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Mike Krzyzewski and Stephen Curry

Additional Quotes >> USA 86, Mexico 63

  • Date:
    Sep 6, 2014

Barcelona, Spain 

USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University)

Comments about the game:

I want to congratulate Mexico. They played really well during pool play to earn a spot here; very well coached. (Gustavo) Ayon was terrific today; it was an honor to compete against him.

Overall I was pleased because it’s our sixth game in eight days, and we had this early game to get going. I thought we continued to play good defense until the last few minutes when they just threw in two or three threes; they’d only had one three. So our defense on the three was terrific and especially on (Hector) Hernandez, who is their best 3-point shooter, and he didn’t score. Those are things we game planned for, and our guys responded. Our fours really responded in guarding Hernandez.  Obviously the shooting of Steph (Curry), but the play of DeMarcus Cousins was, again that’s a couple of games in a row where he has been a force for us and he’s a different player then Anthony Davis, and that is kind of what we were hoping we would to continue moving forward with, and DeMarcus is coming through for us.

A tactic that your guys aren’t used to is the constant fouling to stop the fast break. As you progress through the tournament and come against some faster teams is that something you would instruct them to use, or would you prefer to keep the tempo fast, even if it means giving up a couple of baskets here and there?

It’s a unique thing about FIBA basketball, and we actually have done it a couple of times. I think our guys are actually picking it up; maybe it will be a new thing in the NBA. What we’ve tried to do is try and pass ahead, but when we pass ahead we’ve got make sure we put the ball down right away. In other words, when you see the foul coming, try to stop and pass ahead if you can. But if not, you just react. You don’t want to make too big of thing about it, but it is a tactic to stop us. I can remember in London in the gold medal game three times in the fourth quarter we had a chance to break away and we got fouled like that, and so it is something we talk about a lot and we’re using it a little bit.

You mentioned DeMarcus (Cousins), did you have to talk to him at all in Bilbao when he admitted her was struggling a little bit with the style and what did he do to overcome that and get as comfortable as he is now?

We talk to him everyday because we have believed in DeMarcus right from training camp. All the reports about him not making the team and all that were all not right.  We felt he would be the perfect guy with or in place of Anthony at times, but more in the place of Anthony, and I think it’s just a matter of him continuing to get in better shape, our guys getting accustomed that when he does come into the game he’s different than Anthony and so to look for him. I think they see him more now, and I think his defense has really improved. He tried to take three charges today. He played Ayon pretty well without getting help, so they couldn’t get a three off of him. I thought he played, not grading everybody although you guys do that, he’d get an A+ from me today, let’s just put it that way.

The first couple of games you guys were pretty inside heavy it seemed like with Anthony (Davis) and Kenneth (Faried) doing a lot of the scoring. Today there was a lot, Steph shooting and everything; does it feel like the balance is getting there a little bit better?

Yeah, and I think the more they get accustomed to playing with one-another. For a few games I think our perimeter guys were just trying to get Anthony (Davis) off because we had not looked for him and the pendulum went too far where we’re looking at that too much. Today it’s swinging more into the middle, and if we get that balance then we’ll be a very … we think we are a good offensive team, but we can be an outstanding offensive team if we get that balance.

What are you most happy with and what are you least happy with in the development of your team?

I’m not unhappy with our team really, six games in eight days is difficult. They give me their attention; I wish they knew each other better. You can’t force that maturation process, its just got to happen. But they listen; they are unselfish. I think the main thing I’m happy about no matter what we’re doing offensively, the defense hasn’t suffered. They continue to play really positive defense.


DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings)

What did you learn from this game?

We can’t start games off the way we are. We can’t continue to start games off like this. We picked it up the second half, we played the correct type of basketball and we came out with a tough win. It’s not time to relax. We still got three more games to go, so the grind doesn’t stop and we got to play better basketball as a team.

Is there something you can put finger on with the starts?

I believe it’s us. I feel like we’re coming out way too relaxed. I feel like we think we can just come out and turn it on when we want to. That can’t be the case. We got to come out and hit them in the mouth early.

What does it mean to you to have that dominant stretch in the second half?

It’s good to get a good game under your belt. Hopefully, I’ll just carry this momentum over to the next game.

For the bigs, what do you learn from a big like Ayon and the skill he has?

There are a lot of skilled bigs in this tournament. We know that, but it’s not about just one guy guarding that guy. It’s a team effort, but I think we did a better job in the second half.   He had a great game, but it think it’s more a team effort.


Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)

Comments about the game:

Another great performance. We came out better in the first five minutes of the game with energy and started pretty well. Our defense is still the thing that is keeping us going, putting pressure on our opponents to take them out of their offense and just force the tempo, and we did that at the start of the game and it kind of carried over throughout the rest of the game. Just a lot of fun playing here in Barcelona; it’s a lot of our first times playing here; we definitely enjoyed it and looking forward to Tuesday.

You went through this four years ago in Turkey; what parallels would you draw watching the growth of this team compared to what you experienced four years ago experiencing the growth of that team over the course of that tourney?

Very similar. We’re a new group together, so every game where we have an opportunity to play, obviously the focus is on winning, but we’ve played better each and every game I think. We’ve focused on some of the weaknesses we showed early – not starting well, having lackadaisical first five minutes, and we’ve definitely addressed that and gotten better. But like coach said, we’re getting more comfortable playing with each other, knowing where we’re going to get our shots and driving angles and just playing off of each other. nd every game that’s the focus of just getting more comfortable and living in the moment. In 2010 we did that, every game was fun, energetic, and just enjoying the ride. Now that we’re here in Barcelona and got our first medal game under our belt, we’ve got the wheels going and (we’re) excited to get back to work on Tuesday.

As the guys pulled out over the last month or got injured, for you as you were looking at your role did it change your perspective as you approach Spain and what you wanted to do. 

It’s more that I would say I was expected to have a huge impact on the team from the get-go. Having the 2010 experience and being healthy now four years later, talking to coach going into training camp and just getting back into that USA vibe, I definitely felt a huge opportunity to be a leader, to be vocal, to use that experience that I had and along with some of the other guys that have been here before. So that didn’t change at all. Obviously as the roster shapes the way it is, you understand what is needed of you and it becomes more real as you go through the process and that’s how it happened. Nothing really about my expectations changed; you just really can’t foresee how it’s going to shape out until you get here. Like I said it‘s a big thing just living in the moment and enjoying, and that’s kind of what I’m doing.


Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)

Thoughts on today’s game?   Were you happy with the better start?

We played alright. It wasn’t our best performance out of the gate, but it was alright.   Whoever our next opponent is, we got make sure we come out a lot more enthused, a lot more energy and start putting teams away early.

What did you feel you did best tonight as a team?

I think we defended. I think we did a great job defending.  We got back to rebounding the ball and sharing the ball.  That’s what we need to do in order to win – make sure we defend, rebound and share the ball.

Is the intensity of game amping up as you go through elimination round?

Yeah, I think a lot of teams kind of know what we do, so they try to bring that intensity to try to outmatch our intensity. You know, how to (get) the crowd on their side, how to (get) momentum on their side. We got to make sure we bring that juice and that energy from the beginning, so that way the game is based on us and not on the other team.

Are you looking forward to a couple days off or would you rather get right back at it?

I’d rather get right back at it.  You need days off to rest, but just me personally with the way I’ve been playing, I just want to play my way out of it.

What is the team’s approach right now?

We were focused on Mexico this afternoon. We got another game on Tuesday. We’ll see who we play then. We’ll go scout for them and try to get another victory.


James Harden (Houston Rockets)

What happened at halftime to ensure you’d spread the floor better in the second half?

We didn’t have our Mojo like we needed to have. We were making shots, but we didn’t have that excitement like we needed to. We came out in the second half and moved the ball. Our defense was tremendous. I think they scored like 11 points in that third quarter. We put everything together.

What was has been the one consistent thing at practice you want to work on all week?

Our defense – that’s going to win us games. We’re so talented offensively. Defensively if we can just click and make sure we’re on the same page for the most part, we’ll be pretty good.

Any wishes who you play next?

Whoever we play.   We’re just focused on our next opponent and we’re not going to take anyone for granted.

Do you know either team better than the other?

We played both the teams and both of them are very good so whoever we play, it should be a great game.

Are you satisfied with the level of performance by the team?

Yeah.   Steph led the way today.   He shot the ball very well.  Our defense picked up in the second half.   We spread the lead.   Like I said, whoever we play the next game is going to be a tough opponent and we got to be mentally and physically ready.

Is your team rising?

We’re getting better.   All we have to do is peak at the right time.   We play in Bilbao pretty good.   We have another step to go in order to win a gold medal.

How about the chemistry between you and Curry?

Steph is a great player.   He’s a scorer but he can also make passes as well.   Everybody on this team is versatile.  That’s what makes it so good.   If one guy is not scoring one night, other guys are.   It was a show of it tonight.


Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls)

Is it tough when your minutes are so sporadic?

You know me, as long as we win the game, I’m fine with it. The goal is to win gold. People forget about the stats once you win it. I’ve played in this long enough to know that it’s all about winning at the end, being the last guy at the end.

Are you looking forward to the days off?

It gives us a lot of rest.  We got two days off. I’m just going to relax with my family. My agent just came in to town; I’m going to FaceTime with my son.

Have you seen any of the other games in the tournament?

I haven’t had any chance to see any. I saw Spain a couple of times on TV, but I haven’t had the chance to see anyone else.

What are you thoughts on the Dragic brothers?

They’re good. They play well together. Both are left-handed players. They can really shoot the ball. It’s going to be a challenge for us (if the U.S. plays them).  We played against them in the Canary Islands, and they gave us a good game. We are just trying to keep this going. 

Do you think their game depends too much on Goran Dragic?

I wouldn’t say that. You never know how they are going to play when they play against us. You got their coaching staff will probably change up some things. They’ll probably give other guys opportunities to show what they can do, so we just got to be ready for everything.

Are you enjoying the different role?

Before I came into the league, the NBA sort of forced me to score the ball when I came to the Bulls. It kind of was a different role for me. Other than that, my whole life I’ve been a point guard really, a basic point guard. Then come here, it gives me kind of a flashback, because it gives me a chance to really control the game in a certain way that I’m used to, but I haven’t done it in a long time.


Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)

Thoughts on your next opponent?

We either face the DR or Slovenia, and both teams have really good guards who really push the tempo. We like to play that style, but when we play teams like that, you have to force them to beat us with long, contested 2-pointers, not 3-pointers but long, contested 2-pointers. We got great shot blockers on the inside, so if we can just run them off the 3-point line, I think we’ll be successful. 

Talk about your defense:

We know we got a really laterally athletic team, so teams might be able to keep up with us for the first 20 minutes, but we just try to wear on them and put as much pressure on them as possible. We got great length, so we’re good at playing the passing lanes. If we just play together on the defensive end, I think we’ll give a lot of team’s headaches. 

Is your team speed the difference in why you win all your games by 20+ points?

I think that’s good for us. We don’t want any close games right now. Down the line, we are going to face some really good teams. We respect all the opponents we play. They’re here for a reason. Mexico was a tough team tonight. They play physical, and they didn’t back down, so you got to respect them for it.

Any idea what you’ll see in the future? Spain is a possible opponent?

Spain is a great team. They’ve been playing well together for a decade now. But we can’t look that far ahead. You have to respect the team that comes next, whether it’s DR or Slovenia, and just take it one game at a time, because that’s when teams catch you sleeping, when you’re looking ahead instead of giving it your all that game.


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