USA vs. Brazil: Lack of Length Will Continue to Be Team USA's Achilles' Heel

David DanielsSenior Writer IJuly 17, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 16: LeBron James #6 of the US Men's Senior National Team dribbles past Anderson Franca Varejao #11 of Brazil in the third quarter during a pre-Olympic exhibition basketball game at the Verizon Center on July 16, 2012 in Washington, DC. The US Senior Men's National Team won, 80-69. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Spain looks horrifying.

Team USA struggled to defeat Brazil on Monday night. In the 2012 Summer Olympics exhibition contest, Team USA conquered its inferior opponent by the unimpressive score of 80-69. A tight battle isn’t what should scare the Americans—how that battle became tight, though, is a cause for alarm.

Since the roster's release, critics of the U.S. National Team have preached that a lack of length would lead to its demise. That claim definitely has legs after last night’s pity party in the paint.

Against an NBA-caliber front line of Nene, Tiago Splitter and Anderson Varejao, Team USA was owned on the glass.

Tyson Chandler had one board—one. Defense and rebounding are supposed to be Chandler’s niche. If he can’t do that, the Americans’ one true center is useless.

The only other two forms of length on the squad—Kevin Love and Anthony Davis—didn’t even play six total minutes. That needs to change.

Brazil out-rebounded the U.S. 38-30, but those numbers don’t do their domination justice. If it weren’t for LeBron James and Andre Iguodala stealing a combined seven offensive boards, the deficit would’ve obviously been far worse. Pinpointing defensive rebounding only, Team USA was outworked on the glass, 32-18.

Varejao alone inhaled a whopping 13 boards. Nene and Splitter had six each. The Americans' only rebounder who could compete was LeBron, who had six.

Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka are licking their chops.

If Mike Krzyzewski thinks his small lineup is going to work against Spain, he’s in for a rude awakening. Not only will the Spaniards’ big-man trio dominate the boards, but Jose Calderon and Pau could put an equally terrifying dent in the scoreboard with the pick-and-roll.

You would tend to believe that the U.S.'s athletic lineup could shut down a pick-and-roll with ease, but that was not the case against Brazil.

Brazilian point guard Marcelo Huertas shredded Team USA, scoring 11 points and dishing out 13 assists. If Huertas, a Euroleague talent, can have his way with the Americans, what do you think Calderon is going to do?

Coach K needs to make adjustments in the frontcourt to secure rebounds and defend the pick-and-roll, or else Team USA won't come home with the gold medal.


David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.