USA Basketball Men's National Team Recap: July 9
Las Vegas, Nev. July 9, 2012
Catch up with the 2012 USA Basketball Men's National Team with quotes and a photo gallery from Monday's practice.
USA Chairman Jerry Colangelo
On Kevin Durant:
He is now the poster child for USA Basketball in my opinion. He represents everything you want in a person and in a player. That is not demeaning anyone else; that is just a compliment for Kevin Durant for being who he is.
On replacing the bigs with athletic players:
You deal with the players you have and the cards you have. If you had a roster with a lot of bigs, you probably compliment those bigs with certain types of players. Well, we don’t have a lot of bigs in this country period, on any level. That is the reality of it. So what you are finding is that the bigs that we do have are athletes. We play to our strengths by putting a roster together of great athletes who are versatile and can play other positions. Then you add specialists who can give a coaching staff all kinds of options.
On 2008 squad and this team:
I liked the ’08 team, but it was a young team with only one gold medalist - Jason Kidd. The core of our team was a bunch of 22 and 23-year-old guys. Those players are here today, only they are at their peak of their careers right now. Then you bring in the young bucks and you have a blending of eras. This squad will be deeper and more athletic than the one in ’08. I like this team a lot. I know what we have and don’t worry about what we don’t have. People will have to worry with what we do have.
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski
On the team:
I think one of the benefits of being on a team like this is sharing best practices. These guys are smart basketball players. We’ve seen a little bit of it so far, but we will see more of it as we start playing games. What would be the best way defending this screen? How about this offensive situation and how to use it? They watch each other’s training techniques where you pick up best practices on training. The team is very close already. They are good guys. That is part of being in this experience. As a coach or as a player, you learn more just by sharing best practices with people around you.
On training camp so far:
I’ve liked everything about it except the injuries and the contracts. The only thing I don’t like is we do not have complete continuity. We don’t have everybody here. We had to make a selection process within a camp. The best thing always to do is come here with 12 guys ready to go. This week we have had to work through a bunch of things. Other than that, I’ve liked everything. Once we get all our pieces, then we will see where we are at. The attitudes are great. What we have done we have worked really hard at. We got a pretty good feel about the athleticism and versatility of our team.
On Kevin Love:
Kevin has changed his body. He has become more athletic, stronger and a quicker shooter. Kevin Love is very smart. He is a smart basketball player, but he is also smart as a person. For example, he is like, “what do I need to do ..to do that at that level?' Before he was just a contributor for us. Now he wants to be a star for us. He’s changed dramatically. He was a good player then (2010) but he is a much better player now.
On the past and present of USA Basketball:
LeBron and Kobe are the two best about knowing the past and what it’s meant to the present and what it will mean to the future. If you understand it, then you understand your responsibilities to the game. The best players in a sport not just have a responsibility to themselves and their team but they have a responsibility to the game. The great players of the past (West, Robertson, Russell, Magic, Bird, Jordan) had a responsibility and handled it well. These guys are handling it well too.
If you are a basketball player and a really good one, you will recognize those moments in time. The Dream Team was a huge moment in time. One of the great moments in time for world-wide basketball. It was really an explosion that generated activity all over the world.
What was the impression after practice the first couple of days?
We’re just excited to be here, and we know we’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got to keep working but we all know that, and that’s the best part of this team.
What is it going to be like for you going home and playing in Washington, D.C.?
That’s where it all started for me, and I’m sure it will be a little bit emotional reminiscing of me growing up and not even thinking I’d be in college, much less in the NBA or even an Olympian. I didn’t even think I would be here, so going back home to celebrate with my family and friends I am looking forward to doing and can’t wait.
Is it humbling at all when people say the team has lost Dwyane Wade and
Dwight Howard and they say they have Durant this time?
I’m just trying to be another piece to add onto a great puzzle. Those guys that are injured and didn’t make the team are all worthy of spots. I’m just glad I got the opportunity to represent my country, my state and my family. I’m just looking forward to going out there and being me.
When you look around this gym who do you think is the most competitive?
It’s not just one guy. Everyone here is. That’s why we’re here for a reason. We all hate to lose, so I am happy we are all on the same team.
Has there been any talk about who will start?
It doesn’t even matter who starts. Coach K can do whatever he wants, and guys are going to make sure they make plays in order to help the team.
Can you describe how he develops relationships with the players?
Some have said he doesn’t even talk about basketball. He doesn’t. His approach is all about improving in life and being about situations. He is a great coach and a great motivator, and I love that about him. He always has us prepared.
Has there been talk about how many touches people will get on a team with these players?
I think I know my role and that’s come off the bench, and when I get in it’s to impact the game. Try and go out there and make some plays, not only offensively but defensively as well. I haven’t really talked about minutes at all. (I) just want to go out there and have fun with it.
People talk about going out and doing what it takes to win and changing
their games. What have you been told about that and how it is different
from the NBA regular season?
It’s a lot different and everybody on this team is the best of the best. Scoring is not going to be an option for everybody. Everybody can’t go out there and score 28 or 30 points. You have to find ways to contribute to the team, and I think that’s what makes us so versatile. I think everybody on the team can bring more than one aspect to the team. It’s going to be a tough challenge, but I think we can get it done.