2009 USA Men's National Team Mini-Camp Quotes
Las Vegas, Nev. - July 23, 2009
JERRY COLANGELO, USA Basketball Chairman
What did you explain to these players in last night's team meeting?
I think the whole idea last night was to indoctrinate the players, some of whom were with us last summer with the Select Team but many weren't, to give them a taste of what it's like to be part of our family. During the course of the evening to hear from myself and Coack K and to look at some of the video tape we had of what we accomplished and the gold medal " what it all means. Let's put it this way, when that meeting was over, we knew they were all ready. If they weren't ready at that point, they never would be ready because it was a great opportunity for them.
With the core players from 2008 already committed for the future, are you looking for role players?
Although we've heard from seven or eight that definitely want come back, you never know what is going to happen in a short period of time. Injuries play a part, contracts play a part. We want to be ready for any eventuality. There could be two, or three or four. Who knows how many spots will be open eventually, but one way or another we know this will be the source of our picks because there is a lot of great talent here.
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI, USA Head Coach
On Jay Triano:
I can't tell you how much I think of Jay Triano. For the last few years doing the (USA) Select Team, coming in to do this, that's a heck of a thing. He has helped us tremendously in learning about the international game. He's a really good man, not just a good coach for making this commitment.
What are you looking for here?
What we wanted to do was see how they would pick up a system real quick, share the ball, play defense, enthusiasm added to it, and I wasn't here for the drills but everyone was really pleased. I thought Jay made a good call to just scrimmage for a little bit and probably change it a little bit tomorrow where we do more five-on-zero shooting so we can have a better scrimmage. You don't want them to get hurt either for a 3-day period.
We're looking for potential teammates for the guys that we have. When we figure out who we will eventually have we will have now gotten to know them, not just as pro players but as U.S. players and you get to meet them you get relationships. For me and Deron Williams, he and I are friendsâ€¦so to start relationships with these guys and dependent on whether they're in the 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016 in Chicago " so it's that type of thing and this is a good thing. It's a great idea by Jerry (Colangelo).
Do you look more for what they do like what you just said or for specific positions toward the team?
A little bit of both. Especially at the point position. A big thing is versatility. In the international game what we've learned is the more versatile team you have, especially at the three and four, when they can do both, that adds a lot because so many fours in international ball play away from the basket and are really perimeter players so it's a little different context that you deal in. You try to envision if we got all the guys we would like to have back who would complement the guys that we have.
What do you need now more than you had last time?
First of all, you have adjust to the fact that the guys who were our younger players are now our middle aged players, and the guys who were older are the older guys, so a little bit of youth along with that experienced veteran and you never know who is going to be with you because of family and injury " not so much commitment, that's why it's a pool. Where we had a pool of players before I think going forward we'll have a pool of players and we'll know what they can do. I think going forward that's what we're trying to do. That's a big change, getting to know these guys more. I think that's the biggest change, adding more depth to how we do this and that's what you should do with continuity with Mike and Nate, myself and Jim along with Jerry , we've been together, this will be for the fourth year and that's a good thing.
JAY TRIANO, 2009 USA NATIONAL TEAM COACH
About preparing for the mini-camp:
I asked him (Coach Krzyzewski) if you want me to run your stuff that you're going to run next summer offensively and defensively, and terminology and stuff and he said -don't spend time teaching them that, we can teach them that, we can teach them that in the future." He goes, -I want to see who wants to play for their country. So keep it simple and let's find out who's got the intensity to show they want to represent their country." That's why it was a very simple practice, very easy, and I was pleased with the intensity
Kevin Durant looked very comfortable out there especially in the scrimmage. Can you sense he has a different confidence from the other 19 guys because of maybe his time with the selects (meaning when he played with the 2007 and 2008 USA Select Teams that trained against the USA National Team)?
Quite possibly. He's been through through this routine, this is his third year now. Some guys are here for the first time, some for the second, he and Andre Iguodala are here for the third time. Obviously you feel more comfortable and I think that's part of what this program that Mr. Colangelo has put together is about " building a program and making it a familiar thing to come here represent your country for part of the time in the summer and hopefully crack one of the teams.
Were you surprised by how many guys committed to come out even thought there may be only a handful of spots available?
It should be their dream regardless of how many spots are available. You never know. You don't know if six guys are coming back, if three guys are coming back, or if nine of 12 guys are coming back. There's going to be spots open. You know this isn't about 2010 and 2012, these kids are young enough that 2014 and 2016 are possibilities for them. So get in the pipeline now, show that you're interested, be here, play hard, play against your peers and play against the best competition you can anywhere, get better. There are a lot of reasons to be here.
What's the big difference from training with the Select Team in 2008 and this year?
The big difference? I would have to say that there are a couple spots open. We are all gunning for that. We are just trying to defend the title of best in the world. Having the USA across the chest, I keep mentioning, is the greatest thing you can have, especially playing the game you love while doing it.
What about all the superstars that participated in 2008 and made it such a desirable thing to play for your country and helped develop the program feel within USA Basketball?
I think the team last year, the staff, the players, they made it cool again to represent your country. I always thought it was, but I think that everybody jumped on board again. We got the gold medal. We kind of made it sexy again to get our there and represent. I think it's definitely a big deal for all of us guys here. Some have been here for three years and some are in their first year. It's big time for us.
You are working toward being a point guard in the future, right?
I'm working toward being more of a complete guard. I think sometimes people get caught up so much in one-guard or two-guard, and a guard is a guard. As a guard, you want to be able to ball-handle, pass, play defense, shoot and make others around you better. I just want to be a complete guard and be the best guard I can be, whether it's a one-guard or two-guard. It doesn't matter.
At Memphis, you carry some of the scoring load and you have the ball in your hands a lot. When you come into this gym does your mentality change?
Whatever it takes. Like I'm trying to get a job. Dive on the floor, wipe the sweat up, whatever I have to do to be a part of Team USA, I'm definitely open. You have to have an open mind and be willing to learn and enjoy playing with these great players. Sometimes you wish you had the opportunity to play with these guys throughout the season, so now you get the opportunity to wear USA across your chest and compete with them and get better with them this week. It's a unique opportunity for us.
Does the fact that there are only going to be a few roster spots available, does that increase the battles over the next few days?
Well, I think if there were no spots, if there were 12 spots, I think the group of guys that were brought in this week are competitors and guys who work out all year round to stay in shape and better their games and their teams. I think if you brought us in to an open gym and there was nothing to play for but to win, I think the same thing would go on " high intensity. You want to win and compete.
Any prediction about the scrimmage Saturday night at Thomas & Mack?
No. I think it will be more of a battle than a show people come to see alley-oops and crazy passes and stuff. I think guys will really get down and compete.
One of the reasons teams prevent their players from playing in the Olympics is injury concerns. How are you going to deal with that?
I'm going to play. Going to play for Team USA is trying to get a gold medal. That's bigger than the NBA. That's representing your country. That's bigger than just one city.
Have you had much opportunity with USA Basketball in the past?
Well, I've been invited two times, but because of injury I haven't been able to play.
How disappointing was that?
It was tough. After high school, I really didn't get a chance because of my wrist. That sucked. And then a couple of years ago, my knee. Well actually it was my throat (tonsillectomy), and I couldn't play. I'm here now. I came here to work.
Can you talk about finally being here and getting to play?
That's what I'm here to do. Just to come out here and play, and not worry about anything else.
There are a lot of young guys coming up in the NBA, could you talk about that?
Just look at all the guys here. There are a lot of good guys and great talent. There are some guys that I thought were (veterans), and they are here and they are considered young guys. So, there a lot of guys here, and it's going to be a good time " a lot of competition.