The first Olympic game of the so-called “Redeem Team” (it is a cheezy nickname, but I have to say, I don’t think it is half-bad) ended up as a success, as the United States really blitzed China on defense and on the fast break to get a series of spectacular dunks that really got the crowd excited (it is a bit weird to see a Chinese crowd go ballistic seeing Americans dunk on Chinese players, but whatever floats their boat).
It was a fun game to watch, but there are definitely some worrisome aspects of USA’s game (or as worrisome as a 30 point blowout can be)…
First off, the three-point shooting by the starters has got to improve. A measly two out of twelve by the starters. Luckily, the bench was 5 for 12 for a not so pathetic overall 7 for 24 (they missed 15 of their first 16 – Michael Redd, you are needed!), but when they face a team that is hot from three, they could be in trouble, so they really need to be more consistent from beyond the arc.
The defense was impressive, as Coach K has used his surplus of guards to great effect by having them press on made free throws, figuring if they tire, he only has a gazillion other All-Star guards on his bench to go to to fill-in. Of course, that makes free-throw shooting pretty important.
Lebron looked amazing (except for the shooting, of course).
The refs were terrible.
The Lakers’ second-rounder this year, Sun Yue, looked pretty good. I saw one reporter call him Toni Kukoc-like, and I think that’s a good comp.
In any event, a thirty-one point win is a great start for the United States, I’d say.