DMC: ‘I Came Here to Work’

After Day 1 of USA training, get the inside scoop on Cousins’ strong initial practice in Las Vegas.

By: Steven Wilson

by Steven Wilson
Writer, Digital

DeMarcus Cousins knows there’s no time to waste.

“I think I’m a lot more prepared this season,” stated the fifth-year pro, who displayed an unrelenting motor throughout the first day of U.S. Men’s National Team mini-camp, “and like I said, I came here to work.”

His impact on the team was readily apparent.

Whether it was diving on the ground for a loose ball, hustling from one end of the court to the other, defending smaller and shiftier guards or boxing out for rebounds, Cousins’ performance was impressive.

“We’re getting after it every day here,” said No. 36. “We have to learn the system and prepare fast.”

So fast that the team ended Monday’s practice with a 20-minute scrimmage.

“Once you get out here and the pace picks up and you have to defend on this end, it’s tough,” said the 6-foot-11 center. “It will get better as the week goes on.”

By the time the session concluded, Cousins’ white USA mesh jersey was drenched with sweat. But it didn’t stop him from an extra session of jumpshots followed by a friendly three-point competition.

The Kentucky product made his way to the southwest corner of the gym where he met up with teammates Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson, Gordon Hayward and Stephen Curry to see who had the most accurate stroke.

Although he finished third – behind Thompson and Curry – Cousins was pleased with his output.

“I’m not going to take it as a negative thing,” he said after a hearty laugh. “I’m just going to take it as I’m the third-best shooter in the gym.”

Though his long-range marksmanship is sure to leave an impression on his backcourt teammates, Cousins’ talent has earned him the respect of those in the frontcourt, too.

“I love that guy,” said Davis – New Orleans’ lone representative on the U.S. team. “He’s one of the guys I watched a lot and tried to learn a lot from.”

Throughout the week’s first session, Boogie and The Brow crashed and collided, both giving it their all. But the level of physicality didn’t stop the two former Wildcats from having a little fun in the meantime.

“Anthony’s always playing around,” joked Cousins. “It’s always fun, it’s always competitive, and I know we’re going to bring the best out of each other.”

Despite having only three centers listed on the current roster, Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski appreciates the camaraderie and competitive spirit.

“I think all these players know they’re going to get better because they’re not going to get this level of competition just working out [on their own],” said Krzyzewski.

“I’m impressed with all the guys. They want to be a part of it and there are some guys that don’t. [Cousins has] come multiple times, so that level of commitment is something to be desired and it needs to be talked about.”

With four seasons of NBA experience, including three stints of USA training, Sacramento’s young star is ready to shine on the brightest stage.

“A lot of [coaches] come in and say, ‘Leave your egos at the door,’” said Cousins. “But at this point, [Coach Krzyzewski] doesn’t want us to do that. He wants us to bring our ego.

“They’re saying, ‘Play your game, and do what you do out here.’”

With that in mind, Cousins is focused on playing his style while striving to master the National Team system.

“He continues to get better,” concluded Krzyzewski. “We love the fact he’s committed. He’s trimmed down, and he’s trying like crazy.”

Day 2 predicts to feature similar levels of competition, as the action tips off at 12 p.m. inside the Mendenhall Center on the campus of UNLV.