Favoritism in the American Game

4 08 2008
Will they be all smiles when it gets close?

Will they be all smiles when it gets close?

The USA’s Men’s Basketball Team is the consensus pick for gold in the Beijing Olympics.

Although their interior play and defense are subject, the Americans are the most talented and athletic team in the field.  They have been on cruise control through the pre-Olympic matches; no one has sufficiently challenged them.

If they dominate the Olympic Games with their style, no one in the field can catch them.  It’ll be like if Tim Allen challenged Tyson Gay in a 100 meter sprint.

But what happens if the American team is challenged?  If Spain drubs them early, how will they respond?  If Manu and the Argentinians stage a late-game comeback, can the Americans keep their composure?

Officiating will be a big factor in highly-contested games.  I’m not talking about Tim Donaghy; it’s the exact opposite, actually.

Every player on the American team is a stand-out in the NBA.  Since the NBA is more about entertainment than keeping to the fundamentals of the game, the NBA stand-outs get a very long leash.

In FIBA play, Deron Williams will be called for palming the ball.  Chris Paul will be called for his sneaky fouls.  LeBron James will be called for charging.  And on the list goes…

FIBA officials aren’t going to be worried about handing out the “superstars” calls.  But the favoritism for American players should be kept at a low; like the amount of food-stamps given out during the Republican National Convention.

Sure, LeBron James is a recognizable basketball figure internationally.  But why would an Angolan referee let James play football simply because the NBA and Nike have expended billions in marketing?

How the Americans respond to more objective officiating is up for debate.

During the USA-Russia game, Andrei Kirilenko was visibly frustrated with the officiating.  However, Fran Frischella never pointed out when LeBron or Dwyane Wade would complain about getting a charging or walking call.  Carmelo Anthony was every bit as moody as AK-47 during the first half and no one mentioned that.

I’m not trying to assert that the USA basketball team is a bunch of whiners but it is odd that the European-born NBA players are stereotyped as the complainers.  Why doesn’t the brush come back the other way?

Will the American team shoot themselves in the foot during a close game?


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13 responses

4 08 2008
mao

Great points. This team is completely untested in terms of serious competition. With Spain in their group we’ll find out pretty quickly how good they can be under pressure. I really think their inside play is going to be their undoing, though I think you’re right that calls that usually aren’t made in the NBA could be a factor. If anything, refs from other countries will probably want to see the US team lose, so it might be completely against them.

5 08 2008
fouledout

nice post..

5 08 2008
FeetinthePaint

I agree that inside play will be key. It’s been pointed out that Howard+Bosh+Boozer > Gasol1+Gasol2+Garbajosa. The Spaniards have depth in Carlos Jimenez, who started on last year’s national team, and also Felipe Reyes, who is a solid player on Real Madrid.

I’ve seen nothing that indicates the American bigs are comfortable with the trapezoid lane and other aspects of international play. And even though they try for alley-oops every other time down, the Americans don’t really seem to be on the same page. Too often, they try to play iso.

I guess the “offense” that Coach K has installed is to blame. From what I can tell, it’s a pick-and-roll and then whatever happens happens.

That’s going to be a problem when they run into teams with interior players on the same page, that are used to defending that trapezoid lane.

5 08 2008
mao

I totally agree. Even though this team is built better than in years past, there still aren’t the kind of role players you need to have a successful offense. Starting five guys who average 20+ points is not a normal team. And the lack of familiarity with the different rules and court dimensions will make a big difference. That’s one thing that other teams have over the Americans, familiarity with the rules and with each other. Despite the Colangelo/Krzyzewski influence, there just isn’t a level of camaraderie or fluidity in this team. The system of having one team exist over a period of time is the right idea in the long run, but I think we still haven’t seen that reach fruition.

5 08 2008
picodulce

NIce post and agood points.

Mostly unrelated – when the Aussie knocked down Wade and the players started getting in each others’ faces, I had a flashback to Carmelo’s famous slap and backpedal move… he should stay far away from all altercations.

Otherwise, I think Chris Paul (and I will blaspheme here) should see a whole lot of pine based on his play so far.

6 08 2008
mao

That’s a fair point, though I hope if that happens they play Deron Williams and not Jason Kidd.

6 08 2008
FeetinthePaint

Patrick Mills is a good player; I really like him. But Chris Paul is touted as a complete point guard and is starting to get into the conversation for “best NBA player,” getting smoked by Mills and gamed valiantly by Bruton should earn Paul some pine.

6 08 2008
Trey

Given Paul’s past (being kind of a douche in the ACC including an incident when he punched NC State’s best player in the nuts) I think Coach K doesn’t like him. He does like Williams. However, I think the NBA people are whispering in his ear about how he has to start Kidd bc NBA people seem to think Kidd is still good despite the fact that he’s so slow he couldn’t guard me.

So I think what they’ll do is run Duke’s offense where you set picks up top (so it looks like you’re running the weave) and then let big ole Williams drive the paint and dish. I like that offense bc you can’t play zone against it so I think the US will be fine as long as they don’t go ice cold from 3 like they did against Austrailia.

6 08 2008
mao

This team really is molded after Dook, isn’t it? They’re great as long as they’re not missing threes or free throws. Then they can lose to almost anyone. Maybe that’s not the same as Dook, but I give myself kudos for coming up with it.

Also, no reason for K to like Kidd. Kidd knocked Dook out of the tourney in ’93 when he was at Cal and Bobby Hurley was a senior.

6 08 2008
FeetinthePaint

Haha. Do you think that’s why K seems to comfortable letting Carlos Boozer rot on the bench? Booz will forgive him because it’s his college coach?

6 08 2008
mao

That’s a great point. For a team that is supposed to be kind of weak inside, he sure seems like a guy who could change that a bit. But yeah, you can’t get but so mad at your college coach. Unless you’re Rashard Mendenhall.

7 08 2008
Trey

I’m surprised that who’s your daddy Battier isn’t on the team. Coach K usually throws him a bone on this stuff. I think the Kidd thing and the Boozer thing have to do with the fact that Coach K he has to answer to the front office people. Also, I really like Boozer, but where does he fit in? I mean he isn’t as good at Howard or Bosh and when he wants to keep the trio of LeBron, Melo, and Kobe on the floor there isn’t much wiggle room. Plus, I think Coach K is really high on Prince, so that just forces Boozer to the end of the line.

In other words, he’s only playing 2 post players at a time and Boozer is the third best post player behind Howard and Bosh. What are ya gonna do.

8 08 2008
FeetinthePaint

Yeah, I don’t know, Trey. You’re right that LBJ, Melo and Kobe would all bitch if their minutes were reduced. But I think the shouts of “our interior play stinks!” would at least make K hesitate about playing LBJ and Melo at the four.

Yes, they’re big. Yes, they’re physical. Yes, Coach K, they’re athletic. But they aren’t really post players. I mean, Melo has been better than I expected on the boards but he doesn’t know how to defend the post. He still thinks he’s the baseline defender in Boeiheim’s 2-3.

Or maybe it’s all a ploy to throw other teams’ scouting off? Maybe Boozer will get significant burn at the four next to Howard at the five come Greece and Spain in the round-robin play?

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