Additional Quotes: USA Basketball Men’s National Team 107, China 57
- Oakland, California / July 26, 2016
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University)
I thought we played really hard, again. To play China twice in three days, it’s, they play really hard and they moved it. They have to be in such great condition. They just keep moving. Then for our guys, to try to defend that, that’s really good. They do a couple of things that are very good for us. They pressure the ball and they deny wing passes. I mean our talent level was superior, but the fact that they play so hard against you, it makes you have a really good night. What we’re trying to do is to get into physical conditioning. The guys who played in the championship series, that’s a drain. It’s a real drain. When you get through that, whether you win it or you lose it, you’ve gone 15 rounds. There’s a recovery period emotionally, mentally and certainly physically and you have to get away from the game. I think that part of this, especially Klay (Thompson), Kyrie (Irving) for him to hit that shot and (inaudible) back and the celebration afterwards, this is good. Him and Klay we played the most minutes tonight. You can see them kind of rounding into better playing shape and that’s our goal before we go down to Rio, is to do that. The score is relevant because the score is always relevant, but the margin of victory is not as relevant as much as the effort and the physical, just going and trying to get in good physical shape. We appreciate how hard and how well, I think China, they’re well coached, very well coached and they’re together. We’re just better.
I should probably start Durant because (inaudible). After 40 years, I’ll be able to figure that one out you’d think (laughing). What we’ve tried to do in each of the locations is start the guys from the area, DeMarcus (Cousins) in Sacramento, the three guys here and down in L.A., the guys there, and they did well. The crowd was great. Certainly, you wouldn’t want to be introduced after K.D. in line. That was probably a little shocker. The crowd was great, a festive atmosphere, but we’re ready to move on. We’re ready to go to Chicago. That’s why I changed, we get on a plane in about 45 minutes and get there tomorrow and start going. But the crowd, the welcoming for Kevin was fantastic, and I know he appreciated it very much. Obviously, I’ll let him speak to it.
Do you see Team USA using fastbreaks to separate itself from the field:
Well, and three-point shots, not so much just the fastbreaks. In London, I think we made an average of 8.5 more threes than our opponents. That and free throws, I think there was a 28-point differential in that. Our two leading scorers were K.D. and Carmelo (Anthony) in London. The international game is not so much a paint game. It’s a lot of three-point shots. Argentina, when we played the first game, half their shots is threes. If you allowed three-point shots, China would take a lot more. So, our goal is to limit their threes, whoever we’re playing, and limit free throws. So we’re constantly yelling out team fouls. That’s because the fifth foul is two free throws. You can have five guys out there not in foul trouble, but we’re in the bonus. Then you put a sub in, and he doesn’t have a foul and then he fouls and then all of a sudden they’re scoring without pressure on them. That’s been kind of what we’ve done in all of these competitions. Just try to limit threes, limit free throws and win that battle.
A little more excitement tonight for Durant:
A little bit more, but he has been very vocal. I’ve coached him twice and then a third time. He almost made the Beijing team with the Select Team. We have a great relationship. He continues to grow and get better. To be quite frank with you, the best thing that I see improvement with him is defense. He has really become an outstanding defender. If we can get him to stop reaching at the end of a clock, that would be even better. He keeps improving because he wants to improve. He really loves the game of basketball. Being one of the best players in the world, he’s easy to play with. There is no super ego. He’s got such a good team ego. He’s really a fantastic guy and a fantastic player. What a combination when you have a guy that good and he’s low maintenance. I mean none. Except having too much fun.
Will you start DeMarcus Cousins or DeAndre Jordan:
We’ll start either one and I’m comfortable staring either one. DeMarcus is another guy. It’s the second time I’ve coached him. He helped us win the World Cup. Had a double-double in the championship game and he’s gotten himself in really good shape. He’s a team player. He gives us a different guy than DeAndre. But they’re two really good bigs, outstanding bigs. Today for a little bit we went inside to him. We haven’t had a chance to practice much. When we’re in Chicago on Thursday we’ll have a good practice and try to get a little bit more in offensively so we flow a little bit smoother than some of the times tonight.
How do you use humor as a part of your style:
I don’t show it on the sidelines or anything like that. But my guys, we have a good time and they know they can be themselves. The use of humor at times to get a point across is really good, or to give a guy a little jab at a timeout or whatever is good. It gets us close and it makes them know me better. Although six of the guys I’ve coached before, and they already know. It’s called adapting. They shouldn’t all adapt to me or the aggressive coaching staff. We need to adapt to them also so that this whole thing becomes ours. If we take ownership of it then we have a better chance to win. The other teams will own what they do and we need to own what we do. We spend a lot of time with the military. We had one really emotional day in Vegas with a wounded warrior. Our team has taken on being a supporter of TAPS, Tragedy Assistance Programs for Survivors. These are kids who lost their fathers or mothers in combat. We had an emotional thing in Vegas, and we had TAPS kids in L.A. Thursday after our practice. Marty Dempsey, the former chair of the joint chiefs will be at our practice, and about 60 members of the TAPS families from around the country. We have a special thing there and have a chance to break bread with them. Stuff like that. We believe in having our guys see and listen. We won’t own it unless we feel it, what it’s like to play for our country. So in doing these things over the year these guys do feel it, and they’re really proud of representing their country.
Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks)
Which player from China impressed you:
I like the little point guard, man. I liked No. 9 (Zhai Xiaochuan). No. 9 is a great shooter. They have a young team, some young guys on their team. I could just see that growth of basketball over there is growing on a consistent basis. We need that. As a country we need that, as competitors we need that and as a world we need China strong at that sport.
What does the team get out of exhibition games:
It’s not about who we’re playing against. It’s about us and just gearing up and tightening some things up and getting ready for Rio.
Is it a conditioning thing:
Yeah. I mean we’re just trying to get back into basketball shape. I think everybody worked out and trained on their own, but it’s different, individual workouts, than it is getting up and down the court playing in game situations. For us it’s more about just getting in game format. Getting focused and learning how to play with one another.
What did you learn from 2004:
Just enjoy it. Just enjoy the moment. Take advantage of the moment. I will say that’s what I learned from now to then.
Do you see a difference between the 2008 China team and today’s:
Yeah, I think this team is a lot different than what we played in 2008. I think now they have some young talent. They have some guys who can really get after it, can really play. I know that the score, I don’t want the score to be any indication of those guys’ talent, but they do have some talent over there.
Harrison Barnes (Dallas Mavericks)
What is it like playing with FIBA rules:
It’s different, man. It’s a little bit of getting used to and I think we’re doing a good job as a team and try to keep working.
What sport would you play at the Olympics if it wasn’t basketball:
Probably track and field, the long jump.
DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings)
Have you been finding your role on this team:
They’re clear on what they really need us to do. Like I said, rebounding, defending, running the floor, doing all the dirty work I guess you could say.
Where is Team USA at now:
We are nowhere near where we need to be. We’re still making a lot of mistakes, a lot of turnovers, a lot of silly turnovers. We’re giving them some easy baskets, defensive breakdown so we’ve still got a long way to go.
What was it like seeing members of the Sacramento Kings organization curtsied:
It’s always great to get support from the team. They’ve been supportive through this process and I’m glad they could make it out.
What was it like around the tunnel pregame with Kevin Durant:
They (the fans) went crazy. It’s kind of expected, he’s a fresh face here and he’s one of the biggest players in the league so for him to come to a city as electric as Golden State, it was bound to happen.
Are you having the time of your life:
I’m having a lot of fun. I’m around a great group of guys, laughing, joking all day, we’ve been enjoying each other’s company. Basketball is something we all love so it has been a great time.
Are you taking any notes:
Absolutely. I’m going to see if I can bring some of Carmelo’s (Anthony) pull-up threes back to Sacramento.
Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors)
What was it like playing on this court as your home court for the first time:
Yeah it was amazing, you know. The atmosphere was great, energy was great. The fans showed me major love so I appreciate that. I’m looking forward to the season I guess but it was good to get out there in front of them and play well.
What did you and Stephen Curry talk about at halftime:
Yeah, do you want me to get you a transcript of what I said? No, it was just catching up but it was good to see him, glad he came out to support us, him and Dre (Andre Iguodala). It was good to see him. So, oh yeah, just asking what he was doing for the rest of the summer and told him when I would come back and stuff like that.
What sport would you play in the Olympics if you didn’t play basketball:
That’s a great question. I didn’t have a plan B so I can’t really answer that one. No, I wouldn’t do any of those, I wouldn’t do any of those. It would probably be ping-pong. That one seems like it’s a little easier.
What was it like making the first three-point shot of the night:
I mean I didn’t lose sleep over today. I just wanted to be myself, do my normal routine. Kyrie (Irving), being such a great guy he is, you know he told me before the tip that he was throwing it to me no matter what, and I knew I was going to pull the first shot since like yesterday and luckily it went in.
Did you feel at home at Oracle tonight:
Yeah. I’m not going to lie, it felt a little weird for these fans to be cheering me on like that, obviously being somewhere for so long and then making a change. But it felt great. I appreciate all of the basketball fans that come and enjoy us playing. But it was cool, man, it was different. Obviously it’s going to be different but the vibes were great, everybody showed me major love, showed the team major love. So it was fun.
Are the Warriors making you feel comfortable:
Yeah, most definitely. You know, they know the decision I made and how stressful that time was. They’re just trying to make me feel comfortable and I appreciate them for that. You know, that’s just testament to who they are as people, being great teammates already. So I’m looking forward to a great season.
What’s it like playing with Klay Thompson and Draymond Green on Team USA:
Yeah, I think I figured Klay out, kind of figured out his movements and how he is, and Draymond, he’s a different guy. I’ve been around guys like that before and we’ve been tight, you know guys like that, we’ve been tight. So I’m looking forward to just, it’s different when you’re in the season and you’re in the long grind for 82 games, just seeing a guy every single day. I’m looking forward to that as well. They’re two great teammates, man. But here, Team USA doesn’t seem like us three are just isolating ourselves from the rest of the team, and we’re not making anyone else feel uncomfortable with our relationship I guess. So that’s the best part about it as well, is just being with 11 more guys that are just super cool and relaxed and it’s just been so fun. I’ve gotten lost in being part of USA.
Comment on Coach Krzyzewski’s humor:
He’s always making jokes and it’s kind of funny because you’ll make a joke and he’ll keep it going for a couple minutes and it’s like, “Alright coach, we’ve got to get back to the task at hand.” But he’s always looking at big picture things. He came in today and was just like, “Look man, you guys come from these small towns and look where you are right now.” He puts things into perspective like that, it really relaxes everybody. You can tell he’s been around for a while and he knows what’s most important in life, and he makes all of his players comfortable.
Do you anticipate a difficult transition to the Warriors:
I don’t know, I don’t know. I know I’m a basketball player and I know I like to serve my teammates and I know I like to play a good brand of basketball. So whatever that translates to, we’ll see what happens. I feel that they’re the same way. I’m sure I probably won’t shoot too many deep threes, that’s just not how I play, but I’ll play a different game. I don’t envision anything bad happening or any rifts between teammates. Obviously there’s going to be a transition period because it’s new but for the most part I’m going to try my best to fit in but also still play my game, and I think everybody else around me is going to try to elevate me as well. So it should be fun, man, and it’ll be fun figuring things out, I’ll put it that way.
How will your personality fit in with the Warriors:
I’m just going to be myself, that’s all I can be. I feel like these guys, they’ll accept me for who I am, they’ll understand who I am. I’ll try not to change how I approach the game or how I approach practices and, you know, leadership. I’ll just stick to what I always know and how I do things. It feels like, like you said, they’ve got different personalities and Draymond stayed who he is, Klay stays who he is, Steph, Dre, Shaun (Livingston). They’re different personalities but it works well because they understand each other so, you know, just add another guy in there.
How does it feel to play for Team USA:
It’s an amazing feeling. To represent your country, doing what we love to do, there is nothing you can compare it to.
What was it like with Kevin Durant here:
It was amazing. It was definitely a warm welcome and he came out guns blazing, which was great to see. Just to play with him on this floor is great, and to be playing for our country where we suit up 41 times a year, it’s special.
Was Durant excited for tonight:
He was excited, definitely excited. Coming out the gate Kyrie (Irving) was like “I’m coming for you right away” and he hit that jump ball and then he knocked a two down and a three down, so he was definitely excited and it was great to see.
Anything interesting from him (Durant) in the locker room:
No, he was himself in the locker room. He kept saying, “Man I got the jitters, like first game type jitters,” but it was great to see.
Did it feel like a home game out there:
Absolutely. I mean I got booed the last game so.
You had a few things to say before the game, addressing the crowd. How important was it for you to do that:
Very important to address our crowd with the USA jersey on and just show our support, that stuff doesn’t go unnoticed. We don’t take that for granted, the support we continue to get. We just want to let them know how thankful we are.
You made a point to say something about Kevin:
Yeah, you know coming back here today was obviously a USA game but to me it was more about him than anything. For him to come here, his first game playing here as a member of our team in a USA jersey, nobody will look at it that way, but that’s history. I’m not sure if that has ever happened, that was special.
What sport would you play at the Olympics if it wasn’t basketball:
I don’t care about any other sport. Well, personally, excuse me, I don’t want to say I don’t care about any other sport but basketball is my only sport.
What is it like to play for Coach Mike Krzyzewski:
It’s awesome, man. It’s his last hurrah in the Olympics, so just looking forward to the process of getting better every day and playing for a head coach I only got to play for 11 games with. I’m just trying to take full advantage of this opportunity.
What did you learn from playing against China:
They’re a hard-nosed team, they play extremely hard but every single game that we play going forward is about us. How we come out, our approach, how we execute on both ends of the floor.
Which Chinese player impressed you:
The two point guards, they have extremely good handles, tight handle. I know they’re the big players over in China so I’m just looking forward to going against them in pool pay and just trying to get to know these guys. It’s great to have Chinese basketball players getting a challenge, I know they watch a lot of our NBA games. They’re competing over there and a few NBA players have gone over there to play in their league. It’s just a great opportunity.
How important is it that Kevin Durant came out and got things started:
It was a conscious effort on my end. I’m looking over to the wing and that opportunity, that first shot, you know you just have to get out the way. I wanted it to be Kevin especially playing his first time in Oracle so that first shot was a big one and I’m glad it went down for him.
On playing on this court for the first time since the playoffs:
Great, especially with Kevin (Durant), Draymond (Green) and Harrison (Barnes) too. I was really happy that the fans gave Harrison his due. He gave us four great years; we won a championship with him and he started his career here so I was really happy for him.
On his initial thoughts playing on the same floor as Kevin Durant:
It’s going to be a fun year. We have this journey that we have to endure first, but needless to say it’s exciting. I’m so happy the first possession he touched it, he let it fly and got the crowd going.
On if he can foresee the amount of looks he and Stephen Curry will have with Kevin Durant:
I’m not sure now, but it’s easy to visualize that I will. He’s fun to play with, doesn’t dominate the ball and he makes it look really easy. Effortless. I’m going to learn from him like I learned from Steph. We are going to grow together and that starts with Team USA. It’s going to be a fun 2016-17.
On what the open looks will do for him and Stephen Curry:
It’s going to be sweet, man. I can’t wait. Not a lot of players get to experience the circus we get to with the sellout crowds everywhere we go.
On who impressed him from the Chinese National Team:
The guy the Rockets drafted (Zhou Qi). He’s going to be a good player and he’s so skilled. He’s 7’3” and can put the ball on the floor. He’s young and he has to mature, but he has a lot of talent. I like their point guard (Guo Ailun). He’s not afraid of the moment, quicker than you think and he’s got decent handles.
On his conversation with Stephen Curry during the timeout:
I was asking him what happened in that golf tournament. He played terrible by Steph Curry standards. If I would have shot an 82, 80 and a 77 that would have been life changing, but I was just giving him some slack for that. Wasn’t in the cards this year.