Additional Quotes >> USA 102, Argentina 81
June 22, 2011 • Cancun, Mexico
Don Showalter, USA head coach
On tonight’s win:
Argentina is always a very good, very physical team. Our U17 team played them in the first game last year and we only beat them by 12. Having known how they typically play, that was a concern. We had to pick up our game a little bit and I thought our kids did that.
After Alvaro Merlo hit those three 3-pointers at the end of the first quarter, what did you tell the team at the break in quarters?
We told them that the only way they’re going to beat us is if we just don’t guard very well. We didn’t find Merlo very well at the end of the first quarter. They got up 23-22 and we went on a run after that. I think he had 13 points in the first half and he only ended up with 15, so we did a great job on him in the second half. Our kids deserve a lot of credit because they understand who’s scoring for the other team. They really did a nice job of changing things after that.
On the USA’s depth:
Our depth is tremendous. We always tell them ‘it’s not about me, it’s about we.’ When you’re representing USA Basketball, nobody cares how many points anybody gets. It’s just a matter of USA Basketball winning the game in the end. You saw a lot of unselfish play throughout the game. We had a lot of assists tonight. We moved the ball around very, very well. When you get seven players in double figures, the ball has to be moving from one player to another.
On losing Stanley Johnson for the remainder of the tournament:
First we end up with Theo (Pinson) turning and ankle, so he’s out the first game. Now he’s back tonight and now we’ve lost Stanley for the rest of the tournament. Stanley stepped into that starting role and he’s a tremendous defensive player. So, we’ve just got to have other people step up. When the committee picks teams, they pick them because of the versatility and we know that other people are going to step in and pick it up.
Larry Austin (Lamphier H.S. / Springfield, Ill.)
Argentina is a really good, solid team. They liked to rush us, but we settled down a little bit. We got off to a quick start, turned the ball over. But then we started settling down and playing the way we usually play.
Were you worried after Alvaro Merlo hit those three 3-pointers at the end of the first quarter?
No, we weren’t scared. We were staying with our composure, still playing our game, still locking up on defense and running transition when we got the chance.
Did you figure Argentina would be as tough as they were?
Honestly, I didn’t think Argentina was going to be this tough. But, I’m glad they were because they gave us some good competition. They gave us a pretty good game.
On the USA’s team chemistry:
The play of our team is really good. Our big men run the floor well, our guards push the floor well. Everybody just plays good. We all click. We all have chemistry.
Is defense the key to this team?
Yeah, the key for this team is definitely defense.
What does Stanley Johnson’s injury do to the team?
We lose a lot of defense. He brings intensity to the table. Knowing he can get to the basket, and his defense, we’re really going to miss him.
Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei H.S. / Fullerton, Calif.)
How did you injure your finger?
I was going for the ball on the baseline. He pushed me and I tried to pat (the ball) down so I could gain control of it and it hit off of my hand and jammed back my finger.
How disappointing is this?
It’s really disappointing. It was a bad play. It happens in basketball. I’m hoping to recover fast and see what I can do for the rest of the year.
How can you help out your teammates over the next three games?
Just really encourage them in the games and outside of the games.
Tyus Jones (Apple Valley H.S. / Apple Valley, Minn.)
On tonight’s game:
It was a tough game. Argentina is a good team. Hopefully we’ll be seeing them again because they gave us a tough fight. We ran our stuff. We came out slow, but we got it going and executed what we wanted to get done tonight. It was a good game.
How did you combat Argentina Alvaro Merlo hit those three 3-pointers at the end of the first quarter?
He got a hot hand, but we just had to sharpen up our defense. We let it slip a little bit. Coach got on us about that, of course. But, we just had to tune some things up a little bit.
With five games in five days, how important is the USA’s depth?
It’s real important. We’re subbing guys in and out. We’re making teams tired as we’re pressing, running and pushing the ball. I think it’s really important. If you’re subbing any guy in, we have 12 talented kids coming in and it’s real important to us that we can keep up our level of intensity out there.
How much will you miss Stanley Johnson’s play on the court?
That’ll hurt us. Stanley is a key part of our team. He’s a shooter, he hustles, he plays good defense. Now, everyone has to step up so we can fill in that spot. We have to play a little bit for him. It’ll hurt us, but I think it’ll make us stronger at the same time.
Argentina’s pretty good. They play with a lot of aggression. They play physical. They gave us a good shot.
What was the key to tonight’s win?
The key to our victory is our defense. Even though they got runs, we came back with our runs. We did good offensively and that comes from our defense.
Were you focused on defense tonight?
Yeah, the coaches expect me to go out there and play good defense, get good steals and rebound well.
Jabari Parker (Simeon H.S. / Chicago, Ill.)
On his play tonight:
I felt alright. My shots weren’t falling like they were last night, so I had to go a little bit to the basket. I really didn’t get the chance to go to the free throw line, but I still averaged my same amount of fouls, five fouls a game.
Are you planning on working on that aspect of your game, staying out of foul trouble in the medal round?
It’s always important to work on the intangibles, especially limiting my fouls. I need to work on that.
What are some of the keys to this team?
Everybody gets along with each other. We’re a family. We work hard as a team. We are very good on the defensive end and that helps our offense, it pays off.
On his play tonight after sitting out the USA’s first game due to his ankle injury:
It was a relief that I could play today. I was real glad we got the W, it was a real good game. They competed hard, which just made our level of intensity pick up and we played harder, too.
After Argentina hit three straight 3-pointers to close the first quarter and take the lead, were you worried?
No, we were just like, ‘let’s regroup. That’s the last run they’re going to get.’ We knew we had to pick it up on defense. We couldn’t let them have any more runs to make the game close. We wanted to open the game up.
On the USA’s play overall:
We played real good today. Everybody contributed. We all played defense and that led to turnovers. We got back and got easy baskets at the rim.
How disappointing is it to lose Stanley Johnson for the remainder of the tournament?
It hurts a lot. He was a big factor for our team when he started while I was out. We’re going to miss him a lot, but we’re going to win that gold medal for him.