Additional Quotes: U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team 100, France 97 (8/14/16)
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski
On today’s game:
We’re really pleased to finish pool play 5-0. Offensively we made some big strides this afternoon. When we had leads, our defense let up. So, we have to keep working on the defense, but I think a lot of positive things on the offensive end today, and going forward, now we’re into a time when everybody’s going to be 0-0. It’s been a very interesting tournament because of pool play. The pool play on the other is incredible. We’re going to have to wait until the very end tomorrow night to find out who we’re playing. But, we made some strides going forward today, there’s no question about it.
On the reasoning behind starting Klay Thompson:
You don’t have to think twice about not just starting him, but he’s one of the best players in the world. The few times in his life when he’s not shooting well, which are few, he always plays defense well and he always competes. That’s what makes him such a great two-way player, that’s what makes him one of the great players in basketball. We’re lucky to have him on our team.
Did you overlook France and it seems like you had issues with pick-and-roll:
At times I liked our pick-and-roll defense and at times I didn’t like our pick-and-roll defense. I will say this: we’re not playing against a bad team. We’re playing against one of the best teams in the world and these guys are really good. And we played really well to go up double digits a number of times in the game. I don’t think there’s any pressure on them, so you have to put even more pressure on them. They were probably going to be the third-place team, unless we fell flat on our face, so you’re playing loose. You’re playing free. The kid Huertel played a great game. So, if you have just a little bit of a let-up, they took advantage of it. But our team was ready. I don’t know if ferocious, I’m not sure if we can do that, but I think we can play better on the defensive end and I think that’s what we’re going to attempt to do.
On the fourth quarter:
The fourth quarter, I think we felt like we had the game won. And then we made a couple turnovers, which they took advantage of. What I liked was our guys made some big plays. Carmelo made a couple big shots, DeMarcus made two huge plays, and Kyrie did. So, when you make those plays, maybe we thought we won already, and they were given a chance to win and you’re still able to make those plays, those are good things. Would I rather have not had the turnovers? Of course. But then I thought we reacted under pressure well.
Over the five games, what do you think the team has done consistently well?
The thing they’ve done consistent is they’ve won. And at the end of the day, no one will ask you anything else except if you won. While you’re approaching that winning the whole thing, you’re asked a whole bunch of other things. I think we’re getting better offensively and we have to get better defensively. Just a succinct comment in that regard. But the fact that we’re getting better offensively is a huge plus, because I think we can make proper adjustments defensively to get better. And obviously we’re going to have to play better defense, there’s no question about that.
On winning the pool:
It’s a great accomplishment. We still have kind of a couple more games to go. That’s not my mindset right now. My mindset is to try to go out there and win this gold.
How has the tournament been and what do you think your chances are of winning the gold medal?
The tournament has been great. We have some great competition out there, some great games. Tonight was another great game, and now (the) medal round is coming up, and we got to get even more prepared for that.
What did it mean to get Klay going after his recent struggles?
Big time. He was bound to find his shot one of these days. He’s one of the best shooters in the world. He works at it. This is what he does. I’m just glad he got it going today.
Have you resigned yourself to the fact that all these games are going to be tough, grind-it-out games?
We got to be prepared for whatever. We come into these games with the same mindset: to dominate. However the game comes out, that’s what we live with and adjust to that. Our mindset is to go out there and dominate.
They play aggressive. They execute extremely well, and that’s a team that’s been playing together for a while. They’re experienced professionally and in their national team. When you have them two things into one, it makes it tough.
On his offense:
I’m not even worried about the shots. I’m just trying to play solid defense. I had a couple of mistakes tonight on the defensive end that I got to get better at. But for the most part, if I get my shots, I’m going to shoot them with confidence. And after that, I just trust in my work. I was able to get some shots early on, getting us going a bit. We kind of did it as a group on the offensive end.
Was it good to get Klay going?
I’m not worried about Klay. He’s a shooter. They get going. They have times where they don’t make shots, but that don’t last forever. He knows that. He’s got the confidence. He feels like he’ll make every shot. He can make every shot. Tonight, he kept pulling, and he was huge for us. Klay got it going today. He got himself to a great start in the second half. We gave it back to him. But for the most part, he got us going and got us a nice little cushion.
Could you talk about the difference between the NBA and FIBA basketball?
It’s slower. Teams try to slow the game down. They have a lot of continuity in their sets. Defensively they can sit in the paint, so it’s different. The floor is a little tighter, but we got a lot of shooters, and we just try to find our rhythm on the offensive end. But, defensively, we got to do a better job of talking to each other.
Are you making progress on the front of learning to play together?
We definitely are. It’s been an adjustment, but guys are buying in, and we want to win a gold. That’s our main objective. We can’t worry about who scores, who gets the praise, who gets the minutes. We just got to win as a team.
On Kyrie’s lob to him for a dunk:
It was perfect. I didn’t even think he (saw) me. That was a great pass, a highlight for us.
On the way Klay played:
We didn’t expect Klay to continue on through a tough streak. We know at some point he was going to get hot. For him that’s all it takes is for one to go down. That is scary for the next couple of games.
Are you comfortable with where your defense is?
I’m comfortable with us as a team right now. Teams are having success against us, but we’re just finding ways to win regardless.
With your 12 assists, was your focus to get others involved tonight?
I guess you could say that. It was more just putting a conscious effort on picking up the pace and just having a lot more opportunities in transition and trying to get open looks for our shooters.
What did the team do well to build the 16-point lead?
I feel like we just played with an incredible pace about us, a lot more screening, a lot more continuity action as well as trusting the pass. Guys were making great plays, and we just got to have that. When we have a great rhythm going, we just have to sustain that.
Is winning the pool a good accomplishment?
Yeah, it’s a good accomplishment, but it’s not the greatest one we’re going after. We understand that this journey ends with a gold medal, and we have to do everything possible to go for it.
Thoughts on your alley oop pass to Durant late?
I wish I had my footing. I was turning around at the same time, and I ended up tripping over my own feet, but I’m glad he dunked it home. I feel that was definitely a momentum shift for us that we needed.
On the team:
We just got to worry about us and focus on playing USA Basketball, playing the right way. No matter the opponent, we just got to stick to how we’re playing.
On today’s game:
It was a good win tonight. I still think we have areas to improve. We were up 16 with two minutes left in the third. I think that was our time to put the game away, and we have to just learn from it. We can’t let up against an explosive team like France. Everyone we see now is going to be explosive. We’re happy to be 5-0 and we control our own destiny. We just have to trust ourselves on both sides of the ball and if we do that and play hard, I don’t think we’ll lose.
Like coach said, I think we just let up a little bit. You can’t let up in this kind of tournament. We gave them too many good looks around the basket. We just got complacent on defense. With teams like this that move a lot off the ball, you can’t get complacent. We can outscore teams, but that’s not going to win us the gold. We got to lock up and we will.
On his shooting struggles and getting off the schneid against France:
It felt good to see the ball go in, I’m not going to lie, but it felt better to get the win. I don’t care if I shoot 10 percent the rest of the tournament if we win the gold medal, that’s all that really matters. It’s something I can build off and it definitely helps.