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U.S. basketball will return to the top


September 6, 2006

I have already heard some of the naysayers. I know people are disappointed with USA basketball coming home from the World Championships with the bronze medal. Knowing that Mike Krzyzewski is such a competitor with fierce pride, nobody is more disappointed than the coach.

Let me tell you, I can see glorious moments again for USA basketball in 2008. This squad brought back a sense of pride and passion for wearing the red, white and blue. They showed a competitive spirit and work ethic. The bottom line is the team played with emotion and intensity and there were a lot of positives.

I feel the story will be different in Bejing at the 2008 Olympics. Mark down the calendar as the USA will celebrate in August 2008. They will stand tall with the red, white and blue flag and will come away with the gold medal.

Perimeter shooting has been a problem as well as defending the high pick and roll and understanding and being familiar with the international rules has been a challenge. For the US team, the personnel and coaching are there and with a little tweak here and there this team is well on its way.

Look for guys like Kobe Bryant and Amare Stoudemire to be part of the future international team. Kobe on the perimeter will be worth his share of points and he badly wants to play and contribute.

I know this latest result is surprising and disappointing and the players had to be upset falling short to Greece and settling for the bronze following a win over Argentina.

Now the U.S. must try to qualify for the Olympics at the FIBA Americas tournament in Venezuela in July 2007. There were good things happening at the World Championships and the American team will have more time to play together and develop familiarity as a unit.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.