Sunday, August 03, 2008

how i know what i saw, and i don't think i liked it

i've successfully tivoed the three exhibition games that the men's olympic basketball team has played so far (against turkey, lithuania and russia), and although they've won every game by over thirty points in each, i can't saw that i'm all that impressed. they're gonna get beat - maybe not against the weaker teams, but spain, argentina and greece are definite threats.

first off, these teams they're played clearly aren't showing their full deck. how do i know this? well, nobody in their right minds would play the americans in a man defense, but that's mostly been what they've seen. these teams might not be as athletic or as talented, but they aren't stupid, either. these games don't matter, and they're treating them as such.

secondly, when they have gone zone, it hasn't been very exotic - except for the "guard the man in your zone" defense that russia played for a moment. and that absolutely confused the americans into bad shots, turnovers, bad spacing and insecurity.

thirdly, there's been a plethora of bad shots taken by the americans that were forced up for no real good reason. there's been a ton of 1-on-5. there's been a lot of fadeaways. and yeah, it might work against teams that just aren't as talented or athletic, but that absolutely won't fly against spain or argentina, teams that are on the same athletic plane.

and that's my point. it seems like they're still running NBA offenses against international teams, which doesn't really make any sense against non-NBA defenses. don't get me wrong: isolation plays work in a league with strident defensive restrictions. but there's none of that in international ball, where systems often overcome athleticism. we still can't seem to grasp that.

it just blows my mind how there's so very little offensive imagination in this country. it's the "same old same old" by every single coach. "give the ball to your best scorer and have him go" is not an offense. and neither is "give the ball to someone and have them create", which is what i've seen so far. it relies on a player dribbling into trouble, and that's never a good idea, no matter how unselfish this team might be (and they actually have been, for the most part). there's still not much movement without the ball. and strange defenses are eliciting predicatably strange shot selections. it's much of the same. then again, maybe the americans are playing possum too. could be.

on the plus side, the defense has been tremendous, although the pick-and-roll defense (and backdoor defense) is still a little spotty. and that's not gonna work against argentina, spain or greece. but it's been good enough, and has been the impetus on many of their big runs, with points coming mostly off the break.

can we win just by running? right now, it looks like we better.

i just hope it doesn't come to that.

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