While U.S. basketball still holds the esteemed position of being one of the best showcases of this sport, the most recent practice game of the U.S Team has shown that there is still much work to be done before the start of the World Championships less than two weeks from now. This game did not exhibit the finesse and the talent that is typical of any top-flight NBA game. It also placed into blinding light the variety of skills, styles and coaching techniques that is the hallmark of most of the teams in the NBA.
Partners instead of opponents
One reasonable argument why the squad performed as they did is the lack of chemistry. This justification is quite valid because only a few of the team members actually play for one team. The switch from being an opponent to a teammate is a difficult process to go through for players of this caliber. Yes, it takes time to establish a reasonably good working chemistry between team members, but time is not something these players have.
The U.S. coaching team isn’t that worried though. U.S. head coach Mike Krzyzewski believes that they have to wait for the start of the tournament before they assume that this is a serious problem. He thinks that since the U.S. Team isn’t close to one of the tallest teams in the tournament, they should still focus on improving the rebounding skills of the team. The argument is sound, but the need to address the turnover issue is much too glaring to be ignored.
World Championship regulations are slightly different compared to NBA rules. This might be a detriment to the U.S. Team because its players’ styles are stongly attached to how they are coached in the NBA. Nevertheless, issues like overpenetration of the guards or too many passes during game play should be addressed and “trained out” during these few reamining exhibition matches.
These players are so used to playing in the NBA that even the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) composite ball is giving them problems. Much to the players’ dismay, the discernable difference in feel of the new balls is preventing them from getting into a good rhythm during the game. There is no escaping the regulations. It’s up to the U.S. coaching team and the players themselves to get used to the different ball and the variant regulations (at least from their point of view).
Familiarity breeds chemistry
The team still has a long way to go, but upcoming matches with China and France should give them a fairly accurate gauge of what still needs to be addressed before the start of the World Championship. Time isn’t on their side, but it isn’t what they should be worried about anyway. It is getting along with each other that will determine their success.
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