Saturday, July 26, 2008

Pressure defense, transition offense clicking as Team USA downs Canada by 55

Watched the entire USA v Canada game last night as the Americans cruised, 120-65.

The key was the pressure defense that the U.S. applied, holding Canada to a low FG percentage. Team USA's guards did a great job on-ball defensively.

The Americans also did a good job of getting in the passing lanes and causing deflections. The one area of concern is the defensive gambles and blow-bys off the dribble when they play teams than can really shoot off the drive-and-kick game.

I loved how Team USA ran their out of bounds and looked up-floor for quick-hitting passes (rules on side-out allows quick inbounds as opposed to the NBA where the ref slows every
inbound play).

Off of Canada's FT, Team USA's "Pistol" attack looked good.

Great pick-up by Team USA with 3-point specialist Michael Redd. They did a nice job finding Redd, who finds a way to run and get to the 3-point line in transition with the unselfish play of guards J. Kidd, C. Paul (photo below), and D. Williams. They will find the shooters and are such willing passers.

Team USA was all perimeter tonight. At some point in the Olympics they'll need to establish an inside game with a post player. In this game, though, it was all fast breaks and perimeter jumpers.

On the down side, Team USA must take better care of the ball. At times, their unselfishness or over-passing led to U.S. turnovers in the first and second quarters, though they executed better in the third quarter at the offensive end.

Team USA's guards totally dominated Canada's backcourt, which featured Carl English and veteran Rowan Barrett, who are solid, but not at the same level as the U.S. backcourt players. The Canadians missed Samuel Dalembert (76ers), who was waived by coach Leo Rautins.

This Canadian team was not as good as the Greek, German, Croatian, and Puerto Rican teams that I watched last week in FIBA action in Athens last week. In fact, Team USA's practice squad is quite a bit better than Team Canada, who looked out of condition tonight.

I'm not sure how this game helps prepare Team USA as the Americans were so much better than Canada, which displayed little resistance on the defensive end as Team USA did whatever they wanted. From a strategy perspective, Canada's scheme didn't take any one aspect of the game away from the U.S.

On the personnel side of things, Jason Kidd fits in perfectly with Team USA. With four scorers on the floor, Kidd has the ideal pass-first mentality that a point guard needs for this roster. He'll be a key for this team, though he may get overshadowed with so many spectacular scorers on the squad.

I loved how coach K subbed both of Jason Kidd's back-ups in at the same time so as not to declare a "winner" in the battle for the #2 point-guard spot. They played well together in the backcourt. No reason to declare who the backup is this early.

D-Wade looked phenomenal. A lot of bounce in his legs.

Carmelo Anthony showed his value to Team USA by playing both inside and outside.

And, as expected, Kobe had a nice all-around game.

As a side note, I thought Coach Fran Fraschilla did a nice job with the color for tonight's TV broadcast, providing terrific insight. He also had a good story about Coach K bringing in wounded U.S. soldiers to talk to the team last year about selfishness.