USA Quotes >> September 8 Practice
Sept. 8, 2010 ē Istanbul, Turkey
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University)
Personnel wise with Russia, what gives you the greatest concern?
Their average height is 6í8Ē. Theyíll be the biggest team that weíve played against. There center position has been an amazingly productive position with Kaun and Mozgov they combine for like 24 points and 10 rebounds a game which you would like for any center position. And just the fact they play a real physical brand of basketball and we have to be ready for that.
Who are they most like that you have played?
A little bit like Lithuania and I thought Lithuania knocked us back in our first game in Europe. We had our worst quarter at the start of that game, we started the game 3-for-26 and I think we were more annoyed, it took us away from our focus and we canít allow that to happen in this game, we have to be focused. Again we have great attitudes but itís a different type of game, we have to adjust right way to it and not wait.
It will be 38 years to the day when you play Russia of that famous USSR Ė America Ď72 game in Munich. How do you remember those great clashes between the U.S. and USSR?
When you think of international basketball you think of USA and Russia games, that being one of them, but thatís not the only one of them. Weíve addressed the fact that game was played 38 years ago and that five of these guys are 21 so I donít think they remember it as well. It is what it is. It will be a negative in the way the U.S. looks at it forever and should be, and it will be in some ways a positive for those who believe in fairytales.
Is there still a rivalry between the U.S. and Russia?
Thereís a rivalry between us and anybody we play. Our rivalry is against the next team that we play against. Never is one team more of a rival and never should we be less prepared or more prepared for one over another. Thatís our goal and thatís been our goal for five years and weíre not going to change goals right now.
The Russian coach grew up Framingham, Massachusetts; he cried when Russia beat the U.S. and now he says that Iíve looked at it and the refs were right, Russia should have won that game. What do you make of his comments?
Heís Russian, he coaches the Russian team so he probably has that view point ... it really (has) absolutely no bearing on what weíre trying to do tomorrow, absolutely none. Our bearing is are we guarding Ponkrashov at the point when he comes in; how we defend Mozgov and Kaun inside; we donít let Monya get shots; thatís our goal and so thatís what our focus will be.
Where were you when that game was played?
I was in Korea probably. I was in the armed forcesÖ.I was probably in the field artillery unit in South Korea serving our country.
Do you think your team will be good for finals?
Weíre not even thinking of the finals, weíre thinking of Russia. The worst thing a competitor can do is look at what theyíve done or what theyíre going to do in the future. A competitor looks at what theyíre doing right now and our focus is only on right now. And if we win, then our focus will be on Saturday, and Sunday will be a focus after we play on Saturday.
For three decades at Duke youíve been involved in one and done games, your players for the most havenít even been involved in college basketball, how do get them to have the one and done mentality like this?
We try to put it in a perspective of a seventh game of a series and not all of them have been in a seventh game. We have a lot of young guy, more than two-thirds of our team are really young, so they still remember college, they still remember one and done. Yesterday we were talking a little bit with Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook about when they were at UCLA and they thought they had a chance to win the national championship and they didnít do a good job and it was over. So they were talking like that, thatís the way it is. So our guys realize that. Theyíve been great, our guys have been great. We wonít lose because were not prepared mentally and physically. But we also know weíre beatable because these other teams are very good. So our focus has got to be there.
Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
What about your next NBA season?
All Iím worried about is taking it a day at a time. Today, Iím worried about Russia. After this is over maybe we can talk about next season, but Iím just worried about who we have tomorrow.
What is the plan against Russiaís size?
They have a unbelievable 6-8 point guard, but I think Derrick Rose is a great on-ball defender and heís going to try to pressure him as much as possible because if youíre taller, youíre higher up on your dribble. Hopefully we can get some turnovers.
The USA team has rebounded the ball better than expected. Do you feel better going into this game now than you may have a couple of week ago?
We always felt good about our rebounding skills. We got a lot of guys that can go get them. Kevin Love is probably the best rebounder here. Lamar Odom rebounds well. I try to help out. We got a lot of guys. Some teams just have one or two guys who rebound. We got everybody. Our guards can rebound. We have a lot of guys that can help rebound.
Lamar Odom (Los Angeles Lakers)
Have you been shopping in Istanbul?
We went shopping a little bit. (My wife) did more shopping than I did. But, I got to walk around and see some different things. See the mall, itís pretty cool. Weíve been having a good time since weíve been here. Weíve been here a little while.
Have you tried Turkish food?
I tried a Turkish Delight. Thatís pretty good Ö I love sweets. Weíve been having a good time Ö had a lot of fun, playing basketball. Itís been a great experience.
Whatís it like to play with guys that you normally play against?
Itís fun. Itís different. We donít have as much time as the other teams have as far as coming together. In a short period of time, weíve gained a lot of camaraderie. We communicate well with each. We respect each other, on and off the court. Itís been fun.
How would you compare winning a World Championship vs. winning an NBA title?
I always tell people that in anything we like to do, weíve been competing all our lives. From a young age, whatever we do, we try to win. And thatís whether youíre playing cards, chess, checkers or poker or anything Ö a foot race. To win, of course, a World Championship would be a pretty big deal especially being that you get to represent your country while doing it.
How do you look at Russiaís big lineup?
Basketball is basketball. It makes no difference. Weíll use our quickness, speed, strength, agility, everything we got to try to win the basketball game. Play as physical as possible Ö just play our game.
Is the way you played offensively the key to playing one of the best defensive teams in Russia?
We just need to move the ball around. Everyday, we have been working on motion. Just when we come down, make sure the ball is not just sitting in one spot on the floor. Make sure we pass it around and everybody tough it and make sure we play team basketball.
Is that sort of been contagious the last few days?
Practices have been helping. When we come down, we do a lot of things where if we donít cross them, we pass and cut through Ö make back screens. If itís not a call out there or play call, we make sure weíre moving around so that the defense donít set and donít sag in.
People are expecting a physical game. Was the Lithuania game the most physical so far?
All of them have been physical but that was the one where it opened our eyes. We know that the games can get a little out of hand but I think around this time, weíre prepared for it. I think during the beginning of the game, they are going to try to be physical, try to do some things to get us out of our game Ö try to get us thinking a little bit and have us cautious. But, we still got to go out and play our regular game.
Russia has big guards. Do you play any differently when you have a guy that has some height on you?
Itís kind of like in the NBA, after a while, they put a taller guy on me. So, Iím used to playing against taller people a little bit too. The only thing with them is you got to make them work. Usually, taller people donít like when people pressure them. (I need to) make sure I get under them, make sure Iím always bothering them and making sure I pick up full court. Usually, people that are 6-8 Ė unless youíre LeBron (James) or somebody Ė canít run as fast as I can. Beating them to spots, rough them up a little bit, let them know that Iím there.