In case you haven’t heard, the Olympics are about to start. I know, it snuck right up on me too!
If there’s one thing I’m looking forward to more than NBC’s bastardizing Sirius/XM-like monopoly of all coverage 5 rings, it’s the constant scrutiny every sports media outlet in the damn country is placing the Men’s Basketball Team under.
I mean, I get it. Team USA lost the gold medal last Olympics. I am aware. Argentina, right?
But lets clear something up right now. The rest of the world is better. Two times for those who learn best through repetition: The rest of the world is better. You know it, I know it, the criticizers, quotemongers, ESPN talking heads, blogosphere residents-everyone knows it. So lets all take this into account and stop acting like USA should be utterly dominant. It’s a new time. Deal with it.
Should Team USA win the gold medal? I think this is where all of this scrutiny comes from: people are having a hard time coping with the fact that the gold medal isn’t a guarantee. Can you handle the fact that maybe, possibly, there is better national team out there?
But the more pressing question is, will Team USA prevail? Should or should not, will they? I’ve turned to a Socratic method of logic and questioning to answer this. Allow me to play a little subjective Q and A with myself (for your entertainment, not self-gratification-naturally.)
- Q: What makes for a winning team?
- A: A number of things of course, but there are a few intangibles. Coaching, talent, cohesion, and team make-up are the main ones I can think of.
- Q: So, does Team USA have what it takes to be a winning team?
- A: Well… lets go through the list.
o Coaching: I’m not sure that Coach K has this team under reigns. I don’t know that any coach for the USA Basketball Team really can. It’s not their fault, it’s just that there is so little time spent with the team that, although there may be a level of respect from the players, it’s not the same kind that comes from battling together, arguing with one another, basically just progressing in whatever form that progression may take. This doesn’t mean Coach K won’t have the team motivated or hungry (if he even needs to worry about that at all with this group), but until I see the squad really execute with a total belief in whatever system he’s got them running, I’m not sure I’ll ever be convinced that he (or anyone else in his position) is much more than a substitute teacher equivalent.
o Talent: Got it in abundance. ‘Nuff said.
o Cohesion: Well, I think the potential’s there for team cohesion. From all accounts I’ve read and heard, the group gets along very well. And the main core has been at this for three years now. But a natural order needs to come from meaningful (exhibition counts little) game experience. The team needs to learn who’s going to be the go-to guy, who’s going to be the energizer, who’s going to set the tone with a hard foul. Roles will be necessary in these Olympic Games. Remember, the rest of the world is good, we’ve covered this. The competition will be… uh… competitive. Fiercely. And that will necessitate players doing their part. At some point, the over-passing flair that USA’s been playing with will need to go away. It remains to be seen if that can be accomplished.
o Team Make-Up: Not optimal. For all the work that Jerry Colangelo has done with this squad, leaving Tyson Chandler off of the team may be his downfall. I don’t give a damn about the Duke connections or what kind of success Boozer has had in the L over the past few seasons-USA needs more size, rebounding, and shot blocking. If you’re not good at math, size + rebounding + shot blocking = Tyson Chandler. Notice how Team USA has struggled on the boards in the exhibition games, often seeing rebounds tipped around before the ball is tracked down. That’s because the Redeem Team is undersized. Shorter players tip the ball out of opposing players’ hands when they can’t secure the rebound. Chandler wouldn’t be tipping rebounds, that’s for damn sure. He would be going up and eating them with an unquenchable hunger. This simple miscasting is my prediction for what will be the team’s biggest problem and/or deciding factor if there is a loss.
- Q: Does that last statement means that Team USA will lose a game?
- A: It is quite possible. In fact, I almost expect it. They’re playing some heavy hitters (Greece and Spain) in the preliminary rounds, and it remains to be seen if they are well coached enough to grind out a tough win against a near equal squad.
- Q: Then you don’t think they will win the gold?
- A: I’m not saying that. I believe, with my patriotic heart of hearts, that Team USA can win the gold, I believe that they are motivated to do so. But being the realist/skeptic that I am, I have already come to terms with the fact that USA’s place in the basketball world is no longer that of leader and foreman. Will they, we, win the gold?I damn well hope so.