I'm working on getting in touch with Nate to get his thoughts on the experience so far, but in the meantime, I've collected some of his quotes from the last week along with a few images from Beijing.
As Olympics open, US men stressing defense
“We’re not a big team, and we have to take advantage of our speed and our athletic ability, so we’re going to attack,” assistant coach Nate McMillan said. “With our guys, we have extended our defense. That’s a style that we feel is necessary, and we’ve tried to put a team together that’s capable of doing that.”
But the Americans may still be vulnerable against teams that excel in the pick-and-roll. In closed practices leading up to the Olympics, the U.S. has been working on different schemes to limit the damage.
If the Americans can figure out a way to stop that tricky play, they may win their first Olympic gold medal since 2000. If they don’t, it could mean another disappointing finish.
“It’s the oldest play in basketball, and it’s still the most effective play,” McMillan said. “And if you have two players that can run it, and run it well, it’s almost impossible to stop. What we feel we needed to put together is a defensive package. So there won’t be one way of covering that pick and roll. There’ll be packages as far as what we can do to defend the pick and roll.”
Getting on the defensive
Said U.S. assistant coach Nate McMillan: "We know we're small, but we're quick - we have speed. We want to try and take advantage of our speed. As opposed to having a bulky, big unit, we have a very athletic unit with players that are versatile and can play a number of different positions."
Boozer said the international officiating, which allows for more physical play, benefits the Americans.
"We can be a lot more physical," he said. "We can do things we can't do in our league - we can play physical off the ball and really check them without any consequences.
In the NBA, the contact is called. Being more physical is exciting for us."
For the last three summers, during which every U.S. player appeared at least once, the coaching staff has tried different defenses and combinations to prepare for the Olympics. The end result is likely a big problem for opponents.
"We've tried some things that we like and some things we didn't like," McMillan said.
"We can play a lot of different combinations that will force teams to make adjustments."
It's gold or bust for Kobe Bryant
"After we lost in '04, everyone has pride and took that to the heart," said Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade. "We want to show that our game is still the best. We're the founders of this game."
Krzyzewski's assistant coach Nate McMillan insisted the Americans were better prepared this time.
"They're more connected," McMillan told Reuters. "We feel that family chemistry other countries have over the last few years.
"But the bottom line is we can't talk about being the best -- we've got to show it."
China blockbuster to test US nerve
"We knew we weren't ready for the 2004 Olympics," U.S. assistant coach Nate McMillan told Reuters. "We had to make changes. In the past we've spent two to three weeks getting ready for the Games. This time we've spent three years.
"I can't even imagine what (former Olympic coaches) Chuck Daly and Larry Brown had to go through years ago. I wouldn't say we haven't taken it seriously but in the past we have been able to do that and win. But other countries are better now."