Team USA looks headed for trouble

Last night I was watching the early part of Team USA’s opening game against Croatia and I was stunned how easily Croatia was controlling inside play.  Then I realized that absent Kevin Love (and a diminished Tyson Chandler, and I guess Lamar Odom) Team USA has no size to speak of.  In fact, looking at the playing minutes, the team seems to be actively ignoring the role big men have played in writing the history of the game of basketball.  Its a subtle point to internalize, I guess.  It must take — what?– all of three seconds of study to uncover.

Man, who designed this team anyway?  Don Nelson?? He’s been playing without a center in Golden State for several seasons now, and he’s driven that franchise right into the gutter.  Yet the Committee that chose Team USA must think he’s the Frank Lloyd Wright of championship basketball design.

Wow.  You cannot argue to me that any representative team of half quality would feature Stephen Curry or Eric Gordon or Rudy Gay on its roster.  Those cannot seriously be the best players the Committee could find.  What, Randy Foye wasn’t available?  (Actually they forced most of the best players off the team for lack of shooting ability).

And what tournament were they watching in 2008?  Where did they get the idea that a team of jump shooters would present our best opportunity to succeed?  Didn’t they notice that the Redeem Team dominated through superior length and athleticism, not through shooting?  Didn’t they see that Kobe Bryant and  Michael Redd, the two players who stood outside and played international style, were the least effective players?  Couldn’t they tell that the United States last decisive advantage rests with guys of the Charles Barkley type (who every member on the Dream Team — and the stats — say was the best player on Team USA 1992).

The World can shoot with the USA.  They love that.  They can’t dunk with them.  They can’t rebound with them.  They can’t handle the length and basket attacking style that only we can bring.

Well, not this unit.  Kevin Love has had to come off the bench to save the United States bacon in two games.  In Game Two he and Lamar Odom provided the United States with 40% of their rebounds using only 16% of the team’s playing time?

What are you doing Kryzyzweski?  Thank God for Kevin Durant.

But the United States numbers so far don’t project well.  They are dominant, but not Mega-dominant like most of the successful United States teams of the past.  Their overall numbers project to an .829% winning percentage, which would be outstanding for an NBA team, but I’m not entirely convinced either Slovania or Croatia are NBA quality.  Consider that the Redeem Team projected out to a 1.450% winning percentage and they were nearly upset.

I’m not saying this US team will be upset.  But the only reason I’m not is because I question the overall competition level of a tournament where former Badger Kirk Penney is the leading scorer and Yi Jianlian is number two.

If it weren’t for that caveat I’d say that Team USA is headed for a nose dive.

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5 Responses to “Team USA looks headed for trouble”

  1. Chicago Tim Says:

    Tyson Chandler’s minutes seem to be diminishing. Maybe Love and Odom will be rewarded with more minutes, and maybe that will be enough for this tournament.

    But I think you may be unfair to the Committee. It seems as if all the big men either said no or got injured. There were no controversial cuts of big men. There is a short supply of them, after all, even in the U.S. And as you note, the other teams are short on them as well.

    In the absence of more big men, the U.S. seems to be relying on speed and defense, and the team seems to have bought into playing defense.

  2. brgulker Says:

    Chicago Tim,

    The lack of available big men for this tournament doesn’t explain why Kevin Love’s minutes are so low.

    Not criticizing your point completely, though. The committee did only have so much to work with.

  3. Chicago Tim Says:

    So much for Love being rewarded with minutes — 5 minutes in a tight game with Spain! What is the deal with that? Odom got lots of minutes, though — and didn’t play well. Chandler’s role continues to dwindle. The U.S. is so lucky that Nene and Varejao were both out.

  4. Chicago Tim Says:

    I guess the thought was that Love is too short to guard Splitter, so he didn’t get playing time. I’m not sure that’s valid. Dennis Rodman and Ben Wallace both used to guard Shaq, and Russell used to guard Chamberlain. But I don’t know if Love is in that league as a defender.

  5. Ty Willihnganz Comments Twice on Team USA | The Wages of Wins Journal Says:

    […] of this story, I am going to turn the forum over to Ty Willihnganz of Courtside Analyst.   As he noted a few days ago, Ty was not initially impressed after watching Team USA take on Croatia.  And now that Team USA […]

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