Tuesday, August 08, 2006

USA 90 - Brazil 86

OK, the score is pretty much all I know about this game.

Can someone please explain to me why ESPN would not broadcast this? I mean, they have a crew in China already that did the USA-China game yesterday. They have the rights. Instead, today on the family of ESPN networks, we are being treated to (among other things) bowling, dominoes and lacrosse. Um, sure... I'm a sports network and I could broadcast a basketball game featuring LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and 15 other NBA players (including 3 for Brazil), but instead I think I'll broadcast DOMINOES! Because, you know, dominoes is better. Oh, and did I mention that Brazil is a significantly better team than China, as evidenced by the result. (The same thing is happening next week with the games in South Korea - they are showing us USA-South Korea, but not USA-Lithuania. No big deal right - Lithuania has only beaten us in the last two international tournaments we've played against them, and lost a buzzer beater in the Atlanta Olympics. Who wants to see those stiffs?)

Back to the game. Who was it that said the US should not get overconfident with lopsided wins over Puerto Rico and China? Oh yeah, that was me.

All of this 'Colangelo has fixed USA Basketball' talk has got me really worried. The teams we sent to the 02 W.C. and the 04 Olympics were not bad teams. And as I've pointed out, this 06 team is not that much better, unless you're simply counting on improvements in LBJ, DWade and Melo to make up the difference (which may work, but doesn't really qualify as a 'plan' in my book). Look, I hate Stephon Marbury as much as the next guy, but if you watched the games in Athens, he actually played pretty well. He tried to play pass-first - it just isn't his game. But just getting rid of Starbury isn't really a fix either. I just don't think we can hang the whole Athens situation on him.

I'm also sick of the "Bron, Wade and Melo didn't get enough minutes in 04" crap. Again I ask you, did you watch the games? They got some minutes, and they were AWFUL. Wade was a turnover waiting to happen on offense. You could tell Brown WANTED to play him - his defense was terrific, as was his energy. But EVERY TIME he touched the ball he either walked or ran over somebody. And he couldn't make a 15 footer to save his life. LBJ was also turnover prone, and Melo was bad on both ends. You know who needed more minutes in Athens? Amare Stoudemire. He never even got a chance. But these three had their chances, and they weren't ready.

The US led Brazil by 14 at halftime of today's game, and then proceeded to give up 16 straight to open the second half, and it was a close game the rest of the way. And this is without Nene, who is still recuperating from his knee injury (and busy counting his money besides.) Anderson Varejao got 9 rebounds in the THIRD QUARTER. How do we let that happen? I remain concerned that this US team is vulnerable inside. When Elton Brand is your best defensive center... well, Elton is a great player, but he's only 6'8".

One last thing. Carmelo hurt his knee in the first half. Nothing too serious it seems - he should be fine for the Worlds. The AP story plays up his injury in Brazil's second half comeback. "Taking advantage of Anthony's absence, Brazil went on the attack." Excuse me? This is Team USA. We have 14 NBA studs on our roster. If one guy's absence is going to be a significant factor in whether or not we win a game then something is SERIOUSLY wrong here. This isn't Germany and Dirk.