The World was Not Enough (to beat Team USA)

I thought Team USA might run into some problems in the World Championships, but they really did not.  Their defense and determination, combined with their skill, was too much for any other nation to match, and as a result America captured its first FIBA World Championship since 1994.

I completed a Win Chart for the entire tournament.  (Click Here to see the Team USA Win Chart).  Unlike the previous two Win Charts, this Win Chart only considers the actual tournament and disregards the exhibitions leading up to the tournament.  Nevertheless, the numbers are basically the same.

The recipe for success for Team USA was simple.  Kevin Durant put on a scoring clinic.  He might be the best pure scorer alive.  Kevin Love, in his scant minutes, put on a rebounding clinic.  He might be the best rebounder alive.  And the team as a whole put on a stifling defensive clinic.

In fact, defense pretty much carried the day.  I think Team USA shot 44% from the field on Sunday and still beat Turkey by 16 points.  The irony is, of course, that according to pre-tournament comments by Coach K, Team USA was designed to feature “shooters”.  Yet outside of Durant, the United States really had no consistent high percentage, high usage shooters it could necessarily count on.  But the team still dominated the world by making sure the World did not have that either.  Team USA challenged nearly every shot that went up, forcing the European jump shooters to put the ball on the ground — something they do not like to do.

The United States team did not dominate to the extent that the Redeem Team did, but they were dominant nevertheless.  Team USA 2010 won by an average margin of +25.7 points whereas the Redeem Team won by +30.0.  But the defense on this version of Team USA was just as good as the defense on the Redeem Team.  And it helped that the competition from other nations really was not that strong.

So Team USA broke its gold slump in the World Championships.  The rest of the World might have entered a slump of their own.  With FIBA “NBAifying” the international game,  the World might have let its last chance to get Team USA slip by.  But upsets happen, so I could be wrong once again.

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