The U.S. Ease Up? No Chance!





LONDON – As much as they wanted to revel in the accomplishment and celebrate all of the U.S. and Olympic records that were toppled in their 83-point win over Nigeria Thursday night, in the minutes immediately following the game you could sense some growing disenchantment with the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team’s 156-73 thrashing of Nigeria.

The line of questioning after the game, mostly from international journalists, was more about the U.S. abandoning the Olympic spirit in strangling an opponent than it was the nine records Carmelo Anthony and Co. set.

U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski shook his head when the question was asked of both Ike Diogu and Nigeria coach Ayo Barake if they felt they were being purposely humiliated by the U.S. and their 29 made 3-pointers.

“Obviously, the first thing we did was not play LeBron [James] and Kobe [Bryant] in the second half,” he said. “Second thing, with Carmelo shooting the way he did, we benched him. We didn’t play [Kevin] Durant, we didn’t take any fast breaks in the fourth quarter and we played all zone. You have to take a shot every 24 seconds and it just so happens the shots we took hit. And I take offense to his question, because there’s no way in the world that our program in the United States is ever out to humiliate anyone. And Coach [Barake] would think it humiliating if we didn’t play hard. The score is irrelevant to us, we just want to play well and win.”

Krzyzewski nailed it on this one. The U.S. shouldn’t ease up on anyone. They are playing by the same rules every other team in this competition is playing by. Sure, they have a stacked deck for sure with the best roster of anyone here. But that doesn’t mean they have an obligation to show any restraint on the court. These are real games, with medals on the line for the winners. These aren’t “friendlies.”

And for anyone pining for a 23-under rule finding its way into the basketball competition the way they it has the Olympic soccer competition, you should know that the U.S. has gold medal teams at every age group. Oh, and the best 23-year-old player on the planet is Durant, the NBA’s reigning and three-time scoring champ.

So technically, there is no “fair fight” to be had in Olympic basketball. Not right now.

And as for these humiliation charges, both Diogu and Barake dismissed them.

They took responsibility for the loss, with Barake doing his best not to take anything away from the historic performance by the U.S.. He also took a few lighthearted jabs at the shame of being on the wrong side of the worst beating in Olympic history.

“Apart from the very good shooting percentage, we also didn’t do a good job of ball rotation,” Barake said, detailing all of the things his team did wrong in defeat. “Other than that, I felt we could won the game.”

Laughter filled the room when Barake smiled after delivering his punch line. But Nigeria was the victim of more than just the greatest shooting night in Olympic annals.

The U.S. was in full-blown assault mode. Point guards Chris Paul and Deron Williams were following Krzyzewski’s orders to avoid running set plays and to push the ball relentlessly, thus forcing teams to deal with the U.S. team’s speed, athleticism and versatility.

“He told us to not call any sets,” Paul said. “So y’all noticed, even after free throws we pushed it, we pushed it. That’s why our team is so dangerous in this tournament — if we don’t call any sets and play off one another, the game’s a lot faster, a lot funner.’

Fun for the U.S. — and a nightmare for any opponent forced to deal with Bryant on one side of the floor, Durant on the other, James flashing from side to side with Paul controlling the action and Tyson Chandler anchoring the middle.

Those “trail 3s” — at least four of Anthony’s 3-pointers were shots he made off of a catch he made while the passer was pitching it back to him — are something you won’t see from any other team in this competition on a consistent basis.

Krzyzewski turned his focus to Saturday’s opponent, Lithuania, immediately.

But not before coming to the defense of Barake and Nigeria, having sensed the mood in the room shifting against his team as well as the inept performance from their victims.

“They did not qualify for the Olympics by being losers,” he said. “A winning team lost. The team that had to go to Venezuela and qualify, which is an incredible accomplishment, a team that won its first game in pool play. Whether they lost by one or by 50, it’s just one loss. They have a lot to be proud of. They played us hard. We were just incredible.”

32 Comments

  1. ais says:

    just seen Lithuania and us game whew its very close game, Lithuania 27 turnovers to us 9 with a very close game, just thinking is this bunch of NBA stars millionaires compare to a team which earns less. just asking

  2. KJAMES says:

    whatever you all people say one things for real…usa for gold 99.9% .1% i reserve for any injuries t0 the impt. players….usa 2nd gold medal since 2004..period!

  3. rafa says:

    so president of uza is now manager of nigerian basketball team how cool is that

  4. mightyduck says:

    i’ve liked the 92 dream team the way they played than 2012 usa team eventhough they humiliated their opponent by 83 points.. because 1992 dream team had many showtime played and highlights and that made me excited and enjoyed watched the game. anyway, congratulation to team usa 2012 for setting a new record.

  5. Solomon says:

    There was no “D” in this game for the US to allow 70+ pts and Nigeria not contesting shots it’s was a pick up game straight up, US were just the more accurate team, as we would expect.

  6. Kyle says:

    The media always needs to produce a roster. It don’t matter though, non of the players are listening. USA coasted thru the exhibition games the 1st three games of the Olympics, they turned it on now because it’s business from here on out. No.5 Lithuania then Argentina and then the medal round.

    This a great team, it is a dream team, and your right they are facing a lot more competition then the 92 team faced.

    49 point quarter though, in 10mins, damn

  7. USAgold says:

    So… basically people got mad at a team because they won too well? Shouldn’t they be questioning Nigerias pride and competitive spirit (this is the Olympics after all) instead. Yes the US team is stacked, but no one questions China for winning every possible ping pong event this year.

  8. Did the Dream Team ever win by 83?

  9. Retro Silk says:

    Maybe the international teams should just stick to what they can win at… soccer!

  10. rexb says:

    Not really sure if someone noticed this, USA won 83 points. The point difference is bigger than Nigeria’s total points scored, 73! Amazing!

  11. Mr.Kim says:

    I love Dreamteam plays~! and olimpic very enjoy because dreamteam play to see!

  12. Hakeem says:

    U.S did play good defense. If you score 156 points how many possessions you think Nigeria had. U.S was scoring so fast, so Nigeria had a lot of possessions.

  13. Belizeboy says:

    The same critics were saying that the US should be winning by more, and now they are crying about it. I hope the US obliterates everyone else from here on in just so they can see the fire they started.

  14. Ben-jammin says:

    For all the talk of greatness in this game I wanna know where the Defense was in the first half. There’s no way we should allow a team like Nigeria to score 25 points in a quarter.

  15. nbafan says:

    nice post brian!!

  16. Brian says:

    My sense is that the journalists’ poor question came from a broader negative perception of the USA as being a bully. It’s a pity though that political views are argued on the olympics playing field – losing sight that it would have been truly disrespectful to Nigeria (or any other team) and against the olympic spirit if Team USA didn’t do their best. Just like the badminton players that got sent home. The coach got it absolutely right, and that kind of response will also hopefully help to change the world view. Looking forward to more poetry in motion from Team USA!

  17. Eddy says:

    If they play superb basketball they are questioned, if they should win by only 20 something they would have been questioned … It’s a dreamteam, what do people expect?

    • BBall fan says:

      it’s Team USA….. NOT Dream Team.

      • kILLarifIC says:

        settle Eddie… Nigeria is the kind of competition the Dream Team saw every game in 1992, even the gold medal game..The competition is 1000x harder than it was in 92, and the US is still killin teams. the 92 dream team didnt win a game by 83 nor did they score as much as what we saw yesterday. that was the most spectacular offensive game that has ever been played.

      • Alexies says:

        They’re not The Dream Team but a dream team indeed.

      • BasicElement says:

        Whether or not they are the “92 Dream Team” they shattered their record. I also don’t believe the 92 drean team had the depth to beat this 2012 USA team. Go ahead and argue with me, but remember it’s my opinion. Also I don’t care what you say as I’ve already formed an opinion of you that de-validates anything you say to me that requires intellect.

  18. TTKIN says:

    If the USA was wrong to win by that much, then the Celtics shouldnt have played hard in the 60s, Michael Jordan shouldve stayed with baseball, and Phil Jackson never should have picked up a clipboard. It’s stupid to say they shouldnt have won by that much. What are they supposed to do, not leave the bench? It’s not our faults that basketball is worshipped in this country and nowhere else basically. Is Canada supposed to stop trying when playing hockey? Are the Africans supposed to not run hard (yes I took a David Stern idea here)? See, it’s dumb, the point of Olympics is to compete.

    And just to note, 8 players in Badminton just got banned for not playing their hardest. So team USA shouldve just stayed home I guess? Cant win playing hard, cant win playing soft, just cancel the olympics.

    • zip says:

      I completely agree on your last point. Sometimes it seems that the media and sponsors are trying to get rid of any stories they don’t find emotional enough for good ratings. Trying to lose badminton? Banned because our ratings were low. Dominating a basketball game? Criticised because it wasn’t a nail-biter. I tried to watch the olympics the other day but couldn’t because more camera time was given to fan reactions commentated (with announcers who complain everytime the US doesn’t win) than any real sporting competition.

    • kILLarifIC says:

      there were some racial stereotyping right there

  19. Mike says:

    I actually think that Nigeria had a pretty good game offensively. They ran up 73 points on a team that is filled with first and second team all-defensive players. And was definitely not body’s fault that everyone on USA made threes like they were supposed to (Melo only had 10, the others made 19).

  20. me says:

    The journalists made a BIG MISTAKE! They pissed off a USA Team with their stupid question! This stupid question would make these already great players even harder every night.

  21. MaFox says:

    melo…………………………………..

    speechless

    • lbj says:

      Hey Sekou! you don’t have anything to report to us? do you? what don’t you find relevant story like howard going to Miami in exchange of haslem,anthony and future round picks

      • GSW says:

        What you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

      • kILLarifIC says:

        Dont waste Sekou Smith’s, or anybody elses time with a comment like that kid.. how about you get a pen and paper, sit down at a table, and write the article yourself? then read it to yourself over and over and over again. But not under any circumstance should you comment on any website. your parents should take your laptop away…

      • MRB says:

        Doesn’t lbj ever get tired of putting up nonsense that will, can never happen?