Sunday, August 27, 2006

Shot Fired Across The Bow

USA 113, Australia 73. The big flashing red light is the warning sign to the rest of the world, USA basketball is back on the right track. Yes, I know that it was just Australia, with one legitimate NBA player, but it's how they won that should scare the daylights out of everyone.

This one was all about defense. Don't let the 113 points fool you, the way they played on the other end of the floor was what made this one particularly disturbing to everyone not wearing red, white, and blue. Throughout the last few international competitions, the US has played that overly aggressive man to man and gambled on every pass. Everyone wanted the steal, breakaway, dunk so they could get the ooohs and aaaaahs from the crowd. They would then get eaten alive by teams that would back pick and back door and never turned the ball over with lazy passes. This defense is the same aggressive man, but they don't gamble and they help defend very well. Howard is huge down low and I actually thought Bosh looked good swatting shots away. Bosh might be the first US player I've seen to knock the ball off the rim (legal in international competition). This defense is smothering both on the perimeter and at the rim. They still may be a little vulnerable to those Argentine pick plays, but as long as the guards keep funneling them to Howard or Bosh they should be fine. It's team defense that sets this team apart.

Offensively, I still don't think they have much of an offensive set, but it's getting better. Coach K seems to realize that the two biggest weapons are clearly Wade and Carmelo and they play accordingly. There isn't a player on earth that can stop Wade driving to the basket one on one, and he's been wreaking havoc out there. He either gets to the basket or dishes off to the open man. Carmelo scored 20 again, hit some 3's, mid range jumpers, got to the line, basically the same thing he's been doing all along. Best player in the tournament. Although the guy they see tomorrow night can argue that point.

Germany is up next. Or should I say Dirk is up next. They have nothing special after him and he could go for 50 and make it interesting, but I like our boys big again. I'd still feel better if they had Bruce Bowen to stick on Dirk but whatever.

1 comment:

mookie said...

Australia, "with one legitimate NBA player"... please don't make the mistake that most Americans do in thinking that the NBA is the be-all-and-end-all.

Italy with ZERO NBA players gave USA a good run for their money. Greece is the reigning Euro champion with a very solid squad and the Olympic champions, Argentina only started getting more interest in their guys after winning Gold.

USA were always going to beat Australia, but for the record, the Aussies were missing 4 of their top players including all of their big men outside of Bogut. So they had no team chemistry or experience. The real test will come when the USA face some stronger teams.