Additional Quotes: USA Basketball Men’s National Team 111, Argentina 74
- Las Vegas, Nevada / July 22, 2016
NOTE: Argentina quotes can be found after the USA quotes.
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University)
First of all, I’d like to thank the city of Las Vegas for a fabulous week, for hosting us again and providing a great atmosphere for us to train. What a beautiful arena, a great crowd and for us (it was) an excellent week. Overall I thought it was good for our team. We got to play everybody double-figure minutes, a lot of different combinations. The huge thing for us during these five exhibition games is to try to be in game shape by the time we get to Rio.
These guys are coming off of either not playing or playing real long. They’re not there where they will be. In saying that, I thought we hustled really well. We shared the ball.
We really have an inside presence offensively on the boards with both those guys. Argentina, Sergio (Hernandez) is one of the best coaches in the world and he has a lot of young guys and I know he’s bringing them along. Their movement is more similar to a European team. I think he would say that, too. The other exhibitions that we play will not be that way. So, this was good. Their movement is very good, so we have a lot to look at.
Jimmy rolled his ankle a little bit. That’s why he didn’t come in, but it’s minor. He should be fine.
On the team’s rebounding and having two strong centers:
It’s really a different look then we’ve had since ’08, but even then that was Dwight (Howard) and Chris Bosh. And Chris was like a perimeter big who played off unbelievable ball-screen defense and helped us. These two guys are low posts; they work real hard at it. We didn’t shoot very well and we were kept in the game by their offensive rebounding and inside scoring. Then we forced some turnovers. So, that’s something to build on. You could tell those guys got tired in there. It’s not a walk-up game, so they’re kind of running sprints and they got tired real quick, but hopefully that means that they’ll get in shape really quick.
On the possibility of having the best defensive team he’s coached with USA Basketball:
I think there’s a willingness to play it. The guys want to play it and then it’s a matter of us getting to where we understand our coverages on the wing, top ball screens, DHOs, stuff like that so it’s coordinated. It’s still not coordinated, because guys do it a little bit differently on each team, but the willingness is there. And then we went to that line-up to match their line-up, where we could switch one through five and they had a hard time scoring. I wanted to get different units in there. The unit they started in the third quarter and what we started, our unit was not the defensive team that we normally would want against them. But, I think we can play really good D. And DeMar (DeRozan) had his hands on a lot of balls, and Paul (George) was really good on both ends of the court. Then either or he or Jimmy (Butler), Klay (Thompson), DeMar, those are very active defenders on the perimeter.
How did you feel about the team’s communication?
We have to get on the same page, speak the same language. In other words, with coverages they have to get accustomed to my voice, from the bench, on the bench. It’s something we work on all the time. Again, there’s a willingness from those guys to work on everything that we think we need to work on. They’ve been outstanding. They’re really a good group of guys, and we have good talent, good athleticism.
Are you happy with your perimeter shooting?
When we started the game, that’s all we wanted to do. We took a shot without movement and again, I want them to shoot, obviously if they can shoot. But it would be good if we had some movement when we’re doing it. Getting in a team rhythm and doing it. When we started shooting well I thought it was a team rhythm a little bit. In London our two leading scorers were KD and Carmelo and they shot in total over 50 percent from the 3-point line. We feel good about our shooting. Klay was 0-for-4 in the first half, but he’ll obviously and he was in the second half. If we have a little rhythm when we’re going into it, I think it helps.
On Paul George:
I think he’s playing the best basketball of his life right now. He is a guy, I’m not saying the other guys aren’t in the 100% shape that they will be in, but I think he is. I think he’s ready to roll. He’s probably a guy that never really gets that much (out of shape). He might go to 97 (percent). He’s just a very gifted athlete and to see him come back like this, he’s just a really good guy to coach because you could play him everywhere. When the two point guards got two fouls really quick, we had him bring the ball up. We’d like every once in awhile to take a look at that, too.
Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks)
How did it feel?
Anthony: Yea, we felt good. It was the first time all of us are really coming together, playing in a real, live game situation. I feel pretty good about this team. We’ve still got some things we can get better at, you know, get used to playing with one another but, one day at a time. But, I like this team.
Was it a good week overall here?
Anthony: It was a great week. Great week. The way that we gelled over four days, to come out here and play against a real tough team in Argentina, an experienced team is just awesome. For us to play the way we played tonight and to still have some upside, some ways to go before we go to Rio, I’m proud of these guys for the first time (together).
A good foundation laid herein Vegas?
Anthony: Yea, we laid it early. Guys was committed from the jump.
All week you guys talked about – this might be the best defensive team a Team USA has put on the floor. How did you feel about it (tonight)?
Anthony: We feel good, man. We was out there playing. We trusted one another. We kind of talked it out, talked it through a lot out there on the defensive end. It wasn’t too many schemes out there. We stuck to what we was taught. What we went over this first week – and we got it done.
On the bench, it looked like you were having fun, which is important –
Anthony: Well, you’ve gotta have fun. If it’s not fun then it’s not worth it. We are going to enjoy ourselves and at the same time we are going to be focused on trying to get that gold medal.
How much in terms of communication and teamwork is there?
i The communication is there. We’re talking. We trust one another. We’re believing in one another. We are letting our talent and our skill level show out there. We’re just trying to put it all together right now.
Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors)
What did you think of Argentina?
(Andres) Nocioni was really good. He’s been out of the league for a while but he’s always a threat. It was a great first exhibition for us.
How happy were you with this entire week in Vegas – not just you, the whole team?
It was great. We always need to start off camp pretty well. We didn’t ease into it. We came out from day one and followed the game plan, each and every day. They coached us up pretty well. Guys got extra work in. We are looking at this group and we have guys that want to work, guys that want to come out and sacrifice and win, and that just makes it easier to play with (them).
How would you rate DeMarcus Cousins’ performance?
He was incredible for us. Our bigs, both of our bigs, we are going to need them to offensive rebound the way they did, and they got us so many wide open threes. So, him and DJ (DeAndre Jordan) did a great job for us on the offensive boards. DeMarcus is a bulldog down there for us. I think he had what – 15 or 16 rebounds for us – which is unheard of in USA play, you know, because we’ve got so many guys. But, having two centers, we’re going to rotate those two together, and they’re going to be huge for us.
Are you ready to hit these next few stops?
Yea, we’re looking forward to getting out of Vegas and hitting the road together. That’s going to be the fun part. That’s always the good part is just getting to know these guys on a different level with the travel. And Vegas was great to us. It’s always great. So we’re looking forward to our next game.
Paul George (Indiana Pacers)
It was just great. It was great to get back out there and play alongside a lot of special talent. It was good to get my feet back wet. This time I made some shots. It was good and I think it was a good first game for all of us. There is a lot of stuff we still need to work on but I know Coach K is going to continue to tighten us up.
Is this kind of the final step for you to put everything (the injury) behind you?
What really the final step in the chapter of this coming home with that gold. This was definitely a huge step for me personally but as a whole it is winning that gold.
My first game back that year where I was rehabbing all the way up until, I had the mindset any point I was on that court I wasn’t going to even think about the injury I was still out there trying to make defensive plays, shooting passing lanes limping. Its behind me, its behind me. I don’t play the game expecting to get hurt, I know it is a possibility but there’s no thought in my mind that I’m ever going to get hurt. I play this game because I love it and I just play hard.
Has it made you any more appreciative?
Certainly. Certainly. You appreciate the process. All the little stuff I really appreciate from training camp to the two-a-days, you just appreciate being on that floor.
On the bench it looked like everyone was having a good time once you came off the floor..
Yeah, we built this chemistry from day one, the first day of practice. Everybody has to be open, as Coach K always says, ” bring that ego” but you have to be open. We’re going to with each other, usually in the NBA season you got time to build chemistry since it is a long season. We’re playing for about a month so we have to be on the same page early and we have to be open with one another that’s the only way we’re going to get this accomplished. It’s good, we have great guys who are just willing to let go of themselves and just enjoy this process.
When you are on a team with so many talented teammates how do you find that line between deferring too much and knowing when to assert yourself?
You just play the game, just play the game, but you know you have talent around you. No one is putting pressure on themselves as they have to do this, they have to do that. You just play the game. You do what made you special and that’s the reason we’re all here as a group because of our special individual talent. You put that together with five guys on that court that can do the same thing it is no pressure. You want to play alongside one another and you want to share that court with these guys.
Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
Discuss your first time wearing a USA uniform in a game situation:
It’s special, the first time as a National Team member. I got chills when they played the Star Spangled Banner, it means a little more. It is definitely a great feeling.
On playing with Klay and KD:
When you are out there right now you don’t even think about the fact that we are teammates, we are all teammates right now, so honestly, if I’m going to be quite frank with you, I don’t even notice that me, Klay, and KD was out there together, it is just not something you think about. These are guys, everybody is, like I said, is one of the top guys on their team, you know so, to be on the same team competing for the same goal, it’s definitely something that, you know at first it’s weird, but then when you get around all these guys, and it is such a great group of guys, down to earth, fun to hang around with, it makes everything more fun.
How have the past five days in Vegas been?
It has been great. I think we had an OK showing tonight, we can be a lot better. That’s why you play these exhibition games, kind of iron out the kinks, get used to playing with each other. It has been a great five days for us and it is time to move on to the next city.
How to you compare the preparation for these games to the preparation for Finals games or playoff games?
It is a little different because when you are in the Finals, you are playing a team seven times, possibly. Number two, you already know the guys. I mean, you know Ginobili, Nocioni, Scola, and Delfino. We’ve played against those guys a bunch of times, and obviously Melo and KD have played against some of those other guys, but not at a level where you know everything that they do. When you are in the NBA Finals, I know everything that Kyrie is going to do. It’s just a matter of can you stop it or not, just because you know he is going to do it, doesn’t mean that you can stop it. Here it is a little different, because most of these guys you have never played before.
Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)
You may not have some of the big names – the LeBron’s and the Wade’s – but this team still has plenty of talent, right?
Absolutely. I think a lot of us are already solidified in the league. A lot of those guys that aren’t here already have gold medals. They didn’t decide to play, we respect their decision, and now we have to move on with this Team USA and go out there and compete for gold.
Is there any health concern with going down to Rio with Zika Virus?
No. If I did, then I wouldn’t have gone. At this point, I’ve signed up for Team USA and to play for my country and that’s what I’m going to do.
Has LeBron given you any tips on the international game?
Nah. I know what to expect. A lot more physical. Playing in the World Championships gave me great experience. I’m looking forward to taking that and applying it to The Olympics.
As you leave Vegas, what do you take away after mini-camp?
That we have to get a lot better. But, we understand that it’s going to take a process. Getting better every single day. But, I like where we are. We have a lot of length, and defensively I feel like we can be great. And offensively, it will come, we have a lot of great shooters and a lot of great playmakers, and once we settle into our roles, we will be fine.
Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
How was it playing with DJ today for the first time?
Well, he’s going to be a monster for us just because he’s going to give some of these foreign bigs trouble with how athletic he is, and his activity around the rim is going to be huge for us, so I expect DJ every night. He’s one of the best athletes that I’ve ever seen, and to be seven foot, and that athletic, it’s rare.
That one play where Dray set the pick for KD, hit the three, and you were in the corner, did it occur to you that “hey the three of us are on the same side”?
It occurred to me since we started practicing, so it’s going to be fun, we just want to go out and play with all of these guys, try to iron out all the kinks, get back in great game shape, but it was fun to be able to share the court with those two guys, it’s going to be special.
When you first started out a few of your shots were short, was that just getting used to the FIBA wall?
No, I was just not using my legs enough and I made an adjustment the second half, and lucky for us it’s an exhibition, so it’s good to get the misses out now before we get to Rio. But a lot of guys shot great, once we start get clicking, it’s going to be scary.
Most of you guy played in All-Star games, does that help shake the weirdness of playing with a bunch of guys who you are rivals with?
Yeah, I mean, a little bit. But we all have respect for each other, we all know what we are playing for, and it’s fun. You know, we compete against each other so much, that its cool to come together, and play for our country. Not a lot of athletes get that opportunity, so everyone is hungry, and we are all embracing it.
How would you rate Demarcus Cousins’ performance?
Oh man, he was unbelievable, I think he had eight rebounds in the first quarter, and he’s going to be huge for us. He just keeps pounding those bigs, and just doing the little things. Demarcus is going to be a force in Rio. I think we’ve got the best bigs in the Olympics. It is going to be fun playing with those two.
How do you think he opened up your three-point ability?
Oh its huge, it shows his unselfishness, and that’s the best time to get a three-point shot, on the offensive shot, so thank god we got bigs like Demarcus and DJ, who are just going to be monsters on the glass.
You’ve got two hometowns coming up, LA and Oracle, how does that feel?
I’m more excited for Oracle, because it is going to be Kevin’s first time there, and I hope the fans give him his due. And the same with HB. HB gave us four great years, so I hope the fans show him the utmost respect, he helped us win a championship. And obviously me and Draymond, it’s always fun going home, it’s going to feel like a regular game day during the season, so that going to be nice.
ARGENTINA HEAD COACH SERGIO HERNANDEZ and player LUIS SCOLA
Hernandez: The experience of the young guys, this is good, because they know that level exists. When we talked, when Manu (Ginobili) talked, it’s different – the potential and the details and the way to change the way you practice and to change your mind and everything – but if you don’t have the experience, the personal experience, it’s almost impossible (to compete against a team like Team USA).
Q: For both of you guys -- DeMarcus Cousins had a lot of rebounds. What are you thinking of doing when you face other teams that have huge front lines?
Scola: Well, obviously they’ve got a lot more size and athleticism than we do. And you can’t play basketball without size. We all know that. When you’ve got size and athleticism, that’s a great advantage. They do have it. They have the best in the world. The best talent, the best size, the best athleticism. And we don’t. And that’s a big difference in their favor. DeMarcus Cousins grabbed a lot of rebounds today, but he’s not the only one. DeAndre Jordan grabbed a lot of rebounds, too. And they got a lot of loose balls. There’s things we need to work on. They got a lot of second chance points. I’m not saying if we got those rebounds we were going to win the game, obviously, there was a lot more areas where they dominated us, too. But we have to work on things as we head into The Olympics because we’re going to face a lot of teams that have a lot of big players. A lot of size, a lot of athleticism – and we’re going to have to find a way to compete with those guys.
Hernandez: Both of our big men are really young and have no experience. During the game, they got better and better, and finished strong. This was good for them.