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NBA / Aug 13, 2008 / 11:47 am

Who Needs to Step Up On Team USA?

Michael ReddIs Redd the one who needs to step up?

First they went up against Team China, a group undoubtedly more concerned with the atmosphere of the Olympics than with staying with the Americans. That seemed pretty clear when Yao stood up off the bench in the final minutes of the game pumping his fists and cheering as if the Chinese were about to take a lead. They were down by 30.

Next it was an Angolan squad that wanted to avoid being embarrassed by more than 40 points. Though they accomplished that goal, they were defeated from the moment they saw Team USA opposite their names on the schedule.

But Thursday morning’s game (8 AM EST) against Greece is being hyped as a different breed. The Greeks triple-teamed Chris Kaman when they faced Germany and held the Clippers center to a miserable 4-point, 2-rebound, 5-turnover game. Greece topped the two-headed German team of Kaman and Dirk by 23 points, and will undoubtedly bring that same physical brand of ball to the U.S.

With LeBron and Dwyane Wade carrying Team USA thus far, who do they need to step up when they confront a better opponent who will do more than try to lose honorably?

It’s easy to point the finger at Kobe. He started 0-7 from the field against Angola and looks like the trip to Beijing broke his ratchet. Of the four field goals that he actually did make in that game, they were all within two feet of the rim. The bigger issue is that he attempted 13 field goals. The next highest total was LeBron’s 7 tries, which were basically all dunks.

But some might argue that Kobe should still have the green light, even on a fully loaded roster. The Angola game was an aberration, and we’re not ready to pull the ‘best player in the world’ crown off of Kobe’s head for a couple of shaky nights from the floor.

Instead of picking Mamba as the member of Team USA who needs to step up, what about pinpointing Michael Redd? He sunk a couple of meaningless three’s towards the end of the game against China, and then missed both of his attempts from three against Angola, finishing with 2 points. Redd has had plenty of time to get used to being wide open when he pulls. Plus, he’s a few feet closer than usual – two reasons why his J should be falling more consistently. After being told since the inception of this team that spot-up three-point shooting will be a key to our success, it’s Mike’s job to keep defenses honest guarding the three.

What about Carlos Boozer? As Team USA preps for the Greek team that dances that fine line between physical and dirty play, it’s not going to be Chris Bosh who bodies up in the paint. And with Dwight Howard looking like Optimus Prime taking on the Decepticons every time he steps on the court, he can’t bear a much bigger burden. That leaves Boozer to carry his own weight. He played just under 9 minutes against China and just under 12 against Angola, in which he whiffed on a lefty baby-hook that he always makes. If nothing else, Carlos at least needs to offer a physical presence and hit the glass hard – he has four boards in Team USA’s first two games.

Who do you think needs to step up on Team USA?

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  • Dagomar

    Instead pull the “best player in the world” crown from his head because Lebron has clearly surpassed him.

    Kobe does have to step it up. He’s been pretty good on defense, but the USA isn’t going to win like they should with him jacking bricks from the perimeter. And Redd? He’s the zone buster. That’s why he’s on the team. If he’s not hitting shots, he’s essentially useless. Both players will need to make their threes if the team is going to beat Spain down the road.

  • Adam

    Coach K! It’s obvious we need more outside shooting from Redd, but how is he going to get into a rhythm if he doesn’t get in the game until garbage time? I’d like to see Redd in the game sooner against Greece. Overall, I’d like to see better half-court offense.

  • Celts Fan

    Melo needs to step up. Hit the glass hard and make some shots. For a guy some people were saying could be the best int’l player in the world based on his versatility and abilities at the 4, he’s played like garbage. It hasn’t mattered yet, now we have Greece and Spain coming up. It’s time to show up. Maybe they need to put a picture of Larry Brown in his locker before the game. Get p*ssed young fella and take it out on the Greeks…

  • Celts Fan

    @Adam, I almost said that too. I think this team woulda been infinitely better suited to bring Joe Johnson, Chauncey (playng the 2,) Mike Miller, or even Kyle Korver as the 12th man/insurance in case Redd gets hurt/is off, instead of Tayshaun (I’d throw Ray Ray on there too, but he’s made it clear he has no interest in playing anymore.) I like Tayshaun’s game a lot, especially in the int’l game where he can be a 3 or 4, but the need for another dead-eye shooter is pretty glaring.

  • that’s whats up

    Redd’s jumper is wet. Kobe’s jumper is all wet.
    Coach K needs to stop worrying about the global image pumping of Kobe and just play the hot guys, like Redd.

    that’s why Coach K will never be an NBA coach (of any worth); he can control the kids but he can’t control the men.

  • Bruce

    The former hier apparent to Jordan throne.

    Kobe — Wake up and play ball!

  • Scott

    I’m surprised anyone is questioning Prince’s value to the team. I didn’t watch the whole game against Angola, but I watched a good chunk in the 1st and 2nd quarters where I saw Prince get significant burn. He hit at least one 3, had dunk and played pretty well defensively. He str8 up looked like a glue guy for this squad. At this point he’s hitting 3’s more consistently than Redd, and does more on the court, it’d be nice to see Prince get a few more minutes, or steal Redd’s. I was pulling for Redd, but everytime he shoots he looks like he’s just chucking.

  • Prof. TX

    Kidd needs to do more if he really expects people to see him as the legitimate starter over Paul and Williams.

  • Celts Fan

    @Scott, it’s not that we don’t like Tayshaun’s game, it’s just that there are plenty of guys that can play the 3, so he’d presumably be the guy you need to drop to add someone else.

  • D.H.

    @ Celts Fan

    Why the hate for Melo? He has been taking it to the rack, hitting his jumpers (unlike some other aforementioned players), and has been great on the glass. With a team that is as star studded as this I don’t think we can expect him to stand out any more than he already is. Obviously the two biggest tests of the tournament are next, but I think Melo is clearly NOT the player who we should be most concerned about.

  • Celts Fan

    not hating D.H., just think he’s the guy that the pressure’s gonna fall on and he needs to step it up a bit. If we’re gonna win gold, it’s vital he puts in work down low, that’s all.

  • Batman

    Melo had a bad first game, but he improved in the second game. We don’t want him regressing back to how he was in the first game is all.

    Kobe and Redd have been both missing their 3s, but Redd doesn’t get many shots so he may need to build a little rhythm. Kobe, I don’t know what’s going on with that.

    What about Kidd? He hasn’t done much at all it looks like.

  • HUH!!!!

    @celts fan..melo leads the team in rebounding. Third in scoring. I always wonder why people are so down on him.

  • karizmatic

    The team as a whole needs to step up its shooting. C’mon you’re telling me that these guys who regualarly shoot the lights out in the NBA can’t hit a shot in international play with a closer 3 pt line? Individually, Kobe definitely needs to step up (and yes he has been surpassed by LBJ) and I expected more from Melo he’s just so well suited for the international game. Also Dwayne Wade needs to play more disciplined defense, he’s taking a lot of unnecessary gambles.

  • Celts Fan

    not down on him at all HUH, but I disregard rebounding stats against a team w/ a 6’5″ center, and he only got 4 against China. Again, I’m not saying he’s awful, just that he hasn’t played up to what we all KNOW he can in order for us ot beat the real threats like Greece and Spain. (and my answer would be Kobe but they said other than Kobe, so Melo playing a little meaner is what I came up with.)

  • Mike C

    Two flat games in a row for Kobe..
    When he does that with the Lakers, he usually drops a 50 the next game.
    Greece is in for it tommorrow..

  • Michorizo

    How about they all step up and play hard … Can’t be mad if they bust their ass and don’t pout.

  • Chaos

    the whole team needs to step up. they have been playing down to the comp and they cant do that. we know that no team can hang with the US yet they been hanging around. we know that d-wade, lebron and melo can pretty much destroy teams offensively they need to get more disciplined on defense. they close out shooters like someone would on the playground…not at all. not stopping shooters and hoping for a bad shooting night from the other team is whats gonna kill the US team. the other countries know they cant go to the hoop (lebron be murdering weak layups). redd needs to spend much time before the game finding a rhythm and kobe needs to just shoot two pointers. elton would have been a perfect player for the US if he was healthy. he played the int’l very well when he got the chance

  • CJ

    How bout Coach K with a smarter rotation? It’s real tough to point the finger at guys who aren’t getting out on the floor. Redd’s used to starting, getting in a rhythm, and killing teams from deep. In the FIBA Americas he was the second leading scorer, now he can hardly get off the bench. Move Redd into the starting line up and watch how our 25% 3pt climbs. Real big move to tell a guy who hardly plays to step his game up, good one Dime.

  • Young Lebron 23

    For USA It’s a toss up between Boozer and Redd. Kobe will eventually get his grove back, Emphisis on the eventually. Redd hasn’t shot the ball well from 3 or the charity stripe and they got him just for that which is even more pressure. Boozer keeps laying it in. Stop acting soft you are 260-265 lbs. Use it!

  • doc

    How about nobody.They are gonna whip Greece ass regardless.Yall threw up he took 13 shots like he was jacking.Clearly in the 3rd quarter they got like 3 boards and kept kicking it out to him so he can make one.Why should they go all out and beat Angola by 100..What does that prove.They winning by blowouts which is all that matter.I wouldnt give a fuck if they win by 1.I know we got people from Spain on here.Do they hate on their team over there?Like saying they went to OT with China that means the US will run them out the building or do they appreciate wins for what they are in move on to the next game like the one before dont have shit to do with the next one.Because in reality Kobe being 4-13 dont mean shit tomorrow morning when Greece is on that court.I dont get why everybody say the world caught up but when the US dont win by 50 everybody asking whats wrong.Take the 20 point win and smile.

  • Luigi

    yeah i agree wit all these guys.. its either Coach K changes up his rotation….or gives his lesser stars [not top tier stars] some burn.

    i think Coach K needs to improvise n start LeBron at the Point. im serious
    n make Paul n D-Will the 6/7 men. Start Redd.Kobe.Melo.Dwight around him

    n i think Prince is like James Posey of the Celtics..the Glue guy 4 team USA
    he should play more and put less pressure on Kobe. let Prince guard the best guy since hes the most refreshed. n maybe Kobe will find his O-Game back

    but the bench should look like this. Paul.Williams.Wade.Prince.Bosh.Kidd.Booz.

    some ppl may disagree with me but this is what i think.

  • Matt

    Kobe’s too good to keep having bad shooting nights. He will get it together. But for me I think Michael Redd has to step up and hit some more big shots from deep.

  • George W Kush Sr

    This is management’s fault, they only put one sniper on the roster. Now if the sniper is off, it puts all the presure on the other guys with range like Kobe and Deron.
    Coach K either needs to give Redd more burn from the start of the game to keep him in flow, or change the game plan to where the other shooters like Deron shoot more often.
    They really should’ve had more than just one sharpshooter on the squad

  • BxBaller

    They just need to knock down their shots. They’re getting good looks, they are just not falling. Plus I think people are giving this Greek team too much credit. Overall we will see tomorrow.

    I still don’t know why is everybody making a big deal about the US’s struggles. At the end of the day, they’ll win gold and all we be good.

  • http://GEE2.com GEE…Burn baby burn like Lisa Lopez…poor Rison.

    Who do you think needs to step up on Team USA?

    Not Not nobody!

    They all straight. Gold around the necks just a matter of time.

  • http://www.myspace.com/fresh2def6 Ta!ented

    Tayshaun and Mike Redd please step up, not hatin, jus sayin.

  • http://karanmadhok.blogspot.com karan

    they just need to give wade the ball and step out of the way