USA Basketball Men's National Team Opens Training Camp In Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nev. ē July 6, 2012
With a team meeting on Thursday night (July 5), 15 finalists for the 2012 USA Basketball Men's National Team took a first step in this summer's journey to defend the USA's 2008 gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics.
Training camp in Las Vegas, Nev., will culminate in an exhibition game against the Dominican Republic at UNLV's Thomas & Mack on Thursday, July 12, and from there the team will train and play one exhibition game in Washington, D.C., and Manchester, England, and two exhibition contests in Barcelona, Spain, before arriving in London.
The first challenge, however, is getting the roster down to 12 players, which is the maximun number of players allowed on an Olympic roster. Today was the first chance for the 15 hopefuls to make their case in front of Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball Chairman and Men's National Team Director, and Mike Krzyzewski, USA and Duke University Hall of Fame head coach.
Hear thoughts about getting training camp underway from Coach K, Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers), Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder) and LeBron James (Miami Heat) and check out some of the action in our Photo Gallery!
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski
On todayís practice:
It was good. We have some guys contractually that canít play yet, like Deron Williams. Heís done all the five-on-zero but until he signs his contract he will not be doing any physical stuff. Anthony Davis isnít ready yet. Heís not near 100 percent. We wanted to keep LeBron out with five-on-five. They just completed the series and by winning you go on a parade; your victory lap so to speak.
On the players:
We wanted to take a look at some of the guys that are being considered for the final spot. We are pretty close to nine or 10 guys. Obviously there are 12 (roster spots) so we have to take a good look at the guys. Itís going to be a very difficult choice. The guys who fill out the roster all give things that we could use. We just have to figure out what might be a little bit more important than another.
On the health of the players and the concern of a shortened NBA season:
Actually they are in better shape. Itís just the opposite. We donít see wear and tear at all.
On the team:
We are looking for multiple positions. You have guys who need to have the ball and who you want to have the ball. LeBron, Kobe and Kevin Durant. We are trying to put in a system where we have guys who can play multiple spots on the floor.
This is a good group. We lost some big guys which hurt but we have a lot of athleticism. We just have to figure out how to use that to our best advantage. We are not a team yet but hopefully by the time we get to London we will be a team.
On the team:
We have a lot of depth. We have a great deal of versatility, speed and agility. We have quite a few things. One of the biggest strengths for USA Basketball is guys growing up and being able to do everything. Being able to handle the ball, shoot the ball, post up. We have so many athletes that can really cover the floor. We have to take advantage of that.
On being the oldest player on the roster:
I am the old veteran of the group. Time flies but I am enjoying this. This is fun.
What are the fond memories of being on an Olympic team?
These types of moments- the practices, being around each other, getting to know each other, some for the first time outside of a game, building relationships. The Olympics are a celebration of the sports and the athletes.
On returning to the team this summer:
This was a no-brainer for me because this is our last one. Iím looking forward to it.
On his health:
Everything is good as can be.
How was the practice today?
Everybody is just trying to implement everything. Coach K is just trying to get the system in on what we are going to do offensively and defensively. Everybody is just trying to feel out the process. Weíve got guys from the í08 team and guys from the 2010 World Championship so now we are trying to bring both teams together and make it one team.
What are the differences between this year and the team four years ago?
Weíve got younger, weíre more athletic and a lot of great guys that want to be a part of this team. Itís a great place where we are as far U.S., and we look forward to being the best.
No down time for you this year?
Iíve got a love for the game and a great respect for representing my country.
What memories do you have off the court from Beijing, was it the opening ceremonies?
Thatís always great. Being in the Olympic Village and being with all the other athletes from across the world.
How comfortable are you out here in Las Vegas for training camp?
I am very comfortable. Iíve been out here every summer since I was 18. I could only walk thru the lobby a few years ago, and now I feel older. Just being here with USA Basketball is an honor. Iím just glad I got this opportunity and hopefully weíll get the job done.
Do you see a sense of urgency and players locked in today?
Yes, everybody was like that today and thatís the best part. Everybody is locked in no matter if guys were in the Finals or Western Conference Finals. Guys put egos to the side and also at the same time they play with the swagger they play with in the regular season.