The predominant message we hear regarding the US men's team as the Olympics approach is one of predestination, that this team "gets it" and Coach K and Jerry Colangelo are the elixir to what has ailed men's hoops in international competitions.
Then Tuesday happens.
Now, I'm not going to go into some ridiculous diatribe about how this year's squad is just as bad as its predecessors. Obviously, with names such as Wade, Bryant, Anthony, and James on the roster, this is perhaps the most talented team since 1992.
However, I wouldn't exactly be devastated to see this incarnation of the Dream Team go up in flames, if for no other reason than to see the Mike and Jerry Show be taken down a few pegs.
For the last little while, you couldn’t go more than a day without reading about how wise Coach K is, how he "understands" the international game better, how his many successful years at Duke have earned him respect from the players, a respect that Larry Brown was unable to achieve.
Likewise, Colangelo is somehow smarter than all the previous folks who ran USA Basketball, and his “team first” mindset will be the key to unlocking the gold medal cabinet for the US after an embarrassing bronze medal in Greece four years ago.
Well, color me skeptical. I’ve never especially liked either of the two gentlemen, and I believe that 90% of the country would be on my side, at least in the general feeling about Duke basketball. It bothers me that people such as Larry Brown or George Karl are so easily dismissed, as if their contributions to basketball are nothing when compared to the Great Coach K, a man who has never ventured beyond the cozy confines of his fiefdom, where he is annually presented a silver platter full of prized basketball recruits, and where his roster is routinely of a higher quality than his opponents.
It bothers me that Colangelo – who has never won a championship in the NBA – has been elevated to the know-it-all of international basketball. Mind you, this is the same man who thought that Luke Ridnour merited an invite to the Team USA tryouts while Allen Iverson did not. Mull that one around on your tongue for a second.
And here we sit, four years after Team USA became known as the gang who couldn’t shoot straight, where every fourth-grader in the country knew the biggest problem facing the team was a lack of outside shooting ... and what happens in our first near-loss of the year?
A lack of outside shooting.
Shooting is erratic. Fine. I get it. But aren’t Colangelo and Krzyzewski supposed to be providing the answer to that problem? Isn’t their combined genius up to the task? If Krzyzewski is such a great motivator, why is that the team came out of the second half “lazy,” as Dwyane Wade put it? Shouldn’t Coach K be the one in charge of stuff like that?
When you add in the fact that the best player on Australia’s roster, Andrew Bogut, didn’t even suit up, or that this same Australian team lost to Argentina just a few days ago, well, am I the only thinking that the opener against China on Sunday night might be prime-time for a loss?
Personally, Colangelo and Krzyzewski remind me of Howard Schultz circa 2000. Schultz came into ownership trumpeting a five-year plan to restore the Sonics to greatness, that he was going to use the same brilliance he wielded at Starbucks in the NBA.
Now, less than a decade later, not only are Schultz’ Sonics out of the NBA playoffs, they’re out of Seattle altogether.
What was it they said about the best laid plans?