No gold for Team USA

No gold for Team USA
September 19
01:00 2019

The United States Men’s National Team didn’t perform as well as they wanted to during the FIBA World Cup basketball tournament. After much concern about the talent level heading into the tournament, the seventh-place finish by Team USA validates those worries.

Many were worried about the lack of superstars on the team, but with Gregg Popovich and a bunch of hungry young players and veterans, there was optimism that this team could still bring home the gold. Obviously, the other teams around the world thought differently.

The seventh-place finish is the worst for Team USA in which they have sent NBA players. For me, this speaks more to the improved talent of the international teams versus how badly Team USA played. This is not 1992. No longer can the United States just throw together some NBA talent and expect to win in international play.

It was a surprise when Team USA lost to France for their first loss of the tournament, ending the run of five straight major tournament titles. That loss also knocked them out of any chance of winning a medal as well.  They did not bounce back well, as they lost to Serbia in their next game. Team USA did finish off the tournament on a high note by beating Poland 87-74.  

Even though the team did not come away with gold, Popovich said that there’s neither shame nor blame to be distributed.

“Like we should be ashamed because we didn’t win the gold medal?” Popovich asked. “That’s a ridiculous attitude. It’s immature. It’s arrogant, and it shows that whoever thinks that doesn’t respect all the other teams in the world and doesn’t respect that these guys did the best they could.”

To be honest, I knew this team was not the most talented group ever assembled, but they are still NBA players, nonetheless. It would be easy to use that as an excuse, but I am not going to discount the fact that the world is catching up with the United States. But the United States was the only team to have all members of their team in the NBA, so they should have been able to compete at a higher level than a seventh-place finish, right?

Team USA fell short in two major statistical categories throughout the tournament. Rebounding and three-point shooting were the things that seemed to come back and bite the U.S. In international play, the ability to rebound the ball and hit three-point shots are a major part of the game, especially since the three-point line in international play is shorter than the NBA’s line.

The players don’t seem to be upset by their finish in the tournament. Many of the players expressed how much of a privilege it was to be around the players and coaching staff.

“There are no regrets from our group in terms of what we’ve given, what we sacrificed, the commitment that everyone has made away from their families, teams, organizations, all of that,” said Harrison Barnes.

I think it was a good experiment to see if a collection of lesser players could still dominate the world and we have the answer: an emphatic “No.” A better question to ask is: what direction is the U.S. Men’s National Team headed? Are we going to continue to feature top tier talent at our tournaments, or are we going to use an international approach by having more consistency with the roster by using a mixture of young and veteran talent?  

Whatever direction the team takes, my hope is that they tailor the roster to better fit the international style of play. I honestly don’t think we need to send the best of the best, but a more well-rounded team is warranted.  

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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