First off, I’m not sure why I’m awake pre-7am. The whole finding out USA won thing has worked thus far for me in following this FIBA Championship. I’m certainly not trying to change things intentionally and this move is certainly going to haunt me in class at about 3:15pm today. You notice a couple things very early on when watching a USA Basketball game…
Coach K really is really, really bad. They’re going to win this game. They’re going to win the Tournament. But, the all-star mentality is still there and nothing has been done to change that. Like USA Hoops fans were promised. Until that mentality changes, there are going to be shaky moments for the team.
I don’t want to sound like I’m doubting USA or sound like Chris Sheridan, but give me some latitude on this one. This is the first time I’m ripping the US team and, really, the score sits at 25-25 in the 2nd quarter right now and I have no doubts that USA is going to win. I just need to rip Coach K real quick. I’ve disliked him for a really long time. Coach K has always been a great motivator and amazing recruiter. The thing is, though, there is a reason why for over a decade, Danny Ferry was the best Duke product in the NBA.
Is there some sort of FIBA rule that prevents him from sending out this starting line-up:
Elton Brand, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Lebron James, Dwayne Wade?
Now, occasionally it appears that Coach K does get this right, but then he quickly gets rid of this line-up. First off the bench for these guys should be Howard down low, Jamison at forward, Paul and Hinrich in the backcourt and Johnson kickin’ around the occasional transition three-ball. Generally, this is what USA is doing, they just do it for way too damn long.
(Nowitzki just picked up his third foul, by the way, which puts Germany in a mess of trouble. Unless of course FIBA has some rule saying you can foul folks like 11 times. 33-33 score.)
Is there any particular reason why Shane Battier GETS MINUTES? Battier should be the final man off the bench for this USA team. Let him mop up against Senegal and Angola. Everyone realizes Battier is on the team not based on ability, but on his relationship with Coach K and the familiarity involved there. It was one of the horrible signs for USA Hoops and I’m sure Sheridan has pointed it out many times. He’s a decent journeyman NBA type, lots of Danny Ferry potential, but he’s not needed in International Hoops.
Battier is the only one on the team that I really feel strongly that they shouldn’t be there. Honestly, the starting five I threw out there is the five I think they should go with, but if you throw out Bosh and put in Howard or give Jamison more minutes than Anthony, I’m not going to argue with you over that aspect of things. If you think Chris Paul or Anthony should play more, OK. Paul’s game is awesome, Hinrich I’ve enjoyed since his Kansas days. I’m not trying to knock any of those four by not including them in my starting five, the main point is simple, however…
They have none of it against Germany right now. You can trace that right back to the top. Coach K has to put the consistency out there. From the first half of the Germany game, it is clear that he has failed to do that. Whatever starting five you like for this team, minus Shane Battier and Brad Miller, put them out there together. KEEP them out there together.
Right now the team is just floating around taking three pointer after three pointer. They hit some, they miss some, but ultimately, there’s nothing cohesive that puts the stamp on the Germans. There’s a complete lack of direction with this basketball team right now. I don’t want to step out on the Chris Sheridan ledge and say that the US Team is doomed to lose at some point in this Tournament, because they shouldn’t. However, I’m going to say that they should look BETTER than they do right now.
The biggest complaint about this team from the competitions they lost to the creation of THIS team is that they played too much like an all-star team. People said to just take the Pistons. At this point, I think it is safe to say that Coach K has actually done nothing to remedy this complaint. USA will win, but they won’t be a lock until they come together as a team. That certainly does mean ticking off some quality players. But, you’ll win.
We knew the flaws with USA Basketball coming in to this Tournament. They have been the same flaws now for at least four years. Probably longer, whenever the World started to catch up. We play these games with an all-star game mentality, but teams that play as a cohesive unit are able to hang around and do better than they should against USA. Coach K and Jerry Coangelo said they were going to change this, but they haven’t.
USA will win against Germany. They’ve opened it up to an 9 point lead thanks to an inspired Carmelo Anthony and will likely control the Germans the rest of the way. USA will also win the rest of their games in this Tournament. But, if they don’t do something to change the all-star team mentality, they’re not going to be a lock at any point.
That’s not pessimism, that’s what we knew going in. What we were told they would change. It hasn’t changed yet. They’re still better than anyone, by a lot, but to dominate and have zero chance of losing games (and to prevent playing first half debacles like the one against Germany) they need consistency.
By the way, I just want to comment that it’s pretty awesome seeing Ademola Okulaja kicking it out on the court and I’m sure this West Virginia Mountaineer is about to start raining down three’s.