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Saturday, August 21, 2004

The Nightmare Team
I watched about as much as I could take of the Nightmare Team against the clearly superior Lithuanians today.

The game illustrated everything that is wrong with who was picked for the team. The game is on the line, and the US desparately needs a three pointer in the waning seconds, and Richard Jefferson is taking the dang thing! Not Wally, not Fred Hoiberg, not Ray Allen, not one of the Barry brothers, but a Power Forward!

In addition, the US has two guys on the team who are utterly useless in international play: Marbury and Iverson. Both play a penetration game, but the other teams have learned just to pack the lane, preventing any penetration, and let the US have the three point line. Since they can't hit the three -- they were shooting 16%(!!) from three point land coming into the game today -- the other teams have no motivation to play perimeter defense, and so penetrating serves no purpose. There's no defensive three seconds in international play (have I mentioned lately that defensive three seconds is the dumbest rule in the NBA?) and so defenders just pack in the lane, making it even easier to defend the post. Teams can double Duncan with impunity, and everyone on the US is scared to take what amounts to a college three pointer. Marbury and Iverson have a game suited to the NBA, but for an international tournament, they are total liabilities. A guy like Chauncey Billups -- who can hit the three and play the point -- would be infinitely more valuable.

Originally, there was a big controversy about leaving Iverson off of the team, and guys complained that it was a slight to him, etc., etc, blah, blah, blah. Well guess what, Iverson is pretty much useless to this team. I'd rather have Hoiberg any day. The idea that we can pick a group of NBA All-Stars, have them practice for ten days, and then win a Gold Medal are over. I wonder how long it will take the US Basketball organization to realize this. Something has to give.

Now the Lithuanians? These guys can shoot. Unreal. The three pointer is nothing to them, and they just kept draining and draining and draining them. There's no post game to speak of in international play, and the US has all these post players and not one -- not one! -- pure shooter on the team. The Lithuanians had like five guys that just kept draining three pointers. I can't find a box score, but if the Lithuanians made less than twenty three pointers, I'll be stunned. The Wolves ought to get this Sarunas Jasikevicius dude (however you pronounce it) -- he's unreal.

It was pathetic to watch. We totally need to do something about who we pick for the team and how the team is run. We're getting steam-rolled.

My prediction stands: No medal for the US.

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