Great Britain Olympic Basketball Team: 2012 Roster Predictions and Analysis
For the first time since 1948, when London last hosted the world, Great Britain will be representing themselves on the Olympic basketball courts once again.
With an almost absent impact on international basketball throughout history, Great Britain looked to gather a team willing and capable to compete with the world—a feat required by the International Basketball Federation.
Great Britain had to fight for the traditional spot given to the host nation, due to FIBA's requirement of proving they can compete to a higher level of international competition—a reasonable request considering the nation last qualified in 1948.
In the end, Great Britain prevailed and will play in front of scores of roaring fans supporting their nation with pride.
On August 10, 2012 Great Britain announced the nation's preliminary Olympic roster. The roster will endure two more periods of cuts—to 16 players in early May, with the final 12-man roster being announced in early June.
The following is the preliminary Great Britain roster:
|Guard||Ogooluwa Adegboye||Apoel, Cyprus|
|Guard||Ben Gordon||Detroit Pistons (NBA), USA|
|Guard||Kyle Johnson||Apoel, Cyprus|
|Guard||Michael Lenzly||CEZ Nymburk, Czech Republic|
|Guard||Andrew Lawrence||College of Charleston, USA|
|Guard||Alex Marcotullio||Northwestern University, USA|
|Guard||Nate Reinking||Mersey, England|
|Guard||Devon Van Oostrum||Tarragona, Spain|
|Forward||Kieron Achara||Manresa, Spain|
|Forward||Robert Archibald||Zaragoza, Spain|
|Forward||Matthew Bryan-Amaning||Haceteppe, Turkey|
|Forward||Luol Deng||Chicago Bulls (NBA), USA|
|Forward||Joel Freeland||Unicaja, Spain|
|Forward||Pops Mensah-Bonsu||Besiktas, Turkey|
|Forward||Sullivan Phillips||Prievidza, Slovakia|
|Forward||Ovie Soko||University of Alabama-Birmingham, USA|
|Forward||Andrew Sullivan||Leicester, England|
|Center||Eric Boateng||Peristeri, Greece|
|Center||Daniel Clark||Estudiantes, Spain|
|Center||Byron Mullens||Charlotte Bobcats (NBA), USA|
|Center||Ryan Richards||Lugano, Switzerland|
Roster Breakdown: Guards
Finally, guard Ben Gordon will be pulling the Great Britain jersey over his head to lead the team in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Gordon, although he is the best guard, is not the only depth the nation has at the position.
The following is a brief analysis of each guard present on the preliminary roster. By selecting each player's name, you will be redirected to the corresponding player's page for more in depth analysis and statistics.
Ogooluwa Adegboye: Currently playing point guard for APOEL in Cyprus, Adegboye has averaged 14.4 minutes per game with 3.6 points. Adegboye attended St. Bonaventure College in the USA, where he averaged four assists and 11.5 points per game as a senior, in the 2010-2011 season.
Ben Gordon: Through 52 games in 2012, with the Detroit Pistons of the National Basketball Association, Gordon has averaged 12.5 points per game while shooting 44 percent from the field. With eight seasons in the NBA, Gordon averages 16.5 points per game and will likely be one of the leading offensive weapons for Great Britain.
Kyle Johnson: Johnson is currently signed by APOEL, Cyprus but is better known for his time at Long Island University in the USA. Throughout his collegiate career, Johnson scored 1,433 points and led his school to the NCAA tournament in his senior season.
Michael Lenzly: As a 6'3" point guard for the Czech Republic team CEZ Nymburk, Lenzly has averaged seven points per game while playing just over 20 minutes. In 2011, he was also a member of the qualifying Great Britain team in the European Championships—scoring 5.8 points per game.
Andrew Lawrence: Lawrence currently plays basketball at the College of Charleston in the United States. As a 6'1" guard, he completed the 2011-2012 season averaging over five assists and 13 points per game.
Alex Marcotullio: Marcotullio attends Northwestern University in the United States. Playing just over 20 minutes per game in the 2011-2012 season, he scored five points a game on 43 percent shooting.
Nate Reinking: As a veteran in the British Basketball League, Reinking performed well with the Great Britain team in the European Championships—shooting 48 percent and scoring over nine points per game. It should also be noted that Reinking has worked with Great Britain coach Chris Finch on multiple occasions.
Devon Van Oostrum: As a member of the England team during the 2011 U20 European Championsips, Oostrum impressed by playing over 30 minutes per game and scoring 13.1 points. During the 2011-2012 season with CB Tarragona of Spain, he averaged six points while playing 17.6 minutes per game.
Projected Final Guards: Ben Gordon, Nate Reinking, Andrew Lawrence and Devon Van Oostrum.
Roster Breakdown: Forwards
Another NBA player will lead the pack of forwards for Great Britain during the Olympics—Luol Deng of the Chicago Bulls.
The following is a brief analysis of each forward present on the preliminary roster. By selecting each player's name, you will be redirected to the corresponding player's page for more in depth analysis and statistics.
Kieron Achara: As a power forward for Assignia Manresa in Spain's top flight, Achara blocks one shot and scores six points while playing in under 20 minutes per game. Achara was also a five-year player for Duquesne University in the United States.
Robert Archibald: The 6'11" power forward for CAI Zaragoza in the Spanish ACB league, Archibald had a strong showing for Great Britain during the 2011 European Championship. He scored over four points per game while collecting five rebounds. Archibald also spent time with four NBA teams after being drafted in 2002.
Matthew Bryan-Amaning: A member of the Turkish League team Haceteppe, Bryan-Amaning is a strong defensive player averaging over one block a game along with two steals. He also scores over 12 points a game.
Luol Deng: Deng is a starting power forward for the NBA's Chicago Bulls. With eight years on the team, Deng averages 16 points a game with over six rebounds for his career. Deng will provide Great Britain with high scoring production, just as he has in recent years during European Championships.
Joel Freeland: Playing for Gran Canaria College in Unicaja Spain, the 6'11" forward has averaged 12.5 points per game on 27 minutes. The former first-round selection in the NBA will add athleticism and defensive strength to the Great Britain team.
Pops Mensah-Bonsu: Turkish League team Besiktas has seen an extremely productive season from Mensah-Bonsu. While playing just 23 minutes a game, he has scored 13.7 points shooting just shy of 62 percent from the field.
Sullivan Phillips: Sullivan has been a solid force down low for the Slovakian team Prievidza. With over five rebounds per game and scoring 15 points through 30 minutes of play, Phillips has been a reliable source of production.
Ovie Soko: Soko showed a well-rounded game while playing at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. In the 2011-2012 season, he averaged 8.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while playing 28.2 minutes.
Andrew Sullivan: Sullivan captains the Great Britain national team. Despite lacking in production, with just over two points per game, he adds experience and leadership to the squad.
Projected Final Forwards: Luol Deng, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Sullivan Phillips, Andrew Sullivan, Ovie Soko and Joel Freeland.
Roster Breakdown: Center
With no surprise, the most productive center on the Great Britain preliminary roster is another member of the NBA. Playing for the Charlotte Bobcats, Byron Mullens will lead the big men of Great Britain.
The following is a brief analysis of each center present on the preliminary roster. By selecting each player's name, you will be redirected to the corresponding player's page for more in depth analysis and statistics.
Eric Boateng: After a brief career within the NBA D-League, Boateng signed with Greek team Peristeri. With the Austin Toros of the NBA D-League, he scored 4.9 points and 4.8 blocks per game in just 16 minutes of play.
Daniel Clark: The 6'11" center, who also sees time at power forward, plays for the Spanish team Asefa Estudian. During the 2011 European Championship, Clark averaged 24 minutes and eight points per game.
Byron Mullens: In the 2011-2012 season with the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats, Mullens averaged 9.3 points per game along with five rebounds. Surprisingly for a true seven-foot center, he is efficient at the free-throw line—shooting 82 percent.
Ryan Richards: With the U20 England team in the 2011 European Championship, Richards led the team in scoring. Also providing the team with an abundance of rebounding, Richards is a promising young player who averaged over 22 points and eight rebounds per game. On his Switzerland club Lugano, he averages just over 11 points per game.
Projected Final Centers: Byron Mullens and Ryan Richards.
Great Britain's coach not only has experience as a coach in England, but also as a player.
Chris Finch began his coaching career with the same team he played for, the Sheffield Sharks of the British Basketball League. As coach, he led the Sharks to several league titles and helped the team become the most storied franchise in the league's history. After winning in the 1998-1999 season, Finch was named BBL Coach of the Year.
After leaving Sheffield, Finch continued on to coach Germany's Gießen 46ers, Belgium's Euphony Bree and Dexia Mons-Hainaut until finally landing in the NBA's D-League, coaching the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
With the Vipers, Finch won the team's first title in franchise history on his way to earning D-League Coach of the Year.
With a history of success within Great Britain and internationally, Finch brings valuable assets and knowledge to an inexperienced team—paving way for a possible surprise run through the tournament.
Best Case Scenario
The best case scenario lies within the draw of the grouping.
Great Britain gets grouped with teams like China, Tunisia and Australia. The play of forwards Luol Deng and Joel Freeman, center Byron Mullens and guard Ben Gordon prove to be too much for teams to handle.
Younger players such as Ryan Richards, Ovie Soko and Andrew Lawrence perform exceptionally well coming off the bench, allowing the starters to rest and help relieve the pressures they face.
Deng and Gordon dominate the scoreboard, leading coach Chris Finch and his Great Britain team to the medals round. Great Britain rallies behind its home crowd's support and surprises the basketball world at the 2012 Olympics with close games versus powerhouses such as USA and Spain.
Worst Case Scenario
Great Britain finds themselves unlucky with the draw and must face off against Olympic powerhouse teams like Spain, USA and Argentina.
The younger players fail to effectively produce, leaving the few experienced and capable players with the unbearable responsibility of competing with teams stacked with the best talent the world has to offer.
Luol Deng and Ben Gordon cannot carry the entire team on their shoulders, and Great Britain is suffers lopsided, crushing defeats in front of their home crowd.
After overcoming adversity and earning their right to represent the nation in the 2012 Olympics, the return to international basketball on the Olympic stage is not without effort—but is without even a glimmer of hope for chances at a medal..
Great Britain receives a tough, yet fair draw.
The team shows resilience against some of the world's toughest competition and finishes their grouping with an even record.
Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, Byron Mullens and Pops Mensah-Bonsu lead the team in production, while the bench players perform admirably.
Great Britain loses its chances at a medal, but proves that it can compete on an international stage—thus leading to future Olympic appearances and international success.
Leading Scorer: Ben Gordon
Leading Assists: Ben Gordon
Leading Rebounding: Byron Mullens
Surprise Performers: Ryan Richards and Pops Mensah-Bonsu
Great Britain MVP: Ben Gordon