Team USA Thoughts

Kurt —  August 4, 2006

Thank God we got to watch Team USA in action so we didn’t have to rely on Chris Sheridan’s reporting any longer (more on him later). One game is just one game, and you can’t say much bad about a 45-point win, but here are a few thoughts.

• I didn’t see him on the bench, but I’d swear that Nolan Richardson was helping coach that team, because that sure looked like the old Arkansas “40 minutes of hell” defense to me.

• Has the USA solved the outside shooting issue that plagued it in Athens? I’m not so sure. By my count (I couldn’t find the official stats online even two hours after the game ended, and my Tivo cut off the last 2:30) the USA was 11 of 32 from three-point range (34.4%), which is not very impressive from the shorter international line. In the first half, when the tempo was slower, the USA was just 3 of 17 from beyond the arc, but with more transition and open looks in the second half — not to mention the shooters just feeling comfortable — they hit 8 of 15. So which numbers are more what we will see in Japan?

• I had the USA 7 of 14 from the midrange.

• That’s high pressure style can be great defense and style to play when you have the depth of this USA team and can just keep throwing guys out there in waves. But more talented and experienced teams could make the USA pay for it if they don’t get back.

• The USA really needs to come up with a couple zone-buster plays they can run consistently. Even if one of those is Wade just breaking guys down off the dribble (that worked pretty well).

• Carmello Anthony looked good (including 3 of 4 from deep), his outside touch really suits the International style.

• I loved when LeBron (or another forward) would get the rebound then lead the break themselves, that made the USA even more dangerous in transition.

• Okay, let’s talk about Sheridan. I’m slow to criticize reporters because I appreciate the work they do — for example Chad Ford may get things wrong at times but you can’t question the work he puts in to cultivate sources and info.

But since going to Vegas to cover Team USA, Sheridan, who has long covered USA basketball, seems to want to stir the pot for no particular reason. First there was his insistence Coach K was in error for asking the team to try to dominate every quarter. Tom at SacTown Royalty did a good job shooting down both the original premise and Sheridan’s defense.

In his next column, Sheridan talks to Kobe, who shows up to watch a practice, and spends the entire column questioning why Kobe would call the team “they” and not “we.” He calls Kobe out for it. I have a theory why Kobe chose those words — HE’S NOT ON THIS TEAM. He had an operation but still cared enough to come out to a meaningless scrimmage. Despite what Sheridan said in that column, I saw photos later that showed Kobe joking around with Team USA guys afterward. He said several times he wished he could be playing.

It’s disapointing, because Sheridan is usually a good reporter, but it’s as if he’s disappointed he hasn’t been invited on Around the Horn, so he’s trying to show he’s ready by making up stories where there are none. “See, I can be controversial too, put me on as a talking head.”

My kingdom for some old-school reporting.