Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Team USA doesn't remember Greece

Last Saturday I wrote about the ridiculous praise Team USA has been getting, despite having yet to play an elite international team. A reminder: We've always been able to beat the weak teams, the decent ones give us fits. Still, the media by and large wasn't going to let this tiny detail stop the parade of puppies and sunshine.

There is hope for some logic, and it is coming as a result of Team USA beating Mexico 127-100 (box score). The U.S. beat them into submission in the first quarter, and perhaps understandably coasted a bit the rest of the game. In that period, Mexico (far from an elite international team, by the way) had some success doing the same old stuff that other teams have beat the U.S. with. Chris Sheridan thinks this is something to think about:

"This was a night when the Americans took their foot off the gas after the first quarter and went through the motions the rest of the night, shooting nearly 60 percent from the field but allowing Mexico to outscore them 28-20 in the second quarter and stay within striking distance through most of the third. Mexico, a 51½ point underdog, knocked down 15 3-point shots, almost all of them wide-open looks, and had a lot of success running the same pick-and-roll play that Greece used so effectively against Team USA in the semifinals of the World Championship last summer."

Criticism of a blow out win, even when a much larger margin of victory was expected, will almost always go ignored. But there is something to be said that the same crap that has killed Team USA in the past is still working.

It also continues another disturbing trend. Team USA has had a hard time getting motivated to play an entire game against teams that don't have guys they've heard of.

Sure, they'll get up against Brazil and lockdown Barbosa. But they can't muster this focus against Mexico, which is fine because Mexico isn't a serious threat. Then again, there are a handful of teams that don't feature NBA stars that are good enough to beat the US. That Greece Team Chris references? Thats one. There will likely be more in Beiijng.

Be wary, because while you can be content that the team has answered outside shooting issues and again has the quality pointguards to dominate, they proved against Mexico that the lesson Greece taught us has yet to sink in. The biggest threat to the U.S. is in the psyche of the team, they must learn that these teams pose a real threat even if they don't recognize the players on it. There are lots of teams that will be happy to issue reminders.


Anonymous said...

It seemed to this observer that Laker Kobe showed up (5 for 13) and for some reason Mike Miller cranked up a bunch of ugly shots ( 1 for 6). This is what kept Mexico in the game.

Jack Brown said...

I'd agree that Kobe came to play and Mike Miller was cold, but neither of those have much to do with Mexico putting up 100 points on this supposedly dominating defense. Mexico hit a lot of shots off pick and rolls and even more that were wide open. Shades of the Greece game.

Anonymous said...

I guess my comment about Laker Kobe showing up was misunderstood. I meant not the defense-minded, unselfish Kobe we have seen so far but the Kobe from the Lakers who feels he has to jack up a ton of ugly shots just to keep his team in the game then glower at the refs who don't call fouls on every miss.

Jack Brown said...

2 Kobe's, gotchya. Its really something to watch when that team-oriented Kobe decides to come out. It almost makes me feel bad for the dude he's guarding.

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