August 20, 2006 / Sapporo, Japan
General Comments about the game:
I thought our team played extremely well and we needed to because China
has improved tremendously since our game with them two weeks ago. They
have made huge strides, their conditioning, they're playing together,
of course Yao (Ming) and Wang (Zhizhi) are back, they are a very good
basketball team. I'd like to compliment them on just the improvement they
have made, they were a good basketball team tonight and a very difficult
opponent for us because we played very hard.
Do you think your defense against Yao was
We worked very hard to defend Yao, he's a terrific player. He's
just coming off a serious injury, he played with great courage. It makes
everybody else better on their team when you play with a great player.
He's unselfish and he's a good teammate, he's a very good teammate. They'll
only get better with the better conditioning he gets in and the more accustomed
they get to him. They haven't been able to practice with him, that's why
I'm so impressed with how well they play because they have not been able
to practice very long with him and they're playing so well. It was a tough
game for us.
How did you tell Dwight to guard Yao tonight?
In our match up Dwight would take any center from any team so he
looked at that as a big challenge today. We have alternated some starting
lineups but the guy who has been our best center is him. He keeps getting
better, we're lucky to have him.
Talk about your defense:
We're pleased with our defense. I think our defense matches up
with the type of personnel we have. We have really good athletes and we
have depth and we want to play an up tempo game. We are going to give
up some open looks but we want to try and play at our tempo. The defense
is what sets the tempo not the offense and I thought we did a good job
of that. They hit a lot of three, their kids are in really good condition.
I think a lot of team would have been worn out, they didn't get worn out.
They have a lot of heart and great courage.
What impressed you most in tonight's win?
We had great energy and we just played so hard. I think we just needed
to get adjusted to being here and our guys responded to all the things
we asked them to do which is what they've done the entire time we've had
them. Hopefully this is more indicative of how we'll play.
Was tonight's tempo more like what you
The tempo is exactly what we want. China stayed in by hitting a lot of
three but we hit a lot of threes too. I'm not so concerned about how many
points we keep them to as long as we have that margin. I thought we played
really hard defensively.
On comparison of the China game vs. the
game against Puerto Rico:
We wanted to play better than we did against Puerto Rico. I think we took
a huge step forward. We had to be about 3-times better than we were against
I think we played better than we did last night. Im
not saying that Puerto Rico was a bad team. For us, we played a lot better
than we did last night.
We knew that China was going to try to make a run.
On what the coaches said
to the team at the end of the game?
Good job. Way to take a step forward. But, we have to put this
game behind us now and prepare for a big game on Tuesday.
On the leadership of this
We all have to be leaders in our own way. We all have different
skills, and we can lead the team in different ways. If we do that, we
can take this team over the top. We have five guys on the court at any
one time that can all score 20 points. Thats not what its
all about, though. We want to get everybody involved and try to take it
On his start in the game tonight:
We have a team of 12 starters, so it really doesnt matter
who starts. There are a lot of good players. When you start, you just
try to get the team to start on the right foot. Thats what we did
On facing his future Houston
teammate, Yao Ming:
he played real well tonight, considering he really hasnt been playing
basketball for the past four months. Hes not in great shape, but
hell get in shape soon and Im looking forward to playing with
On the offensive foul he
drew against Yao:
I told Yao that that will be the last time I take a charge from
him. No more.
On Chinas outside game:
They are improving. Any open shots that we gave them, they made. So, its
an exciting time for Chinese basketball.
On the USA defense in the
We came out and turned up the pressure on the defense in the third.
It really worked well for us. Thats our strength. Our athleticism
and our depth. We have to play that way. If we do, it will help us win
On his outside shooting and
the general USA offensive plan:
We take the shots that the other teams give us. With so many penetrators
and slashers, like LeBron and Dwyane Wade, defenses must collapse and
that will leave some open three-pointers. So, we have to knock them down.
How this team is different from the past
few USA teams
I think USA Basketball and the NBA players are getting more serious
about it. We want to win the competition. You cant just throw a
team out there and expect to do that. Thats why this year we have
a different format, more of a national team look than what we have done
in the past.
Their guys played pretty well. We held Yao Ming in check, pretty
much. He fouled out and we attacked them.
Wang Shipeng was hitting some threes and we just cant leave
those guys open. We knew that coming into the game
Looking at other teams in the Worlds
We are still trying to gel as a team, to get better as a team.
We are going to face some really good teams. I cant really say who
the best teams are, there a quite a few of them. Obviously Spain and Argentina
are two of the powerhouses, but we respect everyone in this tournament.
Depth of the USA squad:
Yeah, we have some good depth. Guys dont have to worry about
pacing themselves, we just give it all weve got for the time were
in there and then go sit down and let somebody else come in and pick up
the energy level and do their thing.
This has definitely been an experience I wont forget. The time
weve been gone in China, then Korea and now Japan has been great.
Im just trying to soak it up because its something that doesnt
come along too often.
I think tonight China was a great match for us. We just wanted
to come out from the beginning of the game and play as hard as we could
and set the tempo from the beginning. China has a lot of good players,
the player I liked the most was Yi (Yi Jianlian), the young guy, I think
he could be the next Yao Ming. He's very talented. China gave us a fight
the whole game. It's a tough match up me against Yao, Yao's a big guy.
I had a lot of fun checking him. It was a good game.
Was it a little bit different feeling guarding
Yao from the NBA games and did you know you were going to start today?
Yes it is a little different playing Yao in international ball
then NBA ball. Yao is the main focus for the China team, playing with
him in America he has Tracy McGrady on his team so Yao kind of gets a
rest. Today, he showed his game. He shot close to threes, he posted up
well and he's a great match up. I like matching up against him. He's a
lot bigger, a lot stronger and he's way taller but I'm not afraid to play
against anybody and I just want to represent my country.
Yes Coach K told me earlier so I was very excited.
Your team played good defense tonight:
That has to be our identity, to put the pressure defense on and
see what the offense does. Were going to give up some shots because
if you are so aggressive you are going to give up some shots sometimes,
but the pressure defense is key for us. It gives us an opportunity to
get out and run.
Talk about the performance of China today:
They played well. I think they handled, at times, the pressure
pretty well. They made a lot of shots and obviously Yao was big part of
their team. He played well. Theyve got a good team. They have to
keep working at it and they will get better.
Are you able to walk around the streets
and not get recognized?
The first half was pretty impressive:
It was. I think that yesterday we were still disappointed as far as we
played against Puerto Rico. Offensively we did some good things, but not
the way we have been executing of late. Defensively we were horrible,
so we wanted to come out strong. We knew they wanted Yao to be a big factor,
so we wanted to take him out and make him take difficult shots. We basically
wanted our defense to create our offense for us.
With a guy like Yao Ming in the middle, you dont get open shots.
We need to do a better job on contesting the threes and with these
five games leading up to next week, we know we have to do a better job
of making teams beat us. Not just knocking down three-pointers.
On his view of the early part
of the game:
We just wanted to come out and be more aggressive. We didnt
get out to a great start in the last game (Puerto Rico), so we wanted
to play a lot more physical and get off to a good start.
Our energy level was down a little bit yesterday. We had
to pick it up. This is a long trip. But, this is a big one. We talked
about it before we came out today. We were going to get off to a good
How enjoyable is it to be the point guard
of this team?
It's too much fun, it's been the greatest experience ever. You're pushing
the ball up the court, you might have LeBron on one wing, Carmelo, D-Wade,
Dwight Howard down low finishing it's like a dream come true. It makes
my job so much easier in that I really can't make a bad decision.
Picking up the defensive pressure is important
because it gets you (team) out running. Does that help fuel your motivation
to do that?
That helps so much. The one thing that I really wanted to work
on this summer is picking up my defensive pressure and I think this right
here will help me translate it to the NBA.
What did you expect from China going into
We knew they were big inside with Wang and Yao, but we knew we
had more quickness and athleticism than they had and we wanted to exploit
What was going through your mind as you were
trying to go through Chinas big front line?
Were used to it, especially
guys like Chris Paul, Kirk Hinrich and myself. Were not the tallest
guys in the NBA and we understand that and know how to get our shot off.
Plus, when theyre trying to come over to block us, weve got
guys like Dwight Howard and LeBron James who can finish and get get a
tip dunk or offensive rebound.
What did you think of Wang Shipeng, number 7
Oh, he can shoot. Both he and
Du Feng can really shoot the ball. They didnt need a lot of room
and they helped keep them in the game as much as possible.
Do you think that international ball is less
physical than the NBA game?
No. I dont
think so, international ball is very physical. The NBA isnt as physical
anymore, the game has changed. I think international ball now is a little
more physical than the NBA.
How do you think you played tonight?
I think this was my best performance
so far. Im trying to get my legs under me, coming off a long season.
But Im just out there trying to what I can do with my teammates.
Tonight I just got it going early and finished it.
Our whole team came out aggressive early on and put pressure
on and made shots. And once you make shots you get into a rhythm. We played
great defense from the start and thats how you build a good lead.
What about Yao tonight?
His teammates try to play off Yao like I try to play of Shaq, but Yao
is more aggressive in international play than he is in the NBA because
he knows he has to score a lot if they are going to win.
CHINA'S YAO MING
On his opinion of Team USA:
They are the best players in the world. Europe and South America
have some more players coming out. You can see in the last 10 years, teams
like Argentina and some of the teams in Europe
so many, I cant
say. So, we need to pick it up. Not just China, but Asia. We have to pick