Redd, Miller asked to cure U.S. team's shooting woes
Posted: Monday August 20, 2007 4:33PM; Updated: Monday August 20, 2007 4:35PM
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- The United States has some cuts to make, but Michael Redd probably shouldn't be too concerned.
The Americans have gone too long without a reliable perimeter threat, so they'd be wise not to send home one of the NBA's best.
Inconsistent 3-point shooting has plagued the Americans while going without a title in their past three major international events, a problem they hope they've addressed with the additions of Redd and Mike Miller.
"Both Mike Miller, Michael Redd -- both Mikes can shoot this," point guard Jason Kidd said. "So it definitely gives us an added weapon."
Even though the international 3-point line of 20 feet, 6.1 inches is more than 3 feet closer than the NBA distance of 23-9 at its furthest point, it hasn't proven to be any easier for Americas pros. It's a major reason the Americans haven't won a major title since the 2000 Olympics.
U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski has his players shooting 3-pointers and free throws at the end of practice, but there's still plenty of work to do. Both Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony missed 3s that would have tied the game in the closing seconds of overtime during their scrimmage against a select team of NBA players on Saturday.
Krzyzewski gave the team off Sunday, and the Americans returned to the gym Monday night for practice. They needed to drop two players to be down to the roster limit of 12 on Tuesday, the day before they open the FIBA Americas tournament against Venezuela.
With Bryant, Anthony and LeBron James, the U.S. team has plenty of scorers. But with many international teams preferring to sit back in a zone defense when they play the Americans, even the NBA's best slashers often have trouble finding driving lanes.
But if they could hit their open perimeter shots and force teams out of their zones, it would make the Americans almost unbeatable. Few teams have enough players to guard both Bryant and James 1-on-1.
"Our job is to get them to come out and guard us," Miller said. "If they don't, then it's up to us to make shots. We do that, they have to come out and that'll open things up inside."
All the recent U.S. teams that won championships had great outside shooters, from Chris Mullin in 1992 to Ray Allen in 2000. But the Americans didn't have one last year in the world championships, and it eventually caught up with them.
The Americans survived a 10-for-40 night from behind the arc in their quarterfinal victory over Germany, but were doomed by a 9-for-28 showing against Greece and lost in the semifinals.
This U.S. team should be improved.
Redd would have been on last year's team, but was excused because he was getting married. A career 39 percent shooter from 3-point range, he averaged a career-best 26.7 points last season for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Miller was added to the USA Basketball program this year and made an immediate impression, scoring a team-high 22 points in 25 minutes for the white team in last month's intrasquad scrimmage. The Memphis swingman was third in the NBA in 3-pointers made last season and has shot better than 40 percent from there the past three seasons.
Redd said the closer international 3-point line is like a free throw for him, but cautioned that it's too early to say that this U.S. team is a better shooting one than last year's.
"We haven't played the games yet. We've got to go out and hit some shots first in the games," he said. "I like the fact that Mike's here. I do what I do -- shoot the basketball.
"It adds an element to the team and opens it up for our penetrators, for LeBron and Jason, Chauncey [Billups], Kobe, 'Melo and those guys. More than making shots, I think it's going to hurt other teams by opening up the floor."
But even if they are hitting from the outside, the Americans know not to rely too much on 3-point shots. Their strength is getting to the basket, and that's not going to change no matter how many jumpers they make.
"We can't fall in love with outside shots just because we have better outside shooters," James said. "I think I'm going to be one of those guys that know that, if we're shooting a lot of jumpers, now it's time for me to get to the basket and get a foul. Even if we're making them, we still have to be aggressive."
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