USA vs Czech Republic: Biggest X-Factors Who Will Step Up for Americans
After the men destroyed Nigeria on Thursday, the women of Team USA basketball have a tough act to follow against the Czech Republic on Friday in group play at the 2012 Olympics.
Through three games in London, Team USA has won by an average of 36 points. The closest game this team has played was a 25-point drubbing of Croatia.
The Czech Republic has had its problems, losing two of three games, and the one win came against a bad Croatia team.
Still, no game is a given, and Team USA will need some players to step up. Plus, it will do wonders for the confidence of this team to use its depth alongside the star power to help win this game.
Here are the X-factors who will step up for Team USA in this game against the Czech Republic.
There was a time when Sue Bird was one of the best basketball players on the planet. At 31 years old, she is no longer at that level.
What Bird does, however, is provide a stabilizing, veteran presence to an incredibly talented team. Head coach Geno Auriemma knew that he needed someone like Bird to get Team USA where it wanted to go.
Don't expect Bird to have a lot of points, but she will get a handful of assists and put her teammates in a position to succeed. Going against a weak squad like the Czech Republic, Bird could score a lot more than I think she will.
Which Player Will Have The Most Impact On Team USA's Game vs. Czech Republic?
Another veteran presence for a fairly young team, Jones is coming off her best game of group play against Turkey on Wednesday. She had eight points, four rebounds and three assists in Team USA's 89-58 destruction of Turkey.
I think the Czech Republic will allow her an opportunity to build on what she did against Turkey. The U.S. team is far superior to the Czech Republic on paper, and Jones would be the best player for the Czech Republic.
It would not be unreasonable to expect Jones to break double digits in points and at least six rebounds.
Catchings has actually been trending downward the further along the preliminary round has gone. She started out with a solid 10-point effort against Croatia, then moved down to seven against Angola and zero against Turkey.
However, Catchings is the kind of player who has a profound effect on the game without putting the ball in the basket. Team USA has more than enough offense; what it needs is someone who will do a lot of the grunt work on defense and down low.
Against the Czech Republic, look for Catchings to increase her scoring effort while playing stout, in-your-face defense that gives the U.S. easy baskets in transition.
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