Additional Quotes >> USA 92, Tunisia 57
Sept. 2, 2010 ē Istanbul, Turkey
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University)
About the game:
Congratulations to (Tunisia). We thought in our pool, every team played hard. It was a great pool and Tunisiaís play was symbolic of the type of hard play on every possession Ö they showed that. It translated to an outstanding first half for them. To talk about how hard they played, you get 25 offensive rebounds, it means you never give up on the ball.
(Tunisia) never gave up on the ball and I admire that. Although we need to work on our stuff a little bit better, I thought we played real hard especially in the second half. If we could play as hard as (Tunisia) played on the offensive boards in the medal round, weíll be in good shape.
Can you talk about your energy and how you chose the substitution patterns that you did?
These two games were a little bit different for us. We wanted to make sure that we got through the two games without serious injury. To me, that was most important. We felt that we could win the games. And we wanted to try to do some things without Ė again, you have two days without practice Ö could we do a few things to get us in better shape, to work on it. Our plan in the first half was to play guys a little bit longer which we wonít do in the medal round. Then have a new unit and let them play long and then use the second half anyway that we wanted to. Rudy, we didnít bring him back in the game because he had a slightly pulled groin. We think heíll be fine but we just didnít want to chance that. We did value the ball more today especially in the second half we made more passes and thatís something weíve been trying to do: moving the ball a little bit quicker. Weíll have a couple of days of practice to work on that. But, overall the bench was terrific in that second half and thatís good to see.
I think Granger has played well in these last two games. Eric tonight played like heís been playing most of the time with us except for the last two games. For some reason, he was hesitant to shoot Ö I talked to him actually before the game and I said, ĎJust shootí and if you do make a move to the basket, donít look to pass.' Heís a scorer and his teammates know that. Actually in watching tape this morning, we gave him some feedback and there was a play from yesterday and Eric was wide open and I stopped it and said, ĎHow many of you guys donít want him to shoot?í and no one raised their and hand and I said, ĎEric, see, everybody wants you to shootí Ö and I said that goes for all of you. Sometimes we are not looking for our shot, weíre looking to make the next pass and I thought we were a little bit better with that this afternoon.
What percentage are you guys at this time?
I donít know if a coach can ever know what percentage they are. I think weíre fairly healthy so weíre close to 100 percent being healthy. I think weíre 100 percent with attitude. I think weíre 100 percent with desire with the intangibles and now in practice we have to get better. In these next few days, we have to get better. We have had eight games in 13 days and coach would tell you that when you have a lot of games, there is slippage.
So we have to take care of slippage but I know our guys want to take care of that. Hopefully Ė I think we are going to play Angola Ė on Monday night, we need to be ready for that and remember itís one and done. If you donít win, you canít win it. Itís kind of like the NCAA tournament.
Do you expect a sluggish game on a day like this or did you want to look better?
I always want to look better. I try to tell them that no matter what to do it. I know there is a tendency for an athlete that knows that heís going to have to compete at a higher level in a few days to just be careful about how they are competing. I donít think a world record is usually established in the events leading up Ė in the qualifying (rounds). A great runner might come in second, third. Itís not his best time but he wants to have his best time in the race. The thing with this is you have four games in that race. Sometimes in coaching the US team, itís kind of like the Tour de France except you have to win every stage. You have to look good in every stage. We do want to look good in every stage but we would really like to win the whole thing. I just think thereís some human things that come in that have nothing to do with bad attitude or anything.
Would we have liked to have played better in the first half? Yes but also (Tunisia) played their butts off. After the game, their guard came up to me and said, ĎCoach, it was an honor to play against your teamí Ö thatís what I try to tell these guys. Thatís a big moment for them and as a result that should be a big moment for us. We got into the moment as a result of their team being in that moment and we got better as a result. I think we got a lot out of the game. I thought they (Tunisia) were fried yesterday. We (Krzyzewski and Tunisia coach) talked a long time right before the game and I said Ďyour team has worked so hardí and said, Ďthey will work hard againí and he was right, they worked hard again and that was good for our team to experience that.
Have you considered any changes in your lineup especially at the shooting guard spot?
Weíll take a look at it. Weíre always open for everything. I do think we are going to make quicker subs. Weíre going to get back more to how we started and how we played the first two games of this pool. I didnít think the confidence level of our bench was where it needed to be during the first part of the pool play but I think it is now. For us to win, weíre going to need all 12 of those guys playing well and not just the starting unit.
On the play of Tunisia:
When countries are trying to get better and they need money and support Ö what Coach and his team have done is they given a reason for somebody to support them. They said we play with great heart and we play with great pride and we are representing our country in a magnificent way and weíre deserving of that. I think thatís the biggest thing that Tunisia won here is the respect and hopefully the respect of the people who will give them the support thatís needed to improve their programs because I thought our pool was as tough as a pool of the four. I think itís a big step for (Tunisia) and their program.
Where is the team right now?
Weíre right where we thought we were going to be or hoped we would be after pool play. We went 5-0 and had pretty good games. These last two games were kind of tough games to play knowing that you donít really want to win by 50, 60. You want to be respectful of different countries but at the same time, you want to try to get better a little bit. Thatís why you see the lapses that we have but I feel like weíre in a good spot, a great spot actually.
How would you assess your performance in the tournament?
It was pretty good. The times Iíve decided to turn it up and be aggressive offensively, Iím able to get what I want and get what we want. As a team, defensively weíve been good. Itís been good.
How different is it playing 2 vs. playing the 1?
Itís a little different. I havenít played off the ball in over 10 years probably and itís different. The way I affect the game is to have the ball in my hands, calling plays and settling the team down. Itís different but thereís a lot of people on our team that have to play a different role than you play on your regular team. Sacrifice is part of the whole thing. Iím just going to get out there and do what I do the best that I can.
Is it tough for a guy nicknamed Mr. Big Shot to play in a game like this?
Itís kind of tough, but the good thing is those games are over now and every game is as big as the next one.
Are you concerned at all that youíll now have five days between meaningful games since the last two havenít meant anything?
No Iím not concerned about that at all. The one thing Iím happy about is that we have a couple days to get practice in. You get to get after it in practice and go hard and work on the things that we felt we struggled with in these five games.
Whatís it like to balance the leadership role and participating on the floor?
Itís easy for me because thatís what I do on my regular team. My role other than playing off the ball a little bit hasnít changed at all. Maybe I donít shoot as much as I do for the Denver Nuggets but I get out there and kind of get a feel for the game, see how itís going. Shots Iím supposed to shoot, Iím going to shoot and times when I got to settle the team down and make sure everybodyís in the right spots. Thatís what I do. Itís really no big deal. Itís pretty easy for me to do.
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
How do you analyze a game like this?
You come in and you prepare the same way that we do for any game, any time weíre going out on the floor. You want to use it as an opportunity to really work on your stuff and have a flow going into the medal round which is what we did in the second half. We didnít play very well in the first half. This was just a wake up call to get our rhythm back.
How did it feel for you to get into a rhythm today?
It felt good to see some shots go down, get on the floor more than I have Ö just really get my legs under me. So I can go back and know how it felt in this game when Iím in the medal round. With the limited time Iím going to get, I need to always be ready to play and make an impact.
Howís the teamís mentality entering the medal round?
Weíre still optimistic, still hungry Ö ready to stay focused on the goal. We know we are going to play a tough and athletic Angola team that played us really well in the Olympics two years ago. Weíre going to be ready Ö we have three days to our bodies ready and rested. Iím sure everybodyís happy about that.
Have you explored the city a lot?
No, Iím waiting on my family to come. Theyíve had tours every day but I havenít gone out yet. Iím definitely going to see a little bit of Istanbul before I leave.
Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
What was the mood in the locker room at the half?
We wasnít playing hard enough. I think the second unit was better and also in the second half, our pressure was better on the basketball. We just turned to that. These three days are going to help us as far as getting better in practice.
What is the teamís mindset entering the elimination round?
We know that one loss we go home so breakdowns like we had in these last couple of games, you canít do that. We got to learn how to keep pushing.
Are you guys tired from all these games?
I think playing five games in six nights is a little difficult to do. But I think we kept fighting and got better.
On the game:
I thought Tunisia really played us hard, especially in the first half. I just thought our defense really turned up Ö it was good throughout the game but really mostly in the second half. And it converted into easy baskets for us.
On his play:
I just had a lot of open shots and I had to knock them down. That was the thing Ö we played really good defense and came down the floor in transition. We had a lot of guys that were open and luckily I was the one that was able to knock down the 3-point shots.
Did you make a case for yourself to be the starting shooting guard on this team?
Iím not really worried about that. I wasnít expecting to start any games here. My role is to come into the game and be effective shooting the ball and thatís what I came here to do.
What did coach say to the team at halftime?
He got on us and told us we need to turn it up defensively. We should have done that in the first half but we really did in the second.
How much work do you guys think you need to do in practice the next couple of days?
We know what to do. We have to rethink and come together as a team and thatís why itís good to have a couple of practices before we really dig down for these last four games and there really going to grind out for us.
The team seemed flat, how is the feeling in the camp?
Weíre fine, I think we just didnít have any energy and we knew we were going to end up first in this pool and move on. We got ahead of ourselves, but luckily we came out and did what we had to do.
Angola is next for you and itís a game you probably should win even though they are the African champions; is that the test you need before you hit a wall like Spain or Greece?
Thereís only four games left and we know a lot about Angola already. Theyíre a really athletic team and almost as athletic as probably we are.
How do you feel about possibly playing in a very tough bracket with Spain and Greece, thatís three of the best teams in the tournament.
Thatís fine, weíre very familiar with those teams, we already played them already, so weíll be looking forward to play against those guys.
Lamar Odom (Los Angeles Lakers)
On the other teams in the USA pool:
Theyíre playing for pride. All of these teams out here Ö even that team we played tonight, they wanted to upset us. Losing is something we donít really think about. We think about what we need to do to win.
Are you enjoying yourself? It seemed you guys were flat tonight at the start.
That happens. Other teams are excited to play us so maybe the other team is just getting after it. They are excited and of course when they see USA as their opponent, itís a game the look forward to. Youíre not always going to blow a team out in the beginning of the game. Obviously, we still won the game by 30 points.
What do you know about Angola?
Not a lot. Iíll watch some film and Iíll learn a little bit about them and just to try to get better and better.
Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls)
On the game:
I think we kind of started off slow but we got things right in the second half. We know that it was going to be a hard game today knowing that the team wasnít really that good and we had to go out there and play hard. But they gave us a run in the firs half.
What is the mindset now for the team as you go to the elimination round?
Itís Game 7s every game knowing that if we lose, weíre out. Weíre going to try to play hard, play together and have confidence and trust in each other.
What is the team doing best and what do you need work on?
I think our defense is there but we straighten some things out. But the biggest thing right now is turnovers. I think our turnovers need to come down. Theyíre going to come down. Thatís the thing we really need to work on.
What did Coach K say at halftime?
He told us to play our game. He probably said it in a different way than Iím saying it right now but to get to the bottom of it, it was basically to play our game and do what we need to do.
Was it a hard game to play today when there is nothing on the line?
A little bit but at the same time it was a chance for us to get better Ö to play our game and get better.
Why do you think you guys were so sluggish in the first half?
I donít know. I canít even tell you. We were giving up open shots. They came out and played hard and thatís what that team has been doing the whole time theyíve been here. They kind of caught us off guard and we had to get back in to doing what we do.
What do you need to do to get ready for Angola on Monday?
Weíre feeling good about ourselves after how we finished the game. Weíll have a few practices and try to get us ready for whoever we play.
Could you feel the energy change in the second half?
Definitely. I knew it was going to switch over at some point and time and we did a good job there.