Additional Quotes >>USA 88, Iran 51
Sept. 1, 2010 ē Istanbul, Turkey
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University)
About the game:
It was an honor to play against (Iran).† I thought the Iran team played extremely hard and had a really good game plan.† I thought they played well.† For us we were a little bit fresher today.† In our last game, when we played Brazil, that was our sixth game in 10 days in three countries.† I just thought we were tired, more mentally than physically.† No U.S. team has ever played six games in 10 days in three countries.† So the day off yesterday Ö and I thought as the game moved along, we got better in the game and weíre hoping we can do that again.† Itís just a long race and people want to judge you by every game instead of looking at your body of work.† Our kids have done a good job, and they did a good job again in a hard-fought game today.
Coach K following the USA's victory over Iran
Did you ever worry that all the questions about this game would create any tensions between the teams?
We didnít have any fear of that because we just respected their basketball team.† We just play a basketball game.† I said two nights ago that Iíve been to Iran; I played there in the early 70s in Tehran.† I have good friends who are of Iranian descent in the United States so I have a good feeling for the Iranian people.† There is no political aspect in my mind in the ball game.
Do you think itís an advantage to get a big lead and have a chance to rest your star players in the late part of the preliminary round?
Well, itís important to get Ö weíd like getting off to a big lead if we could.† I think any coach would like to get off to big leads.† For us, these guys are going through this for the first time.† So that stretch that we put them through, itís not so much that they are physically tired, you get mentally tired and then when you have six games in 10 days and a couple of those days are travel days, you donít practice.† So a team that has not been together long and has that stretch and then doesnít practice, there is going to be slippage.† Weíre trying to use these two games to get back and the practices before we start the medal round.† I thought this was a good first step today.† We knew we would have a tough game, that they would fight us every possession.† Jay Triano, one of our assistants who coaches the Raptors, the last thing he told our team before going out on the court, he said the team we are going to play, plays as hard as team we have played against.† To expect that type of effort against us.† Thatís what we got from the Iranian team.
Can you talk about Kevin Loveís play?
Heís had a tremendous impact on our team.† He gives us a different center than Lamar or Tyson in that he can shoot the 3.† Heís probably as good a rebounder as we have even though heís probably undersized for the position. When heís in the ball game, he spreads it out and we have a little more room to maneuver inside and then his rebounding has given us second and third shots.† Heís done a really good job.† Heís very dependable for us.
Do you feel the program coming in was a mistake perhaps with so many games in a brief period of time leading up to the tournament?
No I donít.† We set it up that way because the last few games of the tournament Ė if weíre fortunate enough to keep advancing Ė weíll play three games in four days.† To play six in 10 in the way weíre doing it, we needed to learn from it.† Do you get mentally tired?† Do you have slippage in the last game which would be the championship game again if youíre fortunate enough to go through it.† So that was the plan.† You didnít know Ö I think our pool is really good.†† There are really good teams so everybody played us hard and itís just a little bit of a grind.† We wanted to put them through a grind to see if we could get a little bit tougher before the medal round.
Are you disappointed that you only scored 88 points tonight?
No, Iím not disappointed in todayís game.† Points are not that important. Itís how hard you are playing and how well.† I thought we improved as the game went along.† I thought our second half was better than our first half, and thatís what weíre trying to get to.† Weíre improving going into the medal round but Iím not disappointed.
Coach K press conference.
Do you think turnovers are an issue for your team or do you think itís ok?
I donít think a coach ever says itís ok to turn the ball over.† We actually had 22 against Brazil and only eight assists.† I thought we were a little bit sloppy with the ball in the first half but again theyíre playing hard against you.† So, they are forcing some of those turnovers.† In the second half, I thought our passes were much more crisp and we were stronger with the ball.† I think we had 10 or 11 in the first half and then 5 or 6 in the second half so it was much better.† If we can cut down on turnovers, thatís a big part of the ball game.
Whatís your level of satisfaction with ball movement and your offensive execution?
In the second half, much better.† Again, I thought against Brazil Ö part of that is you get a little bit mentally tired and then you start standing Ö and you donít practice.† So the habits weíre trying to build, sometimes you revert back to less-productive habits.† We want to use these two games as a chance for us to get sharper. †We were much sharper in the second half than in the first half.† Hopefully tomorrow, weíll be even sharper.† Then, we get a chance to practice before the medal round.
How do you feel about the tournament so far?
I think the tournament has a lot of possible winners.†† Much of it will have to do with your draw.† Where youíre seeded and who you go up against. We respect everybody we are going to play, and weíll train hard for everybody weíre going to play.†† If we get beat, it wonít be because we took somebody lightly.† Believe me.† All these guys want to do well and I want to do well.†† Weíre putting in a lot of effort and so are the other teams.† We have a chance but there are other teams that have a chance too and we know that.
Chauncey Billups (Denver Nuggets)
On clinching the top spot in the pool:
We came here to first and foremost win the pool and get the number one seed out of pool play.† We did that.† Tonight we didnít play that great, to be honest with you.† We didnít play with the fire we probably should have early.† Itís a tough game to play a little bit, playing against a foe who is really not on your level.† We got to be better than we were tonight as far as just putting teams away.†† Come out and work on what you got to work on and get it over with.† We hopefully have another chance to do that tomorrow.
What is the approach for tomorrow?
I think you look at tape and you look at the things you didnít do early in the game today and say ok we have another chance to do it tomorrow.
What are the areas of improvement right now?
I just think some things we could be better at are half court offense Ö just running sets Ö running them through where everybody is touching the ball Ö weíre not as predictable Ö weíre making the defense move from side to side.† Weíre making them make some mistakes and make them pay as opposed to using our athletic ability and trying to beat people one on one the whole time.† Obviously you can do that against bad teams but weíre going to play against some good teams that are going to play zone or going to play a pretty good man to man and pressure us as well.† We got to better.
Are you figuring how to play with each other?
Yes.† Everybody is getting more familiar with each other and thatís been the key in this whole time is how fast can we get to where we need to get to.†† I think the process is speeding up every time and every game.
Tyson Chandler (Dallas Mavericks)
On the game:
I think it was a very good game.† I think we both came out and played hard and represented our countries well.† Iran fought very hard.† It was a very good game.† I think we showed a lot of respect for each other and I was happy with the outcome.
Tyson Chandler at the press conference following the USA - Iran game.
On the political side of this game:
I think we should leave the politics to the politicians.† We are here to play basketball and like I said, we both represented our countries very well and very respectful.† We didnít have any problems out there and we both played hard for our countries.
On Hamed Ehadadi:
I think heís a great player.† Heís a really big body Ö he has a nice post game.† Really, overall, heís a great player.† He floats around the perimeter Ö he shoots a lot of shots.†† He does a lot for the team.† He definitely keeps you on your toes at all times because he has nice touch as well as a big body and he can finish inside.
On playing different amounts of minutes each night:
On any given night, you never know how the flow of the game is going to go. I think you always have to be ready to play.† We have a deep team so any guy can come off the bench and give us a spark Ö or a starter can play big minutes for us.† On our team, we just always have to be ready and whenever our number is called, we have to get out there and do what is expected of us.
On clinching the pool:
It feels good.† We got to get ready for tomorrow and try to close it out Ö make a statement and get ready for tournament play.† Weíre excited.† We know every game, every day is a step forward to where we want to get.† We have to come in every day and try to get better.
What did you take out of todayís game?
We need to cut down on the turnovers.† Our energy could be a little bit better.† But I think we did a good job of pressuring, making those guys shoot bad shots and helping out each other on the defensive end.
Do you feel you guys are getting more comfortable playing with each other?
Yeah.† We knew it was going to take a couple weeks and I think weíve passed that feeling out period of learning how each other plays and guys know where to get some guys the ball in the right position to score and make plays.† We have a great point guard in D-Rose and a great veterans in Lamar and Chauncey.† Weíre trying to follow their lead.†
What is the focus going into Tunisia?
Just to get better.† This team plays very hard, one of the hardest teams Iíve seen play all tournament.† There going to come at us.† It should be a good test for us.
Do think there is something to certain guys being FIBA players and some guys not being FIBA players?
People are more successful in these kind of games because they have the kind of game that is best played within these rules.† This is a physical game, a very physical game.† I think me playing here will help me playing in the regular season.
Rudy Gay following the USA's victory over Iran
What qualities make a very good FIBA player?
Physicality.† Athleticism.† Guys that play different positions.
Are you guys aware of what is going on in the other groups in the tournament?
We were just watching Angola beat Germany.† I think thatís one of the team we may be playing.† Thatís the biggest thing.† I donít think it was an upset because nothing is an upset out here.† Its just things that can happen and anything can happen.† We understand that and thatís why we donít want it to happen with us.
What about the turnovers for the team?
Because we havenít had a lot of practice and weíve been playing back to back to back, itís kind of like weíre learning as we go.† Those mistakes that we had in the first half, we had to hurry up and fix before the second half or the game would get out of hand.† We have that kind of team that can respond like that.† I think thatís the kind of team they picked.
Is it a focus issue?
It is mental focus but for the most part, I think its learning how to play with each other.† We are all people that have played on different teams Ö we got 82 games and more with the playoffs.† Us coming out here and playing with each other; itís not an all star game and weíre not treating it like an all star game.† We really want to learn the plays and make each other better.
How do you get better playing against team that are overmatched like Iran and Tunisia?
I think you have to realize that itís important for us to execute.† We have certain schemes we might want to try and see what we get out of it in certain game situations.† We got to get everybody focused and put a high effort defensively for 40 minutes
Has turnovers been the biggest concern for the team?
We just have to be sharp and not have careless turnovers.† There is a difference between aggressive turnovers and some traveling calls and the careless ones where we are just kind of like Ďtoo coolí sometimes.† We had that a few times but we really got to key in on executing offensively and getting what we need to get done even though the games get out of control in the first couple minutes.
Did you feel the team played better in the second half?
I think in the second half we were communicating a little bit better on the defensive end.† If I had one concern with our team, itís communication defensively.† We got some quiet guys who in their nature itís to be quiet, but defensively you got to talk.† Everybody has to be like five guys on one string, rotations, pick and rolls Ö a lot of teams have tried to hurt us with that.
Did shaving the beard make you more aerodynamic out there?
I think so Ö a little bit.† There is a few people talking about that.† I think shaving did well for me today and hopefully itíll do well for me the rest of the tournament.† This is the look Iím going for right now.
What is your role on this team?
I just try to come in and have energy.†† I think everybody has kind of bought into their role.† For me, itís to come in and be an energy guy.† Guy that rebounds and gets easy baskets, shoot high percentage and plays good defense.† A couple of things I can always do is play defense and rebound.† Thatís the kind of mindset I have coming into the game and itís worked for me this far in my career and this far in this tournament.
You have had many blowouts Ö how do you keep your focus?
We know after tomorrow, you only get one shot at this thing.† You can come out and be tested, just like in the Brazil game, and you could lose and be out of the tournament and weíre on our way home.† We know itís a chance for us to get better in these last two games, especially tomorrow in our 4:30 game so weíre just trying to get better every time.† We have a little time to practice after than and then really from there, itís the medal round and weíre going for gold.
I know donít if we thought it was more difficult than we expected because we knew there were going to be some great teams right at the top.† Brazil is one of them.† They have a bunch of great players Ö a lot of players that play in the top leagues over here and also playing in the NBA or have played in the NBA before.† We know that we have to come out and respect every team.† Thatís kind of like over in the States, we have our NCAA tournament and you lose one game, youíre out.† Thatís kind of how it is here.† A one seed can beat a 16 seed, just like here a four seed can beat a one seed so we know that we have to come out and play every game like itís our last because it could be after tomorrow.
Was there any thought the political side of the USA vs. Iran?
Thatís one of the beautiful things about sports.† If you think about the history of sports, you take people from different cultures, from different beliefs and bring them together.† Sports is the one thing that can kind of bring people together and have a great atmosphere.† It was great playing a game like this.
What about clinching the pool tonight?
Thatís what we wanted to do.† We came out, focused on our goal, attained it and now itís time to move on.