Additional Quotes >> USA 95, Czech Republic 57
June 30, 2012 • Kaunas, Lithuania
USA head coach Don Showalter (Iowa City High School, Iowa)
On tonight’s game:
Our defense during this game was much better than it was against Australia. Give both teams that we've played credit. Australia and Czech Republic are really good teams, but we improved a little bit in some areas today defensively. We held them to 22 points in the first half and I felt that was the key to the game.
Czech Republic is a really good team, but it didn’t look like it by the final score:
In a tournament like this, in a one-game deal everybody can beat everybody else. We have to prepare our players every game like it’s the championship game. If you falter in one game it sets you back. We’re looking forward to tomorrow’s game. Our kids will be ready to play again tomorrow.
Were you pleased with the intensity with which your team started the game?
That’s a key for us. We hadn’t played really well in the first quarter against Australia either time we played them previously. Our emphasis was getting a good start in the first quarter. The defensive intensity was really good. To hold somebody like the Czech Republic to 22 points in a half means we’re doing something right on defense. First of all, we’re dominating the glass. We’re getting a lot of rebounds. If you can do that, get some deflections, some steals, you’re doing okay. We probably didn’t finish around the basket as well as I’d like, but in the fourth quarter we really stretched it out and played well.
On the tean's 22 turnovers:
So many of them came from traveling calls. Now they understand that as soon as they catch the ball, they’ve got to put the ball down right away before they move their feet. Once they move their feet and then put the ball down, it’s a traveling call. It just takes a little bit getting used to. For the most part I think we’re going to do a better job of that as the tournament goes on, understanding what a travel call is.
On playing Egypt tomorrow:
Like I said, in a tournament atmosphere any team can beat you on a given day. Any game is liable to be one, where if you’re not ready for a team they can sneak up on you. We’re certainly going to have our players ready.
Dakari Johnson (Montverde Academy, Fla. / Brooklyn, N.Y.)
On his play tonight:
I just tried to come in the game and crash the offensive boards and really played hard. I think I wasn’t as effective yesterday as I should have been. I just tried to increase my play today.
In the first three games, including the team’s two exhibitions, the team started out slow. Was starting off strong a point of emphasis tonight?
I was real pleased with how we started. I think the real difference between today and yesterday was that yesterday we didn’t know what to expect. It was our first game here. I think we were a little bit lackadaisical because we were familiar Australia. Today we didn’t know what the Czech Republic was about. So, we knew we had to come out hard. We just played to our best.
On the Czech Republic team:
They’re a real good team. They finished second in the Euro (U16 championship), so I know they’re a really good team. We just came out hot and really broke them down with our defense and limited what they could do.
Did it help that the USA held a size advantage over the Czechs?
It did help. Our size and our strength, we’re bigger than most teams. When we play hard and crash the boards, the sky’s the limit for us. I think we can win every game.
Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei H.S. / Fullerton, Calif.)
On the way the team started against Czech Republic:
In this game coach really wanted us to come out and have a good start. We focused on really pressuring the ball. When we get deflections, we know we’re playing better. We tried to get deflections, easy steals and easy buckets and I thought that was the difference.
On the USA’s 22 turnovers:
There was a lot of traveling calls. In America we get away with that. Out here they actually call it, so it’s different for us. We just need to adjust better.
On the Czech Republic:
They’re a European-style team, they’ll do really well in our pool. We just pressured their scorers, tried to make them show their weaknesses and we did that more than they did. We got them out of their comfort zone and we ended up doing really well.
The team chemistry seems to be building:
Yes, that’s right. Every game we’re getting better and better. Every practice, every day, every time we’re around each other helps us get better and better. Our chemistry is growing. That’s just being part of a team and being in a group that likes each other.
On the play of Dakari Johnson:
He’s amazing. He’s really good on the boards. He’s reactive, getting offensive rebounds and putting them back up. He ran the floor well, got some dunks.
Tyus Jones (Apple Valley H.S. / Apple Valley, Minn.)
On tonight’s game:
It definitely felt good to get out to a quicker start. There’s definitely still some times where we need to pick it up. We’ll focus on that in our game tomorrow and games to come in the tournament. But it definitely felt good to play well with a sense of urgency today.
This is the first of your four games, including the exhibitions, where nobody was in foul trouble. Was that a good thing to see?
Definitely. It’s always tough when you’re in foul trouble. Yesterday was not my day. Definitely it was a lot more fun being out there today, not being in foul trouble and being able to play.
Coach Showalter at halftime stressed the need to go inside and take advantage of the size differential. Do you feel the team accomplished that?
Definitely. We got our bigs going, they played really well for us today. The bigs were our key to our victory. They played solid and ripped the paint.
In the third quarter how was the Czech Republic, which you held to 22 points in the first half, able to score 23 points?
I don’t think we were keyed in or really focused on the defensive end. We turned that around in the fourth quarter. It’s just something, like I said, where there are times when we still need to pick it up. This was one of those times where we had to pick it up. We bounced back in the fourth quarter and put it away.
Jahlil Okafor (Whitney Young H.S. / Chicago, Ill.)
On the way the team started against Czech Republic:
We finally started off great. By the end of the first quarter we had a double-digit lead and that’s the first time we’ve done that since we’ve been playing.
Coach Showalter at halftime stressed the need to go inside and take advantage of the size differential. Do you feel you accomplished that?
He always stresses to the big men about how we have to rebound, how we have to rebound and dominate in the paint. In the first half we missed a bunch of easy layups.
Did your size against the Czechs help?
Yeah, it does. That’s why he was so upset after the first half, because we were missing all the easy layups that we should have been making.
On the team’s 22 turnovers:
I think most of the turnovers were from us. We were just trying to really push the ball. Those are turnovers we’ll take.
With eight games in 10 days, how important is it that you have depth in your bench?
It’s very important. I think that everybody is ready to play eight games in 10 days. We all play AAU and we’ll have five, six games in a day. So, I think everybody is ready for that.