It's been reported for months, but Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer were officially among eight players added Wednesday to the USA Basketball men's senior national team program, which will be coached by Boozer's Duke University mentor Mike Krzyzewski.
They will be among 25 players at a mini camp in late July to determine the finalists for the Aug. 22-Sept. 2 FIBA Americas Championship 2007 in Las Vegas. Those who make the final team will practice in Vegas Aug. 13-21 prior to the competition.
"It's a huge honor any time you get to put USA across your chest, and for us guys that were there in Athens (2004 Olympics) that got the bronze, we're very hungry to prove we're a better team," said Boozer.
For Williams, it's a first.
"I'm excited for him," Boozer said. "He gets a chance to play with some really good players. Just the practice sessions will be really exciting for him because he'll go against Jason Kidd, his idol, and some other really good guards, and just the atmosphere he'll really thrive in that because it's great players, and he'll come back a much better player. It's going to be huge in his maturation process."
Williams also sees it as a positive for the Jazz as well as himself. "It will be great for us (Boozer and himself) to get a chance to play together even more in the summer and work on things and play against the competition we're going to play against," he said.With the Jazz going deep into the playoffs this spring, Williams and Boozer won't get a lot of time off to rest. Boozer doesn't worry. "The great thing about that is, you'll be in shape (for the U.S. team)."
BITING WIT: Jazz coach Jerry Sloan was asked Thursday after the team's practice if there was a way to keep Utah's help defenders from biting so much on the first part of the San Antonio Spurs' pick-and-roll so that Jazzmen don't leave the Spurs perimeter shooters and role players so wide open for easy baskets while trying to get to Tony Parker.Of course, you know what Sloan said: "Well, I wish we did bite. That's not a bad idea. I may try to use that. We just have to do a better job trying to keep him in front of us."
TIGHTER PERIMETER II: The Jazz won't be the only ones trying to defend better in Games 3 and 4 Saturday and Monday nights at EnergySolutions Arena. The first two home Western Conference Finals games will see added security measures at the entrances.Stepped-up ESA security rules will allow just small handbags, purses or diaper bags, and they will be subject to search. No backpacks or sealed packages of any kind will be permitted. Cell phones, pagers, cameras and other electronic devices will be subject to testing and inspection.
TATTOO TALK: Boozer is one of many tattooed Jazzmen, and he talked about some of them Thursday.
The grizzly bear on his left arm was his first. He got it when he was 17 for his Juneau (Alaska) Douglas High School mascot, the Crimson Bears.
"I nicknamed it "the beast unleashed," he said. It also includes "C-Booz."
Underneath it, there's an angel's eye. "I like to think it's my wife's eye. She's my angel," he said of CeCe, who will deliver twin boys in about three months to go with the son the couple already has. There's also a large angel on his back, a religious verse on his left arm and a cross on his chest that hurt the most of all of them.On his right arm is another tribute to Juneau, with Mount Juneau and the city's skyline as the backdrop for a half-shadowed man who is Boozer, the left half representing his dark side and the other natural-colored side holding a basketball because that sport leads him away from temptation, he said.