U.S Eats up Turkey (too corny?)

Wednesday, 15 September 2010, 20:38 | Category : NBA
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Probably the closest anyone got to blocking Durant's shot the whole tournament

If you haven’t already hear, the United States won the 2010 FIBA World Cup Championship in basketball by defeating Turkey 81-64 in Turkey’s backyard.  It was a team that was devoid of the usual superstars and MVPs.  A lot of them are young and inexperienced, and only a few have been to an All-Star game.  Heck, the starting center, Lamar Odom, doesn’t even start for his own team.  Having said that, I really liked this TEAM.  I emphasize TEAM because usually the US team is a “squad”, this unit was a “team”.

The problem during the ’08 Olympics was that no one wanted to take the big shot because there were so many other superstars to defer to.  Everyone was passing to the other guy waiting for them to take over.  This year’s team had more of an identity.  It was Kevin Durant’s team and everyone else knew their roles.  If there was a big shot to be taken, he was going to shoot it every time.  Andre Iguodala all of a sudden became a defensive stopper and Rudy Gay happily came off the bench in small increments.  Both of those guys are the faces of their respective teams.  There were fewer bad shots and one-on-one offenses.  Defense all of a sudden started winning games.  I would like this team to represent us in the next Olympics (okay, maybe with a little more size).  Lebron can leave his talents in South Beach in two years because this team doesn’t need another scorer.  I know other countries were missing some stars in this tournament, but this team was getting better with every game.  They were made perfectly for the international game.

On another note, a lot of people have been saying that the tournament became Kevin Durant’s coming out party.  Um, he lead the NBA in scoring last year while shooting a ridiculous 48% from the field.  He’s been out for a while.  I don’t think this tournament made people wonder where this guy came from.  If he hogged the media more like other superstars, he would be better known.  That’s the problem with the media today.  I would rather have Kevin Durant on my team than any other player in the world right now.  Luckily for the U.S, he was.

The “B”ees’ Knees

Saturday, 28 August 2010, 19:53 | Category : NBA
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Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

With the Dream Team resting peacefully in the Hall of Fame and the Redeem Team busy taking its talents elsewhere, the nation has turned to its b-list players to bring home the gold from the FIBA World Championship.  Besides Kevin Durant, none of the members of the are in the top three in their position in the NBA.  Some are referring to them as the B-Team.

The roster has been in flux all summer as Coach K and the other coaches tired to find the best combination of talent.  I’ve been trying to make my mind up about the lineup, but its been hard without access to the NBA channel.  On Sunday, I finally had the opportunity to watch Team U.S.A. play.  What they say is true: they are young, inexperienced, small, and still developing chemistry.  The upside is that they hustle on defense, are fast, and have lots of options on offense.  Overall, the teams consists of a good group of guys that I am proud to have represent our country.  I’m just not sure that’s going to be enough to win the gold.

I’m not going to take time to go over every player, but I do want to point out a few things that stood out to me:

  • Andre Iguodala is supposed to be a defensive stopper and a go-to-guy on offense, but he let me down on both accounts.
  • I have had little chance to watch the Warrior’s Stephen Curry play, and I’ve expected him to just be a shooter.  He was making excellent passes and playing solid D on Ricky Rubio (who was the first of two point guards the T-Wolves selected over him).  I’m buying in on Curry.
  • Odom needs to worry about playing some of the Lakers’ famous D and rebounding, not launching up unbalanced three-pointers.  To put it in perspective, Chauncey Billups is pulling down more boards.  There are enough scorers on the team, they need to take advantage of the little height they have.  For that reason I think Kevin Love is due for more minutes.
  • I have not watched Eric Gordon play a whole lot, but apparently he’s so good the staff wasn’t even aware of it.
  • Not sure what happened with Rondo before he resigned from the team, but I thought he was a good fit.  He may be the worst shooter of the guards, but the team doesn’t need more scorers.  He is an excellent passer, which is what this team needs.  Rondo was minutes away from leading a star-studded team (on which he was the most consistent player) to its second championship for the second time in three years.  Did I mention he plays defense?
  • Westbrook may not be the best guard on the team, but they have to take advantage of the already existing chemistry between him and Durant.  They had a couple great plays against Spain.
  • Kevin Durant will be MVP this year.

Apparently, the World Championship has been more important to the rest of the world than the Olympics.  The U.S.’s lack of emphasis on this tournament may explain why the it hasn’t brought home the gold since ’94.  Even this year the U.S. failed to bring back a single member of the gold medal team from two years ago.  However, every other powerhouse team is also down at least one of its A-list players.  This is good considering all that Team U.S. “B” has at stake.  Besides their continued struggles in the first quarter, they handled their first match, against Croatia, easily enough.  Let’s hope that they can continue to piece things together and finish what the Redeem Team started.  If they prove themselves bring home the gold, the “B” in B-Team can stand for bling.

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