U.S. Crushes Tunisia 110-63 On Their Way To A Much-Needed And Planned Day Off





LONDON – The Wednesday agenda for the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team is a blank page.

There’s nothing there. No meetings. No team functions. No mandatory appearances. For the first time since they convened for training camp in Las Vegas four weeks ago, the next 24 hours are free.

And it couldn’t have come at a better time, according to Carmelo Anthony, who along with LeBron James and original Dream Team member David Robinson, has done this — the Olympic experience — more than any other basketball players in the history of the program.

There is only so much of the buildup and competition that an Olympic team can take before a simple day completely off is warranted. That day is now for this team, as was evident from their lackluster start that preceded their monstrous finish in Tuesday night’s 110-63 blowout win over Tunisia.

Don’t let the first seven minutes of the game fool you. The 47-point victory margin was indicative of exactly what went on in the game. But it’s what goes on between now and Thursday’s tilt against Nigeria that might be most important for this team.

Anthony bypassed the King’s English and kept it real when asked if it had to be now?

“Hell yeah, yeah,” he said and then smiled. “We’re still going to be around each other in the hotel or whatever sightseeing or other [Olympic] events we might get into. We’ve been going since Vegas non-stop and putting in a lot of work. I think [Wednesday], we definitely need that day.”

So don’t take the uneven start or U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski‘s decision to start his second unit after halftime or anything else you saw for anything other than what it was. Everything that went on Tuesday, including the announcement hours before the game against Tunisia that they’d have Wednesday off, was done with the bigger picture in mind.

Kevin Love banging knees in the third quarter and giving the U.S. bench a scare when he limped off was the only part of the evening that didn’t go according to the script. (Love was fine after getting an ice pack for his right knee. He even came back into the game and stuck a corner 3-pointer with 4:15 to play that ended any suspense with the U.S. ahead 102-56.)

With all due respect to Tunisia, Krzyzewski had no intention of letting his team loose on them the way he would have against a different opponent, say one of the handful of teams that pose a legitimate threat to the mission.

“This isn’t a sprint, it’s a longer race and there is a lot of things that have to be done before the medal round,” Krzyzewski said. “We didn’t get anybody hurt tonight, even though with Kevin we were concerned. I think you have to always look at it … I know people critique, what is it, quarter by quarter and minute by minute. But that’s not the way you develop a team. What did we get accomplished tonight? We won by almost 50 points against a team that really wanted to play hard against us and wanted to play zone.”

Shuffling his lineup the way he did also allowed Krzyzewski to manipulate some minutes for Love, Anthony Davis, Andre Iguodala and James Harden, guys he’s been trying to integrate into the fabric of this unit without the luxury of the normal minutes you’d be allowed to handle such a thing.

“Sometimes finding minutes for 12 people is not easy,” Krzyzewski said. “I thought Andre really did a great job. He got the minutes and responded. James hit his shots. Kevin Love hit his shots. I thought our guard play was good. We got a chance to rest Kobe [Bryant] and LeBron, not play them as much. So it was good … I mean, it’s not going to be a perfect thing. But we won 110-63. You can nit-pick and whatever, but look, we’re much better than they are athletically and experience wise. You’re trying to get minutes and combinations and make sure no one’s hurt and we’re in shape. There’s more of that going on tonight.”

Using the second unit the way he did was a calculated move that will pay dividends later, if Krzyzewski and his staff have this thing mapped out properly. That’s why Davis played extended minutes, as well. But mostly it was about Love, Iguodala and Harden and making sure they are ready.

“You don’t know who it’s going to be that might help us win the gold medal,” Krzyzewski said. “I mean, if you look at the gold medal game against Spain in ’08, Tayshaun Prince gave us eight points in an abbreviated role that were huge for us because LeBron and Kobe had two quick fouls in that game. If you don’t give these guys that level of experience over an extended time, they may not be ready for those moments. And that’s what we’re trying to do.”

The veterans on this team understand that better than anyone. Bryant, James, Anthony, Chris Paul and Deron Williams. They were all there in Beijing. They know the rhythm and the flow that is needed in a competition of this sort.

They understand that Tunisia knocking down a few 3-pointers in a preliminary round game, while exciting, does not mean the same thing as Spain, Argentina, Russia, Brazil or Lithuania doing it. There is a hierarchy in Olympic basketball, same as there is any other tournament setting.

That’s why you see everyone looking to set Davis up when he’s in the game and the entire bench swarming Love when he goes down the way he did. There is an inter-connectivity, a zone that they must all occupy together over the course of the next 12 days, if this ride is to end in the way they all expect it to end.

So no, the second unit starting the second half wasn’t a slap in the face to the first five. And yes, the news that Wednesday would be an off day, a blank page, if you will, was embraced for what it is, nothing more and nothing less.

“It’s not dangerous for us at all,” James said if knowing about it before a game against a lesser opponent could have caused their shaky start against Tunisia. “We came out a little sluggish but that’s okay. It’s always fun to get a little bit of a break but also to get better. And we were able to do both. It took us a little bit to get warmed up and the second group did a great job and we were able to finish the deal. We got better today and now we get a little break tomorrow and get ready for the next one.”


51 Comments

  1. USA will win gold mark my words!And will be undefeated 8-0!

  2. W/E says:

    this game was a joke,Tunisia was reaaaaaally bad by far the weakest basketball team in the olympics.

    • hmz says:

      no one ask you tunisia is Bad or good? and you will see the spain what prepare for us, they are ready to beat any team in the world even a team from space out of the earth

  3. SKC says:

    With All respect Team USA is the team to beat. But Well said about the intelligence of the Spanish team. Emphasis on TEAM.
    The NBA is still a more one on one oriented style league compared to the fx the Spanish, which imo is the second best league in the World. And al though the US is a team of superstars, they are so individually. They are the Best at What they do, but aren’t as used to playing systems that literally grew up playing together like Spain, Russia aso..
    USA also plays Way more of a drive n dish game, fast breaks and man to man Defense, where Euro/Internationals generally have many plays with a lot more touches before finishing and Zone D.

    Still think US Will take gold, but always hoping for an upset. Lol.

    And imo – Best Team USA – handsdown – 1992 Dream Team
    Next best – 2012 – imo most athletic Team USA ever Too

    Ps – sorry for All the random capitals, damn autocorrect on my IPad.

    • Rocabye says:

      Systems have their disadvantages though, namely that they require a whole team to be on point, rather than a few players. A great, if not perfect example, are the Spurs. Once Tony Parker was off his game, the Spurs were toast. That’s what happens when you rely on systems, the team is only as good as the worst player on it at the moment. The great thing about Drive-and-Dish is that you don’t need the whole team to be zoned in offensively. Having 2 or 3 players is usually enough, so long as everyone players defense on the other end.

  4. JDish says:

    The point is that the win versus Tunisia was nice, but this USA team can never take a back seat and think that they can just cruise through these games because the gold medal is automatic. EVERY other team know that the team to beat is USA no matter what. Every country’s squad know that the road to the gold medal runs through the US mens team.
    Equally the US team can’t take anything for granted, whether it’s tunisia, angola, Dominican Rep… who ever, they gotta stay on their toes cause anything can happen. Besides the US squad has to keep going to get to THE game we are all waiting for, US vs Spain.

  5. TTKIN says:

    I think I speak for everyone when I say thank you to Team USA for being so awesome that they have managed to quiet down the Dwight Howard drama for a couple days.

  6. mimos says:

    hello

  7. Basketballfan says:

    “might be a game where Durant and Love don’t make their 3s”?? Man, you’re better off speaking about a game where refs get all their calls correct. These two (not to mention the rest) are stone-cold shooters. They might have a bad quarter or two but they’ll get their buckets eventually, and till then they have Kobe, D-Will, CP3 etc to hit the shots for them.
    The USA coach and coaching staff are very smart with a great system, that’s part of their X-factor. They have a great and deep squad, and all these players play in the best league in the world day in day out with the toughest competitions and have the highest expectations on their shoulders as they are all the leaders in their teams.
    Should be a fantastic game, but results would still be the obvious same. I like your point about it possibly being “close” though, seems legit.

  8. lbj says:

    how about dream team aginst the world. what do you think? can they still win easily against the greatest player in the world

    • Truth says:

      I agree it should be a 7 game series though.
      would not be a walk in the park. Would be very exciting to watch!

  9. Ben says:

    HEY GUYS!!!!

    BEST TEAM = DREAM TEAM (1992)
    SECOND BEST TEAM = 1996
    THIRD BEST TEAM = 1998
    FOURTH BEST TEAM = 2002

    • john says:

      Ben, I would not rate the 2002 as one of the best. They placed 6th at the Worlds and if you are thinking of the 2004 Olympics, they placed 3rd. I think this team is much better than that. Don’t you think?

      • JDish says:

        I agree, you can’t say the 2002 team can be considered in the top 5. I think the 4th best is the 2008 team followed by this 2012 squad.

    • Amitpal says:

      Best team: dream team
      Second best team: redeem team (2008)
      Had this team been healthy then they would either come in second or possible first. Dwight Howard, d rose, d wade, lamarcus Aldridge or chris bosh. These r some very good players they r missing.

  10. Roy says:

    The article was great but two faces of the writer smiling at you is to much.

  11. hmz says:

    Spain is the best

    • JDish says:

      Spain is a great team, but you have to admit that the US team is still the best team in the world. There’s still more talent and athletism on team USA than Spain’s high basketball IQ and experience.

    • Spain loses everytime the y face USA!Spain has no chance keep dreaming people!

  12. Law064 says:

    All the talk about U.S don’t have size is a bunch of talk. Even with this smaller team they will beat Spain Russia or Brazil. If I’m not mistaken the U.S killed Spain in the exhibition game. Yes it was just a exhibition but if you say Spain didn’t play their best, ask yourself if the U.S did. Nobody’s going to stop them sorry to be bold but it’s the truth. USA USA

  13. Tobias Groß says:

    4 GASOL Pau
    5 FERNANDEZ Rudy
    6 RODRIGUEZ Sergio
    7 NAVARRO Juan-Carlos
    8 CALDERON Jose
    9 REYES Felipe
    10 CLAVER Victor
    12 LLULL Sergio
    13 GASOL Marc
    14 IBAKA Serge

    This are most players of the spanish roster. Guys are right, individually, they are not all comparable to the us team, but on the the hand, they can play good team offense! Everybody of these guys up there can make intelligent decicions which can win against athleticsm…
    I would not agree with the idea of ‘spain has just 5 good players’. They can rotate their line up, everybody knows their system and fits in very well.
    We have seen, that intelligent european/international play can win against jumping qualitities. If the us stick with shooting 3s against a zone, and there might a game when Durant and Love dont make them, good teams can make it close…

    • Pantelej says:

      So you are saying team Spain is more intelligent than team USA? Even if so, the biggest intellectual move is up to the coaches something what Dushan Ivkovich did to CSKA Moscow.

  14. anthony says:

    imo u should post highlights on the video but if its owned but the olympics then i understand

  15. Tobias Groß says:

    Look on how this team started against Tunisia. The they were able to hit the 3 point shot and the US even did not look well in defending the post and cutting to the basket. Against teams who can defend better and play more consistent on offense, team USA will have big problems. Spain with Gasol, Gasol & Ibaka will bring trouble to the paint… US has to play better defense according to the start of the game and rebound much better… with their athletic ability, denfense should look like something else. Sure, Tunisia was not able to play that well for more than 1,5 quartes, but I think they did a pretty good job…

  16. Kev says:

    Great game last night…this is the thing I tell people all the time, yes I know Spain is going to be a tough game. But Spain do not have a second unit that’s equally good as their starting five. If the starting five fall into foul trouble..USA will steam roll them…You are talking Pau, Marc, Serge, Calderon, Fernandez and Navarro…who else after that?? On the other side you have Carmelo, Russell and D-Will coming from the bench, who can tell me that these 3 can’t walk into that Spanish team?? It’s going to take more than just the starting five to win a gold..

    • David says:

      Being European I must admit that USA is by far the top favorite. But we still hope they can fail ;-)
      Talking about spain, Sada en San Emeterio are very good. You shouldn’t underestimate the top Euroleague clubs who are imo better than lower NBA teams.
      I believe the Russians can be very dangerous at these games. It’s basically the same team (and coach) as CSKA Moscow which is a huge advantage. They can defend very well and have solid offensive solutions side and outside.
      The weakest point of the USA is the 4-5 position. Yesterday they where struggling against Ben Romdhane, same with scola or the Brazilians in the friendlies.
      If they will have to play against Spain this could be though.

  17. Peter Andre3000 says:

    Dont sleep on Australia – if they get the calls and start hitting thier 3’s its game on moles!

  18. Andrew says:

    I can’t even watch USA Basketball cause I don’t have dish network. It honestly makes no sense why they’d make Men’s USA Basketball only viewable to dish Network customers that have NBC Sports Network or the Speciality Basketball channel instead of having it on a local channel available to all kinds of users like channel 4. What a stupid broadcasting strategy….

  19. Coach Dee says:

    Kobe is going for 2nd Gold.
    And next June, 6th ring!

    #UltimateGame
    #LALvsMIA2013NBAFinals

    • gnop says:

      RINGWORM! kobe will never get another championship.

    • Logic says:

      In your worst dream kobe acn have his 6th ring…

    • Thunderbane says:

      6th ring will be only in your dreams buddy

      • Truth says:

        dont care that u got Nash MIA will lock down LA, but before that LA got to take out OKC. Good luck with that!

    • TTKIN says:

      I like how everyone responded to you by completely dismissing that the Lakers can win. Like there is absolutely ZERO shot of that happening. Im sure all of these people predicted Dallas winning in ’11 too. Oh well, just goes to show how ignorant they are.

      • Bulls2012 says:

        True, One major injury to Miami can change the whole playoffs..just like Drose tearing his ACL last playoffs…..
        but dont sleep on my bulls in the east!!! picking up Nate Robinson is a difference maker =PPPPPP jk bulls are going to be a early round exit in the playoffs this year…next season bulls going to explode in free agency!!! DWIGHT TO CHICAGO OR DIRK!!!!! mark my words

        and to CJ WATSON saying Dwill is a better point guard than D rose….hahahah yah okkkk..Dwill number 3 behind drose and paul..WATSON IS A JOKE NOW!!!

  20. Adam says:

    Great Game!
    Number 8 in the Tunisian team was a great point guard, as a Magic fan witnessing the huge shake up in my team and nervous about the new start, I wouldnt mind the Tunisian 8 to be the new mighty mouse in training…we might as well since Magic is restarting from scratsh.
    Also benRamdhan was worth a second look. I hope the game had many scouts watching.
    Over all Great effort from the dream team Go USA!

  21. Amitpal says:

    Wait a second r people actually surprised that team USA is getting 1 day off? I’m surprised they haven’t had more. These guys have another NBA season coming up and most of these guys were Playoffs and some the finals and almost all r expecting to be in the playoffs next year. They need more days off. Beside most of these bench players r better then almost all starters on other teams. James harden would probably be the best player on almost all teams except Spain and Argentina. These guys should be able to hold on there own. And anthony Davis needs more means. Coach k needs to let this kid loose and let him play.

  22. Colt45 says:

    GO TEAM USA!!!!

  23. kumag says:

    can’t wait for the us team’s real test when they take on spain… that would be an awesome game

  24. umaume says:

    COACH K. DONT YOU KNOW HOW TO USE KOBE? SUCH A JERK

    • s27m says:

      there is absolutely no need to use kobe against Tunisia.

    • TTKIN says:

      Ok I take it you are a Laker fan, and so for that I say thank you. But also, Kobe is now talking about possibly retiring in 2 years…I am glad Coach K isnt using him. I dont him to be burnt out for the season. Let him rest, that way he can explode all over the court with Steve Nash :)

  25. Angel 2012 DREAM MONSTERS says:

    TO ME THIS IS THE BEST DREAM TEAM EVER!. GO KOBE!!!