I recently bought three albums: Paramore’s “Brand New Eyes”, Rise Against’s “Appeal To Reason”, and Kings of Leon’s “Only By The Night”. So far, “Brand New Eyes” is the one grabbing my attention with several good songs and some variety of style. And, as always with Paramore, Hayley Williams’ voice is amazing.
After “Ignorance”, the angry song getting play on radio (angry songs are always fun to get into and sing along with), “Brick By Boring Brick” is my next favorite on the album. After listening the song and going over the lyrics on Friday night, we watched Dollhouse, and the ending of the show reminded me strongly of one verse:
Well, if it's not real You can't hold it in your hand You can't feel it with your heart And I won't believe it But if it's true You can see it with your eyes Oh, even in the dark And that's where I want to be, yeah
While it doesn’t match the song overall (on Dollhouse, it wasn’t Sierra’s choice to be in a “relationship” that wasn’t real), the match up of Sierra recognizing her love for Victor even without any memory of him and “if it’s true, you can see it with your eyes, oh, even in the dark” connected to me. Especially as Diane and I had been discussing how much to read into the “even in the dark” part of the song (balancing the fantasy/escapism the song is against vs “true/real” dreams/faith).
We watched Gran Torino last night, which was better than I thought it would be. Now I’m looking forward to watching a football match (Arsenal v West Ham) and a football game (Dallas Cowboys v Atlanta Falcons) today.
While I’ve been frustrated by Bledsoe’s consistency, I was never among the Dallas Cowboy fans that was calling for Tony Romo to replace Bledsoe. I didn’t think an unproven quarterback could make much difference. But the drive I just watched Tony Romo lead was very impressive. No matter how tonight’s game finishes, I see Romo as the quarterback for the Cowboys for the rest of the season. The biggest benefit: it looks like Dallas games will be more exciting on the offensive end.
Update: Well, Romo made enough mistakes to make my prediction that he will be the QB the rest of the season questionable. I think I’d still prefer Romo, but I’m not sure if Bill Parcells will agree.
Rather than a story-book ending for Zinedine Zidane, he’s sent off after being red-carded for a totally classless move: head-butting an Italian player in the chest. Whether his team will also lose the World Cup final remains to be seen…
Update: Zidane’s team, France, do lose.
Update 2: Video of the incident.
David Robinson sued by Major League Baseball Is there a more idiotic publicity move than this? A logo that hasn't been used in nine years, and the only commonality is that it has an interlocking C & A. Not the same colors, not the same font, and, of course, the Carver Academy has no halo over the "A". I'm no lawyer, but I'm not even sure that qualifies as potential trademark infringement.
According to Mark Stein, Michael Finley has decided to sign with the San Antonio Spurs! This follows the signing of Nick Van Exel earlier this week. Both players decided to play for the defending champs to in order to help them repeat as NBA Champions. It seems that winning it all, but needing seven games to do it, is helping to attract free agents better than the six-game win in 2003 did:
Asked why he picked the Spurs, Finley said: "In a nutshell, they're already a championship team but they have room for improvement. And I feel my game can help them in the areas where they need improvement."
Ok. The Spurs selected Ian Mahinmi with their only draft pick this year. He is 6'10", so I guess that's why the Spurs picked him over Wayne Simien. But I think if you're not drafting for that one needed spot at the 3-spot, you should go for the best, proven player, and Simien is definitely that. The Spurs have been very good at picking foreign players, obviously, so I hope they know more than me.
And, of course, Simien goes at the next pick to the Miami Heat, a likely foe for the Spurs to go against in future NBA Finals. I hope the Spurs don't come to regret this, as Simien deepens the Heat bench.
Update: R.C. Buford came on the show via tele-conference to explain the pick right before I was about to turn off the television. They intend for Mahinmi to remain overseas for a few years and develop. That's certainly seems like it's going to work well with Scola. The Spurs get to own the rights to the player while he develops, without him affecting the roster. Maybe this is part of the Spurs plan on maintaining their long-term success. I need to look into how this works though. What happens if the Spurs decide they don't ever want to bring him over to the NBA? What if they're in a situation where they don't have the space for him, but some other team wants the player?
Even though the Spurs pick 28th this year, I'm still interested in the draft. One reason is that Wayne Simien, the star of my alma mater, Kansas, might be available for the Spurs. In fact, that's exactly where NBADraft.net has him. Other mock drafts I've seen have him going before 28th, or have him getting passed over by the Spurs.
Honestly, with Luis Scola coming in, there may be too much similarity in the players, and the Spurs may pass up a chance at Simien. But having watched Simien, I think he's underrated for the draft, and will be a successful NBA player. He's very tough, can rebound well, and has an excellent mid-range shot for a 6'9" player.
Guessing at what's available at pick #28, and knowing enough about all these players, is very difficult. Who knows what the Spurs will really do; maybe they'll trade the pick for a future one, maybe they'll make another impressive choice of someone most of us have never heard of late in the draft. But I look forwrd to finding out.
I wrote before that Duncan deserved the Finals MVP, even though I felt torn, and that Ginobili was really close. I voted for Duncan over on the Spurs Blog poll, and supported that vote in the comments.
But Matt just posted something that convinced me that I was wrong, and that I should have listened to my instincts more. Ginobili deserved the MVP, and Robert Horry deserved the small consideration, at least, that I was feeling. Now, you definitely can't take those numbers to mean everything. But Ginobili's numbers are so good, that there's no doubt he was the most valuable player. Horry's numbers are also too good to discount through other statistical anomalies. The rest of the players numbers are probably skewed based on how much they spent on the floor with Ginobili or Horry.
The San Antonio Spurs are the 2005 NBA Champions! The most important factor was that their terrific defense finally reappeared. My theory is that playing that up-and-down high-scoring series against the Phoenix Suns kind of put the Spurs down the wrong track for a while. But in Game 7, they played excellent defense in the second half, and really limited the Pistons. The Spurs also shot three-pointers very efficiently. Plus, Tim Duncan rediscovered his outside shot, hitting a couple bank-shots that he'd been missing all series, as well as the long two off the pass from Ginobili towards the end.
Tim Duncan deserved the Finals MVP, but Manu Ginobili was really close. Both played excellent, and I hope to see them continue as the foundation of future Championship teams for the Spurs. Robert Horry and Bruce Bowen were also extremely important for this win. Bowen spent more time on Billups in this game, and consequently Billups was held to 13 points. Horry hit his shots, and he did several little things that kept the Spurs in the game. There are very good reasons why he's won 6 championships.
I think, perhaps, that the blowouts in the first two games gave an unfair impression that San Antonio had choked. The Pistons deserver a lot of respect and credit. They really are a terrific basketball team. Chauncey Billups is an impressive clutch player, who manages to both score and dish out assists at an impressive rate. Ben Wallace is a defensive monster, plus he really stepped up his offensive game in this series. Rasheed Wallace's jump shot seemed unstoppable, and his defense on Duncan was certainly effective. Rip Hamilton has an amazing mid-range jump shot that the whole league should be envious of. And Tayshaun Prince, though he struggled against the Spurs, is a terrific player and will continue to develop into a major match-up problem for the Pistons' opposition in the future.
My point is, that this championship for the Spurs shouldn't be diminished for taking 7 games to do it. Instead, this is a special championship: a very hard-fought win against a near-equal opponent: one of the best teams around. Congratulations San Antonio Spurs!
The San Antonio Spurs blew a good chance to win the Championship. They had it close must of the game, but couldn't quite make it happen. It was a tough game. The Pistons, especially Billups and Hamilton, hit a lot of very well-defended shots, while the Spurs, especially Barry and Ginobili, missed several wide open three point shots. But, in the end, the problem is the same as it has been all series and for the last several years: turnovers. The Spurs had 11 while the Pistons had only 5. Tony Parker had 4 and Manu Ginobili had 3. You just can't have your primary ball-handling guards turn the ball over that much. Several of the turnovers were unforced errors. If the Spurs can change that, then they will win Game 7. If not, then Detroit deserves to win the NBA Championship: execution at the highest level is what it's all about.
Rasheed Wallace made a lot of the big plays down the stretch for Detroit. He did it with 5 fouls. I wonder how the game might have been different if the Spurs had made a concerted effort for Manu to drive the lane, since that's where Rasheed tends to pick up fouls.
I'm quite hopeful that the San Antonio Spurs will finish off the Pistons tonight, especially since Detroit hasn't won in San Antonio since 1997. So, now may be my last chance to speculate on the Finals MVP (other than during the game).
In my mind, how players played during losses doesn't matter. So lets examine the top players in each of the Spurs 3 wins so far. Game 1 MVP: Manu Ginobili. Great numbers, and most importantly, picked up his game in the 4th quarter. Tim Duncan's stats were very good as well. Game 2 MVP; Manu Ginobili. Even more impressive 4th quarter, and great stats. Tim Duncan was solid, but not as good as in Game 1. Game 5 MVP: Robert Horry. Duncan had better numbers all-around, but played poorly at the end of the game, while Robert Horry gave a legendary clutch performance. Manu Ginobili's points and percentage were down from games 1 and 2, but he provided 9 assists, including the great pass to Horry for the game winning 3-point shot.
If either Manu or Duncan take over this game, then whichever one does deserves the MVP. If Horry somehow turns in another performance like Game 5, then he could even become the most unlikely Finals MVP of all time. But, if things are fairly balanced, who do you go with, Ginobili or Duncan? I think it'll come down to just a feeling as to who is more important and consistent in the fourth quarter of the Spurs 4th win.
Now, if the Pistons were to somehow come back and win this series, who's leading them for MVP? With only half the required wins, it's really too early to speculate, but I'd say Ben Wallace was the most important player in their wwo wins so far.
Nevermind the stats: Robert Horry was the MVP of Game 5. After four blowouts, we now have a game go to overtime, where Robert Horry makes the game-winning three. He went 5-6 from three-point range in the game.
After Manu Ginobili's performance in Game 1, Rasheed Wallace said about Manu: "Ain't nothing too special about the kid." And yet, Rasheed chose to double-team Ginobili and let the hottest player on the floor, Robert Horry, be open for one of his patented game-winning three-point shots. Hmm...
The San Antonio Spurs now have a two chances to beat the Pistons at home to win another NBA championship. Go Spurs Go!
Why, oh why!? Why have the San Antonio Spurs decided to make me (and a lot of other folks who gushed over them after games 1 & 2) look like utter fools?
The poor officiating in the game (though, again, not a primary cause of the Spurs failure) was only exceeded by the continuing atrocious announcing. Coming into the series, I thought Al Michaels and Hubie Brown were pretty good announcers. But they have been awful. Their analysis of play has been extremely superficial. Their analysis and explanation of fouls and controversial plays, a primary function of announcers, has generally had no connection to what actually occurred. I don't know if it's laziness, or what, but I really, really miss the TNT staff. I'd love to be listening to the analysis of Steve Kerr. I'd like to be entertained by the halftime discussion of Charles Barkley. Instead, I get the snoozefest that is the ABC staff. I wonder if the poor ratings for the finals might have more to do with the television crew than with the basketball teams.
The similarity so far to the breakdown the Spurs had against the Lakers last year are disturbing. Well, there's three more games left, two of them in San Antonio. Three chances for the Spurs to prove that they're closer to the great team we'd been praising, and to avoid going down as the some of the biggest chokers of all time.
So many things went wrong in this game, it's hard to catalog them all. The officiating was bad, and lop-sided, but that's not why the Spurs lost. Any time both Duncan and Ginobili have bad games, the Spurs are in big trouble. The Pistons defense does deserve some credit, especially inside on Duncan, but Duncan missed a lot of shots he should make, and Ginobili was unable to play as aggressively as normal, perhaps slightly hampered by the early collision to his thigh/knee. Expect for the Spurs to play much better next game, and win it, as the Pistons win wasn't nearly as convincing as it should have been, given all the Spurs mistakes (turnovers, etc.).
That's the question that Tyler Cowen asks over on Marginal Revolution asks. I was suprised to see this post, as I read Marginal Revolution because it's a fantastic economics blog... Tyler doesn't have any answers, but he does have provocative questions:
Can you imagine Bruce Bowen holding MJ to thirty points and Duncan going around Bill Cartwright at will? Could they keep the fast break of the Showtime Lakers in check, while exploiting the relatively weak defense of that team? How would they match up against the 1989-1990 "Bad Boy" Pistons, or the Celtics with Bill Walton?
Even though I'm a huge Spurs fan, I think they haven't yet proven themselves worthy of such consideration. They're playing terrific this year, but need to show consistency to be rated as highly as the classic "great teams." It'll take at least two championships (this year and, hopefully, next year) to make up for their collapse against the Lakers last year and take their place among the legends. Luckily, everything is in place for that to happen: their top players are signed for the future, and are young enough to either maintain their current abilities, or even improve. Of course, if next season isn't a full season, that will hurt their them in terms of their chances to prove themselves. Already one championship came in a lockout-shortened season.
The Spurs win big, 97-76! Manu Ginobili scores 27 pts on 6-8 shooting, 4-5 from 3pt, and 11-13 FTs, with 7 assists, 3 steals, and 3 rebounds. A nice "did you know" from the end of the game: the Spurs are the first team since 1951 to win by 15+ in the 1st two games of the finals? Manu put up another Finals-MVP-candidate game, though Duncan had a great game as well, with 18 pts, 11 rebounds, and 4 blocks.
Here's looking forward to similar success at Detroit!
The San Antonio Spurs got a solid win against the Pistons in Game one of the NBA Finals. The Spurs struggled early, but in the 4th quarter, Manu Ginobili really picked up his game, and finished with 26 points on 10 of 16 shooting. Another amazing performance in the end. I'll let Matthew give you the real analysis. All I have to say is: Tim Duncan played great too, but Manu just put up his first piece in a portfolio that may lead to a Finals MVP for Ginobili, rathar than Timmy if the Spurs take the series.
Game 1 between the San Antonio Spurs and the Detroit Pistons is still close late, and it's a good defensive game. But one thing not good so far is the announcing. The analysis is fine: nothing amazingly insightful, but nothing rediculous either. However, they are being really lazy when it comes to be factually accurate about what's going on. Not really going back to check replays to figure out if the right call was made, etc. It's getting a bit annoying...
As always seesm to happen lately, I meant to blog this a while ago, I've been too busy. This thought struck me as I watche the U.S. Men's National Soccer team play Costa Rica in a World-Cup qualiying match on Saturday. But before I get to that, I have say how impressed I was by the play of Kasey Keller. Several brilliant saves helped ensure the US's win. I don't know how he's considered and ranked around the world, but from what I see of soccer, he deserves to go down as one of the best international goal-keepers over the span of his career.
On to the topic: television advertising and soccer. For the longest time, it's been the consensus that soccer was an adversting disadvantage in America because there are no pauses in play for commercial breaks. On the other hand, though, there's been a lot of talk about the effect of TiVo and other DVR/PVR devices on commercials. When you can fast-foward or skip commercials, they become completey ineffective. The logical next step is trying to insert advertising into the game. Since this is what is already done in soccer matches, soccer may have a head start when it comes to the future of adversting when TiVo and DVR/PVRs become more prevalent.
The Spurs lost, but it was close. The good news is, we played horribly for streches of the game, the officiating was bad, and hurt us a bit disproportionately, and we still had a chance late in the game. So, here's looking for the Spurs to win in Phoenix for game 5.
I still really don't know what to say about the San Antonio Spurs impressive success against the Phoenix Suns in the first three games of the Western Conference Finals. While I thought we matched up well against the Suns, and am not suprised by their success, it hasn't gone quite how I expected.
The first two games, in Phoenix, the Spurs won both games both by playing almost perfect fourth-quarters. They shot something like 70% in the 4th quarter of both games, including over 50% from 3 pt. range in both games. Additionally, the defense wasn't very good, as both Stoudemire and Nash scored easily. But, still, the Spurs won on the road.
In game 3, the Spurs won more the way I expected. They held the Suns to just 10 points in the 2nd quarter. However, the Spurs had a large lead, and ended up letting the Suns get closer in the 4th quarter. But again, the Spurs won. The Spurs have played extremely well offensively, and while they haven't been able to blow-out the Suns, they do have a 3-0 series lead, which is even better. Hopefully they'll get the sweep on Monday, and give everyone plenty of rest before facing either Miami or Detroit in the finals.
I talked about the classiness of the Denver Nuggets fans last round. The Seattle Supersonics fans decided they needed to one-up them. They didn't just perform audible chants of "bull-shit" in every home game, multiple times per game. There was also a sizeable contigent that cheered when it appeared that Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs had injured his ankle, and then booed when he was able to get up and walk it off. Congratulations Sonics fans: you suck the most!
The San Antonio Spurs won game 2 over the Sonics without much difficulty, taking a 2 game lead. The Spurs are doing well, and should win the series pretty easily. I shoudl be happy and calm, but I've got a couple complaints that are really bugging me.
The first is the refereeing. We're winning, so this isn't about being sore about the outcome. But the refs were horrible tonight anyway. Come on NBA, is this what you want, to encourage whining? Ray Allen drew several bogus calls on Bowen after complaining before the series and since game 1. It's a shame that yapping about how much you're fouled is an effective strategy, and I fear the amount of whining that other players will start doing if it remains such a good tactic.
My second complaint is about the announcers. Quit giving Jerome James the benefit of the doubt! He's not a good player. He had one good series against a team who's inside precense consisted entirely of an injured Brad Miller, who's never been a strong defender anyway. Now he's playing against Duncan, Mohammed, etc., and he looks as bad as he is. Stop pretending that he's suddenly going to "step-it-up" and be a factor. Don't suggest that Sonics try to get the ball inside to him more often! It makes you all look ignorant. He's a mediocre player. Please, please, comprehend this simple fact. He's averaging 5 points and 3 rebounds per game this year. Sheesh!
The San Antonio Spurs win in overtime, despite what Charles Barkley called "One of the worst officiated games I've ever seen in my 20 years associated with the NBA." Duncan played well, but fouled out in overtime. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili picked up their games even further in overtime to seal the win. Spurs up 3-1, hopefully they'll close out at home so they don't give any rest-advantage to their 2nd round opponent.
Just wanted to post about this while I remembered: you gotta love the classiness of the Denver Nuggets fans. For the second game in a row they get an extremely audible chant of "bull-shit" going. I don't recall for sure if they had any cause in Game 3. However, in Game 4, they are completely wrong. It wasn't even close: Nene was clearly not in position to get a charge called.
Also, the refereeing at the end of the Dallas-Houston game was quite bad, in that they missed two very big calls. I've got no preference between these two teams, but Houston was hurt pretty bad by: the missed call with Finley getting the steal from out-of-bounds, and the phantom foul call when the Rockets were trying to trap at the end of the game. A shame to mar a tight game with officiating mistakes.
"I'm going to put in on tape and show my son how to play basketball -- just put your head down and run into people," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "I guess that's a new brand of basketball. It's not very pretty. He just goes in there and throws his arms up in the air and throws his elbows at us. He hits you as much as you hit him."
That's George Karl talking about Manu Ginobili after Game 3. Here's Ray Allen after a game earlier this season talking about Bruce Bowen:
"I don't compare him to anyone, because he's the only one I know that doesn't play basketball," Allen told the media after the game. "He's out there playing some other sport. I don't know what you call it."
These are the two most idiotic, whiny quotes about basketball that I have ever heard. Bruce Bowen plays pure, perfect defensive basketball. I guess one-on-one perimeter defense is such a lost art that Allen got confused and couldn't even recognize the sport it came from when it was played against him.
But to malign the game of Manu Ginobili is even more idiotic. George Karl should consider himself lucky that his team has had such a great turn-around since he took over. Otherwise, his job might be at stake for disparaging the game of a player who was the first-choice of the Denver managment during free-agency last summer.
Do coaches and players really think that they, the ones with all the reason to be frustrated about being beaten by these players, are more level-headed and accurate than the referees? That the refs are, for some reason, biased towards Bowen and Ginobili? Because, if they're during some wrong, unfair, something that's "not basketball", then it would be the refs fault for not stopping it, right?
Coach Karl: give it a break. Phil Jackson only got away with such rediculous statements because he won so many championships. You are not in the same position, so at least have some dignity and take the loss like a man.
The Spurs grind out a good win over Denver, taking back home-court advantage. So, so far the San Antonio Spurs have: lost by only 6 playing badly, especially Duncan, won by 28 points playing well, and then had Duncan play badly and still win by 8.
Manu Ginobili played excellently, stepping up his game with Tim having an off-night. But the guy who never gets enough credit is Bruce Bowen. His continued success completely thwarting Carmelo Anthony is just another sign that he absolutely deserves to be Defensive Player of the Year for 2005.
Very happy to see the Spurs step it up and win in the 4th quarter against the Rockets. I'm just surprised they managed to do it with Tony Parker suddenly deciding he's a jump-shooting point guard. I don't think he tried to penetrate even once all game. I can't figure out why, and I have trouble imagining it was by design.
Wow. So that's it. That's the rediculously anti-climactic ending to the careers of 4 Kansas Seniors who have had so much post-season success in the past.
Bucknell played terrific basketball. I'd say they have a very good shot against Wisconsin. However, Kansas played plain-out awful. Langford was hurt; he just couldn't do the things he normally does. Aaron Miles rarely even seemed to try to penetrate. J.R. Giddens 3-pt shooting disappeared (as it had for most of the second half of the season). If it weren't for the always-great play of Wayne Simien and the impressive step-it-up performance by Michael Lee, this would have been a blowout.
That said, there were enough really questionable calls that make you wonder about a bias towards producing Cinderallas.
When the opening bell sounds at the stock and commodities exchanges around the country tomorrow morning, the traders will be buying and selling the usual products -- crude oil, gold, Treasuries, the S&P 500 index. Off the floor, after the close, they'll also be shorting Duke, going long on Kansas, buying back Pitt, and dumping Alabama. When March Madness begins, Longhorns are just another kind of cattle future.
While millions of Americans will be tossing a few dollars into pick-the-winner office pools on the NCAA men's basketball tournament, the traders will be playing a far more sophisticated game with much more intensity for geometrically higher stakes.
Looking through the stats for the Spurs team defense, you'll find they excel in almost every category. They're 1st in number of point allowed. 2nd in opposing team's field goal perecentage. 10th in opposing team's turnovers. However, the Spurs are 27th in opposing teams' 3pt. field goal percentage.
Was that a great game or what? Finally, they looked like a team that could compete for a National Championship. Yes, I know that they were playing a depleted Texas team. But it's not about how easy things were, or about the final score. It's the fact that showed a full-game's worth of effort. They pressured at the defensive end all game. On offense, they played well the full-time too. They attacked the basket whenever the could. When they couldn't they passed the ball around well. They did it against man-to-man and the 2-3 zone. If they can keep playing like this, then that Villanova game should be forgotten completely...
I don't blog about the San Antonio Spurs here as much as I'd like. Luckily, there's someone who does. To get my thoughts on my favorite NBA team, just read this blog, and then look for my comments on his posts.
Via an e-mail from the author (assumably), I found out today about a quite good college basketball blog. If you're a college basketball fan, I suggest you check it out.
"Players ought to be there on time, period," Coughlin said. "If you are on time, you are on time. Meetings start five minutes early."
Footbal coaches live in an alternate universe, where they apparently make a lot more sense than they do in this universe.
People who think that the rules difference between NBA and international basketball is just an excuse haven't really been paying attention. I think that some compromise on rules should occur, to get all the levels of basketball (NBA, College, International) at a mostly consistent rule-set. I'm not interested in making the rules adnantageous for the US, just improving the game of basketball. Here's the way I'd mix up the rules:
From the NBA:
From the international game:
There's a lot of other rules differences, but those are the major ones I'd be interested in reconciling.
Best sports we don't generally get to see:
Sports that would fit in best at the X-Games:
Sports that you're not quite sure qualify as "sports":
Well, there's no excuses this time. No jet-lag, no fluke 15 3-pointers. Just an old-fashioned butt-whooping.
The 3-point line is shorter: why do we shoot worse here than in the NBA?
And what did Carmelo Anthony do that made the coaches keep him on the bench?
And why didn't the US team try pressure defense until midway through the 3rd quarter? And why is Stephon Marbury still starting (Wade is better despite his tendency to get frustrated and make mistakes).
It ain't over, but Argentina is my second favorite. Did you see Ginobili's winning shot? Absolutely amazing. I only wish that game had come second, so that it would be the fresher moment in my mind.
It's good to see the US improving, as I've now watched the US barely beat Germany, and decisively beat Serbia and Montenegro. And they did it by playing to their strengths: use superior athleticism to play pressure defense, and get most of their offense through the transition game. In fact, they looked a lot like a Roy Williams coached Kansas team: getting the "secondary break" as announcers referred to it.
And that's exactly what they need to improve on further. Kansas was known for managing to fast-break even after made shots by the other team. The US team must take full advantage of their superior speed and depth. And I think we can mark the loss to Italy as being due to jet-lag. Not to insult the Italian team: with the way they shot, we still would have lost. Just not by so much.
The best 3 point shooter on the US men's basketball team is Richard Jefferson at .364 for last season. The league average .347. The league leaders wer Anthony Peeler, at .482, and Brent Barry at .452. Jefferson, having made only 48 3-pointers, doesn't qualify for the Top 50 list, which cuts off at 50, but he'd have been around 45 or so.
The players on the team shot the 3 ball as following:
So, the men's Olympic basketball team lost badly. Will this Olympic games be the first, since NBA players started playing for the Olympic team?
Sure, it's only one game. But there are serious problems, and I don't know if they can be overcome. And the similarities to the woes of my favorite NBA team, the San Antonio Spurs, are striking.
It all starts with a change in the rules: the zone defense. The NBA only last season repealed the "illegal defense" rule that prevented an effective zone defense. The international game has no rules preventing it, nor does college basketball.
A zone defense allows you to pack a lot of players into the inside, making scoring around the basket very difficult. Unfortunately, almost all the players on the US team excel in play around the basket. We have no outside shooters. The other teams, however, are built for these rules, and have excellent outside shooters, including, usually, the power forward and center positions. This also exposes another weakeness of NBA-style basketball: Our big men are generally not prepared to defend on the perimeter.
So, what do we have? We have Tim Duncan, arguably the best player in the world. But, like he was against the Lakers in the playoffs, he will be surrounded in the paint, frequently effectively triple teamed, and will have a hard time being dominating. Effective: yes, dominating: no. Beyond that, we have guys who can dribble well, pass well off the drive, and dunk very well. None of which helps much against the zone.
The future looks bleak to me. The Spurs couldn't beat the Lakers, because they didn't have consistent outside shooting. The same goes for the US team. The US team would have been better off doing what the Spurs did in the offseason: get a guy like Brent Barry that can shoot the ball well, rather than another athletic around-the-basket superstar. Or even have chosen a guy like Bruce Bowen, who's an expert defender, unlike any of the superstars brought on the team.
The last thing we do have is excellent coaches. But coaches can't turn players into 3-point shooters. But, luckily we have excellent defensive coaches (the Spurs and Pistons were the two best defenses, statisically, in the NBA last season). And, with the athleticism of the players on the team, only dedication and teaching are needed to improve the defense. We can only hope better defense is enough to prevent another game like today's.
Went to the KU vs. Colorado baskbetball game. Sat in the student section, and fairly close up. It was a lot of fun. Very exciting atmosphere. Glad I finally got to got to a game.
But the relaxation of watching on TV will probably win out for all future games...