Additional Quotes >> USA 89, Australia 67
June 29, 2012 ē Kaunas, Lithuania
USA head coach Don Showalter (Iowa City High School, Iowa)
On tonightís game:
A lot of the first half was just lack of effort on our part. Having played Australia in the Canary Islands probably helped Australia more than it helped us. Weíre coming into the game and now we have Jabari (Parker) and Joel (Berry), which we didnít have on Monday, against a very good Australia team, I just think that in the first half they beat us to the basketball too many times. We got outrebounded in the first half. Thatís probably the first time in my four years here that weíve been outrebounded in a half. Obviously in the second half we righted the ship and took care of the little things.
On the difference in the second half:
We talked at halftime, we said that they outrebounded us by seven, we didnít get any of the 50-50 balls, we had only two deflections at halftime. That shows you our effort was not quite where we needed it to be. I think part of it was in the first game kids are still trying to figure out what this whole thing is about from an international standpoint. But, once they realized, Ďhey, we need to just go play basketball,í they had a much better third quarter. I think we were up by 30 at one point in the third quarter. That was due to rebounding, due to getting after loose balls and getting our fast break going.
What does having Joel Berry and Jabari Parker back do for the team?
First of all they add depth. Now we have two more really good players that we can bring in. Jabari was a little bit slower tonight, but he hasnít played for a week or even more than that. I think he was just testing his foot out, testing things out. I think heíll be much better as the series goes on. Joel did a fantastic job for us. We needed Joel because Tyus (Jones) was in foul trouble in the first half, so we needed Joel to come off the bench and really give us a shot in the arm, and he did just that.
On the USAís next opponent, Czech Republic:
Theyíre very good. They play very hard. They know how to move the ball real quick and they have some really 3-point shooters. Obviously 3-point defense has not been our forte right now. We need to do a better job of guarding a 3-point shooter. Although tonight I think Australia maybe didnít shoot very well from the 3-point line, but they took a lot of 3-point shots. We just have to do a better job of that.
Joel Berry (Lake Highland Prep / Apopka, Fla.)
What was it like for you to finally be able to get out on the court and play?
It was good. It was nice getting out there to play with the guys. Once I got (to training camp) I was kind of uncomfortable with them, but they just welcomed me in and I feel comfortable around them. I can kind of be a leader out there on the court, bring in the spark on the second string. So, it was really nice.
You really helped the team with Tyus Jones having to sit a lot of the game due to foul trouble:
It was kind of good. I know sometimes you get into that situation and you have to have somebody else who comes in and just picks it up where he left off. I just came in and did what I had to do.
You sat on the bench during the USAís game against Australia on Monday night. Were you able to pick up some of their tendencies by observing from the bench?
Yes, it helped out a lot, knowing what the players can do and knowing what their offense is. It just helped me out a lot.
This is your first game ever in a USA Basketball uniform, what was it like when you first stepped out there on the court tonight?
I was kind of nervous, but once I got into the flow of the game it wore off. I just started playing my game.
What did coach Showalter stress at halftime?
He put up on the board how they were outrebounding us. One of their guys had almost as many rebounds as we did in total. We just came out and picked it up on the defensive end. Thatís what we were trying to pick up on. Thatís what sparked us.
Stephen Domingo (Saint Ignatius Prep / San Francisco, Calif.)
You had another slow start, what was coach Showalterís focus on at halftime?
Basically that we werenít focusing again. They were just beating us on stuff that we could control. Thatís one thing heís been stressing, that we have to control the stuff that we can control. There are other things that we canít control, but we can control how hard we play on defense. We didnít get a 50-50 ball in the first half. He said that if we could get those in the second half, we could blow it open like we did in the third quarter. Thatís one thing he kept stressing. He did say that the first game is the hardest, because you have to gauge your level. It took us a half to do it, but the positive is that we found that in the second half.
Do you think you surprised Australia with the way you came out in the second half?
I think the familiarity from the Canary Islands benefitted them in the first half. But once we realized that we were the better team and that we had more athleticism and energy, we really got them on their heels in the second half. Then we pushed the ball on them.
What was it like to have Joel Berry and Jabari Parker back out on the floor with you?
Itís amazing. You saw it, Tyus (Jones) went out with foul trouble. In the Canary Islands we wouldnít have had a backup point guard to do anything. Joel came in, really picked up the slack and hit a couple big shots, really pushed the rock. Thereís no let down with our team. When one person goes out, the next person who comes in is just as good. So, itís great. And then obviously Jabari, he attracts so much attention to him that it really opens up the floor for the rest of us.†
Conner Frankamp (Wichita North H.S. / Wichita, Kan.)
On tonightís game:
I felt we improved a lot against them. They played pretty well against us in the first game (Monday) and they played pretty good against us in the first half. But, I felt like we stepped it up in the second half.
You looked to struggle a little against Australiaís zone defense. Is that something youíve worked on?
Weíve worked on it a little bit, but not too much. Hopefully it wonít be a problem anymore, but weíll see.
What did coach Showalter talk to you about at halftime?
Our rebounding. That was the main thing he talked about, and winning 50-50 balls.† We didnít have any in the first half and thatís not very good for us. He pretty much talked about that and our rebounding.
Was it more about the first game jitters to start the U17 World Championship?
No, I just donít think we came out very strong. We came out kind of lackadaisical, but we picked it up in the second half.
Was it good to have all 12 members of the team out there today?
It was nice to have everybody back. I felt like they helped us out a lot and it brings everybody together.
Jabari Parker (Simeon Career Academy / Chicago, Ill.)
On the USAís slow start:
We just need to get adjusted out there. I felt like we came out sluggish in the beginning, we really didnít come out like they did. They were ready from the get-go. They were anxious to play us because we had already beat them (on Monday). We need to come out ready to play and we have to be out there playing 110 percent from the get-go.
What is your teamís strongest asset?
We play well together. I think our strongest component is our relationship off the court. Thatís what makes us so effective on the court, us having so much chemistry. We just combine together and pull out victories.
On the USAís difficultly playing full-court pressure and against Australiaís zone:
Man-to-man, we need to regroup. They had too many backdoor cuts, too many open shots in the paint. We just need to come back and refine our weaknesses.
Is this an important tournament for you?
Yes, itís very important. Everybody has to learn how to play the international style of basketball. People come out to prepare to play in the Olympics someday. You donít know if youíll be playing overseas. So, you just have to adjust to every rule and the atmosphere.
Youíve been compared to LeBron James and other players. How do you deal with this?
I donít let it get to me. I just go out there and play and have fun. Thatís the important thing.
How did you feel out there tonight after sitting out the last week?
I felt kind of good. I just need to get adjusted with the team, how they can use me and how I can be able to use my teammates too, to help us win.†