FanDuel - WFBC

August 15, 2004

Puerto Rico 92, U.S. 73: Anyone really surprised?

posted by justgary to basketball at 03:41 PM - 39 comments

Surprised it was Puerto Rico, who the US beat by 25 just a few weeks ago. I expect that we will not medal this year, and USA Basketball will get a clue about creating an actual team for 2008, with (gasp) more than one center and at least one guy who can shoot from the outside, and guys who care passionately (like the rest of the world does.) If that happens, we can expect to crush the world one last time- watching Puerto Rico, China, and Spain today, these guys are way better than they used to be, but they still aren't very deep- a team that looks less like what we're fielding and more like the one Bill Simmons proposed would probably have a pretty easy time of things if they were able to practice together as a team. That advantage, of course, won't last- China will probably give us lots of game in 8 years when the first round of Yao-inspired teenagers mature. But if USA Basketball became something more than what NBA players do as their leisurely vacation, 2008 would be at least one more Olympics the US would demonstrate superiority, and we'd be competitive after that- which we won't be if we continue to treat the Olympics as a summer vacation for spoiled superstars.

posted by tieguy at 04:06 PM on August 15

So at what point does the NBA decide to bring it's rules more in line with the international game. And tieguy, I think it's a bit much to say you could win easily, if only the right team was picked. Fact is, the rest of the world has caught up, and is no longer afraid of playing the USA. USA still has more strength in depth, but that's even less important in basketball than it is in football.

posted by salmacis at 05:17 PM on August 15

can't we just send the college guys? i liked that a lot better.

posted by lescour at 06:58 PM on August 15

Nice game chummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmps. [/Bart Simpson]

posted by vito90 at 07:24 PM on August 15

And tieguy, I think it's a bit much to say you could win easily, if only the right team was picked. The rest of the world is clearly getting better, but a team with the NBA's best - Shaq, Kobe, KG, T-Mac, Tim Duncan etc - would trounce anyone on the planet. Sorry. Still, it's up to the US team to prove that on the court. Right now we aren't even second-best in the world. We didn't pick the right players. We didn't practice enough. This is the arrogant USA getting its comeuppance in microcosm.

posted by lbergstr at 07:37 PM on August 15

[By the way, I just finished watching (very late) the Argentina-Serbia/Montenegro game. Was one of the best basketball games I've seen in a long time.] salmacis: the rest of the world is catching up, but it just isn't there yet. No other nation has the complete team the US could pretty easily field if they got serious- Argentina might have a point as good as anyone the Americans can field, and China might have a center as good as anyone the Americans can field, and Spain a power forward as good as anyone the Americans can field, and so on, but each of those teams have other big holes in their starting five- no team is as complete as the one the US could field. The talent gap is not what it used to be- unlike in the past, it can be and clearly is being bridged by superior team training and experience. But just because the gap has gotten small enough to be bridged, doesn't mean the gap has disappeared. [What would be interesting, by the way, is if the NBA switched the all-star game to the North American v. World format the NHL has tried for a while. In a serious game, I'd probably put my money on the World at this point, but that's not the same as thinking any one nation can beat the US yet when the US is serious.]

posted by tieguy at 07:37 PM on August 15

This is the arrogant USA getting its comeuppance in microcosm. Yup.

posted by tieguy at 07:40 PM on August 15

Oh, I see. They lost because they weren't serious - the team wasn't serious, USA Basketball isn't serious, no one is serious. Sorry for the implication, but I can't help but feel that you sound like all Canadians sounded when we never won Olympic gold in hockey from the 50s to 1994 - cuz we weren't serious and didn't send our best players. Then we did and they lost. On paper you already have the best out there this year. It's not the World All-Stars out there beating them, either.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 07:45 PM on August 15

Call me territorial, but isn't Puerto Rico a U.S. Territory? I didn't know they sent their own contingency to the Games.

posted by brewdudepa at 07:49 PM on August 15

I can't wait for the sportswriters to have a field day once the US is eliminated from medal competition! Some of the ballers who begged off the team need to grow some balls of their own!

posted by jasonbondshow at 08:45 PM on August 15

Oh well...there's always the ladies... These are the women that the Mad Dog dismissed with the sneering comment, "They can't draw flies." Unlike the NBA stars, however, they do seem capable of winning in international competition. Monday's matchup is against the Czech Republic, and it ought to be a good one. The game is at 7 AM live on USA.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:43 PM on August 15

this photo is priceless. is there a greek word for schadenfreude?

posted by goddam at 09:50 PM on August 15

this photo is priceless. is there a greek word for schadenfreude? I saw that one too. Oh my god, what a great photo. What facial expressions. They look like they just got pantsed in church in front of their maiden aunts. Or perhaps the thought balloons should be reading, "BOHICA!!!"?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:00 PM on August 15

Reasonable suggestion from Jim Caple over at ESPN:

Players can make any amount of money. Players can wear any shoe. Players can employ any number of posse members. But if they want to play in the Olympics, they have to stay in the Athletes' Village. If they aren't willing to share a bathroom with their fellow Olympians, if they aren't willing to pluck their hairs from the drains and squeegee the water from around the shower, then the Olympics just don't mean enough to them.
Does seem like a reasonable way to get a committed team that would be fun to cheer for, if nothing else (which is the standard that makes me cheer harder for Duke women than Duke men at this point.) Doesn't solve only having one center, but... whatever :)

posted by tieguy at 10:41 PM on August 15

I was going to suggest that the Puerto Rico thing works kind of like the Taiwan thing except it turns out Taiwan is not represented as an independent nation in Athens. I suppose Tim Duncan doesn't play for the US Virgin Islands team because they can't field one?

posted by geekyguy at 12:46 AM on August 16

Check this AskMe thread for info about Puerto Rico. Bob Costas ended the primtime coverage tonight with a pretty damning indictiment of the US team, claiming that when some of the biggest names fell through, the US opted to sign the next biggest names they could regardless of int'l rules and style of play. The US team only has one player that finished in the top 50 in the NBA in 3-point shooting this past season (Richard Jefferson at #47). The three point line is closer in int'l play and it's destroying the US team. Hopefully they'll learn their lesson when they piece together the next team. [By the way, I just finished watching (very late) the Argentina-Serbia/Montenegro game. Was one of the best basketball games I've seen in a long time.] That was one hell of a finish. I saw the recap on Telemundo right after it finished and then finally the final 5 minutes on the late night NBC recap. The Argentine coach's run with arms flailing about it my fav. Olympic moment of the first two days. That was hilarious.

posted by Ufez Jones at 01:17 AM on August 16

Isn't this a little bit of an indictment on Larry Brown as a pure coach? He has a full season or more to work on the Pistons, and scores an A+. Knowing he has to mold a team for basically a few weeks of tournament ball playing a particular type of game, and he doesn't seem to be able to adapt and so far would rate an F- if F's were allowed minuses. He's not trying to win an NBA Final with this crew. Can he be blamed for not designing a game plan that exploits the advantages of this group he has?

posted by vito90 at 01:51 AM on August 16

vito90: and what are those advantages, exactly? Can't shoot, can't pass... I suppose you could make this a Duncan-centered team, but then you'd just get hack-a-Tim. So it is hard for me to blame Brown, who has shown he can win under virtually any circumstances. Heck, he won with the Clippers. It is hard to knock the man as a coach :) geekyguy: the US VI do field a team, but did not when TD started playing, and FIBA rules state you can't 'switch' once you've played at the adult level internationally for one country. More details here.

posted by tieguy at 04:26 AM on August 16

tieguy: Players can make any amount of money. Players can wear any shoe. Players can employ any number of posse members. But if they want to play in the Olympics, they have to stay in the Athletes' Village. Minor nit that, AFAIK, does not apply to the basketball team in this Olympics: nowadays, venues are spread out so much that not everybody is able to stay in a centralized athletes' village and still make it to their events and practice. At least, that was so in SLC, and I'll be very surprised if it's not also the case for some athletes in Athens.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 06:38 AM on August 16

I thought the men's olympic team wasn't staying in the olympic village, but rather on a luxury liner docked in Athens..

posted by blarp at 06:55 AM on August 16

lil_brown: I believe all the basketball events are typically at a single arena near the central location. Not sure, though. (Outside of the 'natural' body of water events like rowing/sailing/kayaking aren't the summer olympics more condensed than the winter, generally?) blarp: yeah, that was the point of the Caple article- that if they weren't such stuck-up, missing-the-point-of-the-olympics 'stars', they'd at least be lovable losers; as it is I know a lot of people (including myself) basically cheering for them to lose.

posted by tieguy at 07:07 AM on August 16

geekyguy, it seems Taiwan are at the Olympics, they're just called Chinese Taipei.

posted by squealy at 07:46 AM on August 16

lil_brown: I believe all the basketball events are typically at a single arena near the central location. Not sure, though. As I said, tieguy, my comment didn't apply specifically to the basketball teams. Take a look at the boating venues, for example.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:22 AM on August 16

Ah, I misunderstood. But when the sailors don't stay at the olympic village, that's not because they are spoiled brats, which I guess was Caple's point.

posted by tieguy at 10:23 AM on August 16

I saw in the Puerto Rico game that Duncan has a 46% free throw average? WTF? You're telling me a guy who stands all alone on the free throw line can't score at least half the time is considered a star forward? (I know, Shaq is probably worse, and most of the "star" NBA players consider 40% pretty damn good.) As long as the NBA thinks not having fundamentals like, erm, scoring free throws, is good as long as you can tomahawk a dunk, this'll be the results we get. Call these guys The Cream Team.

posted by worldcup2002 at 11:42 AM on August 16

Ah, I misunderstood. But when the sailors don't stay at the olympic village, that's not because they are spoiled brats, which I guess was Caple's point. Yeah, that's why I called it nitpicking when I brought it up. I think there's a lot to be said for the athletes' village idea, but ever since Munich, any delegation from any country has all the excuse they need if they don't want to stay there.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 02:38 PM on August 16

I think there's a lot to be said for the athletes' village idea, but ever since Munich, any delegation from any country has all the excuse they need if they don't want to stay there. Really? I disagree. This could very easily read: "I think there's a lot to be said for [insert higher principle here], but ever since [tragic event], any [group potentially susceptible to future tragic events] has all the excuse they need if they [want to/don't want to] [insert action to pursue]." Look familiar? I guess what I'm saying is that if you really believe in what the higher principle stands for -- and I would argue strongly that living together in peace and harmony despite our differences is part of what the higher principle of Olympism is supposed to entail -- then there is no excuse. You just live up to said higher principle. End of story.

posted by smithers at 03:44 PM on August 16

I saw in the Puerto Rico game that Duncan has a 46% free throw average? WTF? You're telling me a guy who stands all alone on the free throw line can't score at least half the time is considered a star forward? Duncan's career FT% 69.4 & yeah he's one of the greatest players in the world. I'll say it - we will win the gold. Hell it looked like we had more coaches than players on the bench. I'm sure one of them can come up with a plan.

posted by catfish at 07:09 PM on August 16

Smithers: I guess what I'm saying is that if you really believe in what the higher principle stands for -- and I would argue strongly that living together in peace and harmony despite our differences is part of what the higher principle of Olympism is supposed to entail -- then there is no excuse. You just live up to said higher principle. End of story. You misunderstand. I said that Munich provided an excuse, an out if anyone wants to take it, for any reason. I didn't say it provided a justification. There is a difference.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:31 PM on August 16

Following catfish, I'm gonna jump on the (sort of lonely) "US will win it" bandwagon. I wasn't going to be surprised at a loss, even a weird, bad one, and I'm not. But I will be surprised if they don't win the gold. Perhaps it's the rest of the world's turn to get a little too smug? I could be just out'n'out wrong, though. It happens all the time! I'm sure this has been discussed elsewhere, and maybe even here, but I'd like to know how, say, the Pistons would do in this field. It is strange, isn't it, that a team made up of players who'd start on any other team in the world isn't always the best team on a given night.

posted by jason streed at 09:12 PM on August 16

It is strange, isn't it, that a team made up of players who'd start on any other team in the world isn't always the best team on a given night. Team performance isn't a simple calculation. The whole is sometimes greater, and -- as in this case -- sometimes much less, than the sum of its parts.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 05:58 AM on August 17

It is strange, isn't it, that a team made up of players who'd start on any other team in the world isn't always the best team on a given night. It isn't that strange; the NBA almost deliberately unteaches a team game. That's fine, when everyone else you're playing against is in the same weird un-game. But go up against a bunch of folks with an actual concept of team and things get funky. But then again, that's why I'd watch ACC women's ball over the NBA finals. Interesting thought experiment, and I'm honestly not sure what the outcome would be: where would, say, Argentina or Serbia-Montenegro finish in the NBA? I'm guessing not too well, given that the average NBA team has more balance and teamwork than our current team, but... surely they'd make the playoffs, at least, and probably scare the hell out of some teams first round, if not make the second.

posted by tieguy at 08:05 AM on August 17

lil_brown_bat: fair enough, there is a distinction, which I guess wasn't clear enough for me to understand in this case.

posted by smithers at 10:53 AM on August 17

I love it that they lost. Smug bastards. If they don't care enough, they deserve a slap in the face that this loss was. It's pathetic that we even send professional athletes to an AMATEUR sporting event. To me, they're cheating to start with and lost, even while cheating.

posted by lucyacheson at 02:10 PM on August 17

Wait a minute... I know that parents accelerate their kids' introduction to sports these days, but unless Lucy is a damn genius, I don't know how she can even type yet! And watch your mouth, little lady: you're not allowed to say "smug bastards" for at least another month or two.

posted by dusted at 02:31 PM on August 17

It's pathetic that we even send professional athletes to an AMATEUR sporting event. the olympics really isn't an amateur event anymore. boxing is the only sport in the games where no pros compete. i'm not saying that's a reason we should be sending a "dream team" there, but amateurism in the olympics is all but dead.

posted by goddam at 04:25 PM on August 17

goddam: I'm fairly sure you'll find that many of the combat sports, like shooting, fencing, judo, and, wrestling are still at least significantly amatuer.

posted by rodgerd at 06:08 PM on August 17

let me clarify. sure there are amateurs in the olympics, meaning people who don't get paid by a pro organization to play their sport. and aside from the college kids who are there, those amateurs are allowed to have endorsement deals which years ago was not allowed. you'll probably find that's the case in the shooting sports in which equipment is involved. i'm not saying everyone there is a pro, but aside from boxing everyone there is allowed to be a pro or at least accept money from endorsments related to their sport

posted by goddam at 07:18 PM on August 17

Re: amateurism vs. professionalism, I think it's all along the spectrum. Even today, very few Olympic sports have professionals; that is, people who are paid wages to do what they do. What you see a lot more of are people who get prize money, endorsement money, and/or sponsorships that provide gear and the like. Used to was, none of that was allowed. On the whole, I think the change was a good idea. The United States has never provided significant funding to athletes. Other countries have sponsored extensive development programs, either in one or two sports where they traditionally excel (for example, Austria in alpine skiing), or in the whole spectrum (China and the former Soviet Union in...um...everything). It says something about the human spirit, maybe not a 100% positive thing, that the US could always find enough people willing to beg, borrow, steal, and eat cat food that they could still rack up the medal counts. But in some sports, the disadvantage was so great that athletes in countries without government sponsorship could never get anywhere.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:58 PM on August 17

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