Preview >> USA-Australia To Tangle In Quarterfinals
Australia comes into the Olympic quarterfinals having won three straight games to close out preliminary play. After dropping its first two contests to Brazil and Spain, the Boomers rebounded to defeat China, Great Britain and the one-seed out of Group B, Russia. In a thrilling win over Russia, Patrick Mills hit a 3-pointer with his team trailing by one point in the closing seconds to win the game 82-80 for Australia.
Mills scored 13 total points against Russia and is Australia’s leading scorer at the Olympics, averaging 20.2 points per game. He scored 39 in the win over Great Britain, the highest amount by any player thus far in London. Joe Ingles contributes 14.2 points per game, while David Andersen has scored 12.2 points per game and leads the team in rebounding with 6.4 boards per contest.
Australia qualified for the 2012 Olympics by winning the 2011 FIBA Oceania Championship. Australia went 3-0 against New Zealand to earn its Olympic berth. Aleks Maric averaged 15.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per game to lead the Boomers to the 2011 FIBA Oceania title
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Chris Collins (U.S. workout coach/scout & Duke University assistant coach)
What are your thoughts about Australia?
They’re a scrappy team. They’re very competitive. They play hard, very well coached and there probably the best team we’ve played that gets out in transition and attacks. They like to play fast. Patty Mills is having an unbelievable tournament, one of the leading scorers. They have a lot of guys that can handle the ball so against our pressure, it’s not going to only be the point guards that are going to have to do a good job but all the guards. We know we’re in for a hard fought game and a team that is going to be very confident playing against us.
They’ve shot over 25 3’s per game. That’s part of their game plan. They space the floor well … run a lot of pick and rolls. Their big guys can shoot. David Andersen is one of the better shooters in the tournament at the post position. It’s going to be a difficult challenge for us defensively. We got to get back, take away their layups in transition and do a good job of defending the 3-point line because that’s something they’ve done a great job of the last few games. What are the keys to the game for the USA?
We have to get off to a good start, try to impose our will defensively. When we’ve gotten out in passing lanes and we’ve been aggressive and kind of taken teams out of their rhythm of their offense is when we’ve been at our best. We have to continue to do a good job on the boards. Australia is one of the better rebounding teams, especially on the offensive boards. Hopefully if we can do a good job of that, we can get out on the break ourselves and get some easy opportunities.
You’re at the medal round now, how to feel your team has progressed and how confident are you that they can finish the job?
I’m very confident. You have to win three tough games and you have to approach each game like it’s a championship game, so you can’t look beyond the (next) game. That’s a focus, a seventh game focus for an NBA player and that’s what we’re trying to make sure that these guys have on their minds. But we’re healthy, it was late night last night (Monday) so we have to be careful of what we do today, but we have a late game. Just so we’re rested and then prepared for what Australia’s going to do. They’re a real well coached team and they play strong, they play real hard, and (Patty) Mills is having a terrific tournament. The kid (Joe) Ingles can really score too, so they’ll be a really good opponent for us.
I’d like to see us get off to a better start defensively. Offensively we’ve been off to really good starts but we need to make more stops early and if we do, then we’re going to have a better chance.The defensive activity, it seems like there is a switch and it just picks up, do you see that coming.
To be coach of the U.S. team over the past six years is very interesting in the analysis of our team whenever we’re doing anything. The only thing I know as a coach is we’re always playing against somebody who is pretty good and sometimes it just takes a while to stop somebody who is really good and then sometimes you don’t stop them and hopefully you outscore them. There’s no dominance, that occurred 20 years ago. So we have to try to get stops and if you get a few stops and score and then you have a working margin. And that’s what we’re looking for throughout the game and if you can do that in each quarter then it looks like we’ve run away with it. But there are just times you can’t do that. But that’s our goal and we’ll still strive to do that.