’ve been together a long time, they run their sets and play a slow game. It was a close game in the first half, and we pushed away in the third quarter thanks to the first group.
What was the difference in the third quarter?
Defensively we got into them and got a lot of turnovers, and that changed the game.
What was the conversation in the locker room?
We did not feel good. I’d be lying to you if I told you we felt great going in there. That was the worst half we have played throughout exhibitions and in the tournament. It was a good test for us.You have to give Turkey credit. They are a veteran team. They play well as a team together. I was really happy with the effort in the second half. We just got to remember to come out like that at the beginning. Our shots might not fall, but if we play defense like that, we’re going to make it tough on everybody.
Any reason why the team has been so sporadic shooting the ball from the perimeter?
That’s just basketball. We try not to rely too heavily on 3-point shots because we have such good post players and such good guards getting in the lane. You are going to have nights like that I’m sure next game, we’ll go 11 for 20 from three or something like that. That’s basketball. If our jumpers aren’t falling, we can’t let that dictate what we’re doing on the other end. I think we did that a little bit too much this game. In the second half, we did a great job of putting the pressure on them, getting to the rim. Once you see a few buckets go in around the rim, it opens up the perimeter so much more.
What have you learned from this team through the first two games?
We’re pretty resilient. We play together. We pick each other up. If we play unselfish, I feel like we are the best team in the world, so we just got to remember and talk out there and communicate. When we’re out there and we’re somber and not talking, it makes teams comfortable, and we try to make teams as uncomfortable as possible and put as much pressure as we can on them.
What was the difference in the second half?
Just the intensity level, especially on the defensive end. We didn’t let made shots deflate us like we did in the first half.