U.S. will need to be inventive on offense vs. Greece
Posted: Thursday August 31, 2006 9:46AM; Updated: Thursday August 31, 2006 3:17PM
Kirk Hinrich could be a huge factor in the semifinal against Greece.
Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images
TOKYO -- The scene at Thursday's practice as the Americans prepare for their semifinal game against Greece on Friday:
On one end of the court, arrayed around the arc, half the U.S. roster, save Brad Miller. On the other end of the court, the other half of the U.S. roster, save Elton Brand. Basketballs flying everywhere. On one wing, Joe Johnson was launching threes. On the other wing, it was Carmelo Anthony, who provided helpful commentary as he released each jumper.
"Oh, yes!" (swish)
"Oh, yes!" (miss)
"Oh, yeah!" (swish)
"Oh, ye-hesss!" (brick)
That the U.S. was practicing its three-pointers was not surprising. Shooting 10 of 40 from behind the arc, as the Americans did against Germany, can spur a team to shooting drills.
That Anthony continued to say "yes" even when the ball said "no" also was not surprising. Any team that relentlessly jacks up trifectas even as it sinks one of every four boasts a confidence that borders on hubris. (Case in point: After the game against Germany, when asked by reporters about the team's shooting, Johnson graded it as "OK.")
This is not a jump-shooting team, that much is obvious. Once upon a time, U.S. shooters looked like they were playing Pop-A-Shot from the shorter international line. For example, check out a couple of Reggie Miller's three-point-shooting lines from the 1994 world championships: 5 of 6 against Australia, 8 of 11 against Puerto Rico. For the tournament, he hit 53 percent of his threes.
There are no Reggies on this team (or Larry Birds, or Chris Mullins), though Shane Battier and Kirk Hinrich have both shot well in this tournament. This squad is at its best in transition, when Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Paul are creating open shots and alley-oops -- and so far, there have been a lot of alley-oops. That's what's worrisome.