July 20, 2006

USA Basketball Ready to Rebound?: After a horrendous sixth-place finish at the World Basketball Championships in 2002 and the bronze medal debacle at the Athens Olympics in 2004, a Team USA housecleaning resulted in a new coach (Mike Krzyzewski), a new team stocked with young talent, and a whole new attitude. Whether it will be enough to reestablish American dominance on the international stage remains to be seen.

posted by The_Black_Hand to basketball at 07:51 AM - 23 comments

Some reasons for our lost last time: A lack of someone who can knock down the outside jumper. The last group of players never gelled. Argentina played like a TEAM and the rest is history.

posted by Mustang 71 at 09:48 AM on July 20, 2006

We played like crap and came in 3rd. We didnt let Lebron or Dwade play. Do I need to go on? Anyone that really believes we dont have the best players in the world are...well you can fill in with whatever you like. This is actually going to be a great team, I have 0 worries.

posted by Drallig9399 at 09:58 AM on July 20, 2006

I like what they're doing. Establishing a pool of players committed for three years. So no begging players to participate when someone backs out because they got like an ingrown toenail or something. Getting Coach K was smart too, I think. The international game uses more zones than the NBA game so a college coach makes sense. You could almost make an entire starting line-up from the 2003 draft class. I think James and Anthony would be a dream SF rotation. Lots of cool possibilities with this team. Especially with including defense-oriented guys like Bowen. Its nice that they've finally figured out that you can't just build the team around scoring.

posted by srw12 at 10:28 AM on July 20, 2006

I'm mostly in favor of the new pool system, but I'm curious to see what is going to happen when players are left off the team. Coach K said there will be no cuts, just that he'll be taking the players he feels are best for certain situations. With all of the egos out there, I'm wondering how players not selected to participate are going to react. Will they be bitter, or will they buy into the "do what's best for the team" argument?

posted by chamo at 10:39 AM on July 20, 2006

The rest of the world is catching up, and our players, much like U.S. golfers, are a bit too comfortable monetarily; these up and coming foriegn kids are far more hungry, IMO. I think the same thing is happening in international baseball, as well. And, yes, chamo, I think that many of the U.S. players' ego's are proportionate to the size of their bank accounts. I hope I am proven wrong.

posted by mjkredliner at 11:06 AM on July 20, 2006

Who cares if they are bitter? As long as we ask the right combo of people to come we have a very very stable pool of talent to draw from. We will never see another unbalanced USA team again. Hell if we would have just had Ray Allen on the last team we would have won the gold.

posted by Drallig9399 at 12:54 PM on July 20, 2006

Shoulda, woulda, coulda. Sounds bitter.

posted by mjkredliner at 01:21 PM on July 20, 2006

I like the idea that it is "a privelage to be on the National Team". In the past the players thought it was the other way around, that it was a privelage for the National Team to have them. The ones who thought the team should be glad to have them were an embarassment on the court.

posted by Familyman at 01:30 PM on July 20, 2006

Shoulda, woulda, coulda. Sounds bitter. Is That A bad thing.

posted by sleepr at 02:36 PM on July 20, 2006

Is that a question, sleepr????? Familyman, couldn't agree more.

posted by mjkredliner at 02:37 PM on July 20, 2006

I'm sure some feelings will be hurt when some of the guys end up in limbo (not cut, but not playing either), but under this program, it's eventually going to sink in that if they want to play, they'd damned well better come ready to compete. Hopefully, once they get used to the idea that an active spot on the roster is something you earn rather than something your celebrity entitles you to, we'll get a team built around a desire to win. Too many of the recent teams have been made up of guys who were there out of a desire for recognition instead.

posted by ctal1999 at 02:39 PM on July 20, 2006

I definately think that international basketball is close to catching up with the US. However, in 1992 the US had no real competition. 2 years ago, the competition was a little better. We haven't been taking it seriously....ever. So 2004 was a wake up call. We have to acknowledge other countries now. However, what the US is doing will inable us to DOMINATE ever team out there. Practicing makes it somewhat unfair to the rest of the world.

posted by Snikastyle at 04:50 PM on July 20, 2006

If the U.S. had put out a bunch of tykes out there in 1992 -- as they did in 2004 -- there would have been trouble then as well. Experience, experience, experience. Everything else, including this "new" approach, is hot air.

posted by jackhererra at 05:58 PM on July 20, 2006

things should go better. Coahc K is a good coach and will do well with the team.

posted by Young Mikey at 06:24 PM on July 20, 2006

If Kirk Hinrich makes the team maybe we'll go all the way any how go kirk

posted by luther70 at 07:15 PM on July 20, 2006

I agree with luther70. Hinrich was a !00% effort player at Kansas who played hard enough to win.We don't need undisciplined street ball players who palm the ball on every possession and travel every time they make one of their overrated dunks.We need fundamentally sound and unselfish players like Hinrich.In fact the USA could win it all with an all-star team of just Big12 alumni. Leave the shoe contract hot dogs at home.

posted by judgedread at 11:18 PM on July 20, 2006

What happened last time was an ANOMALY....PERIOD! But it was good for the game on a worldwide scale, it made them THINK they could really hang, when in reality....THEY GOTS NUTHIN COMIN' ...YA HEARD! ESPECIALLY if REDICK plays, I hate DUKE like most fans....BUT...COACH K is a mastermind, and REDICK ....BE STROKIN'....The Trey!

posted by DA ASSX3N at 11:21 PM on July 20, 2006

jackhererra, I have to disagree. To a point, experience is a good thing. We don't want a team full of wet-behind-the-ears kids, but we also don't want guys who view international competition as a joke and who are used to being the focus of attention on their respective teams and think THEY run the team and the coach is just there for advice. Too many big name players in recent years have viewed the World Championships and Olympics as an opportunity for publicity, not as a competition. When you have the talent level we're talking about here, attitude is more important than experience, especially if you have good coaching. If you take young, talented players who desperately want to win, and add a great coach who can get them to listen to him, you end up with a winning mix.

posted by ctal1999 at 09:15 AM on July 21, 2006

amen ya no kobe ball hogger

posted by defrag3x at 11:43 AM on July 21, 2006

It goes without saying that you want guys who want to compete, and you do want to groom younger guys. But the problem in 2004 -- can't speak for 2002 -- was that you had too many young talented guys playing against a lot of savvy players on international teams. I think the attitude was fine in most cases, but you don't have as many operable gears at age 20 as you do at age 28 or 29 -- the average age of the 1992 team -- no matter how talented you are. So I would have liked for them to address that issue, first and foremost, instead of basically blowing up the model. And to fair, the team is going to be pretty old-headed when the 2008 comes around. But for the record, "Dream Teams" don't fail because you have too many stars. Every coach at every level has to make decisions on who plays, who gets the last shot, etc. (You don't have to deal with millionaires in most cases, but you do have to deal with parents, who can be every bit a pain in the ass.) For instance, two of the best HS players in the country attend the same school, yet there's a clear top banana. Eventually, you accept it, or you leave. (Hell, look at the alleged hot dogs on the Miami team who became role players on a world championship team -- Zo, Payton, Walker. And really, that occurs every year.) "Dream Teams" fail when the opponents have a more thorough knowledge of the game, which wasn't a problem when the USA had players with a full command of their craft. USA didn't have it on the last two go-arounds because they picked stars who were ready to play more experience competition. For instance, Pierce at 24 was a crummy pick for 2002, which was the greater disaster. At age 28, he makes sense. I can't even begin to count the number of guys on that 2004 team who had no business being in Athens. I do like the idea of starting early. A college coach? Not so much. But it'll be interesting to watch.

posted by jackhererra at 05:29 PM on July 21, 2006

I say they get LeBron out there and give him the ball every time.... chances are they'll do better than last time around.

posted by redsoxrgay at 07:29 PM on July 21, 2006

Jack, I agree with you on a lot of your points, but I think too many of the players have expected a cake walk, and not paid attention to the coach. The international game has a lot of differences from the NBA, both in rules and style of play. Our guys weren't prepared. It wasn't lack of talent. Lack of experience played some role, but it was more a lack of knowledge, and that's something that could have been corrected with drilling in practice. Either the coaching sucked, or the guys didn't take it seriously enough. I tend to believe the latter.

posted by ctal1999 at 10:25 PM on July 21, 2006

Given that the 2004 team was very aware of the embarrassment of the 2002 team, it's tough to jump to the conclusion that the team simply tuned Brown out. What you had is a lot of young players who had three months to get rid of a lot of holes in their games -- offensively, defensively and on the glass -- their shoe contracts notwithstanding. I'm not sure that talent adds up to the ability to ball in a well-rounded way, which the international and NBA game both demand. I don't think that means eradication of "stars", but if guys like T-Mac and Shaq aren't coming, you have to bring in the old-heads who know all the angles. That's another reason I'm less than thrilled with the exclusion of Iverson. People may think what they want about the guy, but players respect him and his game. And I think he would be willing to alter his game a bit to be on that team.

posted by jackhererra at 05:08 PM on July 24, 2006

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