This is the extreme down time period of the off season. Camps are a ways away from opening, GM's are working on deals but there doesn't appear to be a major blockbuster in the works. I don't have the energy to write anything about seeing a headline that reads "Bullets don't match Jeffries contract offer from Knicks." Um, no kidding. The only real basketball story going on right now is the current version of hoops players that were Born in the USA. Rest assured, we'll get back to Blazer related subject matter, and far more regular posting once camps open. Let's talk a little USA basketball today though.
First off, let me say that I like this team much more than previous versions. They have a very solid starting 5 for international competition, a style that is very different than the NBA. A dominant post player can be neutralized fairly easily, part of it's the trapezoid lane that puts the low block out further from the basket, part of it is a very strict collapsing zone that a lot of international teams can go with, and part of it is the comical refs (they should have put Cuban in charge of the team instead of Colangelo just for the sheer comedy factor alone). Exhibit A is Tim Duncan, one of the greatest post players of all time, and a class guy, becoming so frustrated that he refused to play ever again. The starting 5 of Paul, Wade, Labron, Carmelo, and Brand is perfect for this style of play, assuming Carmelo's knee is fine. Carmelo is exactly the type of guy that dominates international competition, an athletic 4 that shoots the ball from the perimeter and would play 3 in the NBA. Ever notice all the European players that come over in the draft are 6'10" but project as 3's in the NBA, well this is why.
The tournament is going to be very interesting. They should cruise through their pool, nobody is really THAT dangerous, although considering they almost lost to Brazil yesterday, anything's possible. Then it comes down to whether or not Coach K plays to win when they get to the knockout stages. Comments like "we've got a lot of depth, nobody will play 40 minutes" scares me a bit. Very clearly they should be using Heinrich and Arenas, whoever is going better at the time as the backup point, Johnson as the 10-15 minute a night sniper, Bowen as the stopper, and then Brad Miller as the backup post player, but Wade, LaBron, and Carmelo should be playing heavy minutes. They're the 3 players that can dominate the dojo, they need to be on the floor as much as possible.
In the end, I think they win it all, but then again I also think we should be more dominant that we are. What can I say, I'm still the ugly American.