Posts Tagged ‘Ike Diogu’

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.

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U.S. and Olympics Records Fall As Anthony, U.S. Destroy Nigeria 156-73

LONDON – Carmelo Anthony couldn’t explain it. Few who witnessed it could, and even they would just be guessing about how records that have stood for years could all come crashing down in a matter of minutes at the Olympic Basketball Arena late Thursday night.

Maybe Anthony is right, perhaps it was “just one of those nights.”

Maybe it was just being in the zone and the perfect opponent at the perfect time for a team still hunting perfection in a game that has been known to humble those chasing foolish things.

And maybe, just maybe, it was Anthony, one of the greatest scorers on the planet right now, catching fire in a glorious 14 minute and 29-second stretch the likes of we might not see again on the Olympic stage.

By the time the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team had finished toying with Nigeria, they set Olympic records for most points in a half and most points in a game in their 156-73 win, the only thing anyone knew for sure was that history had been made and that they’d probably never see anything like it again.

Anthony set U.S. Olympic records for points (37), breaking Stephon Marbury‘s record of 31 (against Spain in 2004), 3-pointers made and attempted (10-for-12) and the U.S. team set Olympic records for points scored, points in a first half (78), field goals made (59), 3-pointers made and attempted (29-for-46), field goal percentage (71.1), victory margin (83) and their 41 assists tied a record.

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Nigeria Will Be A Different Test For U.S.

LONDON – Moments after a 47-point beating of Tunisia Tuesday night, Tyson Chandler was asked if he had seen anyone on the opposing team capable of joining him one day in the NBA.

Ever the diplomat, Chandler didn’t take that bait.

“Well, I honestly wasn’t focused on that,” he said. “My focus was on winning the game and that’s really all I was thinking about.”

That’s fair. Tunisia is the only team in the Olympic field that doesn’t boast at least one player with NBA experience. Nigeria, the team that the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team tussles with later today (5:15 p.m. ET) will provide a different test than that young Tunisia team did.

Nigeria has several American-born players with NBA ties on their roster, including Hornets swingman Al-Farouq Aminu, the No. 8 pick in the 2010 Draft, and former NBA players Ike Diogu and Olumide Oyedeji. Aminu’s older brothe, Alade, is a former Georgia Tech star.

Nigeria might be the most surprising team here, considering the road it had to travel to get to the Olympics.

The Nigerians pulled off a couple of stunners in the FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament, including upset wins over Lithuania and Greece, as well as a 25-point, 10-rebound performance by Diogu in a win over Hawks All-Star center Al Horford and the Dominican Republic that clinched Nigeria’s first ticket to the Olympics.

The Nigerians didn’t waste any time making themselves comfortable, knocking off African champion Tunisia in their opener before coming back to earth Tuesday in an ugly 72-53 loss to Lithuania.

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Lithuania Thumps Nigeria 72-53

LONDON – Lithuania’s veterans helped them to their first win in Olympic competition this morning as Darius Songaila and Linas Kleiza combined for 23 points in a 72-53 win over Nigeria.

Rimantas Kaukenas added 10 points and Sarunas Jasikevicius nine points and nine assists for Lithuania, which built a 19-point lead before halftime only to see Nigeria close to within seven points, 34-27, by halftime. But they resumed the basketball clinic after halftime, outplaying Nigeria on both ends of the floor throughout second half.

Al-Farouq Aminu and Ike Diogu had double-doubles for Nigeria. Aminu had 12 points and 11 rebounds; Diogu finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. But Nigeria made just one of their 16 attempts from beyond the 3-point line and shot just 24 percent (16-for-66) for overall.

Nigeria plays the U.S. Thursday.

Diogu Leads Nigeria To London, final spot

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – The Men’s Basketball Olympic field is set. Nigeria earned the 12th and final spot in London with a huge 88-73 victory over the Dominican Republic in the third place game of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Caracas, Venezuela on Sunday.

Ike Diogu, the former Warrior/Pacer/Blazer/King/Clipper/Spur, was the star for Nigeria, who qualified for the Olympics for the first time ever. Diogu scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and hit 10 of 14 shots.

Nigeria led 47-39 at the half, but the game was tied with less than six minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Diogu came up huge down the stretch though, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers as Nigeria scored 29 points in the final period to win going away. The Hornets’ Al-Farouq Aminu played the Scottie Pippen role, finishing with 14 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and five blocks.

The Kings’ Francisco Garcia led the Dominican with 17 points. Al Horford dealt with foul trouble and had just 12 points in 29 minutes.

The London games begin July 29. Here is the 12-team field…

Field for 2012 Olympics
Team How
United States 2010 World Champion
Great Britain Host
Tunisia FIBA Africa Champion
Australia FIBA Oceania Champion
Argentina FIBA Americas Champion
Brazil FIBA Americas 2nd place
Spain Eurobasket Champion
France Eurobasket 2nd place
China 2011 FIBA Asia Champion
Lithuania 2012 Qualifier
Russia 2012 Qualifier
Nigeria 2012 Qualifier


The U.S. is in Group A with Argentina, France, Lithuania, Russia and Tunisia. They’ll play their first exhibition game against the Dominican Republic on Thursday in Las Vegas. You can watch that one (taped) at 12 a.m. ET on NBA TV.

Russia, Lithuania Heading To London





HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – As the United States named its 12-man roster for London 2012 on Saturday, two teams earned trips to London with victories in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Caracas, Venezuela.

Russia and Lithuania, two of the favorites in the 12-team qualifying tourney, are teams Nos. 10 and 11 in the Olympic field.

In the first of Saturday’s games, point guard Alexey Shved (who looks to be NBA-bound this fall) led Russia to an 85-77 win over Nigeria, scoring 22 points and dishing out six assists. The game was tied at 26 early in the second quarter, but Russia outscored Nigeria 20-5 to close the period and led by as many as 21 in the second half.

Andrei Kirilenko added 19 points, eight rebounds and four steals for Russia, while Ike Diogu (who played two games for the Spurs last season) led Nigeria with 16 points and 14 boards. The Hornets’ Al-Farouq Aminu scored 13 points, but had seven turnovers.

Russia shot a scorching 14-for-27 from 3-point range. They were arguably the U.S. Team’s toughest competition in the medal rounds in the 2010 World Championship, losing 89-79 in the quarterfinals.

The team the U.S. beat in the ’10 semifinals was the second team to qualify for the Olympics on Saturday. Lithuania, who had a disappointing finish in last year’s Eurobasket (which they hosted), redeemed themselves with a 109-83 blowout of the Dominican Republic.

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Arrested Development?

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — John Wall is struggling.

Maybe you’ve heard.

In addition to his shooting issues, he was taken to the shed Wednesday night in Chicago, not by Derrick Rose but John Lucas III, who had  25 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. No offense to JL3, but this was a new low for Wall, the former No. 1 pick who came into the league with “star” stamped on his forehead.

If it’s any consolation to Wall, he isn’t alone. A few other young-uns are finding it rough as they try to take that next step to being established and bona fide stars. And why is this? Maybe they played too many summer league games during the lockout.

Maybe they were overhyped.

Or maybe they just need time.

Whatever, here’s a sampling:

– DeMar DeRozan, 22 years old: Double D is shooting 41 percent and had three straight games where he didn’t get double figures. The Raptors were hoping he’d be at least a borderline All-Star this year, and he might still break out. But it’s coming very slowly at the moment for a guy with obvious skills. Here’s DeRozan on his issues, courtesy of Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun:

“I just got to play better,” DeRozan said after an 11 point game that saw him hit just one of his first 10 field goal attempts.

“I take a lot of the (blame) when we’re not doing as well because I got to step up and start being consistent on both ends of the floor.”

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