Quotes From Day 1 In Barcelona
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University)
How was Kyrie?
He went through the whole workout. He was a little bit sore to begin with, but he worked his soreness out. He’s ready to go. 100 percent.
How do you prepare the team when you are the favorite?
We don’t consider ourselves favorites. We have enough respect for our opponents where we know that we can be beaten. So we prepare very hard and very respectful, and hopefully that’s how our performance will come out.
Do you know players from Mexico?
I’ve studied the Mexico team very well. (Gustavo) Ayon, he‘s a gifted player, great competitor, and I think his injuries have stopped him from being a really outstanding NBA player, and still he’s played well. Gutierrez is obviously with the Nets. He’s different with their national team, because he wants to be a leader. Again, when I think of them, I think they are very competitive, they are very unselfish, they share the ball, take good shots, really well-coached. Hernandez, the stretch-4, presents a problem because he is as good a 3-point shooter as anybody on their team. I thought they played really well in their pool play (and) were in position to win one or two more games than they actually did.
Where do you stand on team leadership with all these alpha dogs on one team?
I’m not sure all of them on any team that I’ve coached where everyone (was) an alpha dog. In Beijing, Istanbul or London, there weren’t that many alpha dogs out there. Alpha dogs are Kobe Bryant, LeBron, Carmelo. But, leaders are different. With leadership, you have to have experience, and experience in this type of competition, but also experience with me. So, James and Steph have naturally done that along with Anthony, because all three of them have been part of teams that I’ve coached. There is a familiarity there for them to know me and what we’re trying to get across, so those three guys have done a real good job with it.
Do you feel like a strong contender for the championship?
I think we’re a good team. We still have to get better. One thing about winning a world championship or Olympics is you have to earn it. It has nothing to with whose the favorite, or your press clippings or predictions. It has to do with performance. You take away that P world of predictions and put performance in there, and that’s what you concentrate on. We hope that if we’re fortunate enough to win, that we’ve earned it as a result of doing it the right way every step of the way.
How is the style different compared to the team that won the Olympic gold medal in 2012?
We didn’t have a center. You had players who didn’t have positions. What position does Kevin Durant play? LeBron, Kobe, Carmelo? So, you have a different style because you don’t put them in a position. You don’t want to put them in a box by saying you’re the 2 or 3, or whatever. Our team is different. We have really good players, but they’re not that type of player. It doesn’t mean they’re not equally good in some respects, but the versatility of those teams is what set them apart. You’re not going to see that every often. You’re just not going to see it very often.
How do you think Derrick came out of three games in three days?
Great. He’s great. I think at some time people should stop asking about him physically and just say, ‘how’s your game? Do you think we’re gonna win? How did you like that pass?’ It sometimes, although it’s nice when people say how do you feel, when that’s the only thing they say, you say, ‘come on man’ let’s have a more in-depth conversation, and I think he’s ready for that.
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
Your first couple of games your shot wasn't falling great. The last couple the ball has been going in better, are you feeling better overall, is there any reason for the slow start?
No, I got some great looks. I think I took one or two bad shots on my part, but I just wasn't knocking them down. I never lost confidence. I did get a little frustrated because guys were making great plays, setting me up and you've got to be able to knock them down while you're out there on the floor. But (I'm) sticking with the program, and eventually, hopefully in the more meaningful games down the stretch, I'll make up for it.
Do you feel like the good part about this team in the first five games is that you all haven't hit that point where you just roll from start to finish, that that game is still to come.
Yeah, we haven't played the perfect 40 minutes. This is a long journey, nine games and we've got to find different ways to win. I think we have gotten better every single game with our performance, so that's something that was a mission going into pool play, knowing if we played our best we should win the pool and set ourselves up for a lot of confidence while we're here in Barcelona. So, that's what we're doing.
Having been a part of these teams before, do you go in knowing it doesn't haven't to be perfect from the start like some people expect you to come out and win by a certain number of points night after night. Having gone through it you know it's got to be a process?
Yeah, we want to play that way. We definitely have that expectation every time we step on the floor, but not to panic if it doesn't, if a team has an early lead or its a two-possession game in the first four minutes. The teams are talented. It’s not that we're out here playing jayvee teams. It's mostly professional players, guys who know how to play the game, and so our strength is just being able to do that, put that pressure and that kind of intensity into the game for 40 minutes knowing how deep we are, how well we play defense, and that's how we've been successful. Having gone through 2010, and the other guys having gone through two years ago at the Olympics, you know to not panic, especially early in games. We've got start better. We've got to play better but don't panic.
Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)
On Spain’s team:
We are not focused on that right now. We are focused on the team that we play tomorrow, and it’s going to be a tough Mexico team, and we got to get prepared for them.
Are you feeling comfortable with your experience in here in Spain, and who important are you to the team now?
I’m very comfortable. I think the importance of me being on the floor, is very big for the team and USA Basketball. I can’t allow myself to keep getting in foul trouble and everything like that. I got to make sure I’m able to stay on the floor, especially in late game situations.
Do you feel like an important player for the U.S. team?
I think I am, and that’s why it is important for me to stay on the floor. I can’t pick up silly fouls and have to sit down in the first half because I got three fouls, or two fouls. It’s five here, instead of six in the NBA, so I got to make sure that I stay down on pump fakes and don’t make any silly, stupid fouls.
Do you feel like you are a leader on this team?
I mean I am just trying to play basketball, whether it’s making sure I’m communicating with my team. I think all of us on here can be leaders on this team, and that’s what we are all trying to do. We see someone messing up, or even if we see someone doing a great job, we try and make sure that we tell them and make sure we give them a compliment and try to keep their spirits up, even if they are messing up. We are going to need everybody in this tournament.
Is this also a good experience for you for the NBA season?
Yeah, most definitely. When you get a chance to play basketball any time, in any competition, you are always going to get better. Right now, we are focused on winning a medal.
What do you know about Mexico?
They got two NBA players. They got great shooters. They like to shoot a lot of threes, so we got to make sure that we limit their threes and limit their key players.
Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets)
How the USA approaches games:
People say you go out there, you lace them up, you’re USA, you’re going to win the game. No. You have to be ready. You have to know your opponent just as well as they know you.
What do you think that you’re a top contender for the MVP right now?
That’s fine, but I’m not worried about that. I’m just worried about getting the gold. I just want to win and go home with s gold medal on my neck.
Do you think you will win the tournament?
We’re confident in ourselves. We don’t know what’s going to happen. We don’t know where the chips may fall, but we’re confident in each other. We’re confident in ourselves. God willing, we will win the tournament and go home with a gold. But, if not, as long as we put our best effort forth and our best foot forth, then we got to live with the results.
James Harden (Houston Rocket)
On the USA’s intensity against opponents:
We take every game serious, no matter who we are playing and no matter what their record is, and that’s the beauty of this team. We don’t take any team for granted. Any team can get hot and win a game, so we approach every game like it is our last.
On being in Barcelona, which has the history of the 1992 Dream Team:
They kind of paved the way for us to be here now. Two years ago, we were here for a week before we went to London, so I’m a little bit familiar with this beautiful city, and once again, we are happy to be here, we are excited and we have a game tomorrow.
What do you know about Mexico?
They are very good. They got a couple of guards that are really good, and their big men are really good. (Gustavo) Ayon, he is their leading scorer, so we are going to have to do a good job of playing hard, making sure it’s a team effort on the defensive end and offensively just move the ball and do what we have been doing.
How important is the game versus Mexico because of the rivalry with your neighbor?
Every game, like I said is important for us. Now, it’s elimination. You lose, you go home, so I know we got to be focused from the beginning of the game and come out with some energy.
How strong is the team feeling?
We are good. We have won each and every game by a pretty good margin, but I feel like we got another level to go to, another level to take our game to in order for us to have a chance at winning a gold medal. And we are capable of it. We have a lot of talent and a lot of guys that are hungry and want to win, so those two combinations are very important.
It’s a historical moment for Mexico. How do you face that?
It’s important for us to. It’s another game, but it’s an important game. Like I said, first game is elimination, so we are going to come out here and be ready to go from the beginning. We can’t have any mental lapses, and I think for the most part we won’t.
On other teams trying to avoid the USA in the quarterfinals:
We focus on our opponent and who we are facing. Mexico is a very good team, so we can’t overlook. We can’t worry about what is going on in any other side of the brackets. All we can focus on is Mexico, and that is what we can control, so we are going to go out there and compete.
What do you think of Gustavo Ayon? Have you played against him?
Yes, when he was with the Pelicans. He was pretty good. He has been on a few teams after that, but he’s still a very good player. He’s in the NBA, so, like I said, he is going to be a great matchup for us.
Coach Krzyzewski called you this team’s leader, what’s it been like for you? Did that happen organically?
Yeah. I think it’s just within the flow. I don’t try to put too much pressure on myself to go out there and just force the leadership. I just go out there and have fun, and if I got something to say, I’ll say it. If not, I’ll lead by example. And I think for the most part, everyone is the same way. If they got something to say, they are going to say it and that’s it.
Quiet group though, right?
Yeah, for the most part. For the most part, guys are funnier or talk when they feel comfortable. For the most part, pretty shy, but still a really good group.
Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls)
Can you assess your play coming back from the injury?
I’m loving the way that I’m playing. Of course, I’m missing shots, that’s part of the game. But, just conditioning-wise, how I’ve been playing defense and low turnovers the last couple of games, I’m loving the way I’m playing right now. (I) just got to continue to play defense, get back in the rhythm and keep knocking this rust off along the way.
What were your expectations going into the five games in six days?
It was just getting rest, staying healthy. I exceeded my expectations. I’m not sure. My knees are good. I know a lot of people are concerned about that, but I think that I’m playing well, pushing the ball, missing layups, little rusty stuff that normally comes with not playing for two years, but I think that as a team, as a unit, I think that we are really smothering people with our defense. Not in the beginning of the games, which we should be doing right away. But we always find our way getting on the same page and clicking on all cylinders at some point during the game.
Are you getting sick of answering the question about your health?
No, it’s gonna be the whole year, probably until I retire, so I can’t get sick and tired of it. I just got to be immune to it and just know that the question is always going to be in the air. Don’t worry about it.
Were you pleased in being able to play in all five games in six days?
I’m very pleased. It was more like an AAU-type schedule. I’m just happy to be playing basketball, competing at a high level, and I’m really happy with my conditioning right now. I feel me being up full court, really getting into people, running the team, just keeping this rust off along the way to get ready for the regular season.
Are you enjoying this role with USA Basketball, much different than you role with the Bulls?
Yes, it’s cool. Coming off the bench, it’s the first time in my life ever doing this. I told the reporters there that that’s what makes our team so unique and so deep. You have players like me, Klay and the rest of the starting five, almost all the players on our team, you have to sacrifice coming off the bench. With me in the second unit, I believe there is no second unit that can stick with me when I’m on the floor, and that’s vice versa with Kyrie if he was to come off the bench, no one could stick him. That’s what makes our unique. As far as a whole, I think we just to do better executing our plays, run the floor and just getting used to each other.