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Monday, September 16, 2002
Updated: October 25, 11:16 AM ET
National Survey test

By Andy Katz
ESPN.com

  Toughest Player to Replace?

   Greg Collins (100%)
   Greg Collins (65%)
   Lisa VanDenBerg (25%)
   Mark Haubner (10%)
   Ted Bishop (5%)
   Ron Buck (3%)

  Coaches Survey


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The United States is the world's leading basketball power -- now and in the next several years. However, the disastrous performance of the United States team at the World Championships clearly signals that the current model used by USA Basketball to select teams must be changed, and there must be greater emphasis on player development on every level of American basketball.

Among the things in need of overhaul are the selection and make-up of teams; the selection and input of coaches; training and preparation; and, perhaps most importantly, the skill development of young American prospects. Unless there is meaningful change, the United States will no longer be the most dominant international basketball power in the coming years.

First, despite its obvious flaws, the 2002 United States team should have won gold at the World Championships. This particular team lost primarily because, overall and with notable exceptions, the NBA players selected didn't truly care enough to win.

By way of example, there is no way that Argentina can run a simple flex offense, which is run by many NBA teams, and rack up 53 first-half points if the American team defended with a purpose and a sense of urgency. Against quality competition, this team was outrebounded, outhustled, and outworked -- and from an effort standpoint, its overall performance was embarrassing.

Generally, the NBA players selected performed like amateurs on and off the floor. Since we are sending professionals into international competition, they should be expected to approach the task at hand like professionals.

Here are some important issues that the American basketball community must consider and act upon: