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No. of Recommendations: 4
US got absolutely schooled today by Puerto Rico. Carlos Arroyo dominated the game, shooting 9 of 16 for a game-high 24 points, adding a game-high 7 assists, a team-high 4 steals and 4 defensive rebounds--1 short of Duncan's defensive rebounds for the US, which is a pretty hard thing to do as a guard compared to a center.

This team just isn't constructed correctly. 7 Forwards, 4 guards, and 1 Center. The international game is more of a perimeter game--the 3 point line is closer in, which rewards outside shooting. This also means there's more defenders closer in to the basket, and mixed with the wider lane, that means it's harder to generate inside scoring. They should have 5, if not 6, guards, and they needed to bring some guards with more of an outside presence.

They have Iverson, who is capable of lighting it up from beyond the arc (though he was a miserable 1-of-10 today from 3). Beyond that, they have LeBron, who isn't a natural 3 point shooter, Dwayne Wade, who thrives on driving the lane, not the outside shot, and Stephon Marbury, who has one of the worst shot selections on this team. Despite having a 3 point arc nearly 3 feet closer than the NBA, Team USA only made 3 of 24 from that range. That's terrible shooting--they ought to be around 35-40% from that range, not 12%.

The team defense was terrible, too. USA shot just over 33%, making 26 of 75 overall. Puerto Rico made 31 of 55--nearly 60%. They didn't put any thought toward getting good defenders, particularly good perimeter defenders.

They made a big mistake putting this team together. I know they had a lot of guys turn them down--Kobe and Kidd and Ray Allen would have made this a different team. Still, here's some guys they should have left come and some guys they should have taken:

Leave behind: Marbury, Boozer, Carmelo, Okafor, Amare Stoudemire. Drop 4 of the 7 forwards on the team. You still have Odom and Marion, both of which can score from the outside if need, and Jefferson, who shot terribly (3/16) today but still showed enough fire that made it look like he wanted to be there. You also drop Marbury, who has never shown an inclination to work within a team concept at any time in his pro career.

I'd add back these players:

(This assumes I can't take any of the players who were invited and declined in real life. This excludes Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Vince Carter, Shaquille ONeal, Jason Kidd, Ray Allen, Tracy McGrady, Karl Malone, Jermaine ONeal, Mike Bibby, Kenyon Martin, Elton Brand, Richard Hamilton, and Ben Wallace).

1) Guard: Sam Cassell. Savvy veteran that has been successful on many different NBA teams. Took very quickly to the Wolves last year. Wouldn't have needed much time to get in synch with his new teammates. A true pass-first point guard, unlike Marbury, who would make everyone else around him better. He also has a personal "sweet spot" at about 19 feet--great perimeter shooting, even if it isn't for 3. He was injured at the end of the year, so he might have declined. If so, I would have gone for Baron Davis.

2) Guard: Bobby Jackson. Another experienced veteran who can handle the point, but has made his name as a fierce perimeter defender. His role would be to shut down the hot hand of the day for the opposition. If he declined, I'd take either Bruce Bowen or Trenton Hassell.

3) Guard: Michael Redd: One of the better young outside shooters in the NBA today. Capable of adding some legit offense from the outside, which would help to loosen up the inside defense. If he said no, I'd ask Doug Christie.

4) Forward: Ron Artest. Yet another fierce defender, and a guy who is capable of sinking some 3 point shots. A guy who will give strong effort every time he's on the court. Hassell would be a good alternate here, too, since he can play both the 2 and the 3.

5) Center: Brad Miller. Good interior presence who can also score. Good passer, and would help the overall offense with improved ball movement to get past oppozing zones. Would also give the option of moving Duncan to his natural PF position if they're both on the floor together. An interesting alternate would have been Clifford Robinson, who is much less of a rebounding presence than he used to be, but is capable of shooting the 3 pointer, even as a center.

So, instead of the 4G, 7F, 1C lineup they have now, I'd go with 6G, 4F, 2C:

G: Iverson, Wade, James, Redd, Cassell, Jackson
F: Marion, Odom, Jefferson, Artest
C: Duncan, Miller

Much more mature team, much better defensively, and better composed for international play.

But they don't ask me to put the team together--alas.

--WP

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No. of Recommendations: 1
Wonder Pup:

If this is of any consolation to you.... all of Puerto Rico's players are US citizens

Victor
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No. of Recommendations: 0
I had to turn off the TV. It was embarassing. These young guys are all talk but can't step up. Plus, America doesn't have all of its best players over there.
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Hello,

the way the brackets are, only thing that matters are the quarter finals on Thursday, August 26 and the semi finals Friday 27. I believe USA will win gold medal.

I have not checked in what order they will play, I have my ticket for Thursday 26 and the first two quarter finals, hope USA to be in these and not at the next set. Missed the semi finals ticket for less than 3 minutes, cause they were only accepting Visa & I only had Mastercard handy! Rats, it will be strong basketball tourney.

regards
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No. of Recommendations: 5
If one more idiot on tv calls these guys "The Dream Team" I am going to scream. 1992 was the dream team for the USA. It is the only dream team we have every had, it is the only dream team we will ever have.
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If one more idiot on tv calls these guys "The Dream Team" I am going to scream. 1992 was the dream team for the USA. It is the only dream team we have every had, it is the only dream team we will ever have.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Ya I would agree, typically dream teams don't get thier ass kicked by a bunch of scrubs from Puerto Rico. I'm not saying the rest of the teams at these Olympics are scrubs but they just creamed this Puerto Rican team about 2 weeks ago.


Indy
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No. of Recommendations: 1
In hockey there are guys who carry the mail and score and then there are the guys who chop the wood and do all the dirty work. Hockey shows that hard work can beat talent on a consistant basis. Now of course you need some talent at key positions but the sum can be much greater than the individual pieces.

The concept of team is giving of yourself for the betterment of the group. I don't see how any "Team" led by Allen IIIIIII Iverson can win anything.
Hard work will beat talent especially if talent is selfish...Pete
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They are only "dreaming" that they can defend the 3 point line and get to the medal rounds.
---------------------------

If one more idiot on tv calls these guys "The Dream Team" I am going to scream. 1992 was the dream team for the USA. It is the only dream team we have every had, it is the only dream team we will ever have.
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The concept of team is giving of yourself for the betterment of the group. I don't see how any "Team" led by Allen IIIIIII Iverson can win anything.
Hard work will beat talent especially if talent is selfish...Pete

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Normally I would agree with you, but I've watched this team play over the last couple of weeks and they have really been very unselfish. The problem is they simply can't shoot mid range jumpers.....period. If we are going to re-invent ourselves as a dominant basketball nation we are going to have to get away from above the rim style of play and back to the one truly important skill in hoops which is shooting(with passing being a close second).


Indy
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No. of Recommendations: 0
WonderPup

You had some great takes on the composition of this team, it seems that we just throw together the team based on status in the NBA. We pick the players in thier percieved order and if they decline we move on to the next player regardless of position. We'll know it's time to get serious about fixing our basketball program when these other countries stop celebrating every time they beat us.

Indy
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If one more idiot on tv calls these guys "The Dream Team" I am going to scream. 1992 was the dream team for the USA. It is the only dream team we have every had, it is the only dream team we will ever have.




How much you want to bet if USA gets anything less than Gold, the NBA will pressure for the best in Beijing in 2008.


Meanwhile the US Women's team appears to be THE dream in these games.

Charlie
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I'd say USA Basketball should also look at Yanks in the 14 leagues of the Union of European Basketball Leagues for talent on internatinoal teams. Three Americans -- Marcus Brown (CSKA Moscow in the Russian league, college Murray State), Tyus Edney (Benetton Treviso in Italy, college California-Los Angeles) and Trajan Langdon (Efes Pilsen in Turkey, college Duke) are the most notable Americans playing in Europe for top teams. Mike d'Antoini, who has coached Denver and Phoenix in the NBA, was once the coach of the powerful Benetton Treviso team at one time, winning championships for Treviso. Brown made all-Euroleague and is well-versed in the European game, and I believe most of Europe's top players play on ULEB teams. According to the Euroleague Web site, 33 players from the top ULEB teams are in the Olympics.

Head coach of 2002 World Champion Serbia and Montenegro Svetislav Pesic was later hired to coach FC Barcelona to the 2003 Euroleague championship -- and it's not an easy affair. For some reason the Serbian association chose not to have Pesic as 2004 national team coach despite his double success within a few months at both the world and pro level in 2002-03 (World, Euroleague). Can Larry Brown accomplish the same as Pesic with Olympic gold and NBA?

Also the FIBA game also has the Lucky Dog (this is NBC, after all) and does not have the block/charge arc (the European professional game does not hae the Lucky Dog and will add the block/charge arc next season -- it will be the NBA's arc).
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How much you want to bet if USA gets anything less than Gold, the NBA will pressure for the best in Beijing in 2008.

Well, it's looking less and less promising. They are getting their butts handed to them by the Serbs.
If the US doesn't take the gold in basketball, the NBA is goingto be VERY embarassed.
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