Sports Outside the Beltway

Team USA Winning Basketball Games

When the Dream Team was assembled in 1992, we all thought that teams comprised of US professionals would simply embarrass international competition forever. The last couple of Olympics and World Championships, however, have demonstrated that doesn’t work if the best players don’t show up and the ones who do refuse to play as a team.

Mike Krzyzewski seems to have turned things around, with the team up 3-0 in group play in the FIBA World Championships.

Coach K got the attention of everybody in the building when he cleared his bench at the 5:13 mark of the first quarter. Krzyzewski continues to assert that he’s going to wear down the opposition by playing guys for short periods of time, telling his players not to hold back or pace themselves when they’re in the game. To drive that point home, he inserted Joe Johnson, Kirk Hinrich, Antawn Jamison, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all at the same time, replacing the starters: LeBron James, Shane Battier, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony.

“We’ll probably continue to do that,” D’Antoni said after the game. “It keeps everybody engaged and fired up and it’s worked pretty good that way. It gets everybody thinking on the same page. Coach K came up with (the idea). It’s fun to see (the fans’) reactions.”

Krzyzewski also swapped five for five at the five-minute mark of the third quarter.

“I like it,” Dwyane Wade said. “I don’t know how much coach is going to keep it that way but hopefully (he will). I like it. It gives us a chance to know that we’re only going to be out there for five minutes, so go very hard. And, also, it’s two different teams you’ll see; the first team is very different than the second team. It’s helped us out tremendously, so hopefully we’ll stick with it for a little while.”

Of course, the team still faces the problem that has plagued them since the Dream Team: Everyone expects them to win, so they get no credit if they do. But Lord help them if they lose.

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