Coach K Locks In On The Performance

LONDON – One set of eyes might gaze at the Olympic game schedule for Tuesday and see a hopeless underdog facing the age-old behemoth of international basketball and declare the matchup between Tunisia and the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team over before it starts.

U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski looks at the same schedule and sees no such thing. He has too much respect for the other competitors in the Summer Games and for the game to treat either one with that sort of disrespect.

Krzyzewski sees only opportunity in Tuesday’s night’s game against the African champions, another chance for his team to perform on a stage that demands their very best.

Clearly, Tunisia is not nearly as accomplished as many of the other teams here. But that doesn’t diminish the focus or preparation the U.S. Team uses to get ready for this game.

“It’s not awkward at all,” Krzyzewski said. “You have a performance to give, are you doing it on a Wednesday matinée or a Saturday night? It’s not who you are playing. You should never judge how you’re going to perform on who you’re potentially going to play against. You are a person performing, your team is performing. How do you do it? You never want to get in the habit of just getting by, because eventually, you don’t get by. So our goal is to make sure play hard, have good habits and we’re as sharp as we can be.”

After watching the film from Sunday’s win over France, Krzyzewski and his staff noticed plenty of these issues that needed correcting.

“We were playing another really good team. Tony Parker is one of the best players in the world. So I would have liked to defend him better at times,” Krzyzewski said. “Transition defense, we didn’t point and talk and pick our men up quick enough, and those were the only real open 3-pointers we gave up. But overall we did a good job.”

But they were far from flawless, and nowhere near where Krzyzewski knows they need to be to win gold. That’s why he had no problem with French swingman Nicolas Batum declaring that one of the teams in the Olympic field could beat the U.S. before this is all over.

“We showed at times during [against France] where they were better than we were. They just weren’t better than we were  the entire game. So that’s fine,” Krzyzewski said. “We also feel we can beat anybody. What other people think, really, is not of too much significance. It’s about what we think and how we prepare.”

There’s no need to remind his players. That mantra has been ingrained in them throughout the years in USA Basketball and under Krzyzewski. Snicker at Tunisia all you want. Just know that Krzyzewski’s players will have no part of it, not even in passing or behind closed doors.

“Nobody comes to the Olympics thinking they can’t win,” Carmelo Anthony said. “They were good enough to get here, so that means they are good enough to beat anybody else playing here. That’s just the way you have to approach it. Only a fool shows up here thinking they’ve got it all figured out.”

The U.S. took its time against France, easing its way into a game that most expected to be much more hard-fought than it turned out to be. They also had to overcome some officiating that they felt was, to put it diplomatically, uneven.

“The game is called the same. But it’s administered differently,” Krzyzewski said while praising his team for maintain it’s composure in the midst of that first game fuss. “Again, it’s beautiful in each setting. It’s like the clay, the grass and the hard court. You have to be adaptable to it, because the surface isn’t going to change.”

And neither is the focus for the U.S. They will continue to grind, be it Tunisia or whoever they might face.

“We need to get better,” LeBron James said. “We know we don’t have time to waste an opportunity to get better. This is a long, but short tournament. We’ve got to take every practice, every film session, every game and try to improve. We’re not going to let our guard down no matter who we’re playing against. We can’t waste a minute going backwards. We have high goals.”

14 Comments

  1. chuck says:

    i know nothing about tunisia. but tunisia is in trouble.

  2. ray says:

    can someone else on nba.com make a london blog please? me and my friends don’t like sekou smith nor his writing (he doesn’t know a great deal of basketball and his stories aren’t interesting) greets from belgium

  3. mr-plow says:

    my prediction is usa 102-71

  4. lbj says:

    Is Tunisia a country?

  5. Zach Gillette says:

    Yeah, this is complete media publicity BS. I’m sure that locker room REALLY respects Tunisia. Just like it respects the Bobcats.

  6. John says:

    “Krzyzewski sees only opportunity in Tuesday’s night’s game against the African champions, another chance for his team to perform on a stage that demands their very best.”

    Are they talking about the U.S LLOLOLOLOL HAHAHAHAHA

  7. Willy says:

    Is Coach K a legend or What? I cannot wait to hear the praise from the players when this is all said and done. Coach K may be the best coach they have ever had and in a different way I am sure. Legend Coach K he is so humble it makes me cry, I would love to here some of the sessions, if you can’t play for that guy who can you play for, very inspiring man! Ok I am done crying now.

  8. slider821 says:

    I love watching the same commercial for every video on NBA.com…

  9. R.R.R:

    -Respect
    -Revolution
    -Reality

    G.G.G:

    -Greatness
    -Georgous
    -Gold Medal.

  10. They know about basketball but even more they know about life. Life is basketball guys. You are my friends.

    • lbj says:

      LeBron James will emerge as the Olympic mvp for the first time in history

    • dennis wrongman says:

      Is it possible to make an exhibition game. USA against the world in basketball. How about this, do you think dream team can still win against the greatest player around the world

      • s27m says:

        @dennis wrongman – That is a fantastic idea!!!!! That should be a 7 game series once every 5 years.
        That would be absolutely phenominal to watch and the USA would have their hands full for sure.

        FIBA needs to seriously think about doing that!