Las Vegas, NV – Tryouts for Team USA have now ended and will be wrapping up in Vegas. Coaches will determine what five players will not accompany the team to New York. But before that happens players will have one last chance to display their talents when the roster will be divided into two teams (blue and white) Saturday night for a scrimmage game.
“We went from going to tryouts to scrimmages,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Playing against the international league leaves no room for mistakes, guys will have to play hard and smart.”
Everyone wants to make the team and travel overseas to play in the World games. Yet, the road ahead will be tough as many of these players have no experience competing at the international level. The international players are very aggressive and teams in the NBA aren’t used to that physical side of basketball.
The scrimmages during the week was an opportunity for coaches to see who plays best together from rotating teams. The week has been challenging for many especially given the amount of time these guys have on the court.
“It’s not about lineups but more a style of play,” coach Krzyzewski said. “Our team has to be ready to play three or four minutes in a game and that’s not easy to do for many.”
The Select Team (college players) played Team USA at the end of each practice. This also allowed coaches to determine who needs more work. The player selection will not be based on prior achievements in the NBA but how well they play with each other.
“This week has been about guys measuring where they stand,” assistant coach Nate McMillan said. “International basketball is a different game and most of these guys have never experienced it.” “It’s going to be a huge wake up call and we’re trying to prepare them for it.”
Many players understand the challenges of being selected, they also realize what it will take to make the team. Self evaluation is most important in becoming better. Everyday criticism is given in preparing players for what’s to come and not what they already know.
“I think my defense was a little sloppy with the “pick n roll” and rebounding,” Derrick Rose said. “My expectation is to play hard everyday, it’s an honor just to be here and hopefully this is something I can get used too.”
As Team USA wraps up they’ll have a couple of weeks off before heading to New York. Players are pretty confident in their performances and hope to continue East before the final roster is determined. For the veterans on the team it’s an advantage to help the younger guys work harder.
“It was a good week,” said Chauncey Billups. “It was productive and the young guys finally got an understanding of the intensity of how to play.” “I’m impressed with everyone’s effort, we made some strides and will be ready to continue to get better in New York.”
Written by: Malaika Bobino