Additional Quotes >> Russia 79, USA 74
July 8, 2011 ē Riga, Latvia
Paul Hewitt, USA head coach
Your comments about the game:
Russia played better than us today; they shot the ball extremely well. We talked about their ability to shoot the three coming into the game, I thought we pressed out, especially in the second half and we did a better job defensively but they made some big shots when it really mattered.
The European teams have a tradition of coming up through the 14, 16 and all the way up with one another for many years.† How is it for your guys, and what did you do to build the team relative to getting them familiar with playing with each other?
We had enough time to prepare. I thought our team was building and we were playing better.† We lost to a very good Croatian team in another difficult, tough, hard-fought game but I thought our team was ready and well prepared for the challenge today. Again you have to give credit to Russia, they shot the ball extremely well.
We had a very good team. Again donít take any credit away from Russia. They played really well. We had a very good team, we just didnít have a day where I thought we played to our best, but a lot of it had to do with them (Russia) and how they played.
You had a negative turnover-to-assist ratio today. What do you want to see out of your point guards?
The last couple of games I thought we had some untimely turnovers in transition, and one of the strengths of our team up to this point, up to the last two games, is scoring in transition and being efficient. We had some turnovers against Croatia and against Russia today, and when a team is shooting the three the way they were shooting it and weíre shooting like we were shooting it, those turnovers get magnified.
Talk about your decision to play Meyers Leonard more than Patric Young:
I thought Meyers was playing very, very well. Sometimes you go with your hot hand. I think at the end of the first quarter we were down and we put him in and got a little push and we got back in the game. Certainly when we took the lead he was on the floor; he just played well.
Last night we discussed the physical presence of your team compared to Russia. Do you think you should have done better on the boards?
We had 18 offensive rebounds. Again that 3-point shot is a great equalizer. We went 0-for-9, they went 12-for-29. Thatís a pretty tough margin to overcome. I think given that, given the difference there, I thought our guys battled and gave us a chance, even though we were outshot from the 3-point line 12 to zip.
Today your offense in the second half was reduced to a lot of isolations and pick and roll plays:
Yeah, we tried to play through Jeremy (Lamb). I thought in the third quarter he had it going a little bit and got us the lead. I thought in the fourth quarter we were getting some good shots. One of the things I was a little disappointed in my team was in the first half we missed some shots that we thought were pretty easy shots and we hung our heads a little bit defensively and thatís how they (Russia) got going from the 3-point line. We got some good looks, Iím sure if we go back and look at the tape we had some good looks, they just didnít fall for us today.
(Illinois / Robinson, Ill.)
Your comments about the game:
All credit goes to Russia, they played well.† They hit big shots towards the end of the game. We made a good run in the third quarter and got up by I think two. We scouted them well but they just played a little better than us. We didnít really play at our full potential today.
We saw in your previous game (Croatia) and we saw again today, you guys went down early and you havenít been able to come back. Is that a position maybe youíre not used to being in and maybe you donít know how to play when youíre behind?
I wouldnít say that. Sometimes we got out to good starts, but unfortunately the last couple of times we got behind early. There in the third quarter we came back after being down 10 at half, so we made a good push. Either way weíre a great team, we just didnít play up to our potential today. The coaches got us ready; itís all on the players. They said to be ready to guard the 3-point line and when we started doing that they got some offensive rebounds. As far as playing from behind, I donít think it scares us or makes us play worse; itís just a matter that they played better than us today.
The European teams have a tradition of coming up through the 14, 16 and all the way up with one another for many years.† How is it for your guys, and what did you do to build the team relative to getting them familiar with playing with each other.
I think today is the 23rd day weíve been together as a total unit. Weíve been going hard for almost every day of that. Weíve been coming together, playing well, starting to recognize offensive sets that Coach Hewitt is starting to put us through, little ways to get open and all that. We were ready, they just played better than us and they shot the ball very well.
This is your first international experience, what will you take back to Illinois?
It is my first time playing overseas. I played once in the (Nike) Hoop Summit game, which I guess is international rules, but Iíve never actually been over here. Theyíre actually very physical over here, I was surprised. Normally everyone thinks of European players as soft, finesse, all that, like Dirk's style...everyone knows heís a good player, but theyíre very physical and Iíve learned a lot of stuff from Coach Hewitt. Obviously we still have two more games. I know Iím not going to stop playing, I hope the other guys are with me on that, I know theyíre not going to stop. Iíve learned a lot and Iím just going to take it back and share it with my teammates and get better.
(North Texas / Dallas, Texas)
Your comments about the game:
We werenít alert at all as a team; we werenít talkative on the defensive end, we werenít communicating as a team and that forced us into a loss.
How hard will it be to refocus for the next game? You have to play Poland tomorrow and theyíre a very good team.
We just have to go out there and play. Thatís really about it. Thatís all we have to do: go out there and play. Just be mentally strong, thatís all weíre lacking right now Ė just the mental toughness and just getting the W.
Has this experience been helpful to you?
Oh yeah, Iíve gained a lot and learned a lot on and off the court.
Whatís your impression of international basketball, especially the European teams?
Very skilled. They know the game and they play hard just like us.