Team USA Basketball 2012: Biggest Keys to U.S. Success
Team USA is set to begin its Olympic tournament with a game against France on July 29th. The overwhelming favorite, Team USA is as close a lock to win the gold as you can get. Upsets happen, and that's why the games are played, but if the U.S. plays as it should, the games shouldn't even be close.
Team USA is filled entirely with NBA talent, while the other nations have anywhere up to a handful of NBA players. The gap of talent, athleticism, basketball IQ and skill is enormous, and if the Americans can do the following things, the gold is theirs.
Team USA is far and away the best team in the tournament. It should not only beat every opponent, but dominant them at both ends of the floor. In order to do that, the team must maintain a high level of focus throughout the competition.
When focused on the task at hand, Team USA is unbeatable because of its superior athleticism, speed and overall skill. The U.S. may lack some of the chemistry other teams who spend more time playing together have, but it can offset that with its focus and attention to detail.
Stay out of Foul Trouble
The biggest weakness of this version of Team USA is the clear lack of size and depth down low. The talent and skill advantage will make up for the deficiency, but if the U.S. bigs get into foul trouble, a team with size, like Spain, just might have the right ingredients to challenge Team USA.
If foul trouble becomes an issue for Tyson Chandler or some of the other players that will play down low, the U.S. would have to adjust its overall lineup. If Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James have to play in the post, that will certainly take away their talents on the wing.
Foul trouble won't be a death spell for Team USA, but it could be a factor in a potential perfect storm of an upset.
Push the Tempo
Team USA is most dangerous running the fast break, as the teams with only a few NBA players simply can't keep up. Once the Americans get out in space, there is no guarding the guys as they are just too fast and too big to stop.
For Team USA, pushing the tempo starts on the defensive end of the floor. The players must be active and force turnovers in order to get the break going. With the U.S. likely playing four players at a time with capable ball-handling skills, there is no reason to wait and find the point guard.
Get in a Rhythm
With the pain of defeat still in his eyes, Kevin Durant has been deadly behind the shorter-than-NBA three-point line. Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant have also made a point of hitting threes during Team USA's exhibition schedule.
With so many talented shooters hoisting up threes, Team USA needs to get into a rhythm early and carry that on throughout individual games and the tournament. Mixing up some deadly three-point shooting with the ability to run the break on turnovers or missed shots likely means Team USA shouldn't have any problems during the tournament.
Feed the Hot Hand
With so many great players on one team, chemistry is often a big question mark.
Should LeBron get a certain amount of minutes or shots based on the fact he's the best player out there? Maybe in Miami, but not in London. Team USA needs to ride the hot hand wherever that comes from. If it's Melo, Durant, Bryant or even Paul, the team needs to feed them the ball.
Team USA can go in any direction on each possession, but if James Harden can't miss, there's no reason he should be taken out of the game. With many potential blowouts coming, every player on the team should get a fair number of minutes.