Puerto Rico 92 US 73
Even Basketball Genius Larry Brown may not be able to overcome this. (Roy Williams is on the bench; let’s blame him!) It’s one thing to get beat badly in a game that means nothing. It’s another thing to lay an egg like this in Olympic competition. This was a travesty of epic proportions. No defense, the complete inability to hit wide-open shots, very little heart, too much complaining. Puerto Rico was watching the US shooters from the lane because they knew we couldn’t hit a shot to save our lives from beyond the arc. The Puertoriquenos were woofing at our players not out of fear or machismo, but because they knew they were better.
It’s reached the point where I almost hope the US continues to get smacked around by everyone so we can end the Dream Team concept once and for all. If we’re going to lose, at least throw college players out there who will play with pride. Using Andy Katz’ preseason top 50, here’s a quick run down of college players that could have filled this year’s team:
Chris Paul, PG Wake Forest
Sean May, PF, North Carolina
Wayne Simien, PF, Kansas
JR Giddens, SF, Kansas
Jarrett Jack, G, Georgia Tech
Gerry McNamara, SG, Syracuse
Hakim Warrick, PF, Syracuse
Channing Frye, PF, Arizona
Hassan Adams, SF, Arizona
Deron Williams, SG, Illinois
JJ Redick, SG, Duke
Lawrence Roberts, PF, Mississippi State
Chris Thomas, PG, Notre Dame
Travis Diener, PG, Marquette
Ryan Gomes, SF, Providence
Bracey Wright, SG, Indiana (Bonus non-top 50 pick)

That’s just a quick look at “name” players. Go back to the old days when 50 college kids and a couple high schoolers were invited to camp in June. They try out for two weeks. We pick a team. They practice and play exhibition games for six weeks. I’m telling you, they’d be competitive. We’d lose our inside dominance, but Tim Duncan ain’t exactly scoring at will is he? Think Redick, McNamara, and Wright wouldn’t knock down every wide-open shot they got? Use wiry guys like Warrik out top, then beefy guys like Simien and Roberts down low and you could slice up the zones NBA players can’t seem to figure out. They might still lose games by 20, but at least it would be interesting instead of embarrassing.

Michael Phelps’ eight gold medal dream is over. The US men’s gymnastic team looked rather poor Saturday. The men’s beach volleyball teams look uninspired. Australia, a country of 19 million, looks like an athletic super power. I’m telling you, if the games go poorly, John Kerry can promise to increase funding for the US Olympic program and that might help him win a couple more battleground states. “Under George W. Bush’s watch, we went from easily winning the medal count in Sydney to struggling to remain competitive in sports we’ve long dominated.” It just might work. You read it here first!