Team USA Practice in NYC – Day 2

by Matt Lawyue / @mlawyue

I’ll keep this short and sweet, as Team USA had already begun their scrimmage against the USA Select Team when the media entered the gym at the John Jay Criminal Justice gym.

Team USA Practice Day 2

-There was an emphasis on using the full-court press. With the plethora of quick, agile guards, Team USA should be able to disrupt and keep the pressure on the opposing guards looking to push the ball up the court. Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose and Eric Gordon were prime examples of causing mayhem and forcing the Select Team to launch the ball down court where the likes of the lengthy Lamar Odom and Kevin Durant were waiting to intercept.

-This team will shoot the three ball. A lot. It’s scary to think a strategy of theirs might be to live and die behind the arc, but for most of the scrimmage yesterday, with the exception of some well-controlled drives to the bucket by Rose and Westbrook, Team USA was launching from down town. Durant, Stephen Curry, Rudy Gay and even Kevin Love, were putting them up, and hitting them for the most part. The shorter perimeter arc of the international game certainly helps things (FIBA: 20′ 6.1″ – NBA: 23′ 9″), although this shouldn’t be taken for granted. One cold streak against the up-tempo squads of Puerto Rico, Brazil or Spain could spell doom on the other end of the court. Long rebound, outlet and an easy layup – situations like these Team USA has to remember to hustle back on to defend.

-The scrimmages on Day 1 were four, 6-minute quarters. On Day 2, when the media entered the gym, they were finishing up their last two 10-minute quarters. A FIBA game is four, 10-minute periods, as opposed to the NBA’s four, 12-minute periods.

-Rajon Rondo missed practice due to a death in the family, and Danny Granger was out after injuring his ring finger during yesterday’s practice.

-Curry had a strong scrimmage. The 6-3 Warriors guard knocked down the open shots, pressured high up the court on defense and was aggressive on the offensive end, setting up plays for others:

“The lanes bigger, there’s a lot more space on the floor. Guys can sit in the lane, there’s no defensive three seconds. Big guys are always going to be down there if you go to the middle, which helps me, maybe I can shoot the three’s all day,” (facetiously).

On another note for Warriors fans, I asked him if he’s spoken with David Lee at all:

“Oh yeah, we’re pretty good friends right away. I think I’m gonna hang out with him this week. I think any time you add an All-Star with the talents he has to be able to pass, shoot, play the pick-and-roll game, rebound, defend – all those things we need at that position he’ll be able to come in and help right away.”

-The only other pure shooter on this squad, aside from Curry, is Eric Gordon. Here’s his take on his role on the team:

“I’d say mostly shooting and making three point shots, and playing really good defense and making steals. We (him and Stephen Curry) just got to do our job and makes baskets.”

-Jerry Colangelo on Team USA playing zone:

“It’s not gonna be a constant. It’s gonna be an in-and-out kind of a thing. More than anything else to get the offense off kilter. That’s how it should be used. That’s how the Europeans use it now.”

Day 3 should be a treat, as tonight kicks off the World Basketball Festival with a Team USA showcase at Radio City Music Hall. I hear Jay-Z is going to perform afterward…of course, I’ll have a post with all the details.