NEW YORK — It was never much of a game. Team USA trounced the Dominican Republic from the opening tip in a 105-62 win at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.
It was evident from the start that head coach Mike Krzyzewski had dialed up the defensive pressure, and even brought out a full-court press on a handful of possessions.
“We just continue to play really good defense. Outstanding effort,” Coach K said during his post-game press conference. “[Dominican Republic] play more like an American pro team, dribble penetration, dribble hand offs, exchanges, so there’s a little bit more talking. I think our defense has been really good.”
Team USA’s defensive intensity forced the Dominican Republic into a ton of turnovers, and took them out of any offensive rhythm. Very rarely was the Dominican Republic able to run a set, and more often than not they ended up throwing up a prayer with the shot clock expiring.
DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay led the United States’ offensive attack with 13 points apiece, but it was a balanced effort all around. Five players reached double-digit points for the Americans, and all 12 players who entered the game scored at least one bucket.
When the game got out of hand, Coach K let his second unit play out the majority of the second half. Damian Lillard rebounded from a shaky first quarter and played some really good basketball down the stretch, but it was Andre Drummond who stole the show. The 21-year-old center scored 10 points, grabbed 4 rebounds, and emphatically rejected a shot in the third quarter, and kept it going into the fourth quarter.
Coach K said he wanted to give Drummond some minutes after the Detroit Pistons center didn’t play against Brazil, and Drummond took advantage of it.
“[Drummond] is a young guy and it showed right on the last play when he tried to get a steal. As long as he’s on the court, he’s trying to do what we want him to do,” said Coach K.
Krzyzewski also said Mason Plumlee didn’t play because he wanted to give Drummond extensive minutes.
Derrick Rose warmed up before the game, but was a DNP coach’s decision.
“We wanted to look and get more minutes to other guys. You can’t get 16 guys in,” Coach K said. “I know what Derrick Rose can do.”
Coach K went on to say that Rose will play on Friday.
It may have only been a blow-out exhibition game, but the players on USA Basketball’s roster never lost focus.
“We just got to go out there and be professionals,” DeRozan said after the game. “Can’t worry about the score, can’t worry about if the competition isn’t up to par. You know, we still got to go out there and play.”
During his post-game press conference, Coach K also said there won’t be any cuts until after Friday’s game against Puerto Rico, which is the team’s final tune-up before the FIBA World Cup officially kicks off on August 30.
(Video via USA Basketball)
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