Posts Tagged ‘Mike Kzryzewski’

U.S. Team embraces roles, style


VIDEO: Relive Team USA’s dominating win over Finland in slow motion

BILBAO, SPAIN — Forget the defections and the no-shows. The stars gathered here on the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team already have. They did that in the lead up to the FIBA World Cup, sorting through different roles and a tweaked style of play that has been tailored to this group.

With no Kevin Durant or Kevin Love or Paul George, superstars who were expected to serve as the leaders and anchors for this competition, the U.S. put on an absolute defensive showcase in their opener, smashing Finland 114-55.

It was a show of force that this particular crew was eager to display, if only to remind themselves what they are capable of when they lock down defensively and spread the wealth offensively the way coach Mike Krzyzewski demands.

“We prepared the last couple of weeks for this moment and every single moment that we play in,” James Harden said. “Practices are the same way. We go hard and when it’s time to go out there we take care of business. We don’t go out there to pace ourselves. We go out there with intensity from the beginning of the game.”

It certainly helps to have talent like DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, Klay Thompson and even former NBA MVP Derrick Rose backing up the starters.

“That’s the beauty of it,” Harden continued. “That’s why I said we don’t pace ourselves. We go out there with the intensity from the beginning of the game and guys come off the bench with the same thing. It’s the beauty of this team. We’ve got 10-12 guys willing to go out there and contribute in any type of way.”

It also helps to open with a Finnish side that was clearly over its heads.

A thorough beating is what was expected and that and more was delivered. It’s the ultimate sign of respect for not only the opponent but the game, something that has become the hallmark of the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team under Coach K and during their 55-game win streak in World Cup (formerly World Championship) competition.

Play up to the magnitude of the moment and the results will be what they will be. No short cuts, no letting up and as we saw against Finland and have seen often in recent years, no mercy.

If you’re going to be the overwhelming favorite every time you take the floor and face hostile crowds on foreign soil, you might as well embrace that part of the process, too.

When the U.S. was busy crushing Finland with a smothering second quarter defensive display (a basket-free 29-2 surge that forced the crowd into the reality that any upset hopes were officially doomed) the joy on the floor and from the bench was obvious.

“Our coaches were encouraging us to keep up that effort by telling us every timeout, every dead ball, they only had two points or whatever,” Stephen Curry said. “That’s just motivation to keep doing what we’re doing. Defensively, that’s going to be the key for us throughout this tournament. We’re going to make some shots and we’re going to miss some shots every night. It’s just a matter of how our defensive effort is every night to get where we want to go.”

And while some teams with reasonably young and in some cases unproven stars, at least in the context of international competition, might succumb to the sort of electric crowd that greeted the U.S. Saturday, Curry loved it.

He was an integral part of the team that won gold in Turkey in 2010 and played before a hostile home crowd there in the final game.

“It was awesome,” he said of the crowd that stayed mostly silent as they piled on Finland. “They were energetic regardless of the score. It seemed like every basket Finland made was a game winner. That’s the beauty of the World Cup and it being here in Spain. A lot of teams fans can travel and see their teams play and support them. It brings a great atmosphere and one that we love to play in.”

Things get a bit trickier now with back-to-back games, the U.S. faces Turkey Sunday. But if any team in this competition is prepared for that grind, it’s the U.S.

“We’ve got to bring the same energy and effort against a good Turkey team we have a lot of history with,” Curry said. “So we’re looking forward to it.”


VIDEO: James Harden talks about the U.S. rout of Finland in the FIBA World Cup

 

 

U.S. Team Getting Aggressive In Preparation For 2012 Olympics




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.”

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FIBA Power Rankings

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS (NEW JERSEY BUREAU) – The EuroBasket and FIBA Americas tournaments are in the books, but there’s still some basketball to be played before the 12-team field for next year’s Olympics is set.

The FIBA Asia championship, which wraps up on Sunday, will determine the ninth team to qualify for the Olympics, as well as the final two teams to qualify for the 12-team, last-chance qualifying tournament that will take place next July in a location to be determined. The top three finishers in that tournament will complete the Olympic field.

So once FIBA Asia is complete, there will be 21 teams with a chance at Olympic gold. We rank them below, taking a guess at Asia’s three representatives…

1. USA
In Olympic field – 2010 World Champion
Having qualified for the Olympics by winning last year’s World Championship, the U.S. was happy to take this summer off with a 28-game FIBA winning streak intact. Mike Krzyzewski will be back next summer, leading a new group. And Jerry Colangelo will have the opportunity to select a squad from two groups that have won championships, the 2008 team that won gold in Beijing, and the 2010 team that won in Istanbul.

2. Spain
In Olympic field – 2011 EuroBasket Champion
Spain took the U.S. to the wire in the gold medal game of the last Olympics, and there’s no reason to believe they can’t be right there with them again in London next year. Without their best player, they finished a disappointing sixth at last year’s World Championship, but they were dominant at EuroBasket over the last few weeks. They lost a pool-play game to Turkey (again without their best player), but outscored their opponents by almost 19 points per 100 possessions overall.

3. Argentina
In Olympic field – 2011 FIBA Americas Champion
Argentina’s golden core showed some signs of age in Mar del Plata and will be one year older in London. But as long as they’re healthy, no group will be more experienced or more cohesive in next year’s Olympics.

4. France
In Olympic field – 2011 EuroBasket 2nd place
After finishing 13th at last year’s World Championship, France brought a bigger group of NBA players to Lithuania. They took them all the way to the final, where they lost to Spain for the second time. This was an offensive group, but they were able to get to the final with defensive wins over Greece and Russia.

5. Russia
In qualifying tournament field – 2011 EuroBasket third place
Russia gave the U.S. it’s toughest challenge in elimination play at last year’s World Championship. And at EuroBasket, they were the only team other than Spain to win 10 games, doing it with a stifling defense that only allowed 95 points per 100 possessions. David Blatt‘s squad doesn’t have an offensive star, but they share the ball as well as any team in the world.

6. Lithuania
In qualifying tournament field – 2011 EuroBasket fifth place
A year ago, a young group of Lithuanians surprised everyone by capturing bronze at the World Championship, with their only loss coming to the U.S. in the semifinal. This year, with EuroBasket in their home country, they were a disappointment, losing to Spain, France, and then FYR Macedonia in the quarterfinals.

7. Brazil
In Olympic field – 2011 FIBA Americas 2nd place
In the last five years, no team has come closer to beating the U.S. than Brazil did in pool play at last year’s World Championship, coming a contested lay-up away from taking the Americans to overtime. They’ve also played three great games against Argentina in the last two summers. Brazil could have a full complement of NBA players next year in London, but point guard Marcelo Huertas will still be their engine.

8. Greece
In qualifying tournament field – 2011 EuroBasket sixth place
With Theo Papaloukas and Dimitris Diamantidis retired from the National Team, Greece’s strength is now on the interior. They proved at EuroBasket that they’re still a strong squad, and they’ve certainly got a shot to capture one of the last three spots at the Olympics. But they just don’t have the firepower to compete with the world’s top teams anymore.

9. Dominican Republic
In qualifying tournament field – 2011 FIBA Americas third place
It took several games for John Calipari‘s squad to find some consistency, but they looked pretty strong in their last few games at Mar del Plata. At next year’s qualifying tournament, they’ll be playing for their first ever Olympic berth in men’s basketball and lacking the international experience of the other contenders for the top three spots.

10. Puerto Rico
In qualifying tournament field – 2011 FIBA Americas fourth place
Puerto Rico was the stronger team for most of the FIBA Americas tournament, but they fell to the Dominican Republic in the bronze medal game. More disappointing was their performance at last year’s World Championship, losing to the Ivory Coast in their final pool-play game and failing to qualify for the 16-team knockout round.

11. Australia
In Olympic field – 2011 FIBA Oceania Champion
Australia only had to beat New Zealand in a three-game series to qualify for the Olympics. But that doesn’t mean that this isn’t a solid squad when healthy. They finished seventh at the ’08 Olympics and 10th at last year’s World Championship.

12. FYR Macedonia
In qualifying tournament field – 2011 Eurobasket fourth place
Behind a strong defense and the play of Bo McCalebb, FYR Macedonia was the Cinderella story of EuroBasket. They’re certainly a candidate for grabbing one of the last three Olympic berths at next year’s qualifying tournament, but you have to wonder if they can repeat what they did in Lithuania.

13. Great Britain
In Olympic field – Host
Great Britain lost its first three games at EuroBasket before recovering to beat Portugal and Poland. They should get a lift behind their home crowd next year, but they still might have a tough time making the quarterfinals.

14. Venezuela
In qualifying tournament field – 2011 FIBA Americas fifth place
Venezuela took a step forward with their fifth-place finish in Mar del Plata, but it’s hard to imagine them fitting in the top three at next year’s qualifying tournament. Eric Musselman‘s offense was the most efficient (121 points scored per 100 possessions) at the FIBA Americas tournament, but his team’s defense was pretty awful.

15. New Zealand
In qualifying tournament field – 2011 FIBA Oceania second place
New Zealand got swept by Australia, but this is a team that won three games at last year’s World Championship behind the scoring of Kirk Penney. That included a win over France.

16. Iran
Currently 4-0 at FIBA Asia
Iran won a game at last year’s World Championship and is now looking like the early favorite to capture Asia’s spot at the Olympics, having won its last two games by a total of 179 points.

17. China
Currently 4-0 at FIBA Asia
No longer is it clear that China is the best team in Asia. Wednesday’s game against Japan (also 4-0) will be an interesting test.

18. Tunisia
In Olympic field – 2011 FIBA Africa Champion
With a (relatively) strong defense, Tunisia is the best team in Africa. But this is still a team that went 0-5 at last year’s World Championship. That included a 13-point loss to Iran.

19. Angola
In qualifying tournament field – 2011 FIBA Africa second place
Angola won two games (over Jordan and Germany) at last year’s World Championship before getting crushed by the U.S. in the round of 16. They lost by 11 to Tunisia in the FIBA Africa final.

20. Nigeria
In qualifying tournament field – 2011 FIBA Africa second place
Nigeria looked pretty strong until losing to Angola in the semifinals.

21. Korea
Currently 4-0 at FIBA Asia
With four easy wins, Korea is looking like the third best team in Asia. They’ll play Iran in their final pool-play game on Wednesday.

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
Team 9 FIBA Asia Champion
Team 10 2012 Qualifier
Team 11 2012 Qualifier
Team 12 2012 Qualifier
Field for 2012 Olympic Qualifying Tournament
Team How
Angola FIBA Africa 2nd place
Nigeria FIBA Africa 3rd place
New Zealand FIBA Oceania 2nd place
Dominican Republic FIBA Americas 3rd place
Puerto Rico FIBA Americas 4th place
Venezuela FIBA Americas 5th place
Russia EuroBasket 3rd place
FYR Macedonia EuroBasket 4th place
Lithuania EuroBasket 5th place
Greece EuroBasket 6th place
Team 11 FIBA Asia 2nd place
Team 12 FIBA Asia 3rd place