Additional Quotes: USA Men's U19 National Team 93, Argentina 45
Did you feel like the team continued to improve today?
We did some things that were very good tonight. Our turnovers were a concern; anytime you turn the basketball over 26 times that’s not a good sign. So it’s hard for us to have such a positive feeling and I think those 26 turnovers undermined a lot of great things we did.
We’re getting great production from our center position – Thomas Welsh, Chinanu (Onauku) and Caleb (Swanigan). Every game that we’ve played, if you look statistically at what they bring to the table, it favors us and I though they had another good night tonight.
Are you pleased that in that last couple of games the U.S. has started really strong?
Early in the tournament we fouled a lot in our press. We’re doing that less, and fouling negates a lot of good things. We did a much better job of pressing tonight and not fouling. Again we turned Argentina over, but we negated that because we turned the ball over 26 times.
Some of the players mentioned they feel like the chemistry has come together and they know what their teammates want and can do. Can you feel that as the coach?
Yes, we’ve been together now a lot longer than we were earlier, and to our players’ credit they have really embraced the things were trying to do. They’ve worked hard every day, and really tried the best they can do to be the best team they can be, and that’s really all we can ask.
What about the USA’s next opponent, Italy?
Italy is a very skilled team. They’re a system team, and we have to defend the 3-point line and do a great job of playing our style without fouling.
The USA seemed to continue to improve, talk about the game today:
I think we played a lot better today. We got Argentina to quit early, but we couldn’t lose focus and we had to keep playing hard and focus on the task at hand.
Are you feeling more comfortable out there, are you starting to know where your teammates want the ball or what they like to do?
Yeah, definitely. We’ve been together for a long time now, so we’re really starting to play more together as a team. We’re just playing so well together, it’s really beautiful to watch.
The USA defensive pressure has been causing a lot of issues for the other teams. How much fun is it playing like that, knowing you’ve got guys coming in to wear them down and there’s no let up with the constant pressure?
I think it’s fun for us to play this way especially because we haven’t been together as long as these other teams, so we can’t let them run their sets at all. It’s pretty obvious that’s what we want to do, and we just have to keep playing hard and playing the style coach wants us to play.
How did you feel today and what was the team’s focus?
I felt great; I tried to pick up the tempo. It started on the defensive end, just blocking shots and rebounding, and I tried to use that to help me get going offensively and help my team, just help with the energy of the team. The focus was just go out there and win because we didn’t want to go home. We didn’t travel this far to lose. I just went out there and played hard, and played the way USA should. We scrimmaged them (Argentina) earlier in a friendly, and we didn’t bring it like we should have. We only beat them by 11, but today we beat them by like 50.
How do you think the team has come along since you started playing in the tournament just a few days ago?
It’s been an incredible change. Starting with the team, and the individual players stepping up. We’ve accepted the fact that we’re here; accepted the fact that we’re here to work hard in every practice and we’re here to focus. Our goal is to win, so that was the first step. And then personally as a player, just lock in, do your role, just play for each other, play for the USA. I think if we do that our focus gets better. The more we play focused, the better we’ll be.
Do you feel like you’re jelling more as a team?
Most definitely. The more we play with each other, the more we practice with each other, the easier it gets. It becomes an easier game.
The USA’s inside guys really dominated today
We all just try and do our part. All three of us do something different, so we just try to do what we’re good at.
Do you feel like the team is continuing to come together?
I believe so, because when you’re beating people by 30 and 40 points it shows.
Is the USA’s all-out defensive pressure a fun thing to be involved in?
Well it’s not fun, but it works. We want to keep winning, so we’re going doing what has helped us win.
With the USA’s defensive pressure and forcing a turnover, getting a rebound, and then getting out and run, how important is that?
It’s real import because we’re a fast-paced team, so we want to get up the floor fast.
Do you feel like this team still has room to improve?
Oh yeah, we always have room to improve. Nobody on this team has reached their peak yet.
It seemed like the team’s focus was much better today compared to the exhibition game about we week back.
Yeah, we definitely took them lightly last time, didn’t respect them, and we all want to go home having won the gold medal, and we definitely felt like we owed them a game, owed them our best, and that’s what we tried to go out there and just keep pressure on them and try to win.
The team really started strongly today and kind of removed the team from having a thought of winning, do you feel like that when you get up on a team early?
We felt that around the third quarter that they started to give up. They were tired, they were turning the ball over, and that’s what we like to do, just keep working.
How are you feeling out there?
I’m feeling good. We’re winning and that’s all that matters right now, just winning.
Do you feel like the team has continued to improve?
Yeah we get better every day. You can see that in the way we’ve played, the scores of the games. We’re just improving every day we’re together.