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USA team ready for Athens

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

It's time for USA Basketball to get ready for the Olympics in Athens, Greece. The squad that's been assembled may be missing a number of marquee names, but the bottom line is this team will compete for the gold medal.

Larry Brown, coming off an NBA Championship, has the credentials to get the job done. He also has an NCAA championship to his credit, so he'd love to collect the trifecta with that gold medal around his neck!

Larry Brown
Larry Brown is hoping to get a trifecta of championships.
You know that a Brown-coached team will play unselfish basketball, working hard on the defensive end and doing things the right way. Even without guys like Kevin Garnett, Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal this team will have great spirit and be ready with plenty of quality players.

There is exuberance with the youth on this squad. The talent will find a way to get in the winner's circle. Tim Duncan is multi-talented in the middle and serving as co-captain, he will provide veteran leadership.

On the wings, there are outstanding performers in Carmelo Anthony, along with Mr. Versatility, LeBron James. The perimeter has talent with Allen Iverson, the team's oldest player at 29, and Stephon Marbury. They can handle the rock plus have incredible quickness they will use to penetrate to create opportunities.

Richard Jefferson provides a high-wire act and Lamar Odom is a multi-dimensional player. Emeka Okafor can block shots and Amare Stoudemire is terrific on the glass.

When all is said and done, this squad will be tough to beat. It will quiet down the critics who've complained about the guys who did not want to play for the gold. The players who wanted to be there are special. They have the desire to chase the dream of being an Olympian and have red, white and blue in their heart.

There will be great competition from Argentina, Lithuania and Serbia. Those teams will have quality players, but the U. S. will have five All-Stars starting. With Brown leading the way from the sidelines, they will get the job done.

I think it will be exciting, and the USA will be standing on the podium, receiving the gold medal as the national anthem plays. I can feel the sense of pride as Brown celebrates a coach's dream year.

Dick Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons and the University of Detroit in the 1970s before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979 (he's been an ESPN analyst ever since). Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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