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Fixing Team USA

USA basketball is in a sad state right now. The "Dream Team" concept has been an abject failure in recent years. I think Antonio Davis summed it up best after Team USA's 2002 loss to Argentina. "I think it was very clear that that team understood what it would take to beat us. Their body language, the way they attacked, the way they played together.

All that relates to winning." Antonio Davis hit the nail on the head. Foreign teams are motivated to beat the US, and most of all, play as a team. I cannot emphasize how much freelancing and a lack of team defense by Team USA has hurt them over the years.

US players(with the exception of Tim Duncan), see international tournaments as a nice break, a way to relax. They don't play hard, and most of all, they don't play together. Players from separate NBA teams have petty jealousies, team rivalries, and egos that get in the way of them meshing.I have an idea that could change this dynamic completely. Why not send the NCAA tournament championship team to international tournaments? They already know how to play as a team, they obviously have great chemistry because they won the NCAA's, and they will be motivated because they are just out of college and want to prove themselves to NBA scouts and their country.There might be some issues with players graduating/being in the NBA when the tournament is played, but those can be resolved.

For example, why wouldn't a Julius Hodge or Raymond Felton want to play on an Olympic/FIBA team? It would be a great chance for them to get to represent their country. In addition, they would get national exposure, make a favorable impression on their NBA coaches, and become better known worldwide. Even if a few players who have already graduated and are in the NBA don't want to participate, it may be a moot point, as North Carolina was an exception to the rule. Very few teams, even NCAA tournament champions, have that many players graduate/jump to the NBA.

In addition, many players that graduate don't get drafted. Most years, NCAA champions are only missing 1-2 important players.Now let's talk about the benefits this would have for USA basketball:.1. They would finally have a team that played like a team, not a bunch of individuals.

2. They would be able to bring in a coach respected and known by all his players, who in the case of North Carolina would be Roy Williams. NBA superstars don't like listening to coaches, much less coaches they don't even know.

3. They would have a team that already knew each others' tendencies and how to play to them.4.

They would have players on the team that don't need the ball in their hands, precisely the type of players you need to be a winner.5. They would have bench composed of role players, not egotistical superstars who need their minutes.6.

They would have a clear go-to guy in the last minutes, when the game is on the line.7. They would have a team that takes the tournament seriously, not as a vacation.

8. They would have a team that could play effective team/zone defense.9. The college game is more suited to the fast-paced international style.10. This would give Team USA a whole lot of good PR.

I think a move like this would be extremely beneficial for USA Basketball. And in terms of player quality, does anyone think that North Carolina couldn't have beat Argentina? I certainly think they could have.If sending the college champion ultimately won't work because the players don't want to do it, why not send an NBA team? The team would have to volunteer for it, and all or almost all the players would have to be willing. As long as Team USA sends a team, a victory is in order.

Heck, even the Hawks could beat Argentina given the chance. The only thing Team USA is accomplishing by trotting out a "Dream Team" is embarrassing itself. And hey, if someone like Marvin Williams doesn't want to do it, send Tim Duncan instead.

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Vikas Paruchuri is a sports columnist who writes on the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB. He maintains a website at http://www.thehomefield.com with sports analysis and opinion columns.

By: Vikas Paruchuri



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