Additional Quotes: USA U18 Men 118, Panama 26
USA head coach Bill Self (University of Kansas)
What do you tell your team during a game like this?
Don’t play the score, try play to win each possession. A lot of coach-speak. I thought our guys actually did a pretty decent job. I’ve never seen a score like that after one quarter. After that, they still tried to play the right way.
On pulling the press and working on zone defense:
We had a chance to work a couple of quarters on zone, and who knows if we’ll use it. Then we played some half-court man in the third quarter and they played the zone, too, which slowed the game down.
This team is a fun team to watch:
Most teams are going to send two back when you shoot the ball, so you’re not going to get very many run-outs like that. It’s a fun team. I know it looked like we pressed, we didn’t press. We just pressured in full-court man. A lot of times if you create some havoc they’ll just give the ball to you every now and then and that’s what happened some tonight.
It’ll get tougher from here:
Yeah, I think so. Puerto Rico, we scrimmaged them the other day and they didn’t show us anything. They run a lot of stuff. They beat Dominican pretty handedly, and we struggled with the Dominican Republic last night through the fourth quarter, so it’ll be a good game. They can shoot, and hopefully we’ll pressure them out of being comfortable.
What are your thoughts on Canada?
I watched them today for the first time live and I was really impressed. They are really, really athletic. They’re very fast. They’ve got multiple, multiple high major guys. They have a couple guys who could play anywhere in the country, maybe three or four, and I like them. They’re really athletic, they get the ball down (court). If we get the opportunity to play them, we’ll have to play their best game.
Are you looking to play a three-guard line-up?
Well really, we’re going to play a four-guard line-up because Hurt is a guard. Our team, if you really look at it, the strength of our team is probably our perimeter quickness and we’ve got four bigs that we can play, but probably in some game’s we’ll probably play just three of those guys. I think our team is better when we can stretch it and drive it. Certainly we’re better when we’ve got four guards in there.
Cole Anthony (Archbishop Molloy H.S./Briarwood, N.Y.)
What can you take away from a game like that?
Basketball to me is always fun. The thing with that is that it’s hard to lower your level of play against a team that’s obviously not as skilled as you. Thankfully the whole team was able to elevate their play instead of lowering it to the competition.
Are you looking forward to challenges ahead?
Most definitely. I look forward to playing every team we can here.
Armando Bacot (Trinity Episcopal School/Richmond, Va.)
On the 118-point output:
We just wanted to keep our foot on the gas and just play hard, not so much worry about our opponent as much as worry about getting better as a team. We’re still learning the things we need to know to keep going on in this championship.
What were you focused on?
We worked on some zone. And then when they started running zone, we started running some zone plays, working on different sets, so when the time comes and we need it, we can be better. We were just working on that.
You scrimmaged Puerto Rico before the tournament started. What do you expect from tomorrow night’s game?
They have a lot of good guards and some bigs, too. But, we just know that if we play our game and we play hard, we don’t think anybody can beat us.
Quentin Grimes (College Park H.S./The Woodlands, Texas)
Is it important to have a game like this to build cohesiveness within your team?
Definitely, a game like this allows us to work on executing plays. We have to really focus on going out there and executing, because when we play a really good team, we want to be able to go out there and execute.
What does it mean to have USA across your chest and play for your country?
It’s my second time playing for the USA and we lost the first time (in the 2018 Nike Hoop Summit) against the World Team. So I definitely want to come out here and get a gold medal and help lead my team to victory.
How badly do you want to play Canada in the final?
If they’re in the final with us, they’re just in the way for us trying to get a gold medal. I know (the USA U19s) lost to them last year in the semis trying to get the gold medal game. We want to go out there, whoever’s in front of us, and try to get the gold medal.
What can we expect to see from you the rest of the tournament?
Go out there, work hard and do whatever coach tells me to do to try to get the win.
Tyrese Maxey (South Garland H.S./Dallas, Texas)
What does it mean to you to wear USA across your chest?
It means everything. These are the biggest games of my life, representing my country. This is a great experience.
How badly do you want to face Canada?
I want to win gold. That’s the only thing we talk about, U18 gold, that’s the only goal.
What were you trying to do once the game opened up?
We were just trying to go out there and get better, honestly. We were trying to work on our stuff. We’ll see some real competition tomorrow. We have Puerto Rico and they’re 2-0 as well, and we’re trying to win this pool.
What’s the strength of this team?
Speed. Versatility. Coach Self always tells us that we can switch one through four, a lot of our big guys can guard guards from a lot of other countries and we’re just really good, versatility-wise. Everybody can do a lot of things on this team.
You really move the ball a lot.
Yes, sir. We like to share.
Be sure to watch all the games, streamed live on USA Basketball’s Facebook page, as the USA competes for a fifth-straight U18 gold medal.