Additional Quotes >> USA 107, Lithuania 105
July 5, 2011 • Riga, Latvia
Paul Hewitt, USA Head Coach
Your comments about the game:
I felt we would have to play really well in order to have a chance to win the game. I felt we played well in spurts but Lithuania has continued to impress me; they impressed me with how they came back this afternoon. They’re a very well-coached team. They play extremely hard and if you make mistakes they’re going to capitalize. We’re very lucky to win this game and at this point we just talked to our team about trying to get better. We need to continue to improve as we move through the tournament, and we’ve got to try and play better tomorrow against Croatia.
It looked like in the first half you were banking on Lithuania getting tired:
No, one thing I don’t count on is them being tired. I’ve watched them play several games now, and again I’m very impressed with how they play and their transition game. I didn’t think they would get tired.
How evenly matched do you think the two teams are?
I don’t think you can overlook the fact that their starting point guard didn’t play. I think my guys have to continue to concentrate on getting better. We got a 19-point lead and we did not do some smart things, especially at the end of the game. We went to the basket with a four-point lead with 19 seconds to go instead of dribbling out the clock. I keep saying, and this is not false praise, they’re a good team, they’re a very, very good team, and we’re going to have to keep getting better.
Talk about the comeback your team displayed, especially for a team that has just been together a short time. What does it say about their competitiveness?
I thought it said an awful lot about Patric’s (Young) toughness and mental toughness. To miss two free throws, it would have been easy for him to be disappointed and drop his head, but he continued to play hard and made some big plays in overtime. I think overall our team showed some togetherness there, but in particular I thought Patric Young showed a lot of character, how he bounced back from missing those two free throws at the end of regulation.
Talk about Jeremy Lamb’s 35-point performance today:
Jeremy Lamb is a great scorer. I thought he used screens very well today. When he gets it rolling, then it’s easier for him to manufacture shots one-on-one.
What thing do you feel the team still needs to improve on?
I thought our consistency in terms of defensive energy and effort has to improve.
Tim Hardaway, Jr.
(Michigan / Miami, Fla.)
How fun was that game?
That was a fun game. It was really fun to just come out there and get a win in front of their home crowd. Just to come out here and have fun and do it in a tough way was great.
What’s it say about this team to come from a week ago when you lost to Lithuania by a lot in an exhibition game to playing them much better and winning?
It says our team is growing as days go by and everybody is giving Coach Hewitt what he wants out of us. We’re just going out there and executing what he wants and the game plan that he wants
What things does this team still need to work on?
Just the Xs and Os. We have a good chemistry going on right now, but we had a lead today and we didn’t take care of it. So if we can just stay up on our leads and get our opponents out early I think we’ll be in great shape.
Could you compare this to a Big Ten game?
Oh yeah, it was physical and competitive. I’d say it’s more like a Michigan State game at East Lansing; how we were hearing the home crowd, they had a big section where they had their fans and we were outnumbered. We’re out of the country so we knew to expect that and we just had to come out here and give it all we had.
(Connecticut / Norcross, Ga.)
You seemed to be able to score a steady pace all game today:
I was just in a rhythm, finally got in a rhythm so I was able to knock down some shots. My teammates trusted me with the ball, so I was able to hit some shots.
Could you tell you were into a good rhythm during warm-ups or was it when you made your first couple of shots?
As the game moved along. I just started making shots.
What’s a comeback win like this mean to the team in terms of confidence and building off of?
It means we stuck together well. We just really knew how to fight. That was a thing we didn’t know if we could do, so it was a tough game and we had to come back and it was a good comeback for us.
(Creighton / Ames, Iowa)
Was that a fun game to be part of?
Yeah it was. We had a few mistakes at the end of regulation; we probably should have put them away in the fourth quarter there, but I think it was a good learning experience for us, knowing that we can come back from those deficits. We were down six with 3 minutes left (in overtime), so we just did a really good job of sticking together as a team, and I think we learned a lot from that.
What’s it mean to come back in OT when you’re down six after having control of the game most of the way?
It’s huge. It was a complete momentum change when Patric took over with those two dunks, two and-ones. It just got us going and we had a lot of confidence on the defensive end of the floor, and it was good to end on a stop at the end.
Talk about your game today:
I felt good early. In the second half I tried doing a good job of screening and getting guys open because I knew Jeremy Lamb was feeling it and we had to find ways to get him the ball, and he took over. It was a great win for us.
(Florida / Jacksonville, Fla.)
Your comments about the game:
I though coming out when the game started we played really together, as a team, and it showed. We jumped on them and took a quick lead but we knew the game wasn’t going to be over after two quarters. No game has ever been over in the first half. Lithuania came back in the third quarter, the fourth quarter, and showed why they deserve to be here. They’re a really talented team. Things just turned our way this game and we came out on top in the end. There was no answer for Jonas (Valanciunas), We kept leaving their 3-point shooters wide open, they kept getting good looks, we missed a lot of loose balls and need to pick our hustle effort up, but overall at the end of the game Jeremy (Lamb) picked us up and I pulled through in overtime. It just came out of nowhere and I give glory to God for blessing me with the great fifth quarter I was able to have after missing those two free throws in regulation.
I felt that we started the game really together and you could tell by our play because we took a pretty big lead, but you know Lithuania came back and took the lead on us. I felt this game was great, I wouldn’t have it end any other way. I missed some free throws in regulation and I got another opportunity to show out in overtime, and I give God the glory and I’m so thankful.
That makes the series one all between you two. It looks like you respect each other and hopefully we’ll see you two play again:
I really respect Jonas (Valanciunas). His game is great; it’s really tough to defend him in the post. He’s a great player and you could see how much he loves the game, he was shaken up after the game and if we would have lost I would have been the same way. I hope we get to play this team again because they’re a really good team.
How do you pick yourself up after missing the two free throws?
You have to put them behind you. Remember the player for the Buffalo Bills that dropped that touchdown not too long ago and he said he was never going to forget that? But you have to move on because it’s going to affect you for the rest of the game. We went into overtime and there was still an opportunity for me to redeem myself and for us to win the game, even though they jumped out on us with a nice six-point lead. When I went to the line I said, ‘I’m going to trust and have confidence in what I do, what I practice in my craft’ and I went and knocked the free throws down; I went 4-for-4.
Talk about your overtime performance and your frame of mind after missing the two free throws, picking yourself back up and coming up with the big plays:
I knew the game was in my hands at that point with those free throws and I had an opportunity to end it right there so I guess the pressure got to me a little. In overtime you can’t show you’re scared or that you have doubt in your team. As a team we all have to believe we’re going to win the game no matter what, and we went into overtime and I was like, ‘No way, I’ve got to step my game up’. They had a good spark and energy; they went up on us six points really quick. When I stepped up to the free-throw line I was like, ‘Forget about those two free throws I missed earlier.’ I wiped my hands off with a towel and just knocked them down. Coach really has faith in Joe (Jackson) to keep running three up and I had opportunities in overtime to make plays, and I was able to complete those plays with those two dunks and I knocked down the free throws and we just came out on top.