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Additional Quotes: USA U18 Men 132, Ecuador 55

  • Date:
    Jun 14, 2018

USA head coach Bill Self (University of Kansas)
On tonight’s game:
I think so far they’ve absolutely done a great job of playing to the game as opposed to playing to the score. I think that’s a positive. But, we’ve got to change our mindset, our focus and know that from this point forward it’s going to be real ball. And not that the first four games haven’t been, but when you play with that big of a lead, mistakes aren’t magnified. Our execution mistakes are going to be magnified. We’re going to have to play starting tomorrow.

Who has surprised you?
I think Mark Watts has improved, he was really good tonight. But really, I don’t think anybody has surprised us. If you’re going to look at guys who are playing the right way, Josiah James has had … he’s been a ball mover, shot it fairly well, that kind of stuff. To me, I don’t think anybody stood out individually, but together they sure do look good.

On Argentina:
I saw Argentina today, and that first quarter was terrific. It’s too bad their kid go nicked up, but they’re good. They share the ball, they’re smart and they’re well coached. They execute their stuff. They’re very good.

With the depth that you have, how tough is it for other teams to scout your team?
I think it’s hard to scout balance. And we would be ridiculously hard to scout, because we don’t really execute sometimes very well. But, the guys have done a good job of sharing the ball. We’ve tried to convince them that with the talent we have on the team, the go-to guy has got to be the open man. And certainly for the most part we’ve done a really good job sharing the ball.

Cole Anthony (Archbishop Molloy H.S./Briarwood, N.Y.)
On the importance of the USA’s defense:
Our defense always ignites the offense. Getting those steals creates easy buckets. That’s just how we like to play.

On the team’s chemistry:
Everyone on the team wants to see the person next to them succeed. So, it just ignites everyone when someone does something good. So, that just makes everyone else play better  

What is the team’s key to success moving forward over the next two games?
The same thing we’ve been doing, rely on our defense to ignite our offense.

Matthew Hurt (John Marshall H.S./Rochester, Minn.)
What were you working on as the game went on?
Sharing the ball. Coach really emphasized sharing the ball yesterday and this morning at practice. I think we showed up and did that, made the extra pass, made the right pass, and that’s why we ended up with almost 40 assists.

What do you need to do against Argentina tomorrow to be able to play for gold Saturday?
We need to come out, do the same thing, share the ball well, make the extra pass. I think we can do a lot better on defense. We’ll work on that tomorrow at shoot around, and I’m sure we’ll tighten it up.

The competition will get better. Do you feel the team is ready for that?
Yes. I think we’ve been getting better every day since we had that week in Colorado. Traveling as a team, living together as a team has helped us bond really well. I think that’s why we’re sharing the ball so well.  

Trayce Jackson-Davis (Center Grove H.S./Greenwood, Ind.)
What were you working on as the game went on?
Just getting better. Coach Self had us run a lot of plays, so we were working on our offensive execution. Just trying to get better every play, because some of our games were blowouts, but we’re going to have some tough competition tomorrow and we have to be ready.

What will you hang your hat on the next two games?
Defense, definitely. Because if you can’t score, you can’t win. So defense is probably going to be the biggest thing that we focus on and sharing the ball. Coach Self puts a big emphasis on sharing the ball.

With the depth that you have, how tough is it for other teams to scout your team?
Yeah, that makes it really hard, because all of our players are pretty good. They can go. I’d say that you can’t really … you have to scout the plays, but at the same time we run the plays against each other all the time in practice and we can’t stop them. So, I don’t know who can.

Josiah James (Porter-Gaud School/Charleston, S.C.)
You just helped the USA earn a berth to the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup for Men. What does it mean for you to represent your country in that manner?
It means a lot. To secure a berth for next year definitely means a lot. If I make the team or I don’t, I know that a group of guys will go and show what a USA Basketball team looks like, and they’ll do a great job at the (U19) World Cup.

What’s the key to this team winning two more games?
Definitely getting everybody involved. Not letting the ball sit too much on offense, and then playing as a team on defense, everybody having each other’s backs. Definitely, sharing the ball on offense and then playing as a team on defense.

With the depth that you have, how tough is it for other teams to scout your team?
I think it’s very tough and very intimidating. We definitely have the most depth out here, and if we use it to the best of our ability, we can come out on top. Our depth, especially with our big guys, they’re world-class, they’re great guys, and even better players. So, if we’re able to get them the ball, involve them on both ends, we’ll do a great job.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Bishop Miege H.S./Shawnee Mission, Kan.)
On the team’s cohesiveness, where does that start?
First of all, I would say that it’s hanging out, we trust each other, we’re comfortable with each other. So, we just know where our best players are on the floor, so we can pass to them and trust them to make the play.

The competition is going to get tougher, what do you need to do to focus in on the next two games?
We need to stay focused on playing together, dishing the ball off to open dudes for good shots and good plays. We just need to stay unselfish.


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.


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