Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Angola's active zone gives U.S. trouble

Had a chance to watch Team USA take on Angola today in Beijing.

Only five Team USA players got to the foul line (see box score below), which had to do with Angola's active zone defense. The idea was to force the Americans to try to beat them from over the top of the zone.

It worked as Team USA shot a poor 5-21 from (international) 3-point range. D. Wade made two of the five. Michael Redd, touted as the team's best 3-point shooter, missed both of his attempts.

At some point, the Americans are going to have to consistently hit perimeter jump shots, something they've been unable to do for several years now.

On the other hand, dribble-penetration and transition offense are so efficient it's incredible. Still, the inability to make outside shots is a concern. Watch for other teams to employ a similar strategy to what Angola used today.

On the defensive end, it was spurts of pressure defense that won the game for the U.S., forcing 25 Angola turnovers. Team USA's pressure defense, especially in the second and third quarters, led to a lot of U.S. layups and dunks, something we've seen frequently in the exhibitions and early Olympic games.

Team USA did a nice job defending repeated Angola middle pick-N-rolls, as well as a lot of double-screen action and post-ups.

Angola's Carlos Morais (#6) is a great athlete who has some talent, scoring 24 points and getting to the foul line nine times. But his 10 turnovers hurt and just show the pressure that Team USA's guards applied all game.

As Team USA gets ready for Greece, I liked how Coach K played his two young point guards, Chris Paul and Deron Williams, the most minutes, which gave the starters a chance to get some rest.

[Click on the image above to enlarge the box score.]