Team USA has looked very good in their two games against Croatia and Slovenia thus far. Below are a few links on Team USA’s performance up to this point and a little on the rest of the competition.
From Matt Haubs, The Painted Area: Um, so, yeah, about that pick of Spain to win the gold medal…. Just one day into the 2010 FIBA World Championship, the landscape looks mighty different as the United States efficiently dismantled a decent Croatia team 106-78, while Spain was shocked 72-66 by a French squad which was assumed to be merely decent as well. It may sound funny, but to me, the most impressive thing about the United States’ performance was that they forced only 12 Croatia turnovers and scored just 19 fast-break points. This wasn’t a game in which the U.S. overwhelmed the opponent by running them out of the building – performances which we’ve frequently seen vs. lesser opponents, and which can be difficult to sustain against better teams (as Kevin Pelton astutely pointed out on Basketball Prospectus).
From Mookie, A Stern Warning: The World Championships are pumping along just nicely, with the second day of action now under way. Day one in Kayseri saw a mixed bag of results. Firstly the Aussies gave their fans near heart-attacks with their last gasp win over lowly-ranked Jordan. Andrew Vlahov was in the stands to cheer the Boomers on. Defence was the main deficiency for the Aussies as they let the Jordanians waltz in for numerous uncontested baskets. The only Aussie performances of note came from David Andersen and Aleks Maric. In fact, Maric’s performance was so dominant that I had German girls in my hotel asking what NBA team he played for. He was the cog inside that the boomers definitely needed with Andrew Bogut’s absence. Meanwhile, Patty Mills didn’t show enough on either end to justify my usual man-love for him.
From Chris Tomasson, NBA Fanhouse: Not that he’s a candidate yet to replace Phil Jackson, but Lamar Odom let it be known Friday what he hopes one day to do. “That’s why I’ll be a great coach,” said the Lakers and Team USA stalwart about what his versatility will mean when his playing days are over. Odom, you see, has played every position on the basketball court, a claim not many can make. So perhaps it’s no surprise Odom, who is mostly a power forward during his day job with the Lakers, has emerged as the starting center for the Americans, who open the FIBA World Championship here Saturday against Croatia.
From Chris Tomasson, NBA Fanhouse: There’s a debate between Stephen Curry and Eric Gordon as to who is the best shooter on Team USA. The only thing they can agree upon is if they played H-O-R-S-E, it would last a very long time. “I got to say I am (the better shooter), and he’s going to say he is,” said Curry, a Golden State guard. “Of course, I think I’d like to be at the end of the day (the better shooter),” said Gordon, a Clippers guard. One could spend many a fortnight debating the subject. But let’s put it this way: On Saturday, Gordon definitely was the superior marksman. Gordon scored a team-high 16 points, including shooting 4-of-6 from three-point range, as the Americans defeated Croatia 106-78 at Abdi Ipekci Arena in their 2010 FIBA World Championship opener.
From Chris Tomasson, NBA Fanhouse: The NBA scoring champion was acting as if he wanted to be an assists leader. But that’s not Kevin Durant‘s game. So after a practice 2 ½ weeks ago during a training camp in New York, Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski pulled over his star forward. “In practice, I was passing too much, passing up open shots and trying to find an open man,” Durant recalled. “Coach pulled me to the side and just told me to be who I am, score the basketball. That’s one of my greatest attributes, as a scorer, and he just told me to go out there and play like I play in Oklahoma City. Be aggressive and also find the open man as well.”
From Brian Mahoney, Sympatico.ca: Playing a rare early game, the United States had stalled after a quick start, and a double-digit lead was down to five as halftime approached. Then, every time the Americans needed them, Kevin Durant seemed to get on the scoreboard and Kevin Love was on the backboard. Durant scored 22 points, Love added 10 points and 11 rebounds in a gritty 13 minutes off the bench, and the Americans beat Slovenia 99-77 on Sunday in an opening-round game. “They did a great job of fighting, getting stops and making plays, and we know that we can’t go out here and blow every team out,” Durant said. “We had to make this a grind game and we did that, and a good job of keeping our composure.”
From Matt Lawyue, SLAM Online: So that was easy. Yesterday’s demolishing of Croatia (106-78) sent a loud message throughout the basketball universe (particularly contrasting against Spain’s unexpected loss) that Team USA should not be underestimated. Despite all the chatter about being too small, too young and too inexperienced, the American’s put on a well-rounded offensive display. Overall they shot 55.4 percent from the field, while going 12-30 beyond the arc. After a tight first quarter, where the Croatian’s pounded the ball inside for close buckets, Kevin Durant lead the charge in the second quarter where USA outscored Croatia 26-6. “I think we did a great job of talking in the second quarter,” Durant says. “Guys put pressure on the defense. It was a great team win. If you look at the scoreboard, everybody had a bucket, everybody contributed. It was a good win for us.”