Wednesday, August 06, 2008

My Souped-up Olympic preview!

With the Olympics just one day away, it's time to preview some Olympic basketball! We're getting a steroid shot with some help from Kellex, Jarrad Todd and Anthony!

Me: Do you have team USA as your favorite, and which team has the best chance of knocking them off?

Kellex: For sure Team USA is my favorite! If I had a team to knock them off, it would probably be Spain at this point. So much young talent there and they are the reigning Euro champs or something aren't they?

Anthony: On paper, they are the favorites. I think it's pretty obvious - they have an NBA All-Star lineup. Sentimentally, they are my favorites since Kobe is playing for them. I am a huge Laker fan first and foremost. (Later on, Anthony talks about how to defeat them)

I believe the US will ultimately take home the gold, followed by Spain and Argentina. I do find it hard to believe that the US only selected one center (Dwight Howard) for their roster. Particularly so when you consider the big men competing in the tournament, i.e. as mentioned the Aussie trio, Spain's Gasol brothers, China's Yao & Yi etc. This is a huge risk to take because if Howard suffers an injury, I think they can kiss their gold medal chances goodbye.

My answer: Yes, they're my favorite to win the gold. I agree with Kellex, Spain has got the Gasol's, Calderon, that young gun Ricky Rubio and plenty of other great players.

Me: How can teams beat Team USA?


The Americans have speed and athleticism. They overwhelm opponents by their running game. The key here is to slow down the game by:

  1. Using the shot clock - this will hopefully slow the tempo down and prevent explosive finishes by the Americans. (Kind of like what Russia did)
  2. Limiting outside shooting to prevent long rebounds. Long rebounds, of course, leads to fastbreaks.
1. The Americans have limited outside shooting capability. The only pure shooter is Redd and the next best shooter is Kobe (and Kobe is not a pure shooter). Perhaps, Deron is the 3rd shooter in this team. If the opponents pack it in and force the Americans to shoot from long range, they have a shot (Again, kind of like Russia). It seems the zone is the only option for opposing teams - it forces the Americans to shoot from the outside . They can man in the last quarter or the last few minutes if the score is close.

2. The strange thing is Coach K has given Redd limited minutes in their exhibition games. If anything, Redd should be given more minutes than Melo but that's only my opinion. Redd has to be given significant minutes to boost his confidence. When the real tournament in the Olympic happens, I feel that the competition will play "dirty" inside so Redd's shooting will come in handy to keep the defense honest.

3. The Americans have the mental edge. If the opponent comes in thinking the Americans will beat them then they have already been beat. The Australians showed the Americans some "attitude" (jawing with Wade) and the other teams may want to emulate that. They have to tread the line though as you don't want to give the proud Americans a reason to kick your ass. Don't back down from their taunts but don't initiate either.

My answer: So far, you take what you can from the Russia and Australia exhibition's. Slow the game down, use different defenses to rattle their offense (like the match up zone) and force them into the NBA-style isolation offense (it seemed to be a reason the USA started slow against Australia).

Me: What does the team have to work on the most?


The team has to work on their:
  1. Outside Shooting - see item 2 above on "how to defeat them".
  2. Passing - with this all-start cast, it's very easy to slack on offense and go 1 on 1. All of the five players on the floor (on any given time) can score so, if possible, they should all be shooting when there is no man harassing them. But then again, these players are so used to defenders all over them that shooting without a defender might not work for them. We all know Coach K has them practicing that - shooting without a defender, how funny.
My answer:

They have to work on adjusting to all kinds of defense. They seem to really get rattled when they see something new.

I would also like to see good, genuine ball movement. Sometimes we see too much passing, sometimes we see too little passing. They've got to embrace the international game and move the ball (kind of like the Kings did under Rick Adelman).

Just making sure the little things are in your favor. Get the loose balls, get the third and fourth opportunity to score, just hustle.

Me: Since you're in Australia Jarrad, how will the Aussies do?

In terms of how I think the Aussies will fare, realistically I don't think they're good enough to be in medal contention, however I do expect them finish somewhere between 4th and 6th. The Aussies strength will be their frontcourt, with center's Andrew Bogut (Bucks), David Anderson (CSKA Moscow - rights held by Hawks) and Chris Anstey (formerly with the Mavs and Bulls). It should be fun watching Patrick Mills (St Mary's) in the back-up point guard spot, to gauge his NBA potential. From his performance against the US in the Exhibition game on Tuesday, so far he looks the goods.

I really have to thank Kellex, Jarrad Todd and Anthony for their insight. So flex your hoops knowledge by marking the calendar for all these games!