The headlines included words like "rout" and "rip" to describe Team USA's win over Russia the other night, but their 89-point output was about 30 points below their average in the first three games.
The U.S. team had 17 points in the second quarter; 18 in the fourth.
Russia showed that, if you're going to keep it relatively close against the Americans, you have to rebound the basketball, especially on the offensive glass. The Russians were very physical on the boards. Clearly, that was part of their strategy going in.
Second, to slow the Americans, you have to concentrate on transition defense.
By controlling the tempo, Russia was able to keep the game close.
USA's bigs Dwight Howard (pictured above), Carlos Boozer, and Chris Bosh combined for just one defensive rebound. T. Prince, who hasn't played much and isn't a physical inside defender, had three defensive boards in six minutes. Carmelo Anthony did a good job on the defensive glass for Team USA.
Through four exhibition games, Team USA 's offense has some similarities to Coach K's Duke offense, which is to be expected. On the offensive side, it's push early and hard. In the half-court, look for the mismatch, penetrate, and kick. Late in the clock, screen and roll.
At times, Team USA has had guys standing and watching in half court. If an opponent can stop the break, it will shorten the game.
In the games I've seen on TV, plus the games at the FIBA tourney in Greece, I've noticed that the Europeans have good movement, with everyone touching the ball and using the shot clock.
I liked how Russia got the bulk of their shots from their two best players with Holden (17 FGA) and Kirilenko (14 FGA) combining for 31 of the Russian's 63 shots.
[Here's the complete boxscore from the USA-Russia game.]