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LRB
08-16-2004, 10:35 AM
This Dream Team turns back time (http://sports.yahoo.com/oly/basketball/news;_ylc=X3oDMTBpcnQzN2d2BF9TAzk2NjczMTUwBHNlYwN0 bQ--?slug=sk-dreamteamtime&prov=yhoo&type=lgns)

by Steve Kerr, Yahoo! Sports

August 15, 2004

The last time an American basketball team lost a game in the Olympics, the year was 1988 and David Robinson was the star of a squad made up of college standouts. John Thompson was the coach, and although the team played well defensively and competed hard, it couldn't shoot or pass well enough to beat the skilled teams from Yugoslavia and Russia.


I tried out for that team and almost made it, but I was cut late in the process. I wasn't nearly as talented as the players who made the squad, so I couldn't complain.


Still, I felt I could have been a factor for that team. It was short on outside shooters, and it was clear afterwards that it wasn't suited for the international game.


The team had plenty of talent, but not enough skill and teamwork. And too few role players.


Sound familiar?


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Sixteen years later, the same story is developing, only this time it's a team of NBA stars that is getting exposed, not a bunch of college kids. After the original Dream Team crushed everyone in its path in 1992, the international game of basketball has gotten better and better, to the point where it should be no surprise that the American national team can lose.


NBA players are scattered on rosters all over the Olympic basketball tournament, and there no longer is a sense of doom for the teams getting ready to play the U.S. These teams can play, and they play together and with confidence.


The surprise Sunday wasn't that the U.S. team lost. After all, last year's national team lost three games in the World Championships on our home turf, and this year's squad already was beaten in a preliminary exhibition by the Italians.


No, the surprise was that the Americans were beaten by Puerto Rico. This is a team that hasn't given USA basketball any trouble over the years, and it didn't figure to pose much of a threat. But the Puerto Ricans out-hustled, out-coached and outplayed a confused bunch of NBA players who looked very uncomfortable on the floor.


Carlos Arroyo of the Utah Jazz penetrated at will against the U.S. defense and poured in 24 points while continuously finding open teammates for easy shots. The Americans, meanwhile, shot 3-of-24 from three-point range and lacked any confidence whatsoever from the perimeter.


Suddenly, what seemed like an easy jaunt through Pool B with games against Angola, Australia, Greece and Lithuania looks like a minefield for the U.S. team. Tuesday's atmosphere at Indoor Arena against the host Greeks will make Arco Arena in Sacramento look like a YMCA men's league gym.


And while one would expect the United States to bounce back and compete, the Greeks will be playing with confidence and emotion in front of their home crowd.


A loss would put the Americans at 0-2 with an upcoming game against Lithuania, which almost beat the United States in Sydney's gold-medal game in 2000. But with the top four of the six teams in the pool all qualifying for the quarterfinals, the Americans should be able to get on track and make it into next week.


If they do get that far, they will face some stiff competition from Pool A in the medal round. If you saw Manu Ginobili beat Serbia and Montenegro with his banked runner Sunday, you witnessed two teams that the U.S. will be hard pressed to beat.


The Argentineans are big, quick, skilled and competitive, and they've been playing together for years. They move beautifully without the ball and play with flair and emotion.


The Serbians showed their mettle Sunday, bouncing back from a big first-quarter deficit and almost catching Argentina. They too play an entertaining game, sharing and moving the ball and shooting and passing with skill.


Spain looks like it will advance as well, if Sunday's trouncing of China was any indication.


So a U.S. team that must be questioning itself has a major job ahead.


Coach Larry Brown must find a way to get his guys to play together and play with confidence. They have to defend, compete and play with the pressure that comes with being expected to win. And they must do it with a roster full of talented yet poor-shooting athletes who have played together for two weeks.


A daunting task indeed. Seems like 1988 all over again.

Steve Kerr is Yahoo! Sports' NBA analyst. Send him a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.

Updated on Monday, Aug 16, 2004 2:02 am EDT

EricaLubarsky
08-16-2004, 10:37 AM
Steve Kerr isnt a bad writer at all.

Rod1975
08-16-2004, 06:51 PM
Yeah and he could help "team" USA alot more than Marbury is.

NBAGnome
08-17-2004, 03:44 AM
Quite a few articles on the US teams loss posted but not a lot of conversation. Does anyone think they can still win gold? Who would YOU have put on the team?

I think their odds are about 50:50 now. They sure as hell look vulnerable right now thats for sure, but i have little doubt they will fail to advance to the semi-finals, a loss or two in this round won't kill the Gold chances. I still believe the US can win if they play stellar defense, and I mean stellar. I think its great that the other teams are being competitive, its exciting, i look forward to the rest of the games. The Puerto Rico game was fun to watch.

Our interior D hasn't been too shabby (usually). Especially when Odom and Duncan are both in the game (the starters) they create a mean athletic combo and are blockin' machines down there against the other bigs that don't nearly have their athleticism and length.

Rather it seems the US is getting burned by guard play...

Marbury is actually the winkest link in the guard rotation, hes being forced to guard 2s, it ain't workin. Iverson is playing solid D against points, but when Wade and LeBron are out they have so much size and athleticism on the opposing guards, if LeBron could only be focused on D they could potentally shut down the guard play. Watching LeBron he has so much raw physical talent its incredible, he has the potential to completely shut down any guard he'll ever see in international play with his raw quickness, size, length, strength, and athleticism, he has it all. Often hes guarding 6' 4 SG guys that he should be shutting down COMPLETELY.

I look forward to the rest of the games, this is actually funner to watch than us blowing out international teams.

V2M
08-17-2004, 09:40 AM
How could we lose to a team with a 40yr old center? Couldn't we just run 'em off the court with our speed? With the athleticism and the deep bench that we got, I'm disappointed that we aren't playing a more fast paced style. Rather we're playing to their strengths and attempting to shoot 24 3PTs is just ridiculous for this team which has no decent 3PT threat.

I'd like to watch close games too but only when we win every one of 'em. Now how could that game be fun when we were the ones getting blown out of the building?! i/expressions/face-icon-small-sad.gif

Big Boy Laroux
08-17-2004, 11:24 AM
i think there's a thread on the other sports forum.

i said there that we should press for 40 minutes. 40 minutes of hell, a la nolan richardson. we certainly have the athletes to do it. our defense is going to have to win this for us.