Olympic Basketball 2012: Team USA Won't Cruise to Gold Medal

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistJuly 30, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 29:  Kevin Durant #5 and LeBron James #6 of United States look on from the bench against France in the Men's Basketball Game on Day 2 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Basketball Arena on July 29, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Team USA will win a Gold Medal, but it won't come easily.

And, it won't come pretty.

That's just as well with Carmelo Anthony (via the Chicago Sun-Times staff):

‘‘We know everybody else expects us to win by 40 points,’’ Carmelo Anthony said. ‘‘For us, a win’s a win. We expect every game to be like this one.’’

Sure, there will be moments of sheer brilliance, highlights that boggle the mind and the gloss that inherently accompanies superstars doing what they do. You don't have to worry about this team doing what it does best on the fast-break—there will be plenty of impossible passes and dunks that seem better-suited for a gymnastics routine.

But, there will be a few stretches the United States would like to forget.

Head coach Mike Krzyzewski's club struggled mightily at times in its first preliminary game against France, fouling and turning the ball over at a rate you'd expect from a team that hadn't played together for long.

And, of course, that's the one advantage Team USA's opponents typically have. They've played together more frequently and inherited the chemistry and familiarity that come therewith.

By comparison, the United States' squad is a hodgepodge of perfect strangers—though, very talented strangers at that.

So talented, in fact, that they're often able to fake all the rest and cover up those weaknesses.

The 14 turnovers and 26 fouls notwithstanding, Team USA's game against France was never in serious jeopardy. Nor will most of their games.  Certainly not against teams like Tunisia.

Nevertheless, don't be especially shocked if some of these games are a bit too close for comfort. With Argentina in the USA's preliminary round pool, things could get interesting fairly soon, too. Argentina narrowed Team USA's tune-up victory to just six points and forced another closely-contested meeting in the final preliminary game before the Quarterfinals.

No one really believes the United States is at significant risk of losing out on the Gold Medal.

That optimism just might come into question before all is said and done, though.