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Jul 15, 2020 12:00 AM est
2020 U.S. Open Basketball Championships
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PJ Washington

Additional Quotes: USA 117, Mali 69

  • Date:
    Jul 5, 2017

USA head coach John Caipari

Your thoughts on today’s game?
We’re playing kind of with units. When we started the game that group didn’t have the intensity or fight, they were just playing.  Well, Mali plays really hard. They’ve got a couple of really good players and then after that they’re not as good.  But, they play hard so they can make you look bad. So, then we go to the other group and that group went in and played out of their minds, so I left them in.  They got us up 20, so they stayed in.

But then in the second half that group that I started played well and so I left them in. I’m not sure I want to play groups like this, but they are getting to learn to play together petty well and maybe it’s six or seven in a group, then I play the other guys and see how they are and give them some minutes.

I want everybody to grow and experience this and leave and say ‘you know what, I got better, I learned some basketball, I represented our country, I had great pride in what we did.’  It’s like I keep telling them - you are responsible for you. And I keep telling them the things you’re in control of is how you play, how hard you play, what your attitude is, what your body language is. As a player, you don’t ever let a coach control those things, you control those things.  But overall, I was happy at the end because everybody played.

Who or what impressed you today?
I thought Louis King was unbelievable.  I thought he played well.  And Brandon (McCoy), again we missed shots, and he’s sticking them back in.  If you drive the ball, we will get those. But if you’re trying to shoot all jumpers, you’re not getting those. I’m trying to tell them, look, if the ball swings on the perimeter, drive the ball.  If the ball goes inside out, shoot the ball.  If you’ve made three 3s in a row, I get it, maybe there’s some difference there and there’s some room, but when you drive either you make it, get fouled or we rebound it. That’s what’s happening. Every once in a while, one out of eight, we’ll miss and they’ll rebound it. So, I’m just trying to get them in that mode and when the ball swings, go drive it, get that ball going to that rim.

Louis King (Hudson Catholic H.S./Columbus, N.J.)

Coach mentioned there were different periods of spurts and high energy, and then few lows. Was it that type of game?
It was a high-energy game. We were able to progress into our plays and we got them done, got people open.

It seemed like everyone was getting to the basket a little bit tonight?
I think everyone was on the same page tonight.

Talk about how important defense is for this team:
Defense is big.  We’re a big, long team and using our hands and arms we’re able to get steals, run our break, and it leads to transition.

Offensively, what are you looking for, thinking about?
On offense, I’m looking to offensive rebound, get guys open, or penetrate and get a bucket.

How much fun is it playing with these guys?
I’m having a lot of fun so far.  But you know, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing – rebounding, scoring, making coach Calipari happy.

Do you feel like the team is continuing to gell?
The team is getting to know to each other well. We’re starting to play together well and we’re getting to know each other well off the court and on.

Payton Pritchard (Oregon/West Linn, Ore) 

Nice win, what are your thoughts on the game today?
It was good. I thought defensively our team was really picking it up, making it tough. We just had a lot of energy.

Coach Calipari praised the second group for coming for coming in with a lot of energy, what’s your focus coming in off the bench? This is a little different role for you, isn’t it?
Yeah, I’m just going to compete. I’ve got to control what I can control. I’m trying to be aggressive on offense and on defense I’m trying to lock up, get deflections and be disruptive.

Do you feel the way the team has been playing, is there room for to get better?
I think any team will have room to get better, but I think were headed in the right direction.  Defense is what we need to focus on as I think that leads to our offense. So, that’s our main focus.

PJ Washington (Findlay Prep/Las Vegas, Nev.)

Offensively, you looked like you had a really aggressive attitude.
I just felt like I had to be a little bit aggressive. I felt like I could get by my man everything so I just tried to do that and make plays for my team.

There were periods in today’s game where the defense just locked them and wouldn’t let them score. Talk about that defensive effort:
I feel like when we want to play defense we can lock down anybody for a number of possessions in a row and I felt like we did that a little bit tonight.  We’ve got to show that every time down.

Do you feel like the team is continuing to gell?
With every game we play I feel like everybody is learning their roles a little bit more and everybody’s playing harder.


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