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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Team USA Concludes Exhibition Tour With 116-63 Win Over Korea

Team USA completed a 5-0 exhibition tour by defeating host Korea 116-63. LeBron James led the U.S. in scoring with 23 points and added six rebounds, four assists and four steals. Dwayne Wade (16), Elton Brand (16) and Carmelo Anthony (13) also scored in double figures. Anthony led the U.S. in scoring overall during the five games, averaging 16.8 ppg. James (15.8) and Wade (12.2) were the only other U.S. players to average more than 10 ppg, but Antawn Jamison and Joe Johnson came very close (9.6 ppg each).

This win does not tell us a lot about Team USA. As Coach Mike Krzyzewski said afterward, "Obviously we knew we were going to win. The talent differential was in our favor by far." It will be interesting to see how this team responds when faced with tougher opposition. Also, as Bill Walton pointed out during the ESPN broadcast, teams have not been playing much zone defense against Team USA during the exhibition tour. Will the U.S. be able to execute offensively against zone defenses during the World Championships?

During my appearance today on BetUs.ComRadio, host Matthew Ross asked me if five exhibition games were too much for the U.S. I told him that, if anything, it might be too few. Keep in mind that the other countries in the World Championships have national teams that have played together for years under FIBA rules, while the U.S. team consists of players who have not played together (except for All-Star Games). It takes time for a team to jell and even more time to adjust to the different FIBA rules (shorter three point line, one less foul before disqualification, liberalized goal tending, trapezoid lane, etc.). I like the new U.S. approach of insisting on three year commitments from each player and I am confident that this will eventually result in gold medals for the U.S. in international play. Team USA's recent results in the Olympics and World Championships prove that winning these events will not be a cakewalk.

The only bad news so far for Team USA is that neither Amare Stoudemire not Gilbert Arenas will be healthy enough to play in the World Championships. Stoudemire returned home to continue rehabilitating his knee, while Arenas suffered a groin injury during practice on Monday. Coach Krzyzewski still must make one cut to get the roster down to 12 players before the World Championships begin. There are a total of 24 players on the Team USA roster for the 2006-08 period, but only 12 of them may be activated for a given event. This time around, injuries and prior commitments have eliminated several players from consideration.

posted by David Friedman @ 4:13 PM

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