Thursday, August 23, 2007
We The Best
Good times all around. The U.S. Men's Team manhandled Venezuela 112-69 last night in the first game of the preliminary round. An ass-whooping of Texas Ranger-like proportions. Maybe not that bad, but still.
Some interesting notes from the game:
- I know I have my doubts about Team USA, but I still feel very comfortable as long as Kobe Bryant is on the team. He increases the intensity level by about 10 when he's out there. He was an absolute beast on defense. And after he settled down on offense, he was a more all-around complete Kobe, which is when he's at his best. (Of course, he did play with a bunch of talented players. Step your game up, Kupchak.) KB led the team in floor burns, which is crazy, considering that he's like the best player in the world.
- Venezuela was definitely not the best test for Team USA. No NBA players among them and their leading scorer (Greivis Vasquez, point guard for the University of Maryland) only had 12 points and was harassed all night by the Black Mamba.
- Jason Kidd only had 4 assists, a number that is sure to go up in the upcoming contests.
- On the flip side, the ball movement Team USA showed last night was magnificent. Everyone made it a point to get each other the rock, a rarity among multiple stars used to being the alpha dog.
- The negative about that is that over-passing has been a thorn in the U.S.'s side since 2002. Dudes start thinking its the All-Star Game or something. And the upcoming zone defenses will put a short halt to all the flashy dimes.
- Michael Redd could be this summer's premier zone-buster. (Like Chris Mullin in 1992, Reggie Miller in '96, and Ray Allen in '00.) 7-12 shooting and 3-5 beyond the arc.
- All in all, it was just the first game against a weaker opponent. Remember we blew out Puerto Rico in the preliminary round in '04 before they dominated us in the actual tournament.
Team USA played really well, but had a few missteps last night. Namely...
- Overall bad shooting from 3 point land. Mike Miller (2-8), Chauncey Billups (1-4) and 'Melo (1-3) struggled while the team only shot 38%.
- Too many isolations. Carmelo was the main culprit. The offense became somewhat stagnant and Team USA struggled to score for small periods. Put the ball in Kidd's hands and watch how the offense flows freely. Plus, all the isos will be irrelevant once stronger squads employ the zone defenses.
Check out Team USA tonight vs. Canada on ESPN Classic.