So... let me start this off with some quick thoughts on Team USA, Red White and Blue, The Yanks, Los Estados Unidos, Les Etas Unis, de Verenigde Staten, or whatever you call the USA in your home country.
The USA Basketball men’s national team has won every game in group play. That’s great. Except that they have squeaked by each of their last three games against Australia, Serbia and France. Okay, the Americans beat Australia by 10 points in absolute terms, but let’s be honest. They were in big trouble because they were losing at the half vs. the Boomers.
The Americans are still the favorites to win the Gold Medal with a roster that features Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, and DeMarcus Cousins (a/k/a the three players Wizards fans ALWAYS SEEM TO WANT). But their defense has been suspect, and let’s be honest. This team — even with Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski coaching the team and Jerry Colangelo running the show — is the weakest and least contiguous American Olympic team I’ve seen since 2004.
SB Nation’s Tom Ziller concurs with that. He also concedes that the downfall of USA Basketball’s men’s national team is inevitable:
Perhaps we should acknowledge that this is the best USA Basketball can do given the circumstances. It really may be asking too much to keep the glory of 1992 or 1996 or 2008 or 2012 alive permanently.
I haven’t thrown in the towel on my hopes for this team winning the Gold Medal. However, we should also realize that the Americans are going to lose in FIBA competition sooner or later. It won’t be because the team is necessarily a hodge-podge of players like the 2004 team or even this 2016 team has looked at times. It’s going to be because the Americans are outcoached AND outplayed by another team with at comparable talent. After all, Spain won each of the last two silver medals, lost to the USA in tight contests, and had a roster that was clearly NBA quality.
We have to realize that the dominance of the Dream Team was the pinnacle of American basketball’s standing in the world in 1992. Since then, an even-ing out of the talent worldwide vs. the USA has happened , and is continuing today.
Though I believe the USA will lose in the not-too-distant future to another world basketball power, I don’t think that it will necessarily be a damnation on basketball in our country, as long as USA Basketball is at least continuing to develop a strong core of very good players who want to commit over multiple summers. I don’t think the USA has to hope every American superstar commits for the national team, but those who do need to be willing to put in the time and effort over multiple summers.
Okay, end of my thoughts. Here are the games on for Wednesday, as Team USA looks to finish the Coach K Era on a Gold Medal note. All games are online via NBCOlympics.com or the Basketball Channel unless noted:
- Australia (Group A 2nd seed) vs. Lithuania (Group B 3rd seed), 10 a.m. ET - This will be a fun game to see because the Boomers legitimately scared Team USA in Group play, and the Lithuanians are good enough to beat any team, any night, except for Team USA (for the most part) of course. Watch this on USA.
- Spain (Group B 2nd seed) vs. France (Group A 3rd seed), 1:30 p.m. ET - Both European countries border each other geographically. Both teams for these countries have a lot of NBA talent. It will make up for one heck of a game. You can also watch this on USA. A Spanish language feed is on NBC Universo.
- United States (Group A 1st seed) vs. Argentina (Group B 4th seed), 5:45 p.m. ET - I really hoped that we wouldn’t face Argentina this early, but I’d say it’s mutual on their end too. Expect Manu and the gang to roll out their “real game plan” and hopefully it’s a bit more competitive than the scrimmage last July. You can watch this on NBC SportsNet.
- Serbia (Group A 2nd seed) vs. Croatia (Group B 3rd seed), 9:15 p.m. ET - Both countries were once part of Yugoslavia (which had no shortage of trials and tribulations in the 1990’s). Those things and their collective basketball talent make this a rivalry game to see.