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The Many Problems Facing the USMNT

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Since the 2004 debacle in Athens, Greece, the United States men’s basketball team has looked better than the Monstars in Space Jam.

However, it looks as if their 12-year run of invincibility in Olympic play will come to an end, based on recent history, and the many problems this team is facing.

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Recent history shows that the knockout stage is far more difficult than the group stage because the competition is left with the eight best teams. The pressure mounts, and each time a game ends, a nation is going home while the other continues on its quest for gold.

In 2008, the USA won group stage games by an average of 32.2 points, and in 2012, they won by an average of 38.2. However, once the knockout stage began, the US average margin of victory dropped to 20.7 in 2008, and 22 in 2012.

So, if the Redeem Team and the “second” Dream Team had this much trouble once the competition got stiffer, we can only imagine what will happen with this bunch.

The 2016 squad is obviously loaded with talent, but they, still, have not gel together. They look more like 12 supremely talented players waiting for their turn to shine on the wooden floor, as oppose to one dominant team stomping on everyone on their quest to Olympic supremacy.

In tight games, the United States don’t have a point guard who can deliver with smart play. Kyrie Irving is a great player, but he tends to be a bit reckless in close contests while Kyle Lowry has not shown yet, he can consistently be a clutch performer on both ends of the floor.

Kevin Durant is facing the same criticism he faced in recent years with the Oklahoma City Thunder, which is that he tends to shy away from his responsibility as the clear cut best player on the team. Carmelo Anthony is the leader, but at this stage in their careers, this is Kevin Durant’s team, and he needs to fulfill his role as the man in command.

Klay Thompson struggled, mightily, in the first four games, shooting an abysmal 4 for 26, but against France, he made it rain. Thompson poured in 30 points, including seven threes to guide the United States to a 100-97 win. The Splash Brother has redeemed himself, a little bit, but how long will it last? If he has another poor outing, it will be time for Coach Krzyzewski to bench him in favor of Jimmy Butler.

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Another problem facing the United States’ men’s team is their poor defense. Carmelo Anthony, DeMarcus Cousins, and Kyrie Irving are known for their offensive brilliance, and their lack of defense, and it is beginning to show.

The 2008, and 2012 Olympic teams were stacked with great defenders, which hid one-way players like Carmelo Anthony. When you can have Chris Paul, LeBron James, and Dwight Howard together on the court, it will be difficult to score for anybody.

Coach Krzyzewski has some defensive specialists on the squad such as Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green, and DeAndre Jordan. But, they have not played a lot since the beginning of the tournament. It is difficult to imagine Coach Krzyzewski changing his philosophy on the fly, but it might be his best option.

The big men are having a lot of difficulty making their presence felt on these Games. DeAdre Jordan, still, can’t shoot free throws to save his life, DeMarcus Cousins is having a hard time adjusting to international referees, and playing style, therefore Draymond Green is Coach Krzyzewski’s last option, but thus far, he has not played much.

Could Coach Krzyzewski’s change his starting five for a more defensive minded team, and, even, shake up his shooters? Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green is, still, an impressive starting five. But, at this point in the tournament, the majority of these players have not played a lot of minutes.

The United States are still the team to beat, and should be the favorites to win it all. But, for the first time in over a decade, the United States are not otherworldly. A sign that proves talent is not sufficient to win anymore.

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FIBA

Canada vs. USA focal point of loaded Pre-FIBA World Cup series

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Rj Barrett Canada Vs Usa Nigeria Australia New Zeland Highlight Loaded Fiba Schedule
Photo: FIBA

Canada’s senior’s men’s basketball team will take on the United States of America, Australia, New Zealand and Nigeria in a loaded preseason FIBA World Cup schedule.

For many years Canadian’s have been waiting for the day that Canada’s golden basketball generation faced off against the mighty USA Dream Team.

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Well, wait no longer, and bookmark Monday, August 26, 2019 your calendar.

Part of a five-game per-world cup series in Australia — Team Canada will wrap it’s six-game FIBA World Cup exhibition schedule with a much anticipated match-up against American’s.

“We’re excited to have the opportunity to compete and gain familiarity against some of the top teams in the world in preparation for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019,” said Rowan Barrett, Canada Basketball General Manager, Men’s High Performance. “The USA has been the gold standard in FIBA basketball for several years so this will be a great opportunity for our program. In addition, having the chance to play tough road games against Australia and New Zealand will be a valuable experience for our team on the road to the World Cup.”

Dwight Powell Canada Basketball Canada Vs Usa Focal Point Loaded Pre Fiba World Cup Schedule
Dwight Powell showing off the big guns for Team Canada – Photo: FIBA

Canada’s Senior Men’s National team (SMNT) will kick-off it’s pre-world cup festivities on home-soil, on Friday, August 9, 2019 against a rising Nigerian D’ Tigers (10-2, 1st place African Qualifiers) national side in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

From there it’s off to foreign territory as the Canadians get acquainted with the Australia Boomers — a 2019 FIBA World Cup Group of death foe and commonwealth member in a two-game series in Perth on August 16th and 17th.

Previously known for the their alternative nickname — “The Road Warriors” — for their lack of international FIBA home games — Team Canada will shift their attention to a familiar foe with a two-game series against the New Zealand Tall Blacks.

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According to the FIBA World Cup draw and if everything works out as planed Canada vs. USA could also become a reality in a potential heavyweight quarter-finals match-up.

With World Cup medal aspirations on the line and a 2020 Tokyo summer Olympics bid up for grabs, Canada will look to field a studded 12-men roster not only capable of fulling the federations 2020 vision of becoming a global basketball powerhouse but eventually reminding our border neighbors and media pundits that “soft and basketball” will no longer be acceptable in the basketball sentence.

Not exactly considered the cream-of the crop international tournaments — Canada’s senior’s men’s basketball team last knocked-off the United States of America 111-108 at the 2015 Pan-Am games in Toronto.

A 2005 FIBA Americas Group A win — culminated by a dominated 28 point, 9-rebound performance from Denham Brown lifted Canada 92-76 past the USA on August, 25, in San Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Canada knocked off the Americans 85-77 in the semi-finals of 1983 Summer Universiade games in Edmonton — beating a star-studded USA (Karl Malone, Charles Barkley) team in the semi-finals.

Team Canada FIBA World Cup international exhibition series

  • Canada Basketball vs. Nigeria D’ Tigers – August, 9th 2019 – MTS Place
  • Canada Basketball vs. Australia Boomers – August 16, 2019 – RAC Arena, Perth
  • Canada Basketball vs. Australia Boomers – August 17, 2019 – RAC Arena, Perth  
  • Canada Basketball vs. New Zealand Tall Blacks – August 20, 2019, Quaycentre, Sydney
  • Canada Basketball vs. New Zealand Tall Blacks – August 21, 2019, Quaycentre, Sydney
  • Canada Basketball vs. USA Basketball – August 26, 2019, Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney†

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FIBA

Triano steps aside as Canadian national team coach

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Jay Triano Olympic Dot Ca

Jay Triano has officially stepped down as the head coach of Canada’s senior men’s national team.

Canada Basketball made the announcement this morning, confirming media reports that circulated on Sunday.

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“I can’t thank Jay enough for all he has done for basketball in Canada,” said Glen Grunwald, president and CEO of Canada Basketball, in a statement.  

“As both a coach and player, Jay is a Canadian icon and has played a major role in the development of basketball within our country and we will forever be grateful for his contributions. 

Jay Triano 2 Olympic Dot CA
Jay Triano is among the most accomplished coaches in Canadian history. Photo: Canadian Olympic Committee

“After speaking with Jay, I’m hopeful we can find a role where he can continue to contribute to Canada Basketball in the future.”

Triano is the first Canadian-born and Canadian-trained coach to work in the NBA, starting as an assistant with the Toronto Raptors in 2002 and later promoted to head coach.

He is currently the lead assistant coach with the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets.

As head coach of Canada’s national team from 1998 to 2004, Triano led the team to a seventh-place finish at the 2000 Olympic Summer Games in Sydney, Australia.

Canada has not returned to the Olympics since then, but it figures to be a contender to play at the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

Triano returned as head coach in 2012, guiding the club to a pair of victories during the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers.

As a player, Triano served with Canada’s national team from 1977 to 1988 and was team captain for the final seven years of his tenure.

He was elected to the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.

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Roy Rana Canada's National Basketball Team Coach Sitting FIBA Qualifiers Pointing
Roy Rana 2019 FIBA Americas Qualifiers – Photo: FIBA

Ryerson University head coach Roy Rana is among three other candidates being granted interviews to replace Triano, according to Sportsnet’s Michael Grange.

The other candidates are Gord Herbert, who played for Canada at the 1984 Olympics; and Ettore Messina, an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs.

A final decision is expected by March 31.

Multiple reports say Triano cited “personal reasons” for taking his name out of the running, but he did not elaborate.

Team Canada’s next major test will be the 2019 FIBA World Cup, starting Aug. 31 in China.

Triano steps aside at a high point in Canadian basketball, with dozens of players in the NBA and at elite NCAA schools, including Barrett’s son R.J. Barrett, a Duke University standout who is projected to be a lottery pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

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