Additional Quotes >> USA 89, Australia 64
June 25, 2012 • Las Palmas, Canary Islands
USA head coach Don Showalter (Iowa City High School, Iowa)
On tonight’s game:
We haven’t really started out well in the first quarter in these two games. We gave up 24 points in the first quarter tonight. I think we held them to 26 in the whole second half. We have to do a better job of starting out with a little more intensity on defense. We need to understand that teams are going to play their best ballgame against us.
Australia really came out hot. They played really well. We were fortunate to be up by two at the end of the first quarter. There are some things that we need to work on to get better and starting out with more intensity is one of them.
What turned the tide for your team?
Obviously our second quarter defense was really good. We brought guys like Stanley (Johnson) and Justise Winslow off the bench. When you bring in those two, it really helps us with the defensive intensity level. I thought that when Stanley (Johnson) came in, he really changed the complexion of the game.
And then Jahlil (Okafor) was voted the MVP of the tournament and I thought he really played well offensively and defensively.
Dakari (Johnson) came in and did a really nice job for us on the boards and Johnathan Williams keeps getting better and better. We’re getting there. We just have to understand what the focus is to start with.
Your pressure defense caused a lot of fouls to be blown against the team. How can you change that moving forward?
I think that hurt us tonight several times where we played good pressure defense and then we ended up reaching with our hands. We talked about that in the locker room. We just have to stay low on defense, move our feet instead of trying to grab. That’s a problem in every arena.
Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei H.S. / Fullerton, Calif.)
On tonight’s game:
It was just kind of like I was moving to the ball when they told me to. The ball just started falling into my hands, so I tried to pick it up and make the right play with it.
On the USA’s overall effort over the two exhibition games:
We definitely got better tonight from the first game. We were listening more, but we have a long way to go. We have room to grow, which is really good. We’ll see Australia again Friday, which will be a better test. We need to keep growing as a team and get better. If we keep practicing and listening to coach, we’ll get better.
On Australia’s fast start:
We have a tendency to start off flat. We started off flat again in this game. Coach called a timeout really quick, told us what to do and we got after it in the second quarter.
How were you able to turn it around?
We knew we had it in us. It was just the fact that we had to turn it on. Coach was really adamant about us turning it on and we responded to him really well.
On Jahlil Okafor getting MVP:
He’s really good. He deserved it. He really did. Two double-doubles, 19 and 6, 26 and 15. He was good.
Kendrick Nunn (Simeon Career Academy / Chicago, Ill.)
On tonight’s game:
It’s a little tougher than our first game. We just have to pick up our defense and bring our intensity from the start.
On the overall play of the USA squad:
Australia is a good team. They started off strong. We kind of picked it up after that, but it was a good game.
You meet up against Australia in the first game of the FIBA U17 World Championship:
Yeah, this was a good test for that. We know what they can do, so we just have to pick up on their mistakes when we watch film.
On Stanley Johnson’s game against Australia:
Stanley is great. He gets all the dirty work. He had an awesome game tonight.
Jahlil Okafor (Whitney Young H.S. / Chicago, Ill.)
On tonight’s game:
Anytime you play a team you’re going to get their best game. It was just another team that had a lot of energy at the beginning.
How did you turn that around?
After the last game, coach Show got onto us. We have to fix that. We have to start playing like that from the get-go, instead of waiting for coach Show to yell at us. It was the same as last game, him getting onto us.
How frustrating was it to have to sit on the bench in foul trouble?
It was very frustrating. I thank my teammates, they pulled it out.
Do you think this has helped you prepare for the FIBA U17 World Championship?
Oh yeah. I think if that’s how we need to play, we can’t really be that physical, I’m just going to have to get used to it.
On being named MVP:
Yeah, I was surprised. I didn’t know they were going to do an MVP. I thought if it wasn’t me, it would be Tyus (Jones), because he controls the team. He controls the tempo. I think he’s the person who deserves it.
Justise Winslow (St. John’s School / Houston, Texas).
They came out really hard. They definitely weren’t afraid of us. They came out with a lot of intensity, but once we picked our intensity up, it was clear that we were the better team tonight. I have to give props to Australia, because they played really hard.
What turned the tide in the second quarter?
The communication picked up. From there, the bench really helped us out. Once the bench got in we really picked up the intensity, the scrappiness on defense, going after loose balls and stuff like that.
As a result of your pressure defense, the team as a whole was whistled for a lot of fouls. Do you think you can pressure without fouling moving forward?
I’m not sure we want to really fix anything because it gets the intensity up when people are out there being aggressive. We just have to get used to the calls internationally, the way they call it and stuff like that.
What have you learned about the international game over these two nights?
I learned that you just have to play tougher. You can grab the ball off the rim. When other teams are dribbling they like to flop, so you can’t really pressure them as much. The rules are different, but it’s fun.