To me the calling card of Team USA thus far has been forcing turnovers, mainly in the backcourt. Angola had as many turnovers as field goals. Most of these come from Jason Kidd, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and the like being way bigger, faster, stronger, and more talented than the wing players for Angola and China. It's the same thing you'd expect if the varsity played the eighth grade. The younger kids hardly even get to run their plays, because the big kids just keep taking the ball away. If Team USA has flaws -- defense against the post and the pick and roll are suspect until proven otherwise -- you'd never know, because these two teams can seldom get the ball in the right place to even test that. So, probably the U.S. is dominant here. But if they suddenly stumble, you can bet it will be against a team with wings who aren't bothered by that kind of pressure.
More original Chris Bosh video comedy. This one parodies his own Olympic preparations, and more than anything it makes clear how much he loves children (and how, deep down inside, some part of him is dying to be a film major at NYU).
SLAM's Lang Whitaker liveblogged Team USA vs. Angola: "USA goes to a zone, and Angola promptly nails a three. Then Tayshaun wets a three, then gets a steal and dunks. Tayshaun looks great early on, which makes me wonder why Coach K hasn't been playing him at all over the last week."
Did anyone else notice Doug Collins, during the U.S. vs. Angola broadcast, saying that the reason the Hawks drafted Marvin Williams ahead of Deron Williams or Chris Paul was because their new free agent at the time, Joe Johnson, had said he wanted to play point guard? Then, says Collins, about a game into the season Johnson changed his mind. If that's true, it's as strong an argument as exists for the "best player available" school of drafting. UPDATE: Sekou Smith of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution pokes major holes in this theory, quoting his notes from interviews with team executives at the time, who sure sounded like people who were not sold on Chris Paul and Deron Williams. Lang Whitaker, a Hawks fan, also questions this story, and both suggest it was the team's idea that Johnson might play point guard.
Game of the day was China and Spain, which went to overtime. 17-year-old phenom Ricky Rubio -- a candidate to be the first overall pick in next year's draft -- was something of a surprise to make this team. But he played almost all of the key minutes, and ended up getting a huge steal, his fifth, down the stretch. If you watch the highlights, you'll think he's an MVP candidate. But let's be clear, he hardly owned this game. The guy had five steals to go with a dubious 4 x 4 stat line: four assists, four rebounds, four fouls, and four turnovers. He also missed four field goals, and one free throw, to finish with one point in 21 minutes. He's a fantastic prospect, but despite the big play in a big win (Spain came back from 14 down in the fourth quarter) please let's not call this his coming out party.
Dave from BlazersEdge is, not surprisingly, enthusiastic with the play of Rudy Fernandez: "The most impressive aspect of Rudy's game -- and probably THE game overall -- was the way he took over when the Spanish made their comeback in the fourth. Those two drives against Yao Ming were priceless. He picked that team up and carried them on his back. Others would come along and add to the win but Rudy did it first. Brilliant. You could tell how much the coach was relying on him as well by the minutes he got."
Steven D. Levitt on the New York Times' Freakonomics blog, on why he picked China to win the most medals in these Olympics: "I have to believe that when a country with as much at stake in these Olympics as China sets its mind on finding ways to beat the anti-doping rules, they will succeed." That probably won't start an international brouhaha, but if you were a clean Chinese medal-winning athlete, I can see that you might be a little pissed.
Yao Ming delivers the "cup check" to Carmelo Anthony.
More word of fakery in the opening ceremonies. That little girl who sang so beautifully was, reportedly, lip-synching. One more revelation like that, after the fireworks shenanigans revealed yesterday, and this will be forever known as the Milli Vanilli Olympics. There is even talk about this somehow making China proud -- by matching such a cute little face with such a cute little voice. To me, if China has anything to be proud of here, it's enough press freedom for this embarrassing story to be printed.
Greece crushed Germany, with its pair of seven-foot NBA starters. Dirk Nowitzki was not bad, but Chris Kaman finished with a measly four points on one of three shooting, to go with two recounds and five turnovers. The Painted Area: "Greece never let Dirk get off. They would send some doubles, usually when Dirk was into his moves. Dirk only got 8 shots up from the field. And Germany's prospects were not helped any by Kaman playing like a pile-o-poo. He rushed a few of his shots, but worst of all Kaman felt the need to show off his ball-handling ability which usually ended up with poor results. Kaman must have turned the ball over at 3-4 times from overhandling the ball."
Mess around on this site. If you haven't figured it out already, and depending on your cable provider, you can watch just about any game of the Olympics online, on demand, by clicking "Rewind." Good luck getting any work done today.
Imagine if one day all the basketball teams in the world played by the same rules. I'll tell you one reason it would be a good idea: basketball floors are expensive, and they'd all be more valuable if they were ready for whatever competition came down the pike.
Fran Blinebury of the Houston Chronicle on Yao Ming's role in China's collapse against Spain: "One problem was that Yao picked up his third foul early in the second half and seemed to play tentatively from that point on. In addition, Yao's lack of conditioning as he continues to come back
from his broken left foot was evident. He had trouble running. He only made one strong move to the hoop in the game and that was in the first quarter. Yao was also ineffective defensively against Pau Gasol, who did whatever he wanted to score 29 points on 13-for-17 shooting. Yao shot 4-for-12 in the game and was 0-for-5 in the second half until he flushed a lob pass from Liu with 3:06 left in the overtime."
Team USA talking about other sports. Chris Paul wants to see some gymnastics, Mike D'Antoni would watch some water polo if he wasn't too busy studying pick-and-roll defense, and Carmelo Anthony has learned a thing or two about archery.
Some interesting notes about attending Olympic events. Reports of concession stands that have run out of food ... and a two-class seating system, with cheap tickets sold to locals and expensive tickets sold to foreigners in wholly different seperate sections. Guess which sections have a better fan/toilet ratio?
(Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)