Additional Quotes >> USA 121, Angola 66
Sept. 6, 2010 ē Istanbul, Turkey
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University)
About the game:
We have great respect for Angola as a country and as a basketball team. I coached against them in the Olympics and they played us a great game in the Olympics. We showed some of that game to our players to show what a good team they are. I thought our players responded with an excellent effort. The venue, by the way, is beautiful. Itís our first time in this venue and itís a beautiful arena. Our guys were sharp, they played hard and they were very unselfish. We played very well. One of the main reasons was we because had a lot of respect for our opponent.
Coach K after the USA's win over Angola
What did you think of the Angolan players? Do they have any players that compete in the NBA?
One, we would love to help in whatever way we could. If you have any who arenít professional who want to come to Duke University, Iíll take a look at them. Actually, I talked to Gomes and he played at Valparaiso when he was there and I talked to him after the game and said if there is anything that we can do. Honestly, Angola keeps putting teams in the Olympics, in the World Championships. To get to this level, itís a high level of basketball. I canít say who would be in the NBA and who wouldnít but the basketball talent is at a high level. Iím a little bit surprised that hasnít taken place. Maybe with another good showing here like you had, people will take notice. Again, if we can help, we will definitely try to help in that regard.
Aside from the 3-point shooting and the quick start, what are you most happy with tonight?
We were very unselfish. It showed in the number of extra passes that we made. We had 30 assists. I thought we just stayed aggressive the whole game. A couple days of practice, I think, really helped us. We had not practiced since Aug. 27 and we had two good days of practice. The guys have responded. Iím just pleased that we played like we practiced which is always what a coach wants to see. Hopefully we can keep that attitude as we go into our next game.
With your experience, do you believe any of the Angolan players should be in the NBA?
Iím not an NBA coach. There are guys who have played for me that I think should be in the NBA that are not. I know the NBA looks all over the world for players and again I would be shocked if there were not players from Angola playing in the NBA at some time. Youíre just too good of a basketball country but I canít say, I donít know the reason. Iím not an NBA coach. Iíve never had that chance Ö well, I had that chance but I turned it down.
Thoughts on playing zone?
We want to look at zone as an alternative. With foul trouble Ö maybe getting hurt inside. So we play a little bit of it. Weíre not playing it as well as we did early on in our practice. Part of it is that there are so many things you want to practice and thatís the one we havenít spent as much time on. In an emergency, we will use it. Not because anyone else is using it but because we think it can be something good for us. We have one of the best coaches in the world who teaches it in Jim Boeheim.
Do you think youíre good enough at center to win a World Championships?
Itís who we are. We canít change. When we started our camp, we had a lot more big people and then because of contract or injury, they werenít able to come. So this is our team and weíre happy with it. We would probably like a couple more big guys but itís not going to happen.
Are you beatable?
Yes. We are beatable, not unbeatable. Iíve been fortunate to be the coach for the last five years and there is no one in our country who has a greater feeling in our country for the international game than me. I just think there is so many good teams, so many great players. Itís an honor for us to be in these competitions but we also know that weíre beatable. Thereís nothing wrong with that because we are and there are a lot of good teams. We just have to work hard and hopefully be at our best and that might be good enough to win. The respect we have for all the countries is at the highest levels, believe me.
On the game:
I thought we came out very aggressive. We had a lot of respect for our opponent tonight. We knew if we werenít aggressive, they could get going and make a long night for us and we can be beaten. We didnít want that so we came out and stuck to a great game plan what we had. I thought it was a great game for us.
Chauncey Billups on the USA's win over Angola
Did it take any adjustments to turn around your 3-point shooting tonight?
Not really. I never really worry about whether Iím making or missing shots. That never determines how I feel like I played the game. I play the game with a lot of passion. My presence, I think, is my best value. Some times my shots are on Ö sometimes theyíre not but I just try to have an effect on the game. Today, the shots went down. I just look forward to the next game.
Is this the time in the tournament where you need to look like a world champion?
Absolutely, absolutely. This is what we all sacrificed our whole summer for. This is what we all sacrificed spending time with our family and doing things we usually do, we sacrificed it all for this opportunity. Now, we got one at a time. Weíre trying to win a World Championship. That was the one goal we had this summer. Right now, weíre on the right path.
Did you feel your team play was very good tonight?
Yeah. That was the thing we emphasized leaving out of the pool play was our spacing and our ball movement. It had taken step back, but we have a very spirited practice the other day focusing on that Ö moving the ball, moving bodies. Knowing that if we move the ball and drove a lot, it would give our shooters time to set their feet and knock down shots. We did a lot of shooting and the things that we worked on Ė itís crazy how things happen Ė but everything we worked on we were able to come out and show improvement today.
How much do you value at this point in your career being a leader with a young team?
I love it, I love it, I mean thatís just what I feel like Iím here to do . Just try to guide these guys, be a difference maker, not only talk about it but get out there and play and do it and be about it. Whether its with my team the Nuggets or with this young USA Basketball team my role is the same itís just lead and do what I do and be me.
When you first got in the league in your first few years when you when you had a rough go of it, did you imagine you would be this elder statesman who would be this sage for teams?
I definitely wished it, but the way my career started it wasnít looking positive, it wasnít looking good, I never lost faith but I would be lying if I said there wasnít sometimes where I was like Ďman, maybe itís not meant to be.Ē But I never lost my fight, never lost my will to get out there and work. It turned around for me as I learned to lead, as I learned to follow guys like Terrell Brandon, Sam Mitchell, guys that made unbelievable difference to me in my career. Once I learned how to do that then I was able to step up be a leader and people follow me.
Is it more important to you because maybe in the very, very beginning of your career you didnít have those guys leading you, are you more sensistive to that?
Absolutely, absoulutely. And thatís the reason why I do the things I do for a guy like Ty Lawson who is on my team, or some of these young guys Ė Steph Curry, D Rose, Russell, guys who really look up to me and what Iíve been able to accomplish and I donít know they had that kind of veteran on their team that can kind of show them the way, show them everything. I take that role very seriously because I wish that somebody did that for me earlier in my career and maybe I would have been better earlier.
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
On the win:
We played defense the best we have all tournament. I think we benefited from two days of practice Ö we really focused in on that part of our performance knowing that our ball pressure and our intensity on defense is going to lead to some easy baskets on offense. We had some momentum early. Our first group jumped out on them early and our second group came in and finished what they started.
On the teamís assist to turnover ratio in the game:
Thatís the key thing on the offensive end, being unselfish and sharing the ball, looking for the open shot. A lot of guys knocked down shots today. If we can continue to do that Ö like I said, I think our offense just feeds off our defense. If the other team is coming down and scoring every time and weíre having to set up and run plays, weíre not going to be as effective. But, if we get stops when we should and rebound, weíll be fine.
Best 40 minutes youíve seen from this group so far?
Yeah, we didnít have a single letdown the whole game. Weíve had huge margins of victory before but weíve usually had a couple minutes or so where we had to call a timeout and get refocused but tonight we were pretty solid the whole time.
Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
On playing in this tournament:
Weíre blessed to get this opportunity. We have to go out there and make the best of it. Iím a guy that I can get easy baskets if I roam around and get a couple tip ins. My teammates do a great job passing me the ball. I know if I play defense and try to get easy steals, then easy points will come.
On the game tonight:
It was a great start for us. Everybody came out, from the bench to the starters, everybody said we wanted to be the most enthusiastic team here. It helped us out on both ends of the floor.
On the assist to turnover ratio and the teamís passing:
Our point guards did a great job of finding opening shots for everybody. I think we drove the ball well and drove and kicked and guys made shots.
Is this the best 40 minutes youíve played since youíve been together?
Yeah, by far. Everybody did a great job of playing together and playing hard. I think our defense started our offense. Weíre going to need that for the rest of the tournament.
On the game:
We had to force these guys to play our pace and play our game. Weíre the best at playing our game so thatís what I think happened tonight.
Thoughts on the assists to turnover ratio?
Weíre going out there, getting in the lane, passing the ball Ö everybodyís comfortable about there. Thatís what happens. We feel good playing with each other.
Is this the best 40 minutes youíve seen out of this group?
Yeah defensively it was the best 40 minutes weíve played but still I donít think that we did what weíre capable of. Only time will tell what we can do.
Do you feel any pressure to win the title?
I donít feel any pressure at all. Weíre ready to play against anybody. Weíre not taking anybody lightly. We just are going to go out there and play hard and leave everything on the table.
On the game Ö you got after them pretty quick?
We really did. We just really played more as a team and played really good defense.
Was the couple of days a factor in getting your legs back?
Most definitely and we had enough time to really go over the other teamís stuff and really try to break them down.
Thoughts on the 30 to 5 assist to turnover ratio?
If we play like that, I donít think really anybody could beat us.
What do you think of Russiaís team?
Whoever we play, weíre going to be ready for them and we just got to be ready to go.
Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers)
On the game:
It was a good team effort. We really did a good job of getting after it early, not letting them get their confidence which is something weíve been trying to work on. Good thing about tonight is even when weíre up big, we kept the pressure on. We understand that no matter what the score is, we have a goal and thatís to continue to get better as a team and win each game individually. So tonight when we were up big, we still got something out of it which will helps us in later rounds.
Thoughts on the 30 to 5 assist to turnover ratio?
Weíve been getting criticized for our assists compared to turnovers. Tonight we took care of the ball. We only had one turnover in the first half which is excellent. It gave us an opportunity to get extra attempts, get extra shots. Those extra possessions really help us out. They can help us out when a game comes and youíre playing possession by possession and itís close.
Keys to the win?
It was very good game for us during this tournament. We played together as a group, defensively we really did a good job on the scouting. Mainly we took care of the ball and got a lot of assists so we shared the ball.
On the game and the teamís energy:
I think the coaching staff did a really good job the past couple of days telling us to use our youth to our advantage. Have more enthusiasm and really pick it up on the offense and defensive end. When players are subbing in after the first unit does a great job, to run out there on the court and have that energy that we should have. I think our average age for the team is 23 years old so we should play like it and have that energy the whole time throughout the game.
Kevin Love on the USA's win over Angola
On the sharing of the ball tonight and the lack of turnovers:
If we can do that, we feel like we will be tough to beat. If we clean up our lapses that weíve had on the offensive end with the turnovers and assist to turnover radio and then we kind of convert that into the defensive end and have that energy that I mentioned, weíre going to be very tough to beat in the next three games.
Is the best 40 minutes the team has played to this point?
Yeah I think so. We know whatís at stake and we know from here on out, itís one and done.
Lamar Odom (Los Angeles Lakers)
On the game:
We wanted to come out. We wanted to come out and play tough defense, get our point across early Ö play physical and smart at the same time.
Do you feel this is the most active the team has been?
We had a couple good practices. Hopefully as time goes on, we can keep getting better and better.
Thoughts on the 30 to 5 assist to turnover ratio?
We want to be able to take care of the ball, get some assists as well. Anytime we have that many assists, weíre a tough team to beat. Ball moves faster than the dribble.
Yeah. Energy and effort plays a big part on how we play. We just want to keep it up and just keep playing with the same type of intensity and we should be alright
How do you stay focused playing inferior opponents?
We canít determine how good a team is or how theyíre going to play against us. All we can determine is how good we play, how good we perform. So, we are just going to come out play tough, play smart, play physical and play hard.
Do you feel extra pressure as the favorite in the tournament?
No pressure in playing basketball. At the end of the day, itís just a game. Thatís how we approach. Of course, like any other game, we want to win.
We all played in high school and college and played a zone. We practiced against a zone. We have one of the best zone coaches in the world in Jim Boeheim. We got a great coaching staff and they have prepared us to play against any type of defense or any type of team. Weíre just having a lot of fun right now.
What do you think of the next game?
It doesnít matter who we play against. We just want to play the same way all the time no matter who we play and thatís with a lot of energy, lot of effort. Weíre trying to be come the best defensive team in the tournament. If we do that, weíll give ourselves a chance to win.
Has it been difficult to play center?
It makes no difference. Basketball is basketball Ö universal language. No matter where Iím playing on the court whether itís point guard or center, I feel comfortable playing any where on the court.
Thoughts on the passing tonight?
Any time we share the ball its good for us. Right now, everybody is focused. Everybody wants to play the right way. Playing hard and tough and being smart is important also.
Did the two practices help in that area?
Always. It helps sharpen you up. Practice makes perfect. What weíre trying to do is be perfect or be as perfect as we can.
Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls)
What was the teamís mindset coming in?
We came in thinking it was going to be a hard game. At first, they gave us (a good game) and towards the end of the game, I think we pulled away. I think we played alright.
Derrick Rose on the USA's win over Angola
How do you feel youíre playing as a team right now?
Weíre playing good as a team right now. Weíre moving the ball, making the right plays, penetrating right and playing defense. I think with our defensive pressure, we should get far in the tournament.
Is it important to start looking like you looked today?
Thatís very important. It gives us confidence as a team. Weíre a young team where anything can happen right now. If we come out not focused or anything, we donít have the experience time with each other where we know weíre going to win every game so itís very important that we prepare ourselves for the game, make sure everybodyís focused. We love playing with each but itís different because this is our first time playing together Ö weíve only been together for almost a month.
If youíre making 3s like that, what does that mean for the team?
All of the people we have on our team, everybody works out. Weíve got a whole bunch of young guys on the team where everybody takes their job very personal and serious. When you have people standing there shooting, it goes down to everybody else (thinking) ĎI should be in the gym more than him or I should have been in the gym with himí and you seeing peopleís shots. Everybodyís hitting open shots, everybodyís hitting tough shots and itís paying off.
What do you need to do better?
Rebound the ball a little bit better. If we rebound the ball, I think we should be alright.