Jermaine O'Neal Interview
InsideHoops.com and a few other media members interviewed Indiana Pacers star Jermaine O'Neal.
Question: What's allowing you guys to win the way you are?
Jermaine O'Neal: I guess it's play defense. You really don't want to get too high right now, because, it gives you guys (the media) more ink when things start going wrong. But I think we've been playing really good defense, but we've also played some teams that wasn't very good, too. I think the true test is coming up at the end of this month when we go out West, and that really determines where we're really at. I think once this year we really got tested in our transition defense, and that was Milwaukee. And we kind of learned from it. We really drilled it in practice, and coach Carlisle got his point across about bigs tracking the guards and the guards helping the bigs. If we can do that, and work on our offense, and shoot the ball a bit better, then we can play with anybody.
Question: What was a harder loss for you, losing in the finals when you were there, or losing in the world championship a year ago?
Jermaine O'Neal: I think both. They're too different fields. World championship you're representing your country, and game seven is representing your city. I think, if I had to really choose one, the world championship was probably the most disappointing one.
Question: How much does a loss like that motivate you?
Jermaine O'Neal: Well, you live and learn. And it's proven that talent doesn't always win games. You have to play together, and believe in each other, and play hard. The team that we have going to Athens next year is going to be pretty hard to beat, because everybody checked their egos at the door...
Question: What's Rick Carlisle doing differently with you guys that wasn't done with you last year, anything specific?
Jermaine O'Neal: Defensively... he's really stressed playing defense more than anything. It's got its pros and cons. Last year, offensively, we were a lot better offensively last year than we are this year. We're a lot better defensively this year than we were last year. It's a transition period. We're still learning each other. I think coach is learning the players, and everyone' trying to learn the system. It's been tough for me because I'm used to running guys up and down the court and trying to get them tired and getting easy buckets, and now each bucket has to be contested.