Team USA: Several factors led to loss in Worlds
Last weekend’s defeat at the hands of Greece in World Semifinals will prompt another two years of introspection and planning as the U.S. attempts to regain its place atop the basketball world by the time of the 2008 Olympics.
A lot of factors have been pointed to as explanations for America’s decline in world basketball over the past six years. Poor fundationals have been blamed and so has poor chemistry and lack of cohesion, as the composition of our national team has been changed every two years. Improper player selection has been mentioned, with a lack of team-orientation and players with three-point shooting skills cited in the past.
The American squad this year seems to have taken strides forward in some of these areas. But as American players learn how to play the international game, American coaches still need to learn how to coach the international game.
America’s 101-95 defeat was more one-sided then the final score indicated. The Americans were outplayed and their coaches were embrassingly outcoached.
The fact that upper-tier U.S. coaches like George Karl, Larry Brown and now Mike Krzyzewski have been outcoached by their foreign counterparts during the past six years only confirms the crippling effect of U.S. style basketball on all concerned when faced with the highest international competition.
The U.S. offense lacked innovation and imagination in the loss to Greece and its defense was pitiful. The Greeks successfully ran the same play over and over during second and third quarters, and took over the game while the Americans stood by helplessly. The fact that no effective adjustments were made during halftime calls for damning condemnation of the coaching staff.
It’s rarely mentioned that the final remaining frontier to the full globalization of the NBA is the import of high-quality foreign head coaches. There are probably at least half a dozen European coaches who could be highly successful in the NBA, but no owner has been willing to pull the trigger on that one yet.
As for our national team, maybe American coaches should start learning the ropes before we are forced to hire an import.