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Notes from Team USA Camp in Las Vegas: Nobody is a fan of the FIBA balls

Jul 30, 2014, 2:59 PM EDT

Kevin Durant, Chandler Parsons AP

LAS VEGAS — After a couple days of Team USA training camp I had a few things in my notebook, things that didn’t fit in stories, so I’ve slid them in here.

• For the practices Team USA is using the FIBA-issue balls and nobody is a fan. From Kevin Durant on down guys shake their heads when you ask about the balls and getting used to them, it’s the most animated a few guys got. These balls are much more slick and slippery than your standard NBA ball. It led to a few issues on the first day of practice and has been an adjustment for the shooters and ball handlers.

“They’re brand new and really slippery, and a lot of guys sweat a lot so a lot of sweat gets on the ball, it makes it hard to handle and shoot,” Anthony Davis said. “Once they get broken in they’ll be fine.”

For the record, pretty much everyone finished their comments with “that’s just part of the game.” But don’t confuse that with liking these balls.

• The other adjustment is the more physical style of play — referees let a lot more contact go in international ball. A few guys have driven the lane trying to draw calls that did not come. There has been a lot of staring at the refs… so like a regular NBA game.

• I mentioned this before but it is worth repeating: For two straight days now Mike Krzyzewski has ended practice with a lineup of Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry, Paul George, Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis on the floor, and that is likely the USA’s starting five.

• With all the talent in the room guys are bringing the effort. “You can sense it,” Damian Lillard said. “Guys that don’t have a reputation for playing hard defense are picking up full court. You’ll see guys doing stuff that basically shows you they will sell themselves out for the greater good of the team.”

Derrick Rose says he expects some down days on his road back: “I think physically, just seeing if I can hold up (with high level practices every day), just seeing if I can hold up. I know I can but just seeing how my body feels.” He added that Bulls officials are calling and texting him daily to keep tabs and see how he’s feeling (plus Tom Thibodeau is one of the Team USA assistant coaches).

• Kevin Durant on Rose: “It’s is confidence man. That’s what it’s about in this league. You experience things and you go through and you gain confidence.”

• Former Bull Kyle Korver talking about new Bull Doug McDermott: “All the expectations on him and he handled it with such class. A lot of the learning curve when you come into the NBA is learning emotionally how to deal with everything going on. He has to learn how to deal with Thibs (coach Tom Thibodeau) every day, that’s a lot.”

• Durant on if he was disappointed Blake Griffin and Kevin Love dropped out of Team USA this summer: “No. As a player you know exactly what those guys are going through. We understand. As players we understand.” I’ll add that a number of players were asked that question and responded with some variant of “we just have to go with the guys in the room.”

Gordon Hayward on the upcoming season in Utah where they have a lot of young talent: “We’re going to learn a lot. We’re going to take our lumps but I think it will be a good, exciting year. Hopefully we can get better from last year.”

• Coach Mike Krzyzewski on whether he knew when he was recruiting Kyrie Irving to Duke if he could turn out to be this kind of special player: “Oh definitely. I kew that in high school. That’s one of the thinks I did know — there were things I didn’t know, but I knew he was destined to be a great player because he has not only ability but he has character and great intelligence.”

DeMar DeRozan took an elbow from Klay Thompson that ended with DeRozan on the floor with a bloody nose. DeRozan was up on Thompson pressuring him out high, Thompson tried to swing his arms through holding the ball to create space and caught him clean with the elbow. There was blood on the floor, but DeRozan was fine.

  1. 4thquartermagic - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:03 PM

    “Guys that don’t have a reputation for playing hard defense are picking up full court.” —Damian Lillard

    “Phew. Glad I took the summer off. That’s the same reason I didn’t join Chicago.
    Well, that, and the money. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to tweet about how I care bout winning.”

    -Carmelo

  2. azarkhan - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    “The other adjustment is the more physical style of play — referees let a lot more contact go in international ball.”

    We need that (back) in the NBA.

    • spursareold - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:50 PM

      Nah. Some of the most boring basketball in NBA history was during the Bad Boys Pistons to the Riley Knicks era. It was unwatchable.

      • mazblast - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:53 PM

        What’s with this “Riley Knicks era”? Did that team win even one title? IIRC other teams were winning titles while Patty was combing his hair and Ewing, Starks, et al spent their time talking.

      • imakcds - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:17 PM

        yeh, you wouldn’t want to watch if you were on the court with me and the people I Iearned the game with either.
        You probably wouldn’t be able to.

      • casualcommenter - Jul 31, 2014 at 1:37 PM

        @Mazblast Spursareold wasn’t implying that those Knicks were the dominant team of the 1990s that defined that era.

        He meant it more in the sense of the “Riley-era Knicks,” as in the Knicks played a very physical brand of defense when Pat Riley was the coach.

  3. bball242322 - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:36 PM

    That starting lineup is crazy good. We should walk through this World Cup fairly easily

  4. bronx77 - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    Rose should be starting

    • smoothaswilkes - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:16 PM

      Are you there watching the practices? Do you know his fitness level based on basically not playing competitively for two seasons? Or are you just a Rose homer? It’s not a popularity contest, like the All-Star game.

  5. flyrocket31 - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:04 PM

    Guys who aren’t known for defense are picking up full court. James Harden? nawwww

  6. bevan18 - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:07 PM

    “Guys that don’t have a reputation for playing hard defense are picking up full court.” —Damian Lillard

    does that include you, Damian?

  7. bronx77 - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:30 PM

    No I’m not their but are you? I’m a nuggets fan. Not a rose homer.. Rose should be the starter if he’s healthy. Now if he isn’t healthy he shouldn’t be on the team. His defense puts him way ahead of Kyrie who was the starting pg for the all star game…. The popularity contest. Come on.. Don’t come at me like that.

    • cbking05 - Jul 30, 2014 at 5:03 PM

      Are you there watching the practices? Do you know his fitness level based on basically not playing competitively for two seasons? Or are you just a Rose homer? It’s not a popularity contest, like the All-Star game.

  8. scrot7 - Jul 30, 2014 at 5:29 PM

    For a Duke guy, Krzyzewski sure is grammatically challenged.

  9. kavika6 - Jul 31, 2014 at 12:43 AM

    Why is Klay Thompson even there? Aren’t these supposed to be the best players in the country?

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