How To Fix USA Basketball, And How USA Hockey Can Show You The Three-Step Plan For Success

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Let me be clear. I love Basketball more than any other sport. It’s my favorite to watch. The happiest day of my life was when DirectTV allowed me to have NBA TV, so I could watch Hardwood Classics all the live-long day. Watching those long enough allows you to see what basketball looks like when it’s perfect. Ball movement so beautiful that it almost makes you cry, in-your-shirt defense, and the perfectly executed fast break. What’s the best example of this to my way of thinking? The 1989 Detroit Pistons, or the 1986 Boston Celtics.

 

What do you remember about those teams? That is something that you can leave for me in the comments. But for me it is adaptability. They could beat you in the fast break, or in the half-court. They rebounded and defended at every position, and if you didn’t defend, you couldn’t play. in essence, they played the right way every night.

But just as easy as perfect basketball is to find, also, it’s the easiest sport to tell when things aren’t going right. If you build a bad team, it’s quite easy to notice it. If your roster is made up of mismatched parts, you can tell. If the basketball IQ of your starting five is somewhere in the single digits, it’s noticeable easily.

And, if our national teams don’t have all of the infrastructure that they need to be successful, it’s blatantly clear. But this doesn’t have to be this way. It’s a process, a commitment, and it’s one we can easily make if we choose to.

Now before I go any further, there might be some of you correctly wondering why it is that we need to make any changes. We won the Gold in Athens, didn’t we? That should be good enough. Hell, we even won the FIBA Worlds with our national team. That’s got to be good enough right? No. Not even close. Look at the teams below the tenior team, which is the NBA pros.

The U-19 team finished in fifth place at the U-19 World Championships in Latvia. Fifth place. We were beat by Lithuania, kids. Lithuania. Serbia. Russia. We finished in fifth place at the World University Games. When the talent level is equal, we have trouble staying with the best.

In large part our struggles against the Russian National Team in 1988 led to the formation of the Dream Team (This could largely be laid at the feet of John Thompson and his poor construction of the 1988 National Team, but that’s another article for another day), and ever since the Dream Team happened, all anyone has cared about is what our Senior Team does. That’s it. If we want to build the same kind of consistent excellence, the kind where we again can become to basketball what the Soviets were to hockey once, here is the solution to the problem: Utilize what USA Hockey did, and create the infrastructure for a National Team Development Program.

When I called USA Hockey to find out why it was that they did this, it came back to one basic idea, one overriding principle above all others: they wanted to do something different. It was clear that the infrastructure that they had built to this point became no longer suitable. So they decided to build their own, from the ground up, with a focus on player development.

It’s an understandable point. Joe Basketball Player shows talent, and is immediately put in an assembly line of high school basketball, AAU basketball, major college program (for 1 year most of the time), and then the NBA if he is good enough. Notice a pattern? At every level of the line, every spot along the rail, player development takes a backseat to the dictated goal of winning as many games as you possibly can.

That is where the UNTDP stepped in. Sure, they want to win games. No national team doesn’t. But the anchor of the whole thing is in the idea of player development, on & off the ice.

Could this work? Of course it could. But the question is, how to do it? To be frank, there is going to be a lot of work to make this happen, and to make it happen like we want it to, like it deserves to be done. But should we do it? Yeah. What’s there left to lose?

Step 1: Have a central hub for the program, a place where all of the National Team coaches and staff are located.

It doesn’t fit our plan to have a whole bunch of satellite places around where we send our best and brightest prospects, allow them to develop bad habits or regress, and then get all ticked off when they come back to the National Team overweight, or unable to use their left hand, or whatever else.

So where do we put this program? Where is the best place for such a far-reaching and expansive program to go? The best way to answer this is to answer a few more questions.

If we’re going to do this right, and create a serious infrastructure that can become the absolute envy of every major basketball country in the world, what do we aspire to? What should be the basis that we build this program on? For this, I find there’s only one answer. The Wooden-Era UCLA Bruins.

Firstly, it’s got to be a place where you can play hoops year-round. We want to create an immerse culture where excellence is not only sought after, but expected. And the only way to do that is to put it on the West Coast, the greater Los Angeles area to be specific. I’m thinking we can find a big enough space near the Staples Center, or Pauley Pavilion, to make it work. But that flows seamlessly into Step 2.

Step 2: Hire elite coaches for the U-18 and the U-17 team, and give them full roster autonomy & a league for the U-18’s to play in.

For this to work, you can’t have the dirty underbelly of the AAU system create a situation where the coach is handcuffed by agreements and deals made in backrooms to get guys on the team. Those are the guys you can’t coach, because you don’t have authority to bench them, or discipline them when they get out of pocket.

Instead, what this program needs is open tryouts. If you can’t play on a world-class level, it’s not going to work. But who can engender the kind of respect that you need to make sure that no one gets heated? Easy. Find people that these kids have no choice but to respect.

But I’m sure you’re saying right now: “Of course. But give me some names. Otherwise this is just a fantasy.”

Fine. For the U-18 squad I figure they need someone who can provide discipline, structure, and experience. My choice: Jerry Sloan.

Here’s the thing about Jerry Sloan. He runs a simple offense. No lie, it’s just a few plays. But simple and basic doesn’t mean boring. It always worked. And it worked in Utah, where dude wasn’t exactly running the 1986 Celtics out there. Now imagine what could happen if you gave him free reign to pick his perfect team.

Now, this was a harder decision than I imagined it being. I initially had Larry Brown here, but after more thought and debate, I decided Larry was a little too aggressive for this type of thing. You need someone who can teach, and won’t mind teaching. Also, quite frankly, Larry’s going to be slightly schizophrenic and I wanted a coach with a much more stable hand. (Also, Phil Jackson could have been a fit here but I don’t know how he does with young players, if he does well with them at all.)

But for the U-17 guys I wanted someone who could very easily coach young people. But with this you also want someone who is world-traveled and understands the nuances of international competition because this team is going to be competing in a lot of international tournaments. In essence, I want the best unemployed college coach because that’s the type of thing we are going for. And after quite a lot of evaluation, Kelvin Sampson was my guy. And if the Knicks have the good sense to fire Mike D’Antoni……

But what kind of league are we going to put the U-18 team into? The NPA.

Now I know what you’re saying. Wouldn’t that be the NBDL, just run by a different set of dudes? Here’s my theory. Not everyone wants to go to college. If you want to go to college and play ball, you can. Sign your letter of intent with a school (St. John’s just as an example), and as soon as your team needs you there, go. No one is going to stop you.

But if you don’t want to go, if you want to do a job and get paid for it, the NPA can help you with that. A salary on par with what a league-mininum NBA player would make, for starters, with the same idea of call-up that MLB has.

Step 3: A world-class basketball & life skills academy.

But it’s not enough, I’d argue, to just have the kids play games. Games don’t really provide as good of an opportunity to teach as you might think. And they allow players to get away with bad habits just because somehow they happen to be winning games with those very same bad habits. (LeBron James and the fact that it took him 7 years to realize he was in need of a post game and a reliable jumper is a perfect example.) It’s not even really the fault of the coaches. What you have to do is to put player development and winning on the same level, not player development on one level & winning games on a much higher level.

But how to teach? Easy. We have on our sprawling campus three-full sized international courts. And every couple of days, we’re going to have tutorials. But not just from anyone. From Hall of Famers during our season, and from NBA All-Stars during the off-season.

Just an example: Isiah Thomas, John Stockton, and Chris Paul have some 1-on-1 time with our point guards to teach them how to run an offense, perimeter defense with Scottie Pippen, Gary Payton, and Bruce Bowen, rebounding and low-post defense with Bill Russell, Moses Malone, and Dennis Rodman, and finally fast-break theory with Magic Johnson, Shawn Kemp, Charles Barkley, and Julius Erving. Think all of those guys together might be able to teach some young kid something?

But what I don’t want to have is basketball savants who can’t balance a checkbook, tie a tie, or generally be social citizens.

So we’re going to have some help with this as well. But in a variety of different areas.

Nutrition, balancing a checkbook, saving money and paying your taxes, and whatever else might be deemed necessary.

And that’s the plan. Are there flaws in it? Probably so. But is it better than the scattered, games are the sole way of developing players, model of development that we have currently.

Thank you for reading this all the way through.

18 Responses to “How To Fix USA Basketball, And How USA Hockey Can Show You The Three-Step Plan For Success”

  1. Origin says:

    Great article Okori.

    I think there is always room for improvement with team USA, but I don’t think there should be concern for how they finished in the U19 worlds. We won the Mens World, Womens World, U16 Mens Americas, U18 Mens Americas, U17 mens World Championship all within the last 13 months.

    That team (U19) was poorly put together and our best young players didn’t want to even play. The best players on the team were Patric Young and Jeremy Lamb who aren’t that good. Plus we had no size at all and our tallest player was 6-9. Look at the size that teams like Lithuania (Jonas Valanciunas) had. These young kids that we had were over matched against that size.

    Harrison Barnes, Terrence Jones, Jared Sullinger, James Michael McAdoo, Anthony Davis, Adonis Thomas, Andre Drummond, Perry Jones, Reggie Bullock, Quincy Miller, Marquis Teague, Austin Rivers and Joshua Smith
    all decided not to attend the U19 World Games. Lets not forget about guys who were age eligible but were drafted like Kyrie Irving and Brandon Knight.

    If 12 of them had attended we would have dominated and won the worlds. Its the same thing that happened in 2004 Olympics our best players didn’t go. People forget that we have always sent our best whether that is college or the pros and we usually win when we send our best except in 1988. I would argue the only reason we didn’t win was because we faced one of the best centers who may have ever played the game (Sabonis) at maybe the healthiest point of his career.

    I still believe if we sent our best college players in place of the original dream team they still would have won the whole thing. The thing is to encourage the best to go and compete. Think about our dominance in track and women’s basketball. The reason for that is that our best players go each and every time to these competitions.

    We must continue to send our best if we expect to win.

  2. Corin Brown says:

    I agree with Origin. Besides, who even cares about International basketball? The American pro game is the envy of the globe (whether it’s the NBA or the NPA.) Whatever form American pro hoops takes will be the gold standard for the sport. End of story.

    Yes, those Celtics, Pistons and Lakers teams from the 80’s were incredible and I agree that those teams, with their successes, represent a high-water mark for the history of the game. I also agree that the lack of young player development has contributed to a decline in overal aesthetics of play since the 80’s. However, I also think that league expansion has played a part along with ridiculous team management and rule changes. The interminable 82 game regular season combined with the bloated and ever expanding playoff odyssey doesn’t exactly foment “consistent excellence” either. That’s the fault of the NBA bean-counters.

    Yes, the current system of training players is messed up. Every young player gets handed off from self-interested coach or advisor, team to team, school, AAU, college, camp, High School, etc. There’s no continuity at all; careerism is the focus; self interest is rewarded, etc. The first thing to go, of course, is learning how to play the game correctly. But that’s just how the system has evolved – in a leadership vacuum.

    Now, I assume that this national team/national academy approach will require a massive investment. There’s no way all the players will participate unless they see it as an opportunity to advance their career faster and better than the current system. In fact the only way that this national team approach will work is if participation is compulsory, like a national health care system. If there isn’t compulsory participation then you get the current system where the best, most influential players don’t join up and the only players getting national team training are a bunch of gung-ho scrubs and no progress gets made.

    The hockey suggestion is interesting. But I think a better model would be from soccer in Europe. The difference though with soccer is that playing for one’s national soccer team is an incredibly high honor for every soccer player in the world, almost on par with their obligations to their pro club. All the biggest pro soccer clubs in Europe have huge academies replete with schools, reserve clubs, sprawling facilities, tournaments, tours, etc. These clubs scout kids all over the world and sign them up at elementary school age and bring them in and put them on their books. From that moment the club owns their ass. There’s no high school team, no creepy talent broker, shoe reps, AAU coach, college scam, etc. The problem in this country with hoops is that our pro clubs are way too cheap to invest in that kind of vertical development. The D-League is the closest thing we have but it’s a joke.

    There’s a good example of a nation starting a national development program from scratch. In the 80’s, France decided that their national soccer team had sucked for too long. The government then built a gigantic complex called Clairfontaine. With the strength and finacial commitment of the government, France began recruiting kids, taking them out of their homes and schools and taught them how to be pro soccer players at the highest level. France then promptly won the World Cup in 1998 and then the, almost equally prestigious, European National Championships in 2000. Mission accomplished. Now France threatens in every World Cup and Euro Championship and their players demand some of the highest transfer fees in the world.

    Now unless our Congress decides to nationalize the sport of basketball the way France has nationalized the sport of soccer, I just don’t see the focus on the US national basketball team as a way to improve the game.

    Our best chance is to standardize player development from the earliest age possible in highly organized leagues sponsored by the highest pro league in the nation, whether it’s the NBA or the NPA. Think many tiers of D-Leagues corresponding to all different age groups.

    Think these nitwit owners will sign up for that? Ha!

  3. Dan says:

    It was worth the wait Okori, very very good article.

    I will defend that U19 loss to Lithuania because I am a fan of how that country plays basketball….and the fact that they had studs like Jonas Valanciunas and Tautvydas Sabonis on that team.

    But other than that, I find that you are spot on and our national team really lacks fundamental ability because nobody cares about fundamental ability anymore on the amateur level. Sure if you go to Duke or Carolina, you get it….but the kids are being shoved to win first, even where I live, as early as 7 years old. There needs to start being set plans in place to take basketball back from where it is more widely considered an acrobatic street game to where it was in the the 80’s and early 90’s and of course, before that.

  4. Temple3 says:

    I’m with Origin, too.

    On the ’88 thing with Thompson, I’m not sure who he was supposed to place on that team. The die was cast that pro players would play in ’92 before the ’88 Olympics were played. That team lost one game to the Soviets (by 6 points) and mopped the floor with everyone else.

    http://www.usabasketball.com/mens/national/moly_1988.html
    That’s the roster. They didn’t have great talent compared to some of the other teams. The Soviet team had Arvydas Sabonis and Sarunas Marcialonis (sic). These two were among the best professional players in the entire world at the time of the ’88 Olympics.

    Anderson, Augmon, Majerle, Hawkins all established reputations on the defensive end of the court in the NBA, but at that time in their careers, they simply were not 6 points better in that game. Thompson stacked his team with guys who could the perimeter and that strategy served them well — for the most part. But, that team lost to the equivalent of a decent NBA squad.

    Sabonis was 24 years old, 7’3″ and about 270 lbs…or more. That was the game…and even with all of that, they dropped a game to the Yugoslavian team with Drazen and Toni Kukoc and Vlade, among others.

  5. Okori Wadsworth says:

    Tim Hardaway could have been on that team, T3. So could a high school Kenny Anderson, Rod Strickland, Mookie Blaylock, and hell even Steve Kerr. Also, Glen Rice and Sean Elliott were cut from that team. It’s not the roster it should have been. That much is for certain.

  6. Temple3 says:

    They lost because they didn’t have size on the perimeter — not little guys. The European teams were putting guys that were 6’7″ and taller on the perimeter.

    Among all the guys listed, the only one with a defensive pedigree was Mookie Blaylock. Anderson was too scrawny…nice, but scrawny. Rod was nice, but he couldn’t shoot. Bimbo Coles was probably lighting his ass up in the trials. Rice was a legitimate bomber, but I don’t recall how he performed at the trials. Rice’s wiki says he didn’t make the round of 48…so that was probably on Glen, not Coach T. As for the others, I’m not sure any of them make a difference. There was no Jordan on this team to allow Kerr to get his shot off. He’d have been eating his jumpers for breakfast.

    The book American Hoops talks about Sean Elliot’s 1987 team getting smoked by 15 by the Soviets — and being notably undersized. From my recollection, the issue was ball skill and size on the perimeter. The resolution of that was probably not adding slow short guys with nice handles.

    Maybe Thompson was the wrong coach and the only feasible approach would have been to get the smallest, fastest, high-scoring-est team available. I think that team loses by 50 to Yugoslavia or the Soviets. Coach K’s loss in ’87 was the last warning shot…it was the shot that told the US — “You’ll NEVER win another international basketball competition again sending amateurs….BUT YOU CAN’T SEND PROFESSIONALS UNTIL 1992.”

    And that’s what happened.

    And we see how most of these guys fared against players like Drazen and Saurunas and Kukoc in the league…it was the same old thing. No one in the league could guard any of those guys on the perimeter. If the NBA ever widened the lane or called a less physical game, it would’ve been a wrap.

  7. Temple3 says:

    You could make the case that back in ’88, there were probably only 5 or 6 coaches who knew how to coach perimeter defense: Knight, Coach K, Tarkanian, Nolan Richardson, and John Thompson. Most of these kids came from programs where they simply didn’t play perimeter defense with any intensity or consistency…and they were being asked to play a different game…a game where the European players were no longer scrubs…a game where even an old ass Oskar Schmid could drop 46 on GOOD players…a game where they would be half way across the world without the benefit of intimidating their opponents.

    It’s a brave new world when your opponent knows you’re a kid and that they can beat you and that you’ve never won anything and that you have ZERO help coming through the door.

    I think the US was done with that amateur business in 1987 and they called the cavalry late…and it was embarassing for a few years, but they eventually got over it…even if they had to knock over an Angolan or 2 to get all therapeutic.

  8. Ron Glover says:

    Lionel Simmons and Mark Macon (freshman of the year) were cut from that team.

  9. Temple3 says:

    Lionel Simmons was a baller. Mark Macon was not a very good all-around basketball player – if you include shooting. Probably too young.

    @Okori:

    By the way — I should have said this at the top, but I’m such a Georgetown partisan, I lost my train of thought, while I agree with Origin about the overall state of affairs, I love your idea. If nothing else, it’s a perfect segue to Mike’s NPA idea. They fit together like a hand and glove.

    I would love to see the 2 of you go off line and flesh this thing out. It makes perfect sense to me…but the extended benefits of something like this go far beyond the ice or the court.

  10. Okori Wadsworth says:

    @Temple3: to continue this point, the Russians (who were indisputably the biggest threat walking at the ’88 games) thrived on pressure defense. They had buckets worth of shooters and because of their advantage in experience knew how to handle pressure defense. And because John wanted to run a pressure defense, he took away the advantages he did have: superior guard play, and guys able to break people down off the dribble. The fact Tim Hardaway couldn’t sniff the US Olympic Team and Charles Smith from Georgetown could is mind boggling.

  11. Corin Brown says:

    Charles Smith!?!?! Wow! Last time I heard of that guy, he was driving over BU co-eds with his car and leaving them for dead in the middle of Comm Ave. after having “a couple of beers.” Dude did his time though, unlike Craig McTavish. He wasn’t NBA material, from what little I remember from his time with the C’s. Scrawny little guy too. That he was on any US national basketball team is a joke. How many PG’s besides TH get picked before Smith? 20?

  12. Temple3 says:

    Charles Smith was a little guy, but he was Big East Player of the Year in ’88-’89. I’m certain that Smith made the team because JTIII expected him to be a second coach on the court – in terms of running the offense and in terms of calling the defense.

    I can’t say why Hardaway didn’t make the team, but if I had to hazard a guess, it’s that Thompson probably thought guys like Richmond and Grayer would be best equipped to score the ball, given their size and ability to defend.

    Hardaway is a career no-show on defense and as prolific as he was in the NBA, he often dominated the rock. I also suspect that Bimbo Coles was the reason why Hardaway didn’t make it. Coles used to kill G’town and they were never able to guard him. Hardaway was a volume shooter. He would have been the only one on the team. Moreover, at those points in their respective careers, Coles was a no-brainer pick…and the stats bear that out. Hardaway emerged later.

    I don’t think it works to use recollections of NBA careers to project what might have worked with college players. Coles was an elite and proven scorer against Big East defenses. Hardaway was a baller, but he was not on that level yet, and he was a massive liability on defense. Coles was not.

    Could Hardaway have replaced Smith? Maybe, but John would have lost that 2nd coach on the court.

    You cannot make a compelling argument against Thomspson’s selections based on the NBA careers of players. How did these guys play AT THE TRIALS? That’s the question. What was their mental make-up and work ethic and team chemistry during the trials? Where did Hardaway flourish in the league? In a wide open system under Don Nelson where defense was irrelevant.

    Remember, in the final analysis, you’re suggesting that the selection of these players (for whatever reason) would have produced another 7 points in one game against a favored opponent. We’re talking about dismissing the determinations of a guy like Thompson, with his track record, over 3 possessions in a single game. That’s nit picking in my book and I can’t walk their with you. I don’t dismiss what you’re saying out of hand. I’m suggesting two things:

    1) the evidence is insufficient. we’d have to talk about the moment in time when the decision was made…not the decade after.

    2) the remedy seems to significantly outweigh the sickness. 3 possessions over the course of 8 games…it’s just a fine line…perhaps too fine.

    Still, you have a penchant for writing really compelling stuff that makes me go back….waaaaay back. Thank you.

  13. Temple3 says:

    Just one other thing…Hardaway and Hawkins probably looked very similar in the trials…and I believe Hawkins may have looked more polished at the trials, though I certainly would have preferred NBA Tim to just about anyone on that team.

    In ’86-’87, Hawkins was 20 and was dropping 27 a game at Bradley. Everyone thought he had a classic old school game (sound familiar?) and he was the 6th overall pick in the ’88 draft.

    Hardaway was the 14th pick in ’89. In ’86-’87, Hardaway was a 20-year old sophomore scoring 10 points per game at UTEP. The next year, he averaged 13 points a game as a junior. It is likely that the experience of the Trials actually improved his game. He averaged 22 as a senior.

    In ’86-’87, Coles was a freshman and he averaged 10 points a game. The next 3 seasons, he averaged 24, 26 and 25 points per game. His progression was clear, quick and consistent. Those 2 guys are probably the reasons why Hardaway didn’t make the team.

    I doubt that Smith’s membership on that team was ever in question…even for a moment.

  14. Temple3 says:

    Last minutes of USSR-US game.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qveApg1A8Es&feature=related

    Interesting stuff. Hawkins was injured during the Olympics…didn’t remember that. Danny Manning — 0 points in final game. Ouch.

    Down 3 with 1 minute left. Not sure why Richmond was riding the pine at the end of the game.

    I have to say that just watching this snippet demonstrated to me how much of a factor the rules must’ve been for the players. Played close but couldn’t get over the top with that group minus Hawkins.

    Easy to see why the ’92 team had so much success. They were grown men…not boys. The ’88 team didn’t play against peers. They played against grown men that their predecessors usually beat.

  15. Corin Brown says:

    T’s correct as usual. Rules = HUGE factor. That added to the enormous personal stakes these Euros played for (basically played with a political gun to their heads) equaled formidable opposition.

    Hawkins. What a dead-eye. That guy could SHOOT! Prettiest release too. I could watch that guy run off screens and shoot all day. Does that make me weird?

  16. Okori Wadsworth says:

    @T3: I think one of the main things about that ’88 team is just how much of a tightrope John was walking. He built a team that would have been perfect in an NCAA situation. But because the FIBA game is so wildly different than ours, you have to be willing to adapt. And for whatever reason, he wasn’t.

    And re the ’92 team: That was the absolute perfect team for international basketball. Stockton and Magic to do the slash & kick game that you needed and Bird, Mullin, Jordan, and Stockton to do the outside shooting. Also, at no point were you getting a poorly played offensive series from the guards which is crucial to any kind of tournament. In fact, I could argue that one of the main reasons why we had trouble in Athens was largely because we had pg’s in name only like Marbury and Iverson running around.

  17. Temple3 says:

    The ’92 team also ran lots of isolation plays. I was watching a cut up of Jordan and Drazen where the USA team is just allowing Mike to do his thing…but that’s the way it was for all of them. There were moments of great passing and highlight reel action, but there were also moments of “I know I can take anyone and everyone on this team….here I go!!!”

    Thompson’s team was stacked with perimeter defenders. He probably had more of those players than anything else. Augmon, Willie Anderson, Jeff Grayer, Majerle, Richmond. They weren’t particularly tall or athletic on the front line though. And I think that is for several reasons: 1 — there simply wasn’t much to choose from then. The fact that J.R. Reid made the team speaks volumes to the overall quality of the front line.

    David Robinson was the only front line player with the ability to routinely finish above the rim. Danny Manning — no. Charles Smith (Pitt version) — no. Reid — HELL NO. I can understand looking to the backcourt for answers but I would submit that if Hersey Hawkins remains healthy for that tournament, it’s a moot point and the US probably beats the Soviets — even with this team. Again, I’m not sure why Richmond rode the bench at the end of that game, but replacing Hawkins was huge. I can’t imagine the Soviets winning that game without Marcuilonis.

    Who is the one guy that might have turned the tide in this game? For me, it’s someone like Scottie Pippen. Willie Anderson was an elite defender, as were Augmon and Grayer, but Pippen was better than all of them. I don’t recall if he was eligible then – and I don’t think his deep shooting touch emerged until later.

    I agree with you on the Athens issue. But the other deal with that was team chemistry. I don’t think those cats wanted to be there. They were like conscripts looking for a way out. I’m sure there were lots of nights of souvlakin’ and boot knockin’ and very little motivation to Git ‘Er Dun when push came to shove.

  18. Okori Wadsworth says:

    @T3: Firstly, I am enjoying chopping this up with you.

    Secondly, take a look at that ’88 Russian Team. It was an experienced, veteran, crew. What I would have done is run a matchup zone and gotten out into the fast-break with every miss they made. Make them work for the whole game, but don’t give them easy openings.

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