New York, N.Y. • Aug. 10, 2010
Like excited kids on the first day of class on the heels of their summer vacation, 15 finalists for the 2010 USA Basketball Men’s World Championship Team gathered in New York to begin their final domestic training camp prior to heading across the pond. After a two-week break, the players were eager to step back on the court, show off what they’d been working on during their time away and jump right back into the thick of things.
“It was good to get back together, re-familiarize yourself with the team,” said Chauncey Billups. “It's good to have these good young guys (USA Select Team, comprised of top collegians) here, pushing us every day and going extremely hard and just helping us out. I thought the scrimmage was pretty good; not all the way good. We had some lapses out there. But, for the most part, I thought it was a good day.”
As usual, the day started off with a team meeting and the guys were told what they needed to work on in practice and watched some video. You know, the usual pre-practice stuff that most teams run through. Then it was off to John Jay College where the teams were split into White (Billups, Curry, Durant, Igoudala, Odom, Rose) and Blue (Chandler, Gay, Gordon, Granger, Green, McGee, Rondo, Westbrook), and joined by the USA Select Team for about two and a half hours of shooting, positional drills, defensive slides, several sessions of half court five-on-zero offensive sets and various drills that included the USA Select Team.
At the end of today’s practice, the USA National Team was challenged by the USA Select Team in four 10-minute scrimmages. As was the case in Las Vegas, the scrimmages were competitive with neither side backing down. But in the end, the seasoned pros took bragging rights as they had in Vegas.
Bound on Monday for Istanbul via Madrid and Athens, the U.S. coaching staff still has three roster cuts to make and they’re not going to be easy. And because of that, this week’s sessions will continue to be competitive as everyone wants to get at least three more stamps in their passport this summer.
As USA and Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski stated after practice, “there are about five guys for two spots and I’m not going to go through who they are because that can switch around. It’s basically how you fit in with the other group. It’s not about you being better than one other guy, it’s about the makeup of a team. Thank goodness we had all these guys come back. We may travel with more than 12 because we don’t have to make a final decision until we get to Turkey.”
Before jumping off the continent, and after four more days of practice, the USA will get a taste of international competition on Sunday when it faces France in an exhibition contest at Madison Square Garden (tickets & info).
“Anytime you play in the garden there is always a different vibe about it,” stated Stephen Curry. “For us, it being our first game against another team, that will just be all the motivation and energy we need. But anytime you play at MSG, you have a different perspective.”
On an unrelated note, the eight members of the men’s and women’s USA Basketball Youth Olympic Games Teams stopped by to watch practice before heading to Singapore tonight. The two teams will be competing in the inaugural Youth Olympic Games, which will feature a 3-on-3 basketball tournament. The multi-sport event is being organized by the International Olympic Committee, with FIBA running the basketball tournament operations. For more on the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, click on the USA Basketball men’s and women’s pages.