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USA BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
January 23, 2014
CRAIG MILLER:¬† Good morning, everyone.¬† Thank you for joining us for today's USA Basketball teleconference.¬† I'm Craig Miller, USA Basketball Chief Communications Officer.¬† As you know, earlier this morning USA Basketball announced the 28 players who have been named to the 2014‑16 USA Men's National Team.¬† Joining us this morning to discuss the announcement and the National Team roster and to answer any questions the media might have is USA Basketball Chairman and National Team Managing Director, Jerry Colangelo, and 2014‑16 USA Head Coach, Mike Krzyzewski.
Coach "K", thanks for joining us this morning.¬† Congratulations to Coach "K" for Duke's victory in Miami last night.¬† Let's get things started.
Jerry, I know you and Coach "K" and everyone here at USA Basketball are excited about the announcement of this roster.¬† How about you get us started and discuss some of your thoughts about the roster and where you see some strengths?
JERRY COLANGELO:¬† Well, first of all, it's always exciting when we get to this point.¬† In each quad where we follow the new policy of quads ago of naming a National Team roster, and we have been funneling talent who have come up through USA Basketball, the junior teams and the select teams have tremendous continuity starting with Coach "K", who has done such an incredible job of leading this effort as our head coach.
We have an outstanding staff, another Hall of Famer in Coach Jim Boeheim of Syracuse, and of course two new additions in Monty Williams from the Pelicans in New Orleans, and Tom Thibodeau with the Chicago Bulls who round out the staff.
So you start with that infrastructure, and the roster itself is the strongest roster we've ever had.¬† The excitement I think for both Coach and me is to see how we have brought these players through our program and our infrastructure over the last eight years here, and the number of people who continue to participate speaks volumes about their commitment to representing USA Basketball.
We've had tremendous success.¬† 62‑1 since we actually took over the program, but it's getting stronger and the pipeline is getting more full all the time.
Our job is to make sure we take nothing for granted. ¬†There will be major challenges as we see it, because that's just the way it is.¬† But we are very thrilled with the roster, the experience, the champions that we have, the gold medallists that we have on this roster and some outstanding young talent.¬† We're very upbeat.
CRAIG MILLER:¬† Thanks, Jerry.¬† Coach, as Jerry said, you've been through this several times before.¬† First time was 2006 and then again for the 2010, 2012 team.¬† Talk about this group and some of the things that you see that you like?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† Well, the very first thing is I love the three Cs.¬† The continuity that so many of our veterans are giving us by coming back.¬† Although guys like Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul, some of our veterans are not going to participate.¬† That's our choice.¬† Next summer they wanted to continue to be a part of our program, and that type of continuity, having 11 of our 12 Olympians from London to continuing to forward.¬† Kobe is the only one that didn't go forward, and I saw him last night.¬† He said, I'll be there, but you probably won't want to play me.¬† I said I'd always want to play you, but I understand.
The second C is commitment.¬† The commitment that these guys have shown and the new guys.¬† Their commitment to their country's basketball program is truly amazing.¬† It filters down to every level of basketball in our country, the example that they're setting and serving in their way their country and doing it in such a classy way.
Then the last one is the camaraderie that's been developed over the nine‑year period.¬† These guys are teammates.¬† They're part of‑‑ they're USA Basketball players.¬† New guys coming in have been a part of some aspect of USA Basketball either as a youngster or in a development type of camp.¬† So we feel the program that Jerry has organized has proven to be a really good one.¬† It's developed those three things to the highest level right now.
Q.¬† Congratulations on the roster you put together.¬† I want to know, Jerry, which players have given you a verbal commitment to play in Spain this summer?
JERRY COLANGELO:¬† We're still working through that, but you can anticipate that on the early announcement, Kevin Durant and Kevin Love last summer announced that they would participate.¬† One of our new players this year, LaMarcus Aldridge, this is his first time with the senior team, is definitely committed.¬† We think we're going to have a very strong roster.
But what's important to note is that history would show that we had a roster in Beijing of our 12 players, and then in the World Championships in Istanbul we had 12 different players.¬† Of those 12, many of them went on to have outstanding (No microphone).¬† Derrick Rose who was MVP, and Durant and Westbrook and Curry and Chandler, et cetera.
So we think that we'll always have a turnover for each competition, and it could be six carryovers and six newcomers.¬† By doing that, people have the opportunity to see that they will get a shot at the Olympics where, in many of their cases, that's what they'd shoot for.
So I think you're going to see at the least six Olympians, but that remains to be determined.¬† One of the variables are injuries.¬† You have Westbrook who has been injured this year.¬† Certainly Derrick Rose we're not sure about, and that is a big variable.¬† That will change considerably if we had any additional injuries before we go to camp next summer.¬† Therefore we have a fluid roster.
There are some players who didn't make this roster who are right there on the cusp.¬† So we continue to watch players perform and prepare ourselves just in case.
Q.¬† Just to clarify one other point, you said Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul do want to go back into the pool for the Rio Olympics?¬† Is that correct, and is there anybody else that wants to go back into the pool for the Rio Olympics?
JERRY COLANGELO:¬† We're talking about the fact that Carmelo, Lebron, Chris Paul will not play, and that's our choice.¬† We really do want to give some of the younger players an opportunity in Spain this summer.¬† But they want to remain there and stay in the mix being on our roster in Rio.
Q.¬† What about Dwyane Wade?
JERRY COLANGELO:¬† No, he would not be.
Q.¬† Did he give you a reason why?
JERRY COLANGELO:¬† Well, I think it's just that he was not part of our mix this pastime in London, and his own physical situation, he's concentrating on his NBA career like he should.¬† So I just think that we appreciate the service he gave us.¬† He did a tremendous job for us when he did participate.¬† But it's time for us to move on.
Q.¬† You mentioned several players that had recent injuries, Westbrook and Derrick Rose among them.¬† While I think it's great that you have so many former members of the team wanting to return and it shows a lot of spirit on their part, there are others that you didn't mention that have also suffered a great deal of wear and tear thinking of Deron Williams, Tyson Chandler who are all significant contributors to your former team.¬† Is it realistic to expect them to make the final cut or to contribute significantly in this next cycle?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† Well, I would think Tyson and Deron there is a chance that they would not play in the World Cup.¬† But you want to see how those injuries play out.¬† A year from now they might have the 2014‑2015 season and go injury‑free and be back to the top level that they've been at.¬† That's part of having a pool of this many players to take into account injury, recovery from injury, contracts, and personal issues that could occur for players.
Certainly Tyson and Deron have built up great equity in our program and have been two amazing contributors to a couple gold medals,¬† Tyson in the World Championships and in London, and Deron in both Beijing and London.¬† So we just want to make sure that they're part of the roster and see how they recover from their injury.
Q.¬† Would you expect advancements on the part of LaMarcus Aldridge or DeMarcus Cousins to fill up the post?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† Well, we're excited about the post because we have more guys there than we've had before.¬† In Aldridge, you have a young player.¬† In Drummond, you have Cousins who's having a heck of a year, Tyson Chandler.¬† For Dwight Howard to be back with the group, you know, he was such an integral part of the Beijing Olympics, really one of the emerging stars in Anthony Davis.¬† So those are more big guys than we've had before.
In London, at the end of the gold medal game, my four and five were Carmelo Anthony and Lebron James, and that's not bad.¬† That's not bad.
But, hopefully, all these guys are healthy and don't have any contract or personal issues.¬† But the fact is that would be utopia, but we have a few more options now.
Q.¬† You had two Pistons who were competing, Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond.¬† Just talk about Andre and what he brings to your big‑man rotation now, and basically Greg not being athletic enough or just didn't fit what you were trying to do?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† No, well, we love Greg.¬† Like Jerry said, there are a number of players on the cusp that could be added to the pool.¬† Remember the pool is fluid, and nothing is concrete because life is fluid, especially life in the NBA.¬† But Monroe played really well in our development in the camp we had last summer.¬† He fits more of a four, and in that position we have Durant and Love and guys like that who are outstanding players, and we feel will be in both 2014 and 2016.
Drummond is still a very young kid.¬† He's 20 years old.¬† I mean, he just turned 20 in September and has had a really good year thus far.¬† We look at him as keeping him in the pool.¬† By being in these type of experiences, whether it be at the camp or making the team, he's going to develop more and more.¬† But there is a big upside for Andre.
Q.¬† You talked in your opening remarks about the coaching staff and how this coaching staff came together.¬† But a lot of talk this year in college basketball has been Hughes going to the ACC and how Coach Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim's teams are going against each other.¬† What's it been like for those two guys to be leading team USA Basketball on the same bench and what have you seen from them as a coaching pair together?
JERRY COLANGELO:¬† Well, start with the fact that they've been friends for a long, long time.¬† They're two Hall of Fame coaches, two of the most successful coaches in the history of the game,¬† the fact that they have great respect for one another.¬† They've taken different paths in terms of their own personal journeys as coaches in terms of style and philosophy.
When we put this whole thing together back in '05, Coach "K" immediately said, Jerry, the guy I want alongside me is Coach Boeheim.¬† I had no problem with that because I had a vested interest in Jimmy since I was the guy who cut him when he tried out for the Bulls many years ago and set him off on his new career that turned out to be pretty good for him, coaching at Syracuse.
We have a great time together collectively as staff.¬† Both Coach "K" and Jim Boeheim play off each other in so many ways, be it on the court, on the floor.¬† He's another set of eyes for Coach "K".¬† He has great respect for his basketball acumen, and vice versa, so it's been a great marriage.
So it's going to be exciting to see them compete against one another in the ACC.
Q.¬† Mike, if you want to elaborate.¬† I know he asked you to go to the 2‑3 zone one time.¬† If you want to elaborate on your experiences coaching with Jim Boeheim?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† Well, Jim and I complement each other really well.¬† When Jerry's responsibility is to have a staff where you cover all facets of the game, and you have people who complement one another.¬† I knew when I was given the opportunity to coach that the guy that I had the most respect for in the game and someone who I thought was brilliant and different than me, but a lot of the same things as me, that we would complement each other well.
The other thing about Jim, Jim has been a great team player, whether it be with the College Coaches Association, he's always given back.¬† He's been a huge part of USA Basketball.¬† Over the years he's chaired our Young Selection Committee for over a decade.¬† He's a guy who is served well behind the scenes and has really a great understanding of the game.
Our families love one another.¬† We're a good team.¬† That's the way I look at it.¬† I don't look at it as being a head coach.¬† I feel like I'm co‑coaches with all these guys.¬† That was D'Antoni and McMillan before, and now Tom, Jim, and Monty, we'll form a good coaching team.
Q.¬† You mentioned Anthony David as an emerging player in this league.¬† Would you talk about him as a member of what you saw on the gold medal team and his development since when he was at the USA practices last summer, and what you've seen so far this season in Anthony?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† Well, I do watch the guys when I have an opportunity.¬† Since Monty coaches them, that helps even more.¬† Anthony's trajectory as far as improvement keeps going higher and higher and higher.¬† The very first thing is he's not your normal big guy because he's very, very fluid.¬† He can play‑‑ he can guard probably every position.
But the thing I love the most about him is his athleticism and his ability to block shots and finish.¬† For this group, he can be a great rim protector for us and an amazing ball screen defense big guy because of his mobility.¬† He can step in and, if necessary, even switch and guard a number of players.
The offensive game continues to improve, but the fact of we're going to run and he can finish, and he can really run the court well.¬† He's just a terrific young man.¬† I mean, he also is only 20 years old.¬† He'll be 21 in March.¬† He's a star and he's going to be a great, great player.
Q.¬† Was Jrue Holiday given ‑‑‑ did he receive much consideration for inclusion in this pool?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† Yeah, all of those guys that have been at our camps are given full consideration, and then you have to come up with a number.¬† But Jrue has handled himself very well.¬† If you take a look at the point guard position, it's pretty deep.¬† Depending on the injuries and that with players, we'll continue to look at that later in the spring and early summer.
Q.¬† Seeing Monty Williams up close and personal and working with him last summer, what are your impressions of him from the practices and what does he bring to the USA staff?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† Well, Monty's a terrific coach.¬† Jerry can talk a little bit about why he selected him.¬† But I'm really happy with that selection.
JERRY COLANGELO:¬† One of the things that really impressed me after we made a decision to offer him that opportunity was that in every meeting that we had, Monty had his pad out and was taking notes on everything that was being said.¬† He was like a sponge in terms of learning his trade and improving everything that he might be able to do going forward.
He's a young coach with a great upside.¬† He has a great work ethic, and I think he just brings another perspective and kind of a youthful perspective to our staff in terms of age and the fact that he played.¬† He possibly relates to players on a different level.¬† So he really does bring much to our staff.¬† As Coach said, he was very pleased with last summer, and I think it's going to be a fine addition.
But as you said earlier, we got great support and effort from Mike D'Antoni and Nate McMillan who were part of our staff previously, and there are so many outstanding coaches who can make contributions.¬† But for now the people we have we're very pleased with.¬† Monty is going to be in the league for a long time.
Q.¬† Coach, two questions regarding Kyrie Irving.¬† I wonder if you're surprised at his meteoric rise in three years?¬† And how do you think Luol Deng will help with his development going forward?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† I'm not surprised with anything Kyrie is doing.¬† I knew in high school when I saw him that he had not just special athletic talents, but he has special mental and people talent.¬† He's got the whole package.¬† He's grounded, and nothing that he does will surprise me.
I think having Luol there gives him a veteran who is the ultimate warrior.¬† Luol is one of the more talented players in the NBA, and the very few times that he might be playing somebody that has a little bit more talent, he will never be out‑competed.¬† Any NBA coach will tell you that they look for talent and somebody who will not be outcompeted at his position every night, and to have that around Kyrie right now as he develops‑‑ I mean, he would only be a senior in college right now, I think is very opportunistic for him.
Q.¬† Lebron's already played in three Olympics.¬† I think people are wondering if he would return for a fourth.¬† Was there any‑‑ what was that discussion like and did you guys have to talk him into it at all?
JERRY COLANGELO:¬† Well, Lebron has an incredible opportunity to do it a fourth time.¬† The mere fact that his name is on the roster indicates his desire and interest in continuing to have that opportunity in front of him.¬† He was a young guy when he participated in Athens in 2004, and that seems like a long time ago.¬† But the fact that there wasn't much success in Athens with that team was.¬† I believe he was 19.¬† And then the success that followed both with USA Basketball and then the NBA, he has developed into one of the great players of all time, conceivably.¬† For him to do it a fourth time would be just another star or asterisk next to his name and his career.¬† It appears that's exactly what he wants to try.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† I'll add that I talked to him.¬† He was at our game last night and talked to him afterwards, and he's really excited.¬† The one thing about Lebron‑‑ there are so many things about Lebron that you Love, and I love the fact that he loves the game so much.¬† He loves the history of the game.¬† He loves every aspect of the game.¬† He's really put his face on USA Basketball for this last decade and how he's handled things has really helped in the development of younger players and how they approach the game.
His love and commitment and he shows up every day, and obviously really pleased that he wants to continue to be a part of this.
Q.¬† I was curious how you think Seth Curry's game will blend into the international game?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† Oh, pretty good, yeah.¬† He's terrific.¬† He's a young guy on our World Championship team in Istanbul.¬† He's one of the great players in the league.¬† One of the unique players in the fact that he can play both guard positions because he's such a terrific scorer.¬† But he's an easy guy to play with.¬† Guys love him.¬† He's definitely not afraid.¬† He's having a sensational year, so I'm excited about the opportunity to Coach a Curry again.
I had his brother, and if I was smart, I might have had Stephen a long time ago.¬† But I'm hopefully getting that opportunity now.
Q.¬† Paul George obviously is having a tremendous year and has certainly shot up all the charts and everybody knows how well he's playing.¬† Will he be at this time, in your opinion, will he be close to being a lock for this summer at the World Cup along with the three guys you mentioned?¬† I know he's indicated he would like to play.¬† Just talk about that and talk about how his continued development overall?
JERRY COLANGELO:¬† We don't talk about locks because it's unfair to all of the great players that we have on our roster.¬† But suffice to say we kind of fell in love with Paul George when we brought him into one of our camps years back.¬† Could not be more excited to have watched his development to what he has now become, one of the outstanding players.¬† His versatility and his ability to play different positions makes him a very valuable asset on any team.
So if you're taking odds, it's probably a good bet.¬† But, again, no one has a lock.¬† All of our people understand they earn it.¬† So we're looking forward to having him represent us.
CRAIG MILLER:¬† Thank you, Jerry, and thank you, Coach, for joining us.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports