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Team USA Basketball 2012: Does Coach K Run Up the Score Against Lesser Teams?

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 06:  Head coach of the United States Mike Krzyzewski gestures during the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match against Argentina on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Basketball Arena on August 6, 2012  in London, England.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistAugust 8, 2012

Team USA has been on a tear thus far in the 2012 Olympics in London, demolishing almost every team in its wake (with the glaring exception of Lithuania), which has led some to question whether Coach Krzyzewski is running up the score. 

After Team USA defeated Nigeria by a jaw-dropping 83 points, a reporter in the postgame press conference asked that very question, and Coach K was not excited to hear about it:

"We didn't play LeBron [James] and Kobe [Bryant] in the second half, and with Carmelo shooting like that, we benched him," Krzyzewski said. "We didn't take any fast breaks in the fourth quarter, and we played all zone. You have to take a shot every 24 seconds, and the shots we took happened to be hit..."I take offense to this question because there's no way in the world that our program in the United States sets out to humiliate anyone."

Krzyzewski has a point, but beating a team by a wider margin than their final score is still a bit much. Obviously, there was a massive talent differential, but a 156-73 victory smells of running up the score. 

Nigeria's humiliation was not the only case of a massive point differential, as Team USA beat Tunisia 110-63 and Argentina 126-97. What is scary about these totals is that the team has looked nonchalant in almost every first half it has played thus far. 

On the other hand, Coach K would be correct in saying that his team does not set out to humiliate any teams, but they do intend to defeat them. His players would be angry if he told them to ease up to save the opposition's feelings, and it would offend the opposition even more if LeBron James and company simply stopped trying. 

Unfortunately, this is not a battle Coach K and Team USA can win. It is impressive to many people to have assembled a roster that simply dominates the globe with ease, but it also offends some and sends the wrong impression. 

With such an unbelievably talented roster, the question of running up the score is inevitable. Krzyzewski should not take offense at such a question, but be proud of the job he and the staff have done to this point to even warrant the question in the first place.

 

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