USA vs. Dominican Republic: What Team USA Must Prove in First Exhibition Game
The 2012 United States Men’s Olympic basketball team will play its first game against the Dominican Republic, and it can answer some important questions with a dominant performance.
The game will take place at UNLV and feature a battle between two of college basketball’s top coaches.
Mike Krzyzewski is the Team USA boss, while John Calipari is leading the Dominican Republic.
Here are the three things the Americans must do in order to prove that they are ready for the Olympics.
Dominate the Paint
If Blake Griffin does not play, how much will it hurt Team USA at the Olympics?
One of the major concerns with the 2012 squad is the team’s lack of depth in the frontcourt.
Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh—two of the key big men on the 2008 team—will both miss the London Games due to injury. Tyson Chandler is the only true center on the team.
Blake Griffin injured his knee during practice, according to ESPN, further exacerbating the team’s problems in the paint. The report notes that Anthony Davis will take his place against the Dominican Republic.
The U.S. will face a tough challenge down low from Al Horford, the Dominicans’ star player. Horford is a two-time All-Star who plays for the Atlanta Hawks.
Team USA can calm many of their worries regarding big men if they dominate Horford and the Dominicans on July 12.
Shoot Better than 40 percent from Three-Point Range
The court in international competition is smaller than NBA regulations, and the three-point line is closer to the basket. This acts as a disadvantage to athletically superior players, and gives an edge to quality shooters.
This has hurt the United States in past international tournaments, but the team has several players who are both superior athletes and quality shooters.
Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Deron Williams, Carmelo Anthony, James Harden and Kevin Love are all capable of knocking down three-pointers at a high percentage.
However, none of these players are spot-up shooters for their NBA teams. Many of them will have to move without the ball and be effective in catch-and-shoot situations.
If a few of these stars can show the ability to hang around the perimeter and knock down shots efficiently, Team USA will dominate the Olympics once again.
Winning games is not enough for Team USA. The 1992 Dream Team set the standard for not just winning, but dominating.
The international-basketball landscape is drastically different now, and teams like Spain and Argentina field seriously competitive squads.
But, the Dominican Republic is not a top team and currently ranks 25th in the world.
If Team USA allows them to even get close to a victory, it will be cause for concern.
Even though Team USA has yet to play a game together, there is no reason for this game not to be a blowout.
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