Team USA is Golden!

Both Women and Men won the gold medals they were expected to win.  The women, I think, doing it more easily than the men.  As I am writing this, the closing ceremony is ending and the 2012 Olympics are wrapping up.  All in all, a good games were had.  Some ups and some downs (as I will highlights later in the post) and I can put Coach K back into his proper place…coach of that other team, Dook.

The women beat France 86-50 for their FIFTH straight gold! After Team France (Le Blue, as they are called) won their semifinal to get into the gold medal game, their coach, Pierre Vincent, said, “I’m gonna party…The US built the game…They cannot be beat.” He was right!  Q1 was a bit sloppy around the basket, but the US had a 12 point lead at halftime and never looked back.  This takes nothing from France, they played good basketball and never gave up, but they were just outplayed.  All 12 US players scored and, for me, Candace Parker stepped onto the court and blew it away.  That is not to downplay the contributions of Sue Bird, Maya Moore, and the rest.  Team USA put on a basketball clinic for France and the rest of the world.

The US held France to 28% field goal shooting and 18% three pointers, while the US made 47% of their field goals and 37% of the threes.  France outshot the US 80% to 68% at the free throw line (always room for improvement, ladies!)

Then came the men.  Could they hold up their end of the bargain and get a gold for the US?  Could they finish the run on the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Dream Team?  It was a bit hard to watch, at times, but the US men won the gold in a 107-100 battle with Spain.

In a game that featured 16 lead changes and 6 ties, US men were able to power their way onto the gold medal stand.  In this game fouls hurt the US, stopped the clock, and constantly disrupted the flow of the game. but it did allow Team USA to shoot 77% from the line.  (Spain shot 84% from the line in this game, so there is room for improvement, gentlemen).  The free throw shooter of the day, by far, was Kevin Durant.  He was 9 for 10 from the line!  But overall, I think Spain’s size was an issue for the USA. Maybe more big men in 2016? When Chandler was on the bench, it was often Kevin Love that came in for him.  Love is an impressive player and outstanding rebounder- no doubt, but more than one big man, please!

Well, now that Olympic basketball is done- Let’s start the countdown to college play.  Late Night with Roy anyone?! (Oct 12, 2012)

As an addendum to this post:  I have loved the Olympic games this year.  I was lucky enough to have time to watch a lot of them.  While I am not an athlete myself, I am an avid fan and love to cheer others on.  Hard work should be rewarded, no matter where you finish in the pack.  This year we got to cheer for women from every country for the first time as well as have athletes like Oscar Pistorious and Natalia Partyka compete in both the Olympics and ParaOlympics.

There were the highest of highs.  US runner Manteo Mitchell finished the starting leg of the silver medal winning 4×100 relay with a broken leg.  US BMX rider Brooke Crain crashed, flew over her handlebars, and with the help of the medical team managed to cross the finish line.  That is what you do.  You compete, you represent.  Apparently not if you are Morgan Uceny and that is a shame.  She fell as she was about to make her move in the final lap of the 1500.  She fell in 2008 in Beijing and at last year’s world championships in California.  Yes, it SUCKS!  But she hit the ground like a child having a temper tantrum and walked off the track. I know she worked hard to be here and her frustration at falling during major meets must be great, but you are representing yourself and your country and you needed to finish that lap, congratulate the winner and act like a woman.  As someone that watched her throw a fit, cry, and leave after watching Mitchell and Crain, I was astounded at her actions and left wanting more sportswoman like conduct.  She did not break her leg, she did not face plant into a hill, she fell.  Finish the race!


US men vs Argentina

The famous Argentinean Evita Peron once said, “time is my greatest enemy” and I think that was true for yesterday’s US men vs Argentina.  Team Argentina was hot out of the block yesterday scoring the first points on the board.  They were large, assertive, and sure of their plays on the floor.  The first half of this ball game offered good back and forth ball.  Ball that I like to watch.

It was Q3 when the US, and James in particular, roared to life leaving not doubt about who was in control of this game.  After lead changes and staying close, the US just pulled ahead and never looked back.  Kevin Durant came alive on the threes and Westbrook had a dunk (watch :41 on the video) that is worth replaying.  Overall, USA was 51% both from the field and on the three point shot and an impressive (but I think it should be the norm) 80% from the free throw line.  Argentina is a great team.  They shot about 50% from the field, about 38% from the three, and 75% from the charity line.  This matchup was better than most to watch. An honorable mention must go to Argentinean Manu Ginobili- he went 7 for 7 of this free throws.  I like that no matter what team a player plays for.

Currently,  Team US women are playing Team Canada, well wearing team Canada down.  Canada had a good run particularly beating Team GB, but they can’t seem to find a groove with the US.  In watching Q1 and seeing Canada execute a pretty good princeton offense, I am reminded what their coach, Kim Smith, said about her team, We’re not talented, we don’t play nice basketball.”  I’m not sure if that is self-effacing niceness or a coach that pulls no punches with the media.  The women I am watch play Team USA right now have talent, they are just outsized and outrun.  Let’s see what the end of this game brings.


Whew!

99-94 was too close for comfort!  US men vs Lithuania took until the last half of Q4 to get their overdrives on and then it was most James bursting into action.  Most of the game was within 4 points with the lead changing between teams.

The US needed a game like this.  One that pushed their game, which may have been a bit on autopilot from their last game, into defensive mode.  The US started off with some quick fouls and they flirted with foul trouble the whole game, until Lithuania got into a bit of foul trouble in Q3.  This was a W and a good exercise for the team, but FT was lackluster at 61%.  Combine that with 30% 3 point shots in this game and it is not impossible to see another team making more threes and more FT- thus getting an elusive W against the USA in Olympic play.

James really stepped up in the last half of the Q4 to push the US to win.  Hopefully this is just a taste of sour to keep the team’s head in the game as they play toward the gold!

Congratulations out to the US women’s eight team rowers, specifically Greensboro native Caroline Lind, for their gold medal!!!!


It’s raining threes

I know, I know…I missed the last women’s game and missed most of the men vs Nigeria, but it is August and I am on vacation before the fall semester starts. (Refer back to the About section, I write about the games I watch and watch the games I want.)

Congratulations are in order for the US women.  The highlights of their last game were great!  Let’s go ladies! Drive for Five!!

Also, the end of the men’s France vs Russia- Down to the last seconds and that is the kind of basketball that is fun to watch.

Now for the US men…they did a great job last night, breaking records like it was nothing.   Congrats to Carmelo Anthony for setting US men’s all time Olympic scoring record with 37 points (remember that Olympic play is 8 minutes less than NBA play.)  The team make 29 of 46 threes with 41 assists- goodness gracious!

All in all, Nigeria played hard and didn’t let up until the steam was just driven out of them.  I think they just got tired.  The USA set an all time points record with 156 (again 8 less minutes).  BUT they did not get the all time points spread Olympic record.  That is still held, from 1948, by China and South Korea.  China beat Iraq 125-25 and South Korea was over Iraq 120-20.  100 points different.  Needless to say, Iraq went 0-6 that year.

We are still going strong for gold!

Also, much love and recognition to Gabby Douglas for her individual gold and Rebecca Soni for her gold in world record time!


US Men vs Tunisia

The final score was 110-63 and that was not unexpected; however, at one point Tunisia was up 11-10.  The only team in men’s Olympic competition without any NBA experience and they were up on Team USA- not too shabby!  Of course, the first five minutes of the game can’t last forever, so Coach K did a unit substitution to get some much needed energy on the court.  Team USA took control of this game hardly taking their foot off the gas.

Tunisia slipped ahead in Q1 with the help of 3 three point shots in the first five minutes of the game, while Team USA went 0-7 in Q1.  Overall, Team USA shot 40% of their three point shots, but this slow warm up seems to be a repeating issue.  FG percentages looked better for this game than the last at 61% (77% in the first half).  As for foul shots, I have little room for complaint at 77.8%.  (As you get to know me better I think teams should maintain at 75-80% statistic here.  FT are based on practice…if you practice you will get better).  Team USA kept their turnovers low at 9, but there were some moments where Tunisia took the ball and executed some nice basketball, including a classic coast to coast play.  

Coach K did do the unit substitution to get some energy on the floor in Q1 and spread the minutes around to all the players, including Anthony Davis (who is much more fun to watch when he is not wearing dark blue!).  I can only imagine how much Davis’ game will improve with this experience.

The nicest moment of the game came after the final buzzer.  A Tunisian player approached Kobe and asked him to sign the shoe right off his foot.  With grace, that extended to the hour long Q and A with the media, Kobe showed himself to the the elder statesman of this team.

 

 


US Women vs Angola

Yes, Angola was outgunned in every way, but for their first ever Olympic games they showed up with plenty of spunk.  Q1 ended 22-12 and never got better from there, but it was fun to watch.  The Angola players stole the ball, drove to the basket, and never played like women intimidated.   Bravo to to them, the first game is under their belts, and hopefully we will see more from this country in future play.

Team USA played a solid game, but as gold contenders and #1 seed there is always room for comment.  I know that these women have had less then 2 weeks of practice time together and each of these games in pool play is time for them to coalesce as a team.  This game was a meditation in making shots from the foul line (89%).  These are the numbers I like, and expect, from professional ball players.  This game was also a study in the mid-range jump shot, an often underutilized skill that overshadowed by the want of flashy threes.  While not all were mid-range, they did have a 54% two point stat this game.  It was nice to see this kind of game executed as well as the strong team play that goes into its success.  The one weakness, that may be linked to this mid-range style, was the three point shot.  If they are going to work and improve, this is an area to concentrate on.  This game they were 2/17 for the three (12%).  The only players to find their shot were Catchings and Augustus, while Bird was 0/4 and Taursi was 0/5.  Clearly this team has a pocket full of skills, but if you are going to attempt that many you should make some.

This is a great time to remind ourselves Team USA is on a “drive for five.”  That is they are going for their fifth straight gold medal, a feat not done by any other basketball team, women or men.  It may be easy to let this team play second fiddle to the men’s Team USA, with names like James, Bryant and so forth.  And we know those men are extraordinary in basketball, but they are not going for their fifth straight gold.  These women hold more NCAA titles, none were drafted less than 4th, and some, like Maya Moore, hold amazing win records like going 115-4 at UConn while holding the 90 game undefeated streak for the NCAA.  I am not trying to create a pissing game of who have more accolades, but rather just a gentle reminder that not all greatness is held in one way.  Team USA is going for gold #5 and reminding ourselves of that will let us cheer them on a little louder!


US Men’s vs France

This game was almost a study of NBA athletes.  Almost every player on the floor had NBA experience, including three SA Spurs players on the French team lead by Tony Parker.  Team USA won 98-71, but they looked a little wobbly to start the game.

After missing their first 3 foul shouts, they were okay in that department.  However, the Q1 ended with a three pointer by France (to put France only down by one 22-21) and that was the ONLY three point shot made by either team in that quarter.  Team USA was looking a little peaked.  By halftime, the score was 52-36 (USA on top), but our guys were playing sloppy and flirting with foul trouble. (Just remember, they only get 5 fouls not the NBA 6).

Team USA got it together and played more cleanly in the second half, but it was not a game they ever ran away with.  The final shooting stat was 43%, but for the longest time they were in the mid-30% range, leading to be sure but not inspiring greatness.  They have Argentina to look forward to, as well as probably Spain and others, where 43% shooting will not lead you down the path to gold.

Coach K got credited with a technical in this game.  The only explanation I heard for this penalty was “talking.”  I don’t know if the talking was on the bench or on the floor.  I would hope that it was some friendly banter on the floor as they all play each other and I am sure that they have plenty to say about it.  The technical was not a big deal, but if your gonna get one, get it for a good reason.

All in all, Team USA is fun to watch, especially Anthony Davis getting some floor time in Q4 and Kevin Love above the basket, but I want to see fun basketball as we race towards the gold!