30 second time outs

Saturday, September 02, 2006

USA over Argentina

I guess that Bronze is better than the 6th place finish in the Athens 2004 Olympics.

As an end result-a little disappointing. However, looking at this as the first step in the journey to the Olympics in 2008, it may have been progress. The need to play in the qualifying tornament next summer may turn out to be a blessing, giving us another handful of games to come around. Taking the step to a "National Program" of 20 players making that 3 year commitment may, over time, enable us to adapt to a different style of offense that we face in international play.

In the 3rd place game, Argentina played a little more "American "style of offense with some staggerd screens, penetration and isolations. We handled the "short term offense" much better than the continuous moving, screening and cutting that other international teams play. Our defensive deficiencies are pretty easy to trace - but more difficult to fix.

The players that we have are young NBA players and were the youngest team in the FIBA Final Four. In the NBA and in the elite level AAU/Showcase events that has been the majority of their experience the offensive sets are short, terminal plays based on pick and rolls and isolations. This shows in the manner in which our guys defend. The next time ALL FIVE USA defenders are in defensive stance at the same time will probably be the first time. This hurts us when the opponent sustains their offense and causes the US to get impatient defensively. The players tend to gamble and go for steals, either on ball or in the passing lanes.

Defenses need to realize that the deeper they get in the shot clock the more pressure that is on the OFFENSE. I think that a more position oriented defense may be better. While it doesn't necessarily take advantage of our athleticism, it does cover for our impulsiveness in trying to cause a turnover and create a faster tempo. The better (read smarter) offensive international players take advantage of that gambling with penetrate and kick or draw and dish opportunities. It seems taht every time a USA defnder turned his head in the passing lanes he got beat backdoor, and sometimes that, or that deep 3, is as demoralizing as a USA dunk.

A more focused defensive effort, starting with something as simple as being in stance would enable us to contest nearly EVERY shot, and the less athletic opponents may be affected in their shooting percentage. Mix a little full court pressure now and then, with an active zone defense and that can put us on our way to our target - Gold in Beijing !

Now offense...that's another discussion for another day ! : ? )

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