Saturday, September 4, 2010
No starting lineup change for Team USA vs. Angola
By Chris Sheridan
ISTANBUL, Turkey -- Coach Mike Krzyzewski has decided not to make any changes to his starting lineup for Team USA's round of 16 game against Angola on Monday.
That was about the only piece of news to come out of the Americans' practice today as they focused on two points of emphasis: communicating more on defense, and moving the ball more on offense.
"The last two ballgames you knew you were going to win, and you want to fast-forward into the medal round. And then what happens is you stop talking to one another out on the court, and you're not as animated. And it's still a game of being connected, and you're connected primarily when you're talking to one another," Krzyzewski said. "They'd done that until the last couple games, so it was a matter of just kind of getting them to do it again."
The practice was the Americans' first since Aug. 27, coming after they were given a day off Friday to see the sights of Istanbul, which for Stephen Curry included a round of golf at a course a half-hour outside of the city, where he eagled the first hole -- a 490-meter par-5.
"Driver, 6-iron, and a four-foot putt. With rental clubs," said Curry, who plays to a 5 handicap and whose personal best is a 66. His score Friday was 78.
Kevin Durant's day off included a stop at Popeyes Chicken, and for Andre Iguodala it included a stop at McDonald's, where he sampled the MegaMac -- a Big Mac with four patties instead of two. (Iguodala was so enamored of the burger, he inspired me to go out and try one for myself this afternoon. The verdict: Brilliant. We Americans are being cheated back in the United States by not having this item on the menu.)
Rudy Gay, who strained a right groin muscle against Tunisia on Thursday, was able to make it through the entire practice Saturday, and Krzyzewski planned to put Team USA through a less strenuous training session Sunday, the day before they will play Angola in the round of 16, which I previewed in this column yesterday. Assuming they win, the Americans will have two more off days before playing in the quarterfinals against the winner of the Russia-New Zealand game.
"One thing I've been in more than these guys is one-and-done games. And I've learned in 30 years being at Duke, you never look past an opponent. And don't anticipate who you're gonna play. Play who you're playing," Krzyzewski said. "Just concentrate on what you're doing and whoever is the next opponent, give them respect, prepare, stay healthy, be enthusiastic and play your butt off. And that's the way we're going to try to do it.
"The fact is we won our pool, we’re healthy, we’ve got great playing time for our guys, our bench had a great quarter and a half in the last game, and there are a lot of positives," Krzyzewski said. "So we look at everything, and we tell them everyone is 0-0. There will be two teams eliminated tonight, and when you think of those four teams -- Serbia, Croatia, Greece and Spain -- and two of them will be out. Whoever they are, those are two really good teams. So the tournament starts in real earnest today."