August, 31, 2010
By Henry Abbott
- Jay Aych of The Painted Area on Brazil's performance against the U.S.: "We have to give props to Brazil Coach Ruben Magnano. We've been huge fans of Rubes for about a decade since his Argentina team put on a clinic vs. Team USA in 2002. Magnano-led teams have now given Team USA fits four times: two wins (ARG '02 Worlds, ARG '04 Olympics) and two scares (ARG '03 Americas, BRA '10 Worlds). Brazil spread the floor well, a Magnano trademark, and would often start its sets up very high. The pick/roll coverage wasn't superb but I don't think Team USA had major breakdowns there. Team USA actually got hurt on off-ball curls off nearly as much as pick/rolls. This is not a surprise as NBA players don't see the type of off-ball movement in the U.S.--lots more moving parts to deal with in FIBA ball. Brazil ran a lot of continuity sets, like the ones Magnano's Argentina teams used to perplex Team USA with. It's not pick/roll ball that befuddles Team USA, it's the off-ball action and screens coming from all angles. You will see a lot of variations on Princeton sets or flex sets in this tourney. Constant offensive motion is a staple of int'l basketball. Offenses with reads, counterplays, and counterplays to the counterplays. If we were preparing Team USA for what to expect in this tourney, we'd tell them that it's like playing the Jazz many times. And if you ask NBA players about defending the Jazz offense, we're sure most would say it's not fun."
- Texas-based ad man Prentice Howe writes a Sports Business Journal Op-Ed that is hard-core against the kind of star-based marketing that David Stern used to make the NBA a big success. "As tempting as it may be for the Wizards to declare [John] Wall their Marketing Commander in Chief, let's hope they show some restraint. Using him as the centerpiece of a marketing campaign may seem like a no-brainer, but it's probably the riskiest move they could make. And my words of caution aren't Wizards-centric. This advice applies to all pro teams ... This cautionary tale can be summed up in eight words: Ben Roethlisberger, Michael Vick, Tiger Woods, Gilbert Arenas ... Does a face alone sell game tickets? I don't believe so. Fans cheer for players so long as their guy is wearing the uniform, but it's not the player who endures. It's the logo, the lore, the stadium experience, the brand persona. Your star player isn't your greatest asset; your brand is. If we can sell dishwashing soap without showing the detergent and vodka without showing the spirit, why can't we sell the game experience without defaulting to a huge image of a player dribbling down the court?"
- Worth noting that where the Wizards once featured a huge banner of Gilbert Arenas there is now a huge banner featuring several players.
- Pat Riley likes superstar trios, even when they don't play basketball.
- How much does it matter where Carmelo Anthony plays?
- Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm: "All in all, the Knicks are likely to be dreadful on defense." By the way, that problem would not go away if they were lucky enough to land Carmelo Anthony.
- A Nets blogger says, in case you're wondering, that yes, he would include Devin Harris in a trade for Carmelo Anthony.
- Breaking down the performance of Kevin Love, who is blatantly in his element on Team U.S.A. I'd be shocked if there's a key crunch time moment of a Team U.S.A. game this summer when he's on the bench.
- Looks like the Jazz will play on a newly designed court this season.
- Even as Tyson Chandler has been underwhelming for the national team, there's still good reason to believe he'll be missed by the Bobcats now that Chandler is a Maverick.
- Trevor Ariza, Darren Collison, Arron Afflalo, Jordan Farmar and other former UCLA players appeared at coach Ben Howland's Huntington's disease (HD) fundraiser. HD is a brutal genetic disease -- the effects are not unlike Parkinson's -- which affects the family of Howland's wife. As there are now genetic tests to detect HD, there's some hope the disease could be eradicated.
- Tony Ronzone, new assistant general manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves and head of Team U.S.A.'s scouting operation, talks to Jonah Ballow of the Wolves' website about what Brazil did well against the U.S. The more people I talk to, the more I'm convinced that growing up playing soccer gives you certain advantages in basketball. (If you want to know more about this, ask Steve Nash.) Ronzone: "After the game Coach K and our staff went to the film room and we were up till four in the morning watching tape and reviewing it. We slipped on some of the stuff that we did earlier in games. One of the things with Brazil, they are different than Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, and Spain, teams that we played earlier because Brazil is a more soccer orientated country. They are constantly attacking, they move well without the ball and it's a different type of basketball. One of the things they do is they are quicker and chase you down, so before we were getting transition baskets with good effort but we were beating Croatia and Slovenia down the floor. With Brazil, they matched our quickness at spots with Leandro Barbosa and Marcelo Huertas and those types of players. They chased us down and got back, so it was an adjustment for us in comparison to the games we played before."