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Javonte Smart

Additional Quotes: 2016 USA U17 Men 133, South Korea 81

  • Date:
    Jul 1, 2016

Zaragoza, Spain • Quarterfinals

USA head coach Don Showalter (USA Basketball)
On today’s game:
We dominated the boards, and I was really pleased with that. Our defense in the second quarter was really good, it really broke the game open. We played really solid, we changed up our defenses a little bit. We had some really good individual performances overall, from players coming off the bench to our starters. I like the way we’re coming together chemistry-wise. We’re really feeding off each other that way.

Obviously I’m not overly pleased with our defense in the second half. They scored 49 points in the second half, so there are areas where we still have to get better. We’ll talk to the players about that, we’ll see that in film and move on.

On the second quarter:
We made better decisions. We didn’t turn the ball over like we did in the first quarter. We had 11 in the first quarter and then 4 in the second quarter. So, we really did a better job of taking care of the basketball. The other thing is that we got the ball inside where we wanted it. They could not guard our bigs and we got some easy baskets inside. We finished a lot of baskets inside, which we hadn’t done in some of the other games.

After seeing the upsets and close games in the day’s first three quarterfinal games, did that give the team extra motivation against South Korea?
We said that two of the No. 1 seeds got beat in Canada and France, and then Spain had a difficult time and they’re a No. 1 seed, so it kind of woke our boys up a little bit. Although, I think they’re pretty focused right now on what the goal is. It was good to remind them that this was a quarterfinal game and that anything can happen and if you don’t win this game, you’re playing for fifth.

On playing Lithuania in the semifinals:
Lithuania has been together so long with this group, probably about two years, they’ve practiced together. They run great sets. Because they’ve been together, they can work on those sets. We’re going to have to do a really good job of playing great defense, having good communication on the court and we need a fast-tempo game. We need to get the ball up and down the court, and I assume they’re going to try to take that away from us.

Jaren Jackson Jr. (Park Tudor School/Carmel, Ind.)
On the USA’s strong start against South Korea:
We came out with a focus. We knew we couldn’t take them for granted, even though we feel like we are a much better team. Early on they hit some shots, they hit some 3s, but we matched that and we were able to jump out to a big lead and continue that throughout the game.

Is defense your role on this team?
Yes, that’s the role I’m bringing to the team right now. We have a lot of scorers and coach said you always have to fill a role on a team to be successful and win gold, and that was one of the main things he wanted me to do. He wanted me to be a shot changer or shot blocker.

On playing Lithuania in the semifinals:
That’s going to be very tough. As we get higher and higher into the bracket the fans are going to get louder, the teams are going to get louder and everyone wants to beat us. We’re going to be ready and we’re going to come out aggressively.

On the depth of the USA team:
We had 39 guys try out and we cut it to 18, and all 39 guys can play at this level. When you have a great country like ours where you can take anybody from anywhere and you can go up against anybody, and you play really hard and play really well together, having all guys playing gives everybody a break and it allows us to keep putting it on the opponent.

Kevin Knox II (Tampa Catholic H.S./Riverview, Fla.)
On tonight’s game:
We played really well. We played unselfish. We had a lot of points on the board, so everybody was getting a little bit of everything. We still have to work on our defense towards the end of our games and closing out halves.

On easing up on the second half:
We have to focus more. We were blowing them out, but they came out and started making jump shots. We got lazy on defense. But, we’re going to work on that in practice tomorrow and just get better because we’re going to play better teams each night, so we have to be better defensively in the second half.

On Collin Sexton and Javante Smart combining for 11 assists:
They were really good. They did a really good job for us running the ball. They did a really good job getting the ball to the bigs inside and us out on the wings. They did a really good job.

On playing Lithuania in the semifinals:
Coach said that they’re really disciplined. They’re a really good 3-point shooting team, so we have to close out on the defensive end.  

Immanuel Quickley (John Carroll School/Havre De Grace, Md.)
On tonight’s game and moving into the semifinals:
We played well. Korea is a really good team, but we wanted to stay the course, continue to get stops and we ended up getting the win.

After seeing the upsets and close games in the day’s first three quarterfinal games, did that give you extra motivation against South Korea?
That kind of does happen in tournaments. The No. 1 seeds can sometimes let their guard down a little bit, so we just wanted to make a conscious effort to come out and jump on them early to try to get the win.

How hard is it for teams to scout the USA team, which has so many options?
I think it really is hard, just because we have so many great players on this team and we have so many versatile players on this team. Guys can do a lot of stuff, so it makes it really hard for a team to scout us.

What needs to be worked on over the next two games:
We need to just continue to build the bond on and off the floor. We all really like each other, so just continue to build the bond we have, continue to play together, play defense and we should be alright.

Collin Sexton (Pebblebrook H.S./Mableton, Ga.)
On tonight’s game
We went out there and executed pretty well. Everybody played unselfish. We just have to close the game out better. We started the first half and we blew them out. In the second half we just got a little lackadaisical on defense, we really weren’t rebounding and playing hard. But we still had a great team effort overall.

On the USA’s scoring record:
None of us really knew that was the record. That’s pretty good. That’s exciting.

After seeing the upsets and close games in the day’s first three quarterfinal games, did that give you extra motivation against South Korea?
Yeah, it made us want to come out here and play that much harder. Knowing that two of the top seeds had lost, that made us want to play even harder. We were ready to play.


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