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News » Team USA looks committed to winning gold

Team USA looks committed to winning gold

Team USA looks committed to winning gold
While the provocation for America's current basketball redemption movement was strangling the off-Strip regions of Las Vegas, Team USA '08 made its first dress rehearsal in another part of town.

So with three high-school-level AAU tournaments busy postponing the vital skill development of potential, future Team USA hotshots (more on that later), the current avengers were smiting Canada by 55 points.

2008 Olympic Games

And if they've happened to work on a new move, when will they put it into practical application? Will they unleash this trial balloon when big-time college coaches are watching at a Vegas tournament (not likely)?

Full-disclosure alert: I coach 13-U and 16-U club teams in Arizona. The 16-Us played 25 games over a three-month period this spring. That was followed by another 25 games with their respective high school teams in June. We're taking July off from competition to work on skills, strength, explosiveness training and testing creativity in scrutiny-free, (usually) three-on-three pick-up games. Although we won two Phoenix-area tournaments this spring, we're not an all-star team with unreasonable, big-agenda parents, so this philosophy has served us for three years.

A close friend who coaches a high school program I used to be part of advised me to embrace the July-tournament marathon next season. Your players need the exposure to college coaches, he said.

He also wants me to work with his point guard, whose inability to knock down an open jumper has diminished the kid's ability to extend on-ball defenders in an effort to create shots for his teammates. But the point guard — who played about 50 club games in the spring and another 25 in June — has participated in an AAU-sanctioned tournament every week in July.

So instead of progressing, he's playing in front of college coaches who will identify his inability to make shots. Instead of exposure — which can be a fine thing when moderation is involved — the player may just be exposed (by the way, my friend's point guard is expected to participate in more club tournaments this fall).

For an inclusive look at the flaws in what qualifies as the current U.S. system, what is being done by nations that have been defeating Americans in international play and potential resolutions, find the book Cross Over, written by Brian McCormick (no referral fee for me; I don't know the guy). McCormick is a hoop trainer, high school coach and writer whose approach to player development caught my attention on a blog.

He (and others who believe in more development-game balance) should be encouraged.

Fans of Team USA should be encouraged that some of the methods used to win internationally may bleed into a more eye-pleasing NBA product. The last time Team USA lost in international play, the subsequent hue and cry of a damn-near clueless sports-reporting empire inspired the hoop big shots to at least pay lip service to skill development at the high school level.

There's still a long way to go, but despite carnivals like the Vegas tournaments, the discussion has begun.

Let's just hope things aren't considered ducky for the long term if Team USA mops the floor in Beijing.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: July 29, 2008


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