August 3, 2006 Las Vegas, Nevada
Puerto Rico played a great first quarter and made adjustments
to go against our pressure defense and they were really good. And then
our guys made some adjustments to not overextend themselves and we were
really good. Our guys are diving for balls and theyre playing hard
and playing unselfishly like that. Im proud of them and we are going
to get an early morning flight and go to China now and hopefully well
improved a little bit there too.
I thought our defense was the turning point in that second period. We
got a little bit overextended our guys were so excited to play
the crowd was great. They love playing for our country and they
were too excited.
You know one for nine from 3-point range and we just settled down. The
next group settled us down. I thought two of the kids
calling them kids
then our role players were very good, Battier
they just make a lot of plays
they are not spectacular,
but you know like Hinrichs defense
I thought Gilbert really
had a great second quarter. Thats what we need
we need a
lot of guys stepping up. And those were veterans that stepped up. Thats
why these guys are on the team.
Were a fairly young team. Its good to be a little bit nervous
or overexcited and I thought we were a little bit at the scrimmage (on
Tuesday). We were in the first quarter today. Thats why these exhibitions
will be good for us. We are all kind of rookies for international play.
Even the guys on the Olympic team didnt play as much. So we have
a very young team internationally. They just settled down.
His play is not going to show up in stats. Because hes not going
to shoot the ball very much. But theres an energy like he dove for
a couple loose balls and ignited us. He took a charge well it wasnt
a charge but at least he was there. He ended up trapping well.
Those two guys are going to very valuable players for us Battier
and Jamison. Antawn spreads the defense
he doesnt need the
ball. Both of those guys dont need to touch the ball. When they
have the ball, its just there for a second so there easy guys to
play with. And they play defense and rebound and do all the other things.
They are very valuable players.
On training camp in Las Vegas:
Well, first of all I hope we dont have training camp next year.
I hope we are coming here to just bond as players instead of going to
Venezuela (note-where the 2007 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament
will be held). Nothing against Venezuela. Las Vegas was great for us.
People talked about it being a distraction. Where we stayed was fabulous.
There was privacy. Having a lot of people around. They ask us how are
team is doing. There was something about being here that helped us create
a national spirit for this team. I can see it because we have such good
guys. Like just sitting up here with Dwyane and listening to him answer
questions is a real privilege for me. This guy personifies what we want
to have for U.S. basketball player. Because hes a great player but
hes a better guy. Hes unselfish and humble. Thats spread
throughout. And the people around here see that. This was a great choice
and we want to thank everyone who helped us while we were here. Well
see if can find a similar place in China, Korea and Japan.
Im excited about going over to
China, Korea and Japan and see how it is, but most importantly Im
ready to go over there and play.
How are you feeling on the court? Your
shots dont look to be forced, you look confident:
I feel like the shots are just coming to me. When youre out there
with guys like Chris Paul, Lebron, Dwyane its kind of hard for other
teams to guard everybody
somebody is going to get open shots, somebody
might get 10 shots, somebody else might get two
we dont worry
Does the team have something to prove?
Yeah, weve got something to prove. Weve got everything
to prove. Right now we dont think people respect us as a country
or as a basketball team, so we feel we have to go over and prove something
Whats the difference between you,
Dwyane and Lebron now as opposed to the last Olympics:
We are older. We are wiser. We are more mature. And we know what
to expect out there on the court.
I was proud of the way we came through on the defensive end. We wanted
to play great defense and we were able to do what we did on the offensive
end because of our defense. We got up on them. Played them hard for all
We wanted to keep our composure. Every team is going to make some runs,
but we just have to keep our composure and play tough defense. I think
we went on a 19-to-1 run. If we can play like that, everything will be
On his experience of watching some of his
teammates play at such a high level:
When we're not in the game, we're fans. Fans of the guys out there.
When they are out there, we have to cheer them on and make everyone feel
It felt good to play tonight
in front of our Americans. Were still trying to get adjusted. Its
good to get one under our belts. We started a little frantic, but we finished
well and it was a good test for us. We settled down, played defense and
got after it. They had 26 points in the first period and then we blew
the game open. Our strong run in the second and third periods was all
from defense. We only gave up one field goal in that run. The guys on
the floor did a great job. We came out firing in the third period and
I think we opened up with a 12-0 run then. That was big for us.
How it felt to wear the USA jersey in a
game for the first time:
It was great. You dream about it as a kid
you know the practice jersey
is alright, but wearing that USA across your chest in the first game,
well it was great.
On the game:
First of all, the crowd was electric. I had goosebumps running out there.
Nice to know that we care deeply about our country and our fans that are
supporting us. We were all really nervous at first; we really wanted to
perform well. Once we settled into the game we started to make some shots
played some great defense there at the end of the first quarter
and the second quarter and then we opened it up.
What keyed the defense?
We settled in and stopped gambling. In the first quarter, we really
extended our defense and left ourselves with a lot of scrambling opportunities.
Thats not how well be best playing defense.
We need to play good pressure defense and make them make plays.
It's all about the guys putting it up on the shelf and coming together
for one common goal. You can't do that if you have any hidden agendas.
I think I can read people pretty well when I'm around them. What I see
on this team is that guys have mutual respect for one another and we have
the common goal of wanting to bring back some prominence to the US
If we go out and play the way we're capable of playing, as far as tough
defense, then everyone is going to get a chance to play. I think they
want to keep it short, where guys are not logging long minutes. We can
keep everyone fresh and keep the pressure on the opponent. and we can
go from there.
On the goal of the game tonight:
We wanted to come out and do a good job of what we've been working
on since we've been here (Las Vegas). It's more about time to jell together
and do the things that Coach has asked us.
Guys wanted to come out and perform well in front of the home crowd and
the jitters are to be expected a bit. It's the first time we were playing
as a team in front of all of these people (18, 218 sellout). Once you
settle down, get rid of the nerves and jitters, we bounced back.
On the crowd:
It was a great crowd. They want
to see the US get back to the top of the pyramid, as far as the best basketball
in the world. Everyone was great and the guys on this team have been working
hard so we can attain that goal of making everyone proud."
It felt good to get a win behind
first exhibition game and once we got the jitters out we were
rolling. The most impressive part for us was winning every quarter. A
lot of guys looked really good tonight
Dwyane Wade was everywhere,
Carmelo Anthony started out with a lot of fire
the whole team played
well. We played well on defense and I loved it.
On wearing the USA jersey again:
Its an honor and a privilege. It felt good. It gave me some
pride out there.
On the overall experience of training
It's been a great experience.
Everybody has come out here and they're doing a great job of giving it
up for the good of the team. That's what we're going to have to do if
we want to win over there (Japan). We're going to face some good competition
and we're going to have to go out and play. We have to make sure that
we set the tone defensively. We have to get after teams, pressure them
and wear them down."
"Everybody has done a good job of getting to know each other. We
have to go out and make the simple plays. We have to play the team concept
and then it'll be an easy game for us."
"Tonight, it was nice to go up against somebody other than ourselves.
We've been getting up - defensively - on each other in practice, competing
pretty hard. For a start tonight, I thought it was pretty good."
On the trip to China
Thinking about it... it's the longest trip that I've ever taken.
I'm really excited. It's going to be a great experience and the only way
it going to be a truly great experience is to go out and win, so that's
what we're focused on.
On his rebounding:
I felt good out there.
I had a lot of fun. I was just trying to play my hardest and give it everything
I had. It felt good to put on a USA jersey and win. Before the game I
put on that jersey in my hotel room and it felt real good. I just felt
real good to represent my family and my country.
Do you remember watching the 1992 Dream Team
I didnt really have tv
when I was growing up where I could watch the USA teams, but I remember
looking at photos of that team and they were special.
On the game:
We represented the best way we could tonight. We still got a long way
to go. We played hard together. It was nice to see that.
On the salute:
Ask my teammates who came up with. Ill take the credit.
On the flexibility of the team:
Thats what we have. We have a lot of guys that can come in and
create matchup problems. Thats what we bring. Guys can all get out
there and guard multiple guys
point guards all the way to centers.
On the first quarter defense:
We were trying to make the big plays
instead of keeping them
in front of us. We took too many gambles. We were able to slow things
down and the second unit did a great job and it got better.
We just have to play hard
and play smart together. I think when the game started I was little tense.
I didnt know what my first time wearing this jersey would be like
was kind of antsy, but once we got the jitters out of the way, we opened
the game up.
The 19-2 run in the first half:
I thought that was a lot of energy. I thought we were gambling a lot early
which gave them a lot of looks, but once we toned that down a little bit
and contained our man one on one, we got into a rhythm.
Everyone on our team impressed me tonight. Guys came out and performed
tonight and we are going to need that every night in order for us to win
"It was really a great game. We came out and tried to put a lot of
pressure on them. Today, they were ready for us. We were really excited
and we gambled a little too much. But the second quarter team picked it
up and the third quarter team blew it out of the water.
On training camp:
We learned that this team can be one of the best ever if everyone
just contributes their own little part. On any given night, a different
guy can be the leading scorer.
On going to China:
I'm very excited. I'm not excited about the long flight, but I'm
ready to get over there and see what it's all about.
We had a great showing tonight. We won every quarter and that's what
it's all about. We picked it up on defense, then got out in the transition
and that is when we'll be at our best. It was unbelievable tonight...
when you hear that "USA..USA..." It starts out by only a few
people chanting it but it started getting louder and louder and it sends
chills through your body. Then, you go out and pick up the pace.
First of all, like Coach said, everyone that came into the game today
played very hard from start to finish. Something we talked about, something
we practiced so every thing weve done in practice has carried over
and will continue to carry over. Im very proud of the guys and that
we all played together. It wasnt one guy trying to do too much.
Everyone wanted to see everyone get better. It was a great start.
Puerto Rico seemed to be talking to you
guys a little bit:
We didnt really need any added motivation. We werent
out to talk
even though we made some spectacular plays. It may
have looked like we were celebrating but we were just saluting the soldiers
that were there showing our respect. There is no need for us to talk.
We dont need to talk, we'll go out there and let our play do all
the talking and were not in a position where we can talk because
we have to continue to get better.
On pressure defense
Its different for us. Its not something were
used to doing in the NBA game, pressuring 94 feet. Its a challenge.
After the first quarter when we were gambling too much, I think we did
a pretty good job of containing guys and making them take tougher shots.
What did you think about the crowd:
First of all, a standing ovation from the crowd is always great.
We are out here and they helped us on the court so we wanted to show our
respect as much as possible. Like I said, my thing was to salute the soldiers
that were sitting on the sidelines and thats something well
do a lot. Because we are wearing the USA on our chests and we want to
continue to show our appreciation to all the fans who support us.
On training camp in Vegas:
Like Coach said our stay here was great. The hotel is one the best
here and we loved staying here. We are very comfortable here. Every time
you walked to the lobby people were excited about USA Basketball. They
want to know how practice is going and how guys are doing. This is great
to walk around and hear that so we understand we are representing
more than our organizations that we play for in the NBA. And we represent
more than the name on our back. We represent the name on the front of
the jersey and that means a lot to every single guy on this team.