ORLANDO – The U.S. Men’s Senior National Team won’t be taking any easy route to London this summer to defend their Olympic gold medal.
Their training camp and five-game exhibition schedule, announced here Friday morning, includes games against Argentina, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Great Britain and Spain, and training camps in four cities in a 15,000-mile global grind. It will be the most rigorous process they have undertaken since Jerry Colangelo took over the top job seven years ago. And that’s exactly the way Colangelo said he and coach Mike Kzryzewski wanted it.
“There was a time when I inherited the program, I learned a lot about how things were done in the past and there may have been easier ways to go,” Colangelo said. “There may have been easier ways to go. Personally, Coach K and I feel the best way to go is to play the best competition in advance of the Olympics and that’s exactly what is taking place. I think this is the best way for us to get ready.”
Colangelo said it was an easy buy-in for all involved because the attitude around the world has changed in the 20 years since the original Dream Team took the world by storm.
“I don’t think anyone had any second thoughts,” Colangelo. “Play the best. That’s how you get better. That’s how you get prepared. I think we all shared the same philosophy.”
As rigorous as the team’s training and exhibition schedule will be, the fight for roster spots should be just as intense. With young talent overflowing on the 20-man roster, Colangelo is expecting furious battles for spots on the team that will travel to Europe this summer.
With all of the concerns this season about the NBA’s abbreviated training camps and condensed regular season schedule, and all of the injury issues that any regular season provides, there will need to be caution taken with such an aggressive approach to what is expected to be a huge summer.
“We’ll take that under advisement for sure, in terms of the NBA season,” Colangelo said. “But not everyone is going to be playing in June. Some of these players will be done earlier, and so they need to have a little down time. It will have an impact on what we do starting July 5. We’re not going two-a-days. I’ve always said our players are incredible investments and major assets. And they have to be protected. I believe when they are around us, we take care of them. We’re not going to push it, we’re not going to push them and we need to make sure they are fresh and ready when they need to be.”
In addition to the revamped approach, USA Basketball officially unveiled their new logo for the men’s and women’s teams that will be worn during the games.