By Eurohoops team / email@example.com
Gregg Popovich, head coach of Team USA spoke to USAB.com about his team’s chemistry and how do they manage to build it, even though they have so little time remaining off-practice.
Coach Popovich counts traveling experience as part of the necessary procedures for a team to learn each other.
“Well, that’s the essence of understanding player to player, especially from different countries. In Patty’s (Mills) case for instance, when we celebrate Mabu day, and everybody in the room, initially they look at each other, and they say, ‘What? What is that?’ And then they find out, and it moves you. It makes you feel closer to somebody. And as we all know in team sports, when you feel responsible to somebody, when you care about somebody, when you love somebody, when you have empathy for somebody, things go better. So, different experiences, different cultures has always been really important, and it makes for a better team”, explained Popovich.
Team USA practices hard for China’s FIBA World Cup, with little personal time remaining, that they choose to dedicate to bonding with each other.
“Well, you know, all we’ve really been able to do is go to dinner. We haven’t had that much time. Practices are pretty important, because they are so few. But, going to dinner and spending time off the court and just learning about them and their families. We don’t know their wives and girlfriends and children like we do our own teams back in the NBA. So, it’s a slow process, but we try to get a little bit more familiar every day.It’s great. We go to dinner without phones, people actually talk to each other, ask questions and learn about how each other grew up, that sort of thing. Because it is a brand new basketball team, you have to start not skipping steps and trying to learn about people, and you get as far as you can in a short period of time”.
As for having to coach a brand new team, Popovich spoke realistically. “We start at the beginning and try to figure out as quickly as we can what suits this particular group of players. Who are your go-to guys? Who understands this offense or that offense? What kind of defensive team can we be? You look at the players and figure that out as soon as you can, and then work at it. It’s kind of a quick study in a sense, because you don’t have a whole training camp and season, you just have a training camp. But the challenge is exciting, to tell you the truth. It’s a lot of fun, because you know you have to really concentrate and get things done quickly”.