Sunday, August 17, 2008

Fast-break, intense defense keys to USA's win over Spain

If you missed Team USA's win over Spain yesterday morning, the keys to the U.S. victory was (1) fast-break points and (2) intense defensive pressure, which forced 28 Spain turnovers.

I was surprised Spain turned it over so much as they're a solid ball-handling team with three good guards, including NBA players Jose Calderon and Juan Carlos Navarro, and Ricky Rubio, who some believe has a bright future in the NBA. Calderon was 1-9 from the floor.

The Americans stayed after Navarro and Calderon the entire game, which is one reason they shot just 3-19 from the field.

Spain's Pau Gasol only took eight shots, another sign that Team USA's defense with highly active. The Americans did a great job double-teaming Gasol on the catch and trapped him effectively, forcing him to turn it over five times.

Lots of points off turnovers for the U.S., which had 16 steals and had a great push of the ball. On the flip side, Spain's transition defense was poor, allowing 32 fast-break points.

LeBron played in the middle of the zone offense when Spain went to its zone . On the offensive end of the floor, he made some great reads as a facilitator. It was one reason the U.S. was able to get into a good offensive flow with lots of rhythm jumpers.

A credit to their unselfish play, Team USA had several give-and-go passes for lay-ups. J. Kidd had his first points of the Olympics on a left-handed layup in transition.

I was really impressed with Chris Paul, who made some incredible passes and played a great all-around game. From the perimeter, Carmelo had the hot hand, going 4-6 from 3-point range. D. Wade continued his solid play.

Once Team USA built its lead, you could just tell Spain didn't believe they could come back and win in this game. One look at their body language as they walked to the bench at timeouts said it all.

Spain put virtually no pressure on the ball defensively. While the Americans were going for 32 fast-break points, Spain had zero. Team USA's dribble penetration gave the Spanish team a lot of trouble.

Watching the Spanish players, I thought Marc Gasol has some skills. He's certainly big and made a nice fadeaway jumper. He as productive, going 2-3 from the field and getting six FTA.

I've seen Rubio play better. He's talented, but the U.S. guards forced him into four turnovers.