On Saturday night, Team USA took on Brazil in an exhibition game at the United Center. Although the final score demonstrated that Team USA was clearly the superior side, several issues must be addressed by head coach Mike Krzyzewski and company before his team plays in must-win games in the FIBA 2014 World Cup.
Although Team USA’s fast-break offense is the team’s biggest strength, the halfcourt offense is a serious problem. With so many superstars on the court, the ball will stick every now and then. However, there were too many possessions on Saturday night that ended in isolation plays, including numerous one-pass possessions. If the USA team wants to make it difficult on the opposing defense, moving the ball through passing will surely do the trick.
Another issue was players trying to do too much. For example, there were too many times when Klay Thompson, a non-playmaker, put the ball on the floor trying to score or make a play for a teammate. Instead, Thompson should be a catch-and-shoot player for this team. There is no need to overstep this role with playmakers such as James Harden, Stephen Curry and Derrick Rose surrounding him.
Along with Thompson, Harden was another guard who tried to do too much offensively. Specifically, he tried to score too much, missing open teammates on various offensive possessions as he attempted to put the ball in the basket. Obviously Harden can get to the free throw line nearly every time he wants, but involving other players will certainly facilitate a more efficient offense.
On the other end of the floor, the use of a 2-3 zone defense was a head-scratching decision. Although Team USA has assistant coach Jim Boeheim at their disposal, his defense was not at all helpful during the exhibition. On several occasions, it seemed as if players on the floor did not know whether the team was supposed to be playing zone or man-to-man. This led to several open shots for Brazil because Team USA was not on the same page defensively.
Simply, this USA team had no problem matching up with Brazil, so using a zone seems like a lazy option.
The best option defensively for Team USA is their high-pressure man-t0-man defense, which will undoubtedly create numerous opportunities to run in transition off of turnovers. Coach Krzyzewski has a plethora of guards able to pressure the ball far away from the basket, and this depth will help him use this type of defense to his advantage.
Clearly, the final score did not completely detail Team USA’s performance on Saturday night. As the team continues to play with each other, however, the chemistry will surely improve and these weaknesses will most likely progress.