Additional Quotes >> USA 95, Spain 66 (semifinal)
July 7, 2012 • Kaunas, Lithuania
USA head coach Don Showalter (Iowa City High School, Iowa)
On tonight’s game:
I thought Spain was very, very prepared for us. They did a lot of very interesting things to us defensively and kind of threw us off a little bit. Of course without Jabari Parker playing today, we kept him out for precautionary reasons, then you have Jahlil Okafor in foul trouble and Dakari Johnson, who will likely not play in the rest of the tournament, I thought our kids played through some adversity tonight. We really showed what kind of team we are, especially in the second half.
How proud are you in the way this team responded tonight?
Words can’t really describe how proud I am of this group of kids. First, we’re without Aaron Gordon. Then, we’re without Jabari Parker. Those are arguably two of the best players in the country. Then you have Dakari Johnson, a seven-footer, who can’t play and Jahlil Okafor gets into foul trouble. What a rallying point for our kids. I think this game really showed it wasn’t about any individual; it was all about ‘we.’ When you wear that USA across your chest, these kids really buy into that. They don’t really care who gets the points and I think you especially saw that in the second half today.
Was this a good game to have heading into the gold medal game?
Absolutely. I told the kids before the game that sometimes when you have so many easy wins, you forget what got you those easy wins. And not that we did, because we played hard tonight. Spain was really well prepared for us. But I think that we needed a test. We needed a test to find out what our kids are made of, because we’re going to get a test tomorrow night. We passed the test tonight. We’re going to work hard in order to pass the test tomorrow night.
What kind of adjustments did you make at halftime?
Our third quarter has been our best throughout the tournament, mostly because I think we wear people down. We changed up defenses a little bit. We ran a few different offensive sets. The kids really focused well when we make those changes. They’re buying into what we’re doing as a coaching staff, and they’re trusting each other to get the job done.
BeeJay Anya (DeMatha Catholic H.S. / Gaithersburg, Md.)
On his play against Spain:
I just tried to come out and play as hard as I could and do the things I know how to do, which is block shots, rebound and play good defense. Spain’s big man is a very good player. I had to come in play hard against him because Jahlil got into foul trouble early. I was just trying to stop them.
How did Spain keep pace in the first half?
They came out fired up. I don’t see why they wouldn’t, because they’re playing the USA to go to the gold medal game. So, they came out fired up. They were hitting their shots. They played in a two-three zone and in the first quarter we were kind of passive. We stepped it up as the game went on.
The USA team seemed almost nervous in the first quarter. How were you able to settle down and just play?
We were thinking about it too much, because we’re in the semifinals. But as the game went on we just realized that we just have to go out and play our game. If we play our game that got us to this point, it’ll get us to the gold medal game.
What do you need to do for tomorrow?
We just need to come out and play. When we come out and play and play hard, we can’t be beat. We need to come out, play as hard as we can, play our defense, execute and do what coach tells us to do, we’ll be just fine.
Was it good to have a tough game like this prior to the gold medal game?
Definitely. We’ve been through a lot of things as a team. This was bound to happen sooner or later. I’m glad it happened now, so tomorrow we can take care of business.
Joel Berry (Lake Highland Prep / Apopka, Fla.)
On tonight’s game:
In the first half they came out really strong. I felt that we came out kind of slow. They were on a high, they were ready to play us. They came out with everything they had. In the second half, we ran them a lot. That’s our game. So, they got tired and we were able to keep going.
On Spain’s defense:
They were basically playing a two-three spread, a two-three zone. They left the middle open and I think they kind of felt that if they give it to one of our four men, they weren’t going to do anything with it. They were trying to keep our guards out of the lane. We weren’t used to that, because teams have kind of switched it up between man-to-man and two-three. So, we just did what we had to do and we ended up getting through it in the second half.
How did you adjust to playing without Jahlil Okafor for most of the game?
We missed them a lot in there. Especially because Spain was going inside when Jahlil was out. Then finally when he got back in, they kind of stayed out on the perimeter. They hit a couple of threes, but they were mostly going inside. Then when Jahlil came back in they stopped going inside. Jahlil can run up and down the court. He’s a great big man and we needed him in the game. When he came back in, he gave us what we needed.
Have you played with a team that has such defensive focus and intensity?
No, I haven’t. They’re so athletic and fast, quick. When we all come together we’re just unstoppable.
Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei H.S. / Fullerton, Calif.)
On the first half of tonight’s game:
I think they were the first team that actually came out in a two-three zone. They really scouted our plays and knew what we were going to do to them. We just had to play basketball within that, attack the gaps, the basic stuff that beats a zone. We weren’t doing that. In the second half we got more comfortable in the zone, started finishing in the paint and everything else.
You were essentially missing three very good players in Dakari Johnson (injured), Jahlil Okafor (fouls) and Jabari Parker (injured). How did you adjust to that?
It’s always tough playing without your starters. But they obviously picked a team that could play, all 12 of us can play in any circumstance. They picked the team well. We kind of got together and said, ‘we’re still good with all our players.’ Thye’re on the bench and hurt, but we’re still good players. We still can play USA Basketball without them in the game. We just put our minds to it and played hard and came out with the win.
Was it good to have a game like this to get you ready for the gold medal game?
Yeah, it’s always good to have adversity before the gold medal game. We were pretty smooth sailing, blowing teams out and Spain got ahead of us a little bit. They kind of got us on our heels. It was like, ‘oh, they’re up a little bit.’ It’s always good to have adversity and fight through it.
Jahlil Okafor (Whitney Young H.S. / Chicago, Ill.)
How frustrating was it to have to watch from the sideline after picking up three fouls in less than three minutes?
It’s very frustrating, especially because the game was close the whole first half. Knowing that I couldn’t go into the game with my three fouls, I just had to watch. There was nothing I could do. It was very frustrating.
How did you adjust in the second half to not foul out?
I tried to adjust by not reaching at all. I still caught another one. I don’t know how, I thought I had my hand up. The refs called another foul on me. But I stayed in and didn’t get another one.
Does this help you focus for the gold medal game?
Definitely. We had to go through some adversity. Almost every game we’ve been through has just been a blowout. So, I think it’s good that we got challenged.
With two big guys in you and Dakari Johnson being effectively out of the game, how did your team respond?
I think they responded really well. We’re such a talented team. It doesn’t matter who’s out there. As long as we’ve got five players to play, we’re good.
Johnathan Williams (Southwind H.S. / Memphis, Tenn.)
On tonight’s game:
It feels great. We came out, played together and it took defense to win.
On the first half:
We knew Spain was going to come out really hard to play, and they were able to stay with us. We went in in the second half and we just played harder and got the win.
Croatia & Australia
Croatia has a really good program. We’ve played Australia two times already and we know Australia has a great team. We just have to come out and play hard tomorrow and be ready to play.
Justise Winslow (St. John’s School / Houston, Texas)
With teammates in foul trouble, you played a lot of minutes. Were you prepared for that?
Not really. I expected my teammates to play more. I was definitely tired by the end of the game. I played hard and just tried to help my team win.
How disruptive was Spain’s zone in the first half, especially in the first quarter?
It disrupted our offense. They’re pretty long and their guards up top are active. It just gave us trouble. We were turning the ball over a lot. I think we were focused, I just don’t think we were concentrating on attacking the zone in certain spots. They played really well the first half.
The USA had 13 offensive rebounds in the first half, but just five second-chance points. Can you explain what was going on?
I think we were just missing shots. Then in the second half the shots were falling.
You’re in the gold medal game and will play Australia, who you’ve played twice already. What will that be like?
It’s going to be tough. It’s hard to beat a team three times. They know us and we know them. I just think the better team will win.