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Australia Olympic Men's Basketball Team 2012: Updated News, Roster & Analysis

Avi Wolfman-ArentCorrespondent IIApril 27, 2012

Australia Olympic Men's Basketball Team 2012: Updated News, Roster & Analysis

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    Wounded, spurned and depleted, the Australian men's Olympic basketball team enters the 2012 London Olympics with plenty to prove.

    Australia fell from the pre-tournament elite after Kyrie Irving decided to save himself for Team USA and star center Andrew Bogut suggested that his slow-healing ankle fracture might hold him out of Olympic competition.

    Now a once-promising team faces long odds just to reach the semifinals in London, much less capture an elusive medal (the Aussies have finished fourth on three occasions, but never higher).

    Of course it isn't all doom and gloom. Australia remains among the top ten basketball playing nations in the world (ninth in the FIBA world rankings), and has a rich history of producing good Euroleague, and even NBA, talent.

    The accumulated years of basketball tradition have fortified Team Australia with a deep, experienced group that should at least be competitive in London. They were competitive in their final games leading up to the London Games, but went 1-3 against some of their Olympic competitors.

    More information on those games and the Australian players is included in the following slides.

Roster Rundown

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    Listed below are the 12 players included on Australia's final roster:

    Pos.

    Name

    Age

    Ht.

    Club

    PG

    Patrick Mills

    23

    6’0”

    San Antonio Spurs

    PG

    Adam Gibson

    25

    6’2”

    Gold Coast Blaze

    SG

    Peter Crawford

    32

    6’4”

    Townsville Crocodiles

    SG

    Joe Ingles

    24

    6’8”

    FC Barcelona Regal

    SG

    Matthew Dellavedova

    21

    6’4”

    Saint Mary's College (CA)

    SF/SG

    Brad Newley

    27

    6’7”

    Valencia BC (Spain)

    SF

    David Barlow

    28

    6’9”

    CB Murcia (Spain)

    PF

    Mark Worthington

    29

    6’8”

    Gold Coast Blaze

    PF

    Matthew Nielsen  (C)

    34

    6’10”

    BC Khimki (Russia)

    C

    Aron Baynes

    25

    6’10”

    Ikaros Kallitheas (Greece)

    C

    David Andersen

    32

    6’11”

    Montepaschi Siena (Italy)

    C

    Aleks Marić

    27

    6’11”

    Panathinaikos (Greece)

Guards

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    Starters: Patrick Mills, Joe Ingles

    Reserves: Brad Newly, Matthew Dellavedova, Peter Crawford, Adam Gibson

    Quick Hits:

    American fans know Patrick (Patty) Mills from his sensational freshman year at St. Mary's College as well as his exploits with the Portland Trailblazers and San Antonio Spurs. On a team without Bogut, he's Australia's most talented player and should see heavy usage in this tournament.

    Newley is less known than Mills, but he's a deft shooter with good size for a guard.

    Mills dazzled at the Beijing games and he has to be even better this time around for the Boomers to have a prayer. Mills has NBA speed and exceptional burst. In a field with few notable perimeter defenders he should find his way into the paint and create a lot of open shots for his teammates.

    On the other side of that coin, Mills needs to recognize double teams and know when the ball must move. How he navigates the taut line between being Mr. Everything and Mr. Facilitator will determine this team's success in London.

    By the Numbers:

    3: Number of players at the 2008 Beijing games that were younger than Patty Mills.

Forwards

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    Projected Starters: Matt Nielsen, Mark Worthington

    Projected Reserves: David Barlow, Brad Newly, Joe Ingles

    Quick Hits:

    Ingles, the best non-NBA-based player on the Australian roster, has a good handle and the flexibility to play inside and out. His standout play in the Australian league earned him a spot with Spanish league power Barcelona in 2010.

    This is a solid, but unspectacular bunch. Compare them to the forward tandems of Argentina (Luis Scola, Carlos Delfino) or Spain (Pau Gasol, Rudy Fernandez), and it's clear Australia doesn't measure up.

    By the Numbers:

    7: Years that passed between David Andersen being drafted by the Atlanta Hawks and Andersen's NBA debut with the Houston Rockets in 2009. Andersen signed with the Rockets as a free agent.

Centers

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    Projected Starter: David Andersen*

    Projected Reserves: Aron Baynes, Matt Nielsen, Aleksandar Marić

    Quick Hits:

    *Marić left Australia's first primer game against Spain after taking hard contact to the leg. He was not able to play in their second match, and his status is still uncertain for the Olympics.

    Nielsen is also working through injury issues, as hamstring tightness has taken him out of recent exhibition games.

    Andersen, the former New Orleans Hornet, is big at 6'11', but doesn't play up to his size. He's more of a scorer/shooter than a rebounder/defender. However, he is covering for Marić if nagging injuries cost him time in London.

    Andrew Bogut decided not to play, which is a big loss for the Aussies.

    The loss was not unexpected. An example from his sit-down with Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick:

    The problem right now is not rushing back, and that's why the decision was made that I'm probably not going to play this season. The one thing after that is obviously the Olympics, but if I rush back from this injury and I'm 90 percent, 95 percent, it increases the chance of that bone fracture actually becoming a break. Then I'd have all kinds of issues that would lead to a major surgery, and there's no point trying to risk getting into that.

    Maric was the team's best post player in qualifying and was such a stud in the Serbian league that he landed a deal with Greek power Panathinaikos in 2010.

    By the Numbers:

    71.4: Aleksander Maric's shooting percentage in Olympic qualifying.

Head Coach

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    Longtime head coach Brian Goorjian hit the chopping block after Australia's seventh place finish in Beijing, leaving New England native Brett Brown to take his place.

    Brown has a long history in the NBL, Australia's native league, including a successful stint with the North Melbourne Giants from 1993 to 1998.

    Today he's an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs, which provides him regular contact with star point guard Patrick Mills. Upon hiring him in 2009, Australian officials expressed hope that Brown's NBA credentials would allow him to scout elite players and better prepare the Boomers for the rigors of top international competition.

    It's time to see if that NBA exposure has paid off.

Best Case Scenario

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    Even without Andrew Bogut, led by Patty Mills' irrepressible energy on the perimeter, Australia knocks off a European power en route to a semifinals appearance.

    From there, the Aussies take advantage of some one-and-done luck to dance off with their first Olympic medal.

    They have a realistic expectation of coming out of pool play with the second seed, which would give them a more favorable matchup in the elimination round. 

    They need to avoid the fourth-seed, as that would likely pit them against the U.S. to start the elimination round. Pool A is full of other talented teams, including France and Argentina.

    However, Australia did manage a tight win over France in a warm-up game for the Olympics.

    Pool B

    W-L

    Spain

    5-0 

    Australia

    3-2

    Brazil

    3-2

    Russia

    2-3

    Great Britain

    2-3

    China

    0-5

Worst Case Scenario

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    Without Bogut the Boomers might be overwhelmed by more athletic teams on the interior.

    Patty Mills will attempt to pick up the slack by playing hero-ball, but the Aussies end up tied with Great Britain for the fourth-seed in Pool B.

    The worst-case would be losing the tiebreaker, but gaining the last seed into the medal round wouldn't be much better.

    The fourth seed will likely play an elimination game against Team USA.

    Either way, Australia would miss the quarterfinals for the second time in the last three Olympics.

    The failure leads to another coaching change and Australia is relegated, at least in public opinion, to the second tier of international basketball.

    Pool B

    W-L

    Spain

    5-0 

    Russia

    3-2

    Brazil

    3-2

    Australia

    2-3

    Great Britain

    2-3

    China

    0-5

Prediction

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    Recent Matches

    Australia played a series of Olympics primer games, but posted a 1-3 record. They lost a pair of close contests to Pool B favorite Spain and suffered an 87-71 loss against Brazil.

    Their lone win came against France by a 69-67 margin. France is projected to be one of the favorites in Pool A.

     

    Australia will finish...

    Seventh.

     

    Why Seventh?

    It's hard to cut through the pessimism surrounding this team.

    For starters, Andrew Bogut it out. The Warriors have put their butts on the line to land him—which includes getting hounded by the faithful for their decision to take an oft-injured center over scoring dynamo Monta Ellis—and Bogut won't risk disappointing his new bosses.

    Without Bogut this team doesn't match up against the likes of Spain, France, Brazil and Argentina. The Boomers can't replace his defensive presence or the ball movement he creates with his exceptional passing ability.

    Patty Mills is a good player, but not of the caliber that elevates a poor supporting cast. More athletic teams will gladly focus on him and rotate to cover the rest of the court.

    Australia is still good enough to make the quarterfinals, but they won't get any further.

The Facts

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    Nickname: The Boomers

    Nickname Origin: "Boomer" is an Australian slang term for a Kangaroo.

    Coach: Brett Brown

    Potential Nicknames for Coach: Brownie, Flush It Brown, Woah Brown Bretty bam-a-lam, The Brettster

    How They Qualified for the Olympics: Won 2011 FIBA Oceania Championship

    How They Really Qualified for the Oympics: The "FIBA Oceania Championship" in 2011 was just a three-game series between Australia and New Zealand. They were the only two countries in the region to compete for an Olympic berth.

    Best Finish: Fourth (2000,1996,1988)

    Top Scorer In Qualifying: Aleksander Maric

    Got Highlights? Of course you can. Here they are against the Americans in a 2008 pre-Olympic warm-up match.

    Fun-ish Basketball-Related Fact #1: The current roster has nine players who played college basketball in the U.S., but only one (Andrew Ogilvy) who played his college ball east of the Mississippi.

    Fun-ish Basketball-Related Fact #2: They've qualified for 12 consecutive Olympic tournaments and missed just one of the last eleven FIBA World Championships.

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