Additional Quotes >> USA 85, Greece 69
USA head coach Jamie Dixon, University of Pittsburgh
What are your thoughts about tonight's game?
It was a little different game for us, a kind of grind it out game. It wasn't real pretty as far as offense but I thought we defended some things pretty well. We turned it over a few too many times and it really slowed down our transition and took away some baskets we probably should have had at the other end. We grinded it out down the stretch and finished around the basket. I thought Howard (Thompkins) played well, we got the ball inside like we wanted to. We figured out some things as the game went on, so it was a good win. They're a good team, they got some guys who can score.
What about the play of Thompkins tonight, did you focus on going inside?
They're a smaller team, they play small, we talked about that and we wanted to get the ball inside against them and he (Thompkins) finished some plays. I thought we hurt them on the boards overall and that was key, but again I think the turnovers were the thing that were most disappointing for us and we've got to get down to our goal of less than 12.
What about your next opponent Puerto Rico?
I'm familiar with a few of their guys and obviously we saw Rasario had the big game so we know what we have to do there. But their guards are their scorers and we knew that even before today so we'll be prepared to guard them. We've got numbers, we've got guys and we've got bodies so I think that's a strength of ours and we've got to do it with our defense.
ASHTON GIBBS (Pittsburgh / Scotch Plains, N.J.)
How much easier is for you as the point guard when you have it going inside like the team did tonight?
Being a good basketball team always requires a big time inside presence. We had that last year in my college season, so I'm used to big guys dominating inside and that's what Howard (Thompkins) did today. He dominated on the boards and in scoring. He was a dominate force and that's what we need.
It seemed like a very good defensive effort tonight and there were times when Greece really seemed to struggle to score.
We had to get used to their ball movement, screens and pick and rolls. Once we got used to that I think we were fine. It was just closing out on their shooters and when we closed out staying under control so they couldn't get past us.
Puerto Rico is next, what do you think about that game?
It's going to be a tough game. Mike Rasario is coming off a big time performance but they also have other players so we've got to lock in on not just Mike but their other big time guards and their big men.
GORDON HAYWARD (Butler / Brownsburg, Ind.)
What about the game tonight?
I think this was good for us. Coach talked about grinding it out and grinding out a win and I think that was a good way to put it. We kind of struggled a little bit, I don't know what it was. Greece is a good team. They played solid defense, solid offense on us, but we grinded out a win and that was the important part
It seems like offensive boards helped lead to free throws which were two keys in this game.
Yeah, we've got 12 guys so we need to go play our hardest when we get in there and so go crash for offensive rebounds is one thing we need to do and I think we were taller than them and that helped us out.
What about tomorrow's game against Puerto Rico?
There a guard oriented team, it's going to be tough for us but we're ready for the challenge. I think Rasario had 54 so we'll be ready for that challenge coming up.
JOHNSHURNA (Northwestern / Glen Ellyn, Ill.)
What about the game today?
Coach described this a a grind out game which definitely was what it was. I was just trying to help the team in different aspects of the game, whether it was shooting, or crashing the boards, or just trying to make plays and help the team win.
Defense is a key for this team. In the second half there was a stretch where Greece really struggled to score.
Absolutely. When we watched Greece they had like 60 points in the first half. We gave up some baskets, but we clamped down and finally held our own and started to break away in the second half and I think our defense was a big part of that.
What about Haward's game?
Howard's presence was huge. The big guys' presence was huge in general. It opened up everything else for everyone, When you've got big guys like Howard, DeAngelo (Casto) and Arnett (Moultrie) who can get in there and score and get rebounds, it makes the game a lot easier. They're shooting layups and getting rebounds and then they have to clamp down and it opens up everything else for us.
HOWARD THOMPKINS (Georgia / Lithonia, Ga.)
The Greeks like to play physical but it was like you were just taking it right back at them.
-I decided today that I was going to be very, very aggressive. I heard that Greece liked to bump and bang, well I decided that I was going to be the guy that initiated it first and they were going to have to throw punches back.
Did Coach Dixon emphasize the guys getting you the ball inside.
Well he wants us to start our offense inside out anyway. Coach wants us to start our offense inside out anyway, but we just have such great shooters it just doesn't seem like that sometimes. Coach Dixon always emphasizes for us to play hard on the inside, go from the inside out.
The Greeks hit a lot of tough shots in the first half, were you a little worried at halftime?
No because I figured our defense would pick up considering they did hit those shots and we would clamp down on defense a little bit harder and we did and those shots just didn't seem to fall for them in the second half.
Teams seems to struggle against your defense in the second half, do you feel like you have a fitness edge over some of the other teams?
Well I'll be honest with you. Coach Dixon and everyone ran us in the floor when we were in training. So we're definitely ready for that second half of defense, and that was his most important objective, second half of defense. He wasn't so much worried about our offense because we have a bunch of dynamic scorers, so he just banged on the second half of defense.
What were the strengths of the Greeks?
They move the ball well, they play as a team, it seems like they used ball screens a lot. They know how to penetrate and dish and they know how to create. There a good team and I wouldn't be surprised if we saw them again.
Mike Rasario scored 54 points today for Puerto Rico and you probably know him since he plays in the States, you've got Puerto Rico tomorrow night and that's going to be a tough challenge with a lot of emotion between the teams.
Yeah, definitely. A bunch of our guys and couple of their guys are close knit. We enjoy playing against each other and we'll put on a show for everyone.
You got off to a quick start tonight, does that help your game when you get going early like that?
Definitely. I start to play in all the other aspects of the game. I hedge on defense better, I talk more, offense seems to be a way that I get started in the game.