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The 28th Olympiad is On!
Fighting for Gold
by Vincent Archuleta on Aug 20, 2004
This year's Olympic Basketball team has been giving us a major scare. We've all been wondering how it's possible that a group of all-stars could be this bad. Afterall, they barely beat a Greek team that's only in the Olympics because they're the home country team. And of course we know what happened against Puerto Rico. Maybe help is on the way, as cries for better defense were heard and answered against the Aussies.
Let's break down the poor play so far:
First. Basketball is a team sport. Some of these teams they are playing have been together off and on for years. That's very hard to overcome. The more they play together, the more the U.S. team will look and act like a team. Also many of this year's team are young and inexperienced. Each posession has to be worth something. Team USA is averaging 16 turnovers/game over three games. That was helped considerably by the seventh turnover game against Australia.
Second. Outside shooting. Year after year, the biggest deficiency the "Dream Teams" have had is outside shooting. Many sportswriters have been wondering about it ever since this team started playing together. Why didn't they pick an outside specialist like Peeler or Redd?
Third. Psychology. Coach Brown, please do something. USA isn't just missing their shots, their defense is allowing the three ball at a 46% clip. That is a sign of a lack of determination. If these guys aren't closing out on the outside shooter, what are they doing in the game? The wing defenders need to be forcing the action. Get up on the shooter for Pete's sake!
Fourth. This ties in with three in that each opponent Team USA faces will be playing hard. Our team needs to match that intensity.
So there you have it. Combine a cold team, that doesn't know how to play together at a very high level, and these are the results you'll get. You're seeing it in action. Team USA is now 2 - 1, so they still have time. But make no mistake, if Team USA doesn't start to play better, they might not get into the medal round.
What will it take to win the gold?
Marbury, Iverson, and Wayne have to be willing to play a more traditional point guard role -- initiate, facilitate, defend. A lot of times it seems the only thing Marbury and Iverson would most like to initiate is a shot for themselves. They need to keep getting LeBron James into the game at crucial moments. He can help bring the ball up and get into the offensive sets quickly.
I would like to honestly see a starting team of Iverson, James, Marion, Odom, Duncan. I know the outside shooting would be a little weak, but this would be a defensive team who could shut people down. Maybe pop in Richard Jefferson for Odom. Again, an even smaller team, but the Matrix knows how to clean the glass and James, Iverson, & Jefferson can all play pretty good defense against the three ball.
We'll see who makes it to the medal round before we start talking about who's playing whom. But Team USA hopefully has come to the conclusion that the competition is coming to kick their butts. They need to be ready for that. They have a poorly assembled team, yes, but still have the talent to bring home the gold. The sky isn't falling, yet.
Also, if you get a chance to see Spain, Argentina or Lithuania play, take it. These are the main obstacles in the our pouty, spoiled rotten, hoopsters way.
Mad props to Puerto Rican guard, Carlos Arroyo. Over the first three games, he has to be the biggest surprise, scoring to the tune of 24.5 point/game.
Swimming is definitely stealing the spotlight from other sports this year. The U.S. seems to have pinned all its hopes on wunderkid Michael Phelps (who should also win a medal for having the least flattering head shot of any athlete in Athens) who the media has been hailing could win a whopping eight gold medals. Well, they might not all be gold, but this athlete is delivering. Thus far he has won four gold medals and two bronzes, and he still has three more races to go!
The most excited and groundbreaking race so far has been the men's 4x200 relay in which the U.S. team -- Ian Thorpe, Ryan Lochte, Peter Vanderkaay and Klete Keller -- barely inched out Australia, who had won every single title in that event for the last seven years. U.S. anchor Keller pulled off an amazing testament of athleticism as he warded off the Aussie's Ian "The Torpedo" Thorpe in the final leg of the race; it was a fight to the bitter end and a race which had every fan in the bleachers on their feet cheering.
The U.S. women set a new world record in the 4x200m relay, breaking a record held by [East] Germany for the last 17-years; the longest standing record in swimming. It was rumored the the East German team were pumped full of steroids when they created that daunting record, but the U.S. women broke it through sheer, natural force.
by Vincent Archuleta on Aug 20, 2004