U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team Quotes (8/20/16)
Rio de Janeiro
Mike Krzyzewski, U.S. Olympic Men's Basketball Team Head Coach
What has impressed you about Serbia?
Serbia came within a whisker of beating us in our pool play so we absolutely respect them. We know how good they are. They’re so well coached, Sasha (Djordjevic) does an amazing job with them. They have great comradery; they’re an outstanding passing team; an outstanding defensive team as was shown in the Australia game; and they’re led by one of the all-time great players internationally in Teodosic (Milos). So they’ll be very, very difficult for us.
What do you see as being important keys to the game?
Well for us, just maintaining our poise. We’ve had at times a problem with how the game is administered and so we need to keep our focus on the play and not anything else. And how we defend them. They scored 91 points against us. So I think it starts with that. Hopefully we can play our best game. We’re looking for a gold medal performance. We’ve had effort and we’ve had really good performances, but we would hope this one will be our best game.
Is it any advantage to have already played Serbia?
Well you’re familiar at least a little bit with them. I think it’s an advantage for both teams, in preparation for both teams. I think in a limited amount of preparation time the fact that we have faced one another helps both teams. And then what adjustments you make from that (first) game. We need to make a few adjustments because they almost beat us.
This Olympic team has had a real balance; you’ve had different players step up on different nights. Is that an accurate statement?
I think we’ve had different players step up offensively. Together, like against Spain, for long periods of time we stepped up defensively just like we did against Argentina, but we never had the spurt against Spain that we had against Argentina. Spain was averaging about 100 points a game (97.3 ppg.) for their last three game and shooting over 52 percent (106-201 FGs, 52.7 percent) the last three games before ours, and we held them to under 40 (percent shooting) and 76 points. So the defense has been pretty good. Offensively we haven’t had a game yet where all the guys get hot. But thank goodness we’ve had it where at least one of them have had an outstanding night. Against Spain, DeAndre (Jordan) had a non-scoring great night. He had a superb night defensively with the 16 boards and blocked shots and protecting our basket. That was an incredible performance by DeAndre.
With your prior Olympic experiences, would you say that this is the most competitive field of any the Olympics you’ve experienced?
I think there are more really outstanding teams in this Olympics than in ’08 and 2012 and that’s why you’ve seen the quality of the games. I think it says a lot for the continuity these other federations have had. These guys have played together. Also, more and more guys are in the NBA, or have been in the NBA, so as far as competition with us, there is a familiarity of playing against NBA players because they are or have been (NBA players), so I think that’s made it much more competitive also.
What has it meant to have four-time Olympian Carmelo Anthony be such an integral part of this Olympic team?
We ask the guys for a commitment and selfless service, and even though they are committed, we try to show them at even a deeper level and they have to learn about selfless service. We use the military in that regard. But Carmelo is a perfect example of commitment for the Olympics. That’s his entire playing career and to devote that amount of time is remarkable really and it’s not been done. He’s been such a good guy to coach and he’s accepted different roles. He wasn’t always a starter, he came off the bench, and he’s such a team player. In London (2012 Olympics) he was our second leading scorer. But in this Olympics, he’s not only been a really good player, he’s been an outstanding leader. He’s tried to use his experience and he has instant respect with all the guys. His experience in what to say and what to do, it’s believed right away by the team and with so many new guys, 10 new Olympians, that’s helped a great deal.
How have the 2016 Rio Olympics been overall?
We have loved being in Rio. We knew it was going to be good. First of all, you’re in the Olympics. There was such negative publicity about Rio before the Olympics started, but it’s been just the opposite. The people of Rio could not have been better. We’ve been treated in just amazing fashion and the care, the security, the friendliness, just the hospitality of the Brazilian people, have been spectacular. I hope we win, but I’ll tell you what, we’ll go away with a great feeling about Rio. We’ve loved being here, we could not have been treated better.