Opening Drive Interview with Oliver Purnell

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Will Merritt, Trey Reeves and Howard Hudson talk to Coach Oliver Purnell in Athens about the USA Basketball team.

"The Opening Drive" Morning Show with Will Merritt, Trey Reeves and Howard Hudson is a morning sports show that airs from 6:00 AM to 9:00 AM each morning on WCCP (104.9 FM) in Clemson.

Listen to the full Purnell interview Here: Windows Media | Real

Selected Quotes

How are things in Athens?

Pretty good. We just finished our practice this morning which we need an awful lot of it. We are still trying to come together as a team but obviously we played much better yesterday in much longer stretches of the game. We still got a long ways to go but that was a big win for us, playing Greece here in Greece with a big time partisan European crowd and to come out of there with a win was real important for us. We are trying to get to the medal round and keep our hopes alive for that gold medal.

Does it feel like 5 on 8 with refs being against you sometimes?

Actually it was just two so they can split up those responsibilities a lot better. You know that is one thing that we have got to adjust to and it’s hard for our young guys to understand that we are not going to get any breaks. That is just the part of the way it is in international basketball. Unfortunately that is just the part of the way it is in the world. That kind of political overtones, if you will, certainly seep into this but we got to overcome that in order to accomplish what we came here for.

The loss to Puerto Rico was the talk of the nation. Talk about what happened after that game.

Well there is no question there was a difference in the two games. I think one of the things that, once again, we are struggling with is bringing this group together as a team. Part of that is due to our lack of experience with international play and that’s a big deal. I think one of the things we are really struggling with is the fact this means so much to the other players in the tournament. This is the pinnacle of as far as they are concerned. A number of young players think the NBA is the deal and I think they are finding out you are signing up for awful tough duty here and we talked about that after the game. We talked about the fact we didn’t play hard enough. We talked about the fact we got to play better as a team, share the ball and all those things you talk about. I think it probably hit home a little better after that tough loss. We lost to a team who clearly beat us, clearly were the better team. Part of it was what Puerto Rico did in preparation but part of it was how we approached the game and how we played the game.

How much has the rest of the world improved in basketball?

Well there are some great basketball teams, the opportune word is team. There are some great basketball teams over here. They obviously have gotten better and better over the years and one of the things that people forget is we beat Lithuania by 2 in the semifinals the last time around. Obviously don’t forget the world championships two years so these teams have gotten lot better. There is no question about it. They play the international game the way it is supposed to be played with tremendous ball movement and sharing the ball and there are some big strong players here. And most of the teams have NBA players now. So you couple the fact they have tremendous experience playing together with playing with international rules for many years and they have gotten a lot better. We have a youthful team there. There is no question about it. All of those things showed up in that first round, very important game the other day versus Puerto Rico. We are not more talented than these teams over there right now so it’s got to mean something to us. We’ve got to approach these games with passion - the same kind of passion they do and the same kind of energy or we are not going to have a chance to win.

Listen to the full Purnell interview Here: Windows Media | Real

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