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Evan McGoff: Team USA Returning To Form

From now on our general NBA duties will be handled by a certain Evan McGoff. Treat him well, he's got a nice jump shot.

For the last 10 years, Team USA has suffered a steady decline in play in both the World Championship Games and the Olympics. During this period, the competition has gotten stronger and the gap between Team USA and the rest of the world has narrowed significantly.


Case-In-Point: The 2004 version of Team USA, which featured countless NBA All Stars but performed in sub-par fashion to win the bronze (a failure in the eyes of most). The 2004 team was cluttered with egos, the foremost offenders being Coach Larry Brown and starting guards Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury.

Brown attempted to "out-skill" the rest of the world by sticking to a strict half-court gameplan (slowing the game down, moving the ball for open shots). The problem was that his roster was full of players that relied moreso on their athleticism than the pure fundamentals. Meanwhile, the rest of the world has greatly improved their fundamentals, meaning that the half-court strategy could not maximize the talent on the roster. Brown, a purist of the game, relied more on philosophy than the roster put before him.

But Larry Brown is not solely responsible for the dismal performance of Team USA. The players deserve an equal share of the blame, and the Iverson/Marbury duo did not mesh well with the rest of the roster. Anyone who watched a single game would have seen that the team was in much better shape with Dwayne Wade in the backcourt. Iverson shot less than 40% overall, and Marbury's defense was a glaring flaw in Team USA 2004.

Fast forward to this year's games, and the roster has been overhauled. Brown is out and Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski has taken over the reigns. Coach K, widely regarded as a basketball genius, should fair better in maximizing the performance of Team USA. The main weapon that Coach K plans to implement is a full-court trapping defense. This strategy will force opposing teams to make good decisions with the ball, and will capitalize on the opposition's mistakes.

Neophytes Dwanye Wade, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony return, and promise to have a bigger role this time around. New additions Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard will prove that the Americans have the world's most athletic big men. Filling out the roster are some more newcomers -- Gilbert Arenas and Chris Paul (two extremely athletic guards), Antawn Jamison and Elton Brand (two skilled front court players), Shane Battier and Bruce Bowen (two defensive specialists), and Joe Johnson and Brad Miller (two sharpshooters to stretch opposing defenses).

As always, anything short of the gold is a failure. But don't expect a letdown this time. This young team, guided by the visionary Coach K, will return Team USA to its respected status (just ask Puerto Rico).