London 2012: Is Team USA Basketball Still Making the Same Mistakes?
A few days ago, I analyzed Team USA's win over Brazil, citing three areas that needed to be improved: shot selection, rebounding and passing.
Yesterday, Team USA beat Great Britain by 40 in Manchester. They substantially outshot Great Britain and won the turnover battle (27-9), the steals battle (16-1) and the blocked shots battle (8-2).
The scoring was fairly evenly distributed, with six players, including Anthony Davis, scoring in double figures, but no player scoring 20 points. This is good, as it means that Team USA doesn't have to always rely on command performances from Kevin Durant and LeBron James.
However, despite the big win, did they make substantial enough improvements in the three problem areas they had against Brazil? Let's take a look:
Though Team USA finished strong with 60 percent shooting, they let Great Britain hang around early in the game. In the first three minutes of the game, they blew two dunks and a lob. In a close game, that could be the difference between a three-point victory and a three-point defeat.
Will Team USA be able to win the Gold Medal while being consistently outrebounded?
Team USA did take my earlier advice and play Davis and Kevin Love more. However, they were out-rebounded 35-34 by a team whose best big man is a Ghanian transplant and NBA benchwarmer named Pops Mensah-Bonsu (Mensah-Bonsu had nine boards in 29 minutes).
Team USA's lone true center, Tyson Chandler, was M.I.A., playing only 10 minutes while grabbing only a single rebound and not scoring. Team USA again ran a small lineup for portions of the game. Great Britain's lack of athleticism meant the U.S. could capitalize on shooting mismatches, but they got hurt in rebounding mismatches.
If Team USA keeps up its blistering shooting, losing the battle of the glass won't be a problem against most teams. It will be a problem against a Spanish team that has men like Serge Ibaka and the Gasol brothers, who can dominate the glass and will get more second-chance opportunities while denying them to Team USA.
This is the one area that Team USA did improve. They had 39 assists in the game, including 20 from their three point guards and four from LeBron. This type of ball distribution and scoring distribution will make Team USA unguardable.
In conclusion, there are still a few areas that Team USA could improve on to be guaranteed to beat powerhouses like Spain.
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