It was interesting to watch Team USA’s men’s basketball team through the early stages. Yes, they have arrived at the knockout stage with an unblemished record, but they got a scare from Lithuania over the weekend are looked like they’d get another from Argentina Monday before producing a big second-half blowout.
Boeheim says the intriguing results are a byproduct of the teams around the world improving and being better than people give them credit for. The pressure is certainly on as nobody feels this USA team can lose. It will face Australia in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Jim Boeheim joined The Dan Patrick Show with Glen Ordway to discuss the interesting results thus far, if the inside game is an issue for Team USA, the expectations placed on this team, coaching professional players, seeing opposing teams ask Team USA for autographs and the potential to see Russia in the final.
The team seen big blowouts, close games and close games that have turned into blowouts. Why has it been so uneven?:
“Honestly, these teams have improved even from Beijing. … These teams are better; they really are. They’ve gotten better. They’re very well-coached as we all know. I think our team is playing well, but if you slip just a little bit, if your defense is just a little bit late, they make shots. They have guys that can all shoot and the competition here is better than people think. If you’ve been in international basketball for a few years like we have, you know that these teams are a lot better than people give them credit for.”
Is the inside game an issue against these teams?:
“It really is not, because even though we have a little bit of a disadvantage on defense, we have a tremendous advantage on offense where they have to guard LeBron or they have to guard Carmelo at the 4, and that’s very difficult for them. So even though we have some difficulty with size, they have as much or more difficulty matching up with our scorers.”
How difficult is it for this staff with everyone’s expectations being that there’s no way this team can lose?:
“There’s no question here that it’s the only result that everybody would be happy with. But it will have to be something that we earn. We earned it in Beijing; it was a tough final. I’m sure we’re going to have to earn it in the games as we go forward. It’s just the way it is. When you play sports, you realize in a game situation, anything can happen. … We’ve only lost one game in five years and Greece shot 65 percent for the game to beat us. And that was four years ago, five years ago. We’re a much better team now than we were then. We feel that when that situation comes up and it’s a tough game — as we have had this year — we feel that these guys know how to make the plays in that situation.”
How different is it for you to coach professionals as opposed to college players?:
“The good thing about it is the money and the superstar status doesn’t apply to this team. This team, nobody’s making any money here. They’re all here to play for their country. They’re all here to be part of a team, so it’s different than coaching in the NBA. It’s coaching a team that wants to win and wants to do what needs to be done to win. And you’re coaching the best players in the world. It’s fun to do that.”
How strange is it to see, at the end of some of these games, opposing players coming up to get autographs from some of those on Team USA?:
“That was just Tunisia. The other teams are here to win and they don’t want any autographs. They think they can beat us. It’s an entirely different thing. In ’92, the teams couldn’t compete. These teams all can compete. They’re really great teams, a lot of great NBA players, a lot of great international players. … That’s why we have to be very sharp and be on top of our game.”
Do you want to see Russia in the finals?:
“I don’t think so. I think that was so long ago that we’ll play whoever’s there. Russia’s very good, Spain. All these teams are very good. I don’t think it matters who you get. It’s going to be a difficult game. Our players, they weren’t born in 1972, so they’re not concerned about that. Russia’s very good, but Spain is really very talented. Our goal is to just make sure we play well.”
Listen to Jim Boeheim on The Dan Patrick Show here (Interview begins at 20:30)