USA Basketball Teleconference: 15 Finalists Named for USA Men's World Championship Team
July 28, 2010
After naming the 15 finalists for the 2010 USA Men's World Championship Team, USA Basketball today hosted a teleconference featuring USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo and 2009-12 USA Basketball Men's National Team and Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
JERRY COLANGELO: Very quickly I would just state that we felt we had a great week in Las Vegas. We lost a couple of players due to injury and lack of insurance, but once we got beyond that, our group of 19 did a terrific job, and we really did have some very difficult decisions. Let's start with that.
We've made a decision that we would have a final determination and disposition after the game on Saturday night. We did, and the plan was to make contact with each player just to reconfirm commitment, dedication going forward, because when we announced the team we wanted to make sure each individual was in all the way, and that did take place Monday and Tuesday with personal calls.
Calls obviously were made to the players who were not selected and explained in terms of why the decision was made, and I will tell you that each and every one of them handled that with dignity and with class.
So the 15-man roster heading to New York with the openness regarding how many people we would then take on to Europe, be it an extra player or two, remains to be seen. Certain players were told that they're right on the bubble and that New York is really very critical and important to them in terms of making the final roster.
So without further ado, in alphabetical order: Chauncey Billups, Tyson Chandler, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, Danny Granger, Jeff Green, Andre Iguodala, Brook Lopez, Kevin Love, Lamar Odom, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, and Russell Westbrook.
The four players who will not be with us are O.J. Mayo, Tyreke Evans, Gerald Wallace and JaVale McGee.
I just wanted to point out a couple of things on the roster and turn it over to Coach.
Brook Lopez, we were not aware, was coming off of mono when he came into camp and certainly struggled throughout camp, and giving him the benefit of the doubt, he knows he has an awful lot to show in New York to be under consideration to make this team but wanted very much to have that shot and opportunity, and we're willing to do that for him.
I'm going to turn it over to Coach.
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Thanks, Jerry. First of all, I want to thank all the guys who made the commitment to being there and make a point that although the players who were not selected are still in the pool of players, it doesn't eliminate them from our pool of players.
I was really pleased with the attitude and spirit of cooperation that everyone showed. I thought it was not just a selection process but was the initial steps in us developing a team, not just having individuals out there, and the guys were very, very good. They've all been given instructions on how to be in shape to shoot the ball. It's a different ball. Jerry even told them to shoot more free throws because we didn't hit a good percentage while we were in Las Vegas.
But we're excited about it, and I want to thank the collegiate community. We had 20 collegiate players in Las Vegas. It was a select group, and having them there under the direction of Jay Wright and Lorenzo Romar, they did a great job in helping us prepare. We also have for four days in New York, the USA Basketball selection committee will choose ten collegiate players to practice against our 15 while we're in New York.
A little bit different team than the one we anticipated without Stoudemire and Lee being on it, so we had to improvise during the week. But I think we're making steps towards finding a system that will be personally good for this group.
I'm just wondering, who are the players that are on the bubble?
COLANGELO: Well, that's for us to keep within our own system and locker room. Some people have some work to do, and it's been outlined for each of them. In other words, there are still a few spots that are open in our minds, and therefore there will be some real competition for those last spots.
Mike, I wonder if you could talk a little bit about Steph Curry's ability, long-range shooting and his ability to deal with zones, if that was a particular factor in him making the cut?
KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, well, he's also very good. I thought his on-ball defense was very good and just his knowledge of the game. He's an outstanding passer and stretches the defense. He's probably our longest range shooter that we have in the group. Just his knowledge of the game. I mean, he's still a young guy. It's a very young team, but we think that our guards are our strength. We have outstanding guards, and Stephen is certainly one of them, whether it's against zone or man. If it's man, we'll have good spacing, and the 3-point shot will be used quite a bit by our team, no question about that. He's obviously one of the best shooters in the NBA.
I wonder if you could talk about your experience with Chauncey in Las Vegas and what you envision as his role with the team.
KRZYZEWSKI: Well, this is my -- I don't know how many years now we've been -- I've known him now and worked with him for about four years. Chauncey and I have a very, very good relationship. He, I think, is going to be one of the leaders of the team and has helped me during this first week tremendously. His ability to play -- I mean, he's one of the top point guards, but also he can play off the ball because he can shoot the ball and defend off the ball. On Denver's team when Lawson comes in, Chauncey then moves over, and that's how it will be on our Olympic team. But he'll be one of the key guys that we'll be counting on not only for play but for leadership.
You mentioned the 3-point shooting. Is that a function of losing David Lee and Stoudemire, or was that a plan going into this? And how concerned are you about the size you have?
KRZYZEWSKI: Well, we are concerned about the size. It's one of those things that the first day we lost three guys who were big guys; Robin Lopez, also. So we had to adjust a little bit. But we are going to use the 3-point shot a lot. It's much closer than the NBA three, and we have a number of very good shooters. If we had Stoudemire and Lee, you'd get a little bit more inside action, which could help open up the perimeter guys. But we're going to try to rely on speed, penetration, spacing, and really take advantage of the athleticism we have on the perimeter to defend.
Back to the size a little bit, I mean, obviously you guys went with some smaller line-ups in scrimmages against a select team and then again on Saturday with guys like Lamar and Kevin Love at the five or even Jeff Green. Do you feel like your ability to use those kind of line-ups will depend on your opponent, say with a team like Brazil with a bigger front line that you're going to have to go more traditional, or do you think you can force them to sort of adjust to you guys?
KRZYZEWSKI: Well, we're just not going to produce big guys from -- we don't have big guys, I mean, a lot of them. We have a lot of perimeter guys. It's our responsibility to -- I mean, we're not going to pick someone up on a trade or anything like that. These are our guys, and we feel good about them. That means Durant and Gay will play a lot at the four, which isn't bad. I mean, we had Carmelo and LeBron playing the four all the time and Bosh being our center for a lot of the Olympics when Dwight wasn't in, and Bosh played a lot. He was our leading rebounder.
So we're just trying to personalize a system to fit the strengths of this group. We're going to have to rely on really good perimeter defense to make sure that we don't get hurt inside. But I was pleased with Chandler's showing the last two days. Tyson did a great job for us when we qualified in 2007, so we know him. And Odom, you know, he's an NBA champion and an Olympian, so he knows the national game. To begin with, those two guys would be at the five. But it won't be a traditional five for us the way we play.
I just wonder about Andre Iguodala. You talk about perimeter defense and that's ideally his game, but what other things have you seen from him and what type of improvement have you seen from him through the years you've been working with him?
KRZYZEWSKI: Well, Andre is one of those guys, every summer he's been with a select team. He wants to be on this team. We're impressed with that. He had a great week. I mean, I thought he had as good a week as any player in Las Vegas. He was really efficient offensively. He shot -- he took easy shots, was a very good outside shooter. We think he can really drive the ball.
But Andre's athleticism on the defensive end is -- he's one of the best in the NBA. We see him more at the three or wing position and being able to shut down people at that position.
You kind of mentioned, Coach, the style that you were going to play, so it kind of takes part of my question away, but Rajon Rondo, a lot has been written about him not being your conventional international player with an unreliable jump shot. How will he fit into the style of play? Seems like an unconventional international style of play that you guys are putting together right now.
KRZYZEWSKI: Well, he's unconventionally become an NBA champion and a triple-double guy in this league. I think he's an adequate shooter for us. I mean, he did well shooting the ball in the camp.
The thing that Rondo does is he plays with a will to win, and he just finds ways to have a positive impact on the game. You know, I really like that about him. I've kind of developed -- I thought I developed a really good relationship with him during the week, and his pressure on the ball, defense. But his will to win is something that I truly admire, and we need that. Plus he's a little bit older with the -- not in age as much, but with experience, because the Celtics have gone so deep and have won one of the recent NBA Championships. So I think we're very fortunate to have him.
Going back to what you said about Brook Lopez, if he was not a center, would he not be here coming to New York?
COLANGELO: Well, that's hard to say. You know, looking at him in his situation, big or small, we were not aware of the mono, and it was a little -- caught us a little bit off guard. And so giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, we thought we would do so. Is it an advantage being a big? Probably so. But I would tend to think we would do that regardless of size.
And how many of the 12 do you really think are up for grabs in New York? Obviously we know Durant is probably on the team. Is it 11 spots open after that, or is it maybe a little less?
COLANGELO: I think it's fair to say that the staff and myself could probably come up with a solid eight or nine, and that's really been the case all week. Maybe names have changed a little bit, but we knew it would be a close call. And that's why New York is so important to us before we make our final decisions, and also the probability and possibility that we'll take more than 12 with us.
KRZYZEWSKI: The other thing with that is we came into the camp thinking we were going to have Stoudemire and Lee, and we were kind of going to put in a system that would use their talents. I mean, they're two All-Star players. And when they left, you know, we're looking at developing a system with these guys.
And so it's not a matter of who's better, one guy better than another, it's how we kind of fit it in. Like I wouldn't have seen Durant at the four with those two guys there. Maybe somewhat but not like he is going to be right now. So there's some changes that occurred, and we have to give it a little bit more time to see how we can get 12 guys to fit a system.
You have six guards. What are you looking for in New York that will make you decide to reduce that number? Or are you looking to take them all?
KRZYZEWSKI: Well, just how the chemistry of what we're trying to do, because the six guys that are so-called guards -- Iguodala is a guard, too -- I'd rather call them perimeter players, are all good, I mean, really good. So it's not about one guy being a little bit better than the others. It's more like trying to get a fit.
And like Jerry said, we could come out of New York with more than 12 because we really don't need to turn in a roster until we get to Turkey of our final 12, and we do play exhibition games, one in New York and then three -- two in Spain and one in Greece. So it's a lot of time before you have to turn in 12, and if we continue to get the spirit of cooperation, we might postpone a decision and give it -- give as many guys an opportunity as possible and a little bit more insurance that we'll have 12 healthy guys once we get to Istanbul.
Questions for Jerry. First one, talk a little bit about the decision to bring just two traditional centers to New York and not keep McGee. That's number one. And then number two, about bringing extra players to Europe possibly, will you talk to the guys if you do that and make sure there's not a repeat of Japan in '06 when a couple people who went overseas and were sent home were disgruntled?
COLANGELO: Well, I've already had that conversation with a few players, and I know the commitment from those players is that they would be -- they'd give anything just to stay with us as long as possible and be part of it. So the attitude is fantastic.
As far as the number of bigs, you know, at this point we don't know how many bigs we'll end up with. Is it one, is it two? We don't know. We'll just have to wait and see.
But we do want to see how Brook Lopez looks after two weeks of getting himself in shape. He knows he struggled. He's disappointed in his performance, but he wants this opportunity. And when someone has that kind of an attitude, you're going to give him a little bit of rope.
Obviously there's been a lot of dialogue on this call about the reality of the limited number of big men you have. Does that put a particular premium on Tyson's ability to guard the basket?
KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, definitely, there's no question about it. Again, I've known Tyson -- I coached him in 2007, so he's been out with injuries and that and started the camp rusty. But the last two days, and especially in the inter-squad scrimmage, one, he's bigger. He's much stronger than he was in 2007. And I thought he played really well.
He has a very important role on the team right now because he is a shot blocker. He doesn't need the ball much and is a great teammate. He can ball screen well, and he does the things -- he does all the things necessary to complement the outstanding perimeter players that we have. So he has a chance to be a very important player for us.
What was your message to JaVale McGee just in terms of how far he's come and sort of how quickly he burst into the scene this week, last couple weeks?
COLANGELO: Well, we've both -- in fact, the entire staff has been very supportive and very encouraging to him because he's very raw, he's very young. He's still a babe in terms of the game is concerned, and he has a real future. So that's really how we left it with him, to keep working on your game and you may get a call sooner rather than later, we don't know. We're playing it by ear, but he put in a good effort for us last week.
Coach, without O.J. Mayo, that leaves you guys kind of short on NBA shooting guards. Does that mean you guys are leaning towards playing with two point guards at the same time?
KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, well, I think we have guards that can shoot. Again, they're not going to be in traditional ones, twos and threes; like Chauncey is a guard, Derrick Rose more of a point, Curry and Gordon can shoot the ball very well. So two of them and sometimes three of them may be on the court at the same time. We just look at them as guards. Westbrook and Rose can be in the game at the same time. I don't see any of the players being in there for longer than five-minute stretches because of how hard we would want to have them play defensively.
Coach, with Jeff Green's versatility, is he a guy that you think could actually maybe help you out down low?
KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, that's one of the reasons he's still part of the 15 is his versatility. He did a good job in the scrimmage even playing at the five. Jeff is another one, another player -- the Oklahoma City players, almost every summer -- Durant started with us and Westbrook and -- I mean, Green has been there every summer. They're just good guys who work hard, want to win. His attitude is tremendous.
Just wanted to get your thoughts on what you saw from Eric Gordon and Danny Granger and why you decided to keep those two guys.
KRZYZEWSKI: Well, in Granger you have a solid pro; in the NBA a three or a four, and for us a three or a four, but somebody who really stretches the defense. He's an outstanding shooter and a really good guy. You know, he's an easy guy to play with. He doesn't need the ball for long periods of time.
He was hurt during the camp, missed actually one of the days of camp, and we thought we wouldn't have a chance to evaluate him, but he played with a little bit of an injury the last couple days and performed actually very well.
And Gordon, the more comfortable he became, the better. In the open court he's so strong going to the basket, but in the half court he's an outstanding shooter in addition to being a driver. I think he hit four threes in our scrimmage. And defensively he can guard a bigger perimeter player.
Both of them are really, are in the mix, and they give us some really positive things, both offensively and defensively, and they're two of our shooters. I mean, Granger can really shoot the ball.
And as you move forward, how many guys on this World Championship team do you think will have a chance at the Olympic team moving forward?
COLANGELO: That's something we're going to wait on and focus only on the World Championships and take care of that business. 2012 is a long way down the road. That would be an interesting situation, to have a lot of people vying to play. That's the way it is right now, and we're appreciative of the fact that we have so many players who want to participate.
Mike, I just want to know how has Derrick Rose looked this week, and how well has he played defensively this summer for you?
KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, I thought he had a great week. You know, I love Derrick, both from -- Jerry, myself and Derrick from all from Chicago, and that's not why he made the final 15. I thought he had an absolutely incredible performance in the scrimmage on Saturday. His ability to move the ball down the court and penetrate, he had eight assists, and it was very, very good. And defensively I thought he took it up a notch this week. There's a spirit of defense with the guards now with Rondo, Westbrook. Derrick really pressured the ball very, very well.
I just want to know how you thought Kevin Love played this week and also what makes him an attractive piece of this U.S. roster.
KRZYZEWSKI: Well, Kevin is very consistent. He pretty much -- what he does, he does every day, and that is he's easy to play with, he stretches the defense. He actually has become a very good outside shooter, and with the international line, a very good 3-point threat at the four or the five.
But I think the thing that he does best, though, is rebound. He was on a day-to-day basis the best rebounder that we had in the camp. I mean, he did very, very well. He's a little bit undersized, but it has not stopped him from being a very, very good rebounder.