Additional Quotes: USA 114, Uruguay 57
USA head coach Jeff Van Gundy
Frank (Mason) had a heck of a game. He set the tone defensively in the first few minutes. And, we know that Uruguay, because of the hard travel, kept their A-team home, so the thing you’re always concerned about with the good players that we have is underestimating the opponent, and they did a good job of getting themselves ready. They played well, but we also know the game in Panama is going to be very tough because they are a very good team. We have a lot of work to do in the next couple of days.
What is a luxury to have some more NBA experience this window?
I think guys like Frank (Mason, Derrick White, Dwayne Bacon and Henry Ellenson, they all have something in common that they are on rosters and have yet to carve out an every night role, so they are very hungry. These games, I think if used right, because we are relying on them, they can get their intensity right, they can get their game sharp so that when they go to training camp to fight for minutes, they’ll be in a good frame of mind. I think this helps us, certainly, but I think it helps the individual players as well.
Guard play was sharp tonight, yes?
I thought we moved the ball well. Frank (Mason) got into the teeth of the defense exceptionally well, and we shared it. FIBA is not about trying to put up numbers. This is about getting connected with one another in a short period of time, enjoying the competition, forming a brotherhood. I think if you can do that, you will share the ball, you will help on defense, you will do all those things you can to win.
Was it easier having NBA caliber players?
I don’t know if it was easier. What it is is that we have hungry guys. Just because you’re an NBA player – and I told the guys this on day one – it doesn’t make you a good FIBA player. Everybody on our team, I believe, has been called up or been in the league, but the FIBA game is not the NBA game. So, one doesn’t mean you’ll be good at the other. I think we have the right guys, and I think they put a lot into it this last week. Now, it’s really a chance to prove ourselves as we go to Panama, because that’s going to be a totally different atmosphere, just like we faced in Panama.
Did the defense dictate the flow tonight?
Absolutely. Our ball pressure was good. Again, so much of it was that they were undermanned, too. We did some good things and they were undermanned because they chose to rest their players back home. But, I was very proud of our guys. They played hard defensively. A guy like Frank (Mason), he’s got a bulldog mentality. His matchup down in Panama is absolutely critical for our chance to win against Trevor Gaskins, who was an outstanding player for Mississippi and he’s been very good overseas and for his qualifying team.
Are you pleased with how the team gelled this week in Las Vegas?
It’s really hard when you’re putting the guys together because they may know each other peripherally, but they don’t ever play with each other or share any deep connections,. and the, you’re playing for USA Basketball in a summer league type of timeframe. I think more than anything, basketball-wise – I mean, we’re a simple team trying to keep it as simple as we can – the main thing is to feel that togetherness of not letting the guy down standing next to me, building that camaraderie and spirit that can carry you. That’s really a challenge in seven days. That’s why it is so critical to pick the right guys. I think it’s been 44 guys or something that have played on our teams since last summer, and we feel like throughout that whole course of time, we’ve picked the right guys. Frank, his teammates, I think they’ve found this to be a good opportunity to grow close to players they haven’t been close with before.
What are some improvements ahead of Panama?
There’s no doubt we have some pick-and-roll coverage breakdowns that we have to correct because Panama is a pick-and-roll team, and Trevor Gaskins is a tremendous pick-and-roll player. Their big men in Panama are quick and active. Their pick-and-roll defense is very good. So, there are a number of a things we have to do better. I feel good about our group. It’s going to be knife fight down there. It’s hard to prepare guys for what the intensity is on the road in a FIBA game when you’re wearing USA across your chest.
Frank Mason (Sacramento Kings)
This was my first experience playing FIBA basketball. It was a great experience for me. We got the win, which is the most important thing. We have a lot of things we still need to improve on, but I think coach Van Gundy will do a great job of getting us ready for the next game.
How big of an adjustment was FIBA basketball?
It was a big adjustment, but coach Van Gundy did a great job of getting me and my teammates prepared for this game. I think we did a pretty good job of adjusting throughout practice every day, and he helped us with the little things. We just did a good job of concentrating and locking in like he always tells us. Now we look forward to this next game and hopefully we can play even better.
Jameel Warney (Texas Legends)
It all started with a great start by our starters. They started the game off excellent. They put us in a position to play our game for the rest of the game, and then we just took over. We tried to play good defense, play hard on every possession and there you have it.
What’s it going to take to win at Panama?
It’s going to be a tough game being on the road there in Panama. I, personally, know how tough those road games are in other countries, so we just have to be ready. We have to go back and look at some film, get ready and improve from there.
What sticks out to you about this particular USA team?
We’re really deep. This is probably the best team I’ve been on USA-wise. We’re 12 deep. We’re versatile at every position. We can switch off pick-and-rolls and play defense in space. And, we can score the ball. As you saw, we put up 114 in a 40 minute game. That’s crazy, and then we held them to 57 points so we kind of put in a complete game.
How have your USA Basketball experiences helped you?
They’ve definitely helped me a lot. They’ve given me a lot of confidence, and it’s just showed I can play pretty much anywhere. Coach Van Gundy has made me a better player over those windows I’ve played with the USA, so it’s helped me a lot.
Derrick White (San Antonio Spurs)
What has this experience been like for you so far?
It’s been a lot of fun. I’m just learning each and every day. We have a great coaching staff here, so I’m just trying to pick up little things here and there to start getting ready for real training camp.
How have you evolved as a player over this last year?
I’ve improved a lot from the G League playing with the (Austin) Spurs last year, so just taking everything I’ve learned, being a sponge. I’m at a great organization, so I have to continue to learn as much as I can.
Where do you see yourself playing best on the floor?
I’m just a combo guard. I’m whatever it takes or whatever coach asks me to be to play and help the team win.
Did you envision this all coming together for you like it did?
It’s all been so crazy these last couple years, transferring, sitting out a year and then getting drafted. It’s been crazy, but I’m just enjoying each and every moment. I’m blessed to get to play this sport.
Did coach Gregg Popovich talk to you about playing for this World Cup Qualifying Team?
Yes, coach Pop called me one day and asked me if I would be interested. He thought it would be good for my development and getting me ready for training camp, so after that I just planned on coming here and using it as a chance to get better.
What worked for you and Frank Mason tonight running the offense?
I think we played really unselfishly today. We moved the ball and got great shots each possession. We have a lot of talent on this team, so we can’t have any selfishness. We have to find one another.