Additional Quotes >> USA 111, Egypt 73
July 1, 2012 • Kaunas, Lithuania
USA head coach Don Showalter (Iowa City High School, Iowa)
On today’s game:
Egypt came out prepared to play. We jumped out to an eight- or 10-point lead early, but then they got back into the game. They felt they could play with us the first half and obviously they did. Our kids just have to understand that there’s not a switch that’s going to turn on or off. They have to come out more prepared mentally than they did today.
I have to give Egypt a lot of credit. They played very, very well. They’re a much, much better team than they had two years ago (at the 2010 U17 World Championship) in Germany. They’ve made a lot of progress in their program.
They came out and didn’t hang their heads when they got down eight or 10 points to start the game. They hung right in there, played hard, got loose balls. They outrebounded us in the first half, which doesn’t happen very often, so give them a lot of credit.
Were you disappointed with the way the USA played in the first half?
Yes. Obviously I expect our players to have the same mentality at the start of the game that they do at the second half. When we don’t have that, I was disappointed. We started out on a little bit of a run. Then Egypt came back in the game and we didn’t respond real well. It was a close game for most of the first half. We had to go over some things at halftime and let the young men know that this is not a time where they can just turn it on and turn it off when they want to. They have to come out better prepared from their standpoint.
This was the first game that you had them playing a lot of full-court pressure defense. Were you pleased with the way they implemented the press?
Yes, and I think as the tournament goes on, we’re going to play more full-court defense because we have some depth. We have people coming off the bench who can play that type of defense really well.
On Joel Berry’s three charges in the second half:
Those are game changers. We always say that that’s part of changing the complexity of the game, defensively. First of all it shows we’re playing really hard, and most of the time it takes baskets away from your opponents. It gives us a real shot in the arm, defensively. So, it’s a great thing to have Joel step in there and take those charges. He was taking them against kids who are a lot bigger than he is. He stood right in there and took them. I give him a lot of credit for that.
France is your next opponent, what can you expect to see in that game?
France is competing for one of the spots (to advance to) the medal games. When you’re in that situation, you hope that you’re ready to play them. They’re obviously going to be on top of their game and going to want to give us a great game. Our kids have to understand that we’re targets. We have a big target on our back because we’re the defending U17 World Champions. We’re from the United States and people expect us to be really good. When you can compete with us a little bit, such as Egypt did in the first half, that kind of made their whole tournament, and I think France is in that same boat. We have to understand that and we have to be ready with our best effort.
Joel Berry (Lake Highland Prep / Apopka, Fla.)
On his play in the second half:
I was just, the position I was in, I was there to take a charge. I tried to work on taking charges more during my high school season. It just rolled over to here. If I take charges, they say it’s a game changer. So, I just decided to take charges and it worked.
You had a tough time going inside, Egypt as guys with long arms who blocked your shot four times and had eight total for the game:
It was pretty difficult. It was kind of bad on my part. I should have tried to float it more. They are a pretty long team. We tried to get on the break to eliminate that.
Do you feel everyone wants to bring their ‘A’ game against the USA because they see you as future NBA prospects?
Yes, ma’am. All the teams are going to bring it. Like you said, we’re future NBA prospects and everybody’s going to bring their ‘A’ game. When it’s a close game, they feel like they’re on top of the world. So, we have to come and play better than usual. I think that in the first half we kind of looked at them like they were a horrible team. They came out and showed us that they can compete, so we had to step up our game.
Conner Frankamp (Wichita North H.S. / Wichita, Kan.)
On the difference between the first and second halves:
We came out with a lot more intensity in the second half. The first half we were really slow and we didn’t really care as much.
On his 18-point performance:
I was kind of getting in the flow of the game. I felt like I wasn’t getting bad shots, so I’m going to take them when I can.
How did Egypt’s inside play affect your game in terms of driving to the basket?
I think it affected us a little bit. That one kid (Moataz Hosny) was really long. He has really long arms. I think we adjusted to it pretty well, though.
Kendrick Nunn (Simeon Career Academy / Chicago, Ill.)
On tonight’s game:
We didn’t think they were going to come out like that. We thought they were just going to lay down for us. We had the game won already in our minds.
You’ve heard the coaches talk about teams often playing their best games against the USA. Did that hit home today?
It’s true, because we have an ‘X’ on our backs. Everybody knows how athletic and good we are. They just want to compete against us. Even though they know they might not win, they just try to keep up with us.
On his play against Egypt:
Yeah, the first two games I was kind of hiding. Today I tried to get my rhythm back up and help the team out.
How much have you been practicing the full-court pressure you implemented in the third quarter?
We practiced the 22 a lot, full-court press. We’re getting better at it.
Jabari Parker (Simeon Career Academy / Chicago, Ill.)
On tonight’s game:
We came out sluggish, a little nonchalant. We’ve seen that we didn’t have much competition out there from previous games that they’ve played. So, we came out and we didn’t play as hard as we needed to.
Do you feel everyone wants to bring their ‘A’ game against the USA because they see you as future NBA prospects, and especially against you after the Sports Illustrated cover?
A little bit. From more of a team standpoint, they look at the USA as one of the top dogs. We just need to come out and play hard. We can’t be complacent like we were today. We have to expect to get everybody’s ‘A’ game. For me, I don’t look towards ‘mano e mano’ match-ups, I just go out and have fun.
Johnathan Williams (Southwind H.S. / Memphis, Tenn.)
On Egypt’s inside game:
Number 15 (Moataz Hosny), he is very, very long. He’s athletic. He’s a good player inside and he played pretty well.
What did the coaches talk to you about at halftime?
He just wanted us to play harder, compete a little bit more. There’s USA (across our chests), so play for your country. There’s kids out there battling in the war, so we need to play hard for our country.
Does the first half send you a wake-up call that you have to give it your best every game?
Yes, ma’am. Because everybody plays hard against the USA. They bring their ‘A’ game every game. Coach told us that we have to play hard, we have to compete every game. No matter what.
On the play of the USA team in the second half:
After half we turned it up and went full court with our press. We started working it real good. We started getting steals, started dunking the ball and having fun like we normally do.
Justise Winslow (St. John’s School / Houston, Texas).
On tonight’s game:
We weren’t ready to play. No one came out with intensity. We were lackadaisical out there. We weren’t really focused or concentrating on what the game plan was. We just weren’t playing hard. Once we started playing hard, it didn’t matter about the shots, the jump shots we were making, our defense picked up and we got the lead back. In the first half we just weren’t playing hard.
Do you think you overlooked Egypt?
I don’t think it’s anything about Egypt. We’ve done the same thing in the last three games at the beginning. Egypt’s a good team. We just have to come out more focused at the beginning of the game.
On Egypt’s size inside, which produced eight blocks:
That was part of the game plan, to give them shot fakes because their big men are long. They blocked a lot of shots, but that’s something we just have to get used to and adjust to throughout the game.
On the USA’s full-court pressure in the third quarter:
We haven’t played it much. Not like that. That just got our intensity going. From there we started picking up the tempo and playing hard.