Gilbert's Arena

Friday, September 01, 2006

Team USA Fails Again...

Watching the US team lose to Greece felt like watching a McDonalds All-American team get smoked by 5 old guys in rec-specs at the YMCA. Athletically, Greece was a joke compared to us, but they figured out our weakness and then exploited it ruthlessly.

USA went up 12 in the 2nd quarter, behind pressure defense that was suffocating the Greeks, and it looked like we were about to run them right out of the building. But then Greece figured out that all they had to do was run a high screen and roll EVERY FREAKING TIME, and they proceeded to wax the floor with us for the final two and a half quarters. They literally ran the exact same high screen and roll play on EVERY possession. Results varied from the ball-handler popping a three when we sagged under, the ball-handler driving to the basket for a layup when we fought over the screen, the screener stepping back for a spot-up jumper when his man jumped out on the ball-handler, or the screener rolling hard to the basket for a layup when we switched. It honestly seemed like Greece must have scored on 20 consecutive possessions in the 3rd quarter.

Beyond the failure to defend the pick-and-roll, there were definitely some other problems. For one, our horrendous free throw shooting killed us. We shot 20 for 34 (58%). We still could have won this game if we had respectable free throw shooting. But more importantly than that, this team just had NO idea how to attack a defense as a team. Our half-court offense was a joke. In fact, I would feel uncomfortable even saying that we had a half-court offense. Unlike in past years, we had guys who could spot up and hit jumpshots, but it doesn't matter if you're not creating open looks through your offense. NBA players only know how to attack 1-on-1, NBA-style. But is it their fault? NBA defensive rules are such that NBA offenses focus on creating mismatches in isolation. You pick which one or two defensive players you want to attack and you pick which one or two guys you want to attack them with. So how you can you take these guys out of their system, throw them onto a team with a bunch of other guys accustomed to that system, and then expect them to know how to attack an entire defense using their entire team in the offensive scheme after 3 weeks of practice? It's just not gonna happen. Combine that with the fact that alot of these guys never learned to play team basketball in high school, and alot of them skipped college or only played for a year or two in systems that were tailored to their individual abilities, and you start to wonder if any Team USA will ever be able to play the game the right way to win internationally. The only hope is that the new Team USA system of 3-year commitments will allow these guys to gel over the next few years, and hopefully begin to add more complexity to their offensive system than just standing and watching Melo, Wade, and James go 1 on 5.

In other news (sort of)...

Just as I expected, Gilbert Arenas's supposed groin injury was a load of BS from Team USA that was designed to let Gil exit the team gracefully without getting formally cut:

Not surprisingly, Gilbert isn't too happy about it, and he's blaming the assistant coaches, Mike D'Antoni of the Suns and Nate McMillan of the Blazers. He feels like the roster was pre-set before training camp, and that he never really got a fair shot at making the team. But most importantly for Wizards fans, Gilbert is already talking about how he feels disrespected and how he's going to take it out on the league this year. He especially felt slighted by the fact that he's one of the top scorers in the game, yet he was asked to change his game to fit in, whereas LeBron, Melo, and Wade were allowed to be themselves.

Heres a nice juicy quote from Gil that should get any Zards fan REALLY fired up for the 06-07 season...

‘‘I’m going to be the silent assassin,’’ Arenas said. ‘‘I can’t wait to play the Suns and Portland . . . against D’Antoni, I’m going to score 100 in two games.”

Gilbert's dropping AT LEAST 30 a game this year, no question!