College, NBA, Olympics / Aug 19, 2008 / 4:33 pm

Would a team of U.S. college players win a medal in Beijing?

Derrick RoseDerrick Rose, Dime #32

Today’s DimeMag.com poll asked if a team of American college ballplayers would land on the medal stand in these Olympics. USA Basketball used amateur players for decades before the originial Dream Team and was traditionally dominant, but with other countries closing the talent gap over time, could today’s collegians still compete?

Putting together an amateur-only ’08 Team USA, I’d still have to put Coach K in charge (although I’m a Duke-hater, I have to give the man credit for being the best in the business), but after that there are plenty of philosophical questions to answer. For example, in a year with so many great freshmen, do you go with a crew thick with 18- and 19-year-olds, or lean towards older, more experienced upperclassmen? (Keep in mind that players who were drafted this year would be eligible.)

Do you go with a guard-heavy lineup similar to the current U.S. team, or employ more bigs to deal with experienced international big men like Pau Gasol, Andrew Bogut and Yao Ming? Do you want Coach K to go with a more structured system since he’s got younger players, or keep the same free-wheeling system with which he’s let the pros feast on the rest fo the Olympic? Lastly, are there any Class of ’08 high schoolers talented and/or mature enough to make the roster?

(Side note: If we still used collegians for the Olympics, the NBA Draft would look a lot different from a broadcast perspective. Earlier this summer I saw a replay of the ’84 draft, and a lot of the guys weren’t in attendance — i.e. Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins and others — because they were training with Bob Knight and Team USA in Bloomington, Indiana.)

* Derrick Rose, Memphis — The best point guard in the country would be the Chris Paul of this Olympic squad. No international guard this side of Ricky Rubio would have a chance of keeping Rose out of the lane, and he can finish at or above the rim when he isn’t creating for his teammates.

* O.J. Mayo, USC — Think Kobe or D-Wade on the current U.S. team. Mayo can play the one or the two, and his scoring and shooting is almost a bonus to the defensive skills he’ll bring. Despite what you’ve heard about him, O.J. is a team player and a winner to the core.

* Shan Foster, Vanderbilt — Shooting specialist a la Michael Redd, and like Redd can also make things happen off the dribble. The award-winner for the NCAA’s best senior would bring some experience and maturity to Team USA.

* Stephen Curry, Davidson — The best shooter in the country from deep (43.9%) and mid-range, Curry will bust the international zone and can handle the ball well enough to break a press. The only concern is his size. At 6-2, 185 pounds, Curry (25.9 ppg) is a two-guard in Tyronn Lue‘s body.

* Mario Chalmers, Kansas — It’s not just The Shot. Chalmers plays sticky defense and racks up steals, which is the backbone of Team USA’s success. Plus, as you know, he steps up and delivers on big stages.

* Michael Beasley, Kansas State — Even if he wasn’t capable of dropping 25 points a night, Beasley’s rebounding alone (12.4 rpg) would get him on this squad.

* D.J. White, Indiana — While not the same caliber athlete, D.J.’s more of a technician in the post than Beasley. Often compared to Elton Brand, he can rebound and block shots as well as score with a legit go-to move (jump hook) that will work against pros. Another senior who brings maturity and is battle-tested.

* Donte Greene, Syracuse — Another zone-busting shooter who seems perfect for the FIBA game. Like ‘Melo, can play the two, the three or the four internationally.

* Anthony Randolph, LSU — Anyone who was familiar with the John Brady era at LSU knows there’s a reason Randolph didn’t get the most out of his potential last year. He showed in the NBA summer league, though, how good of a scorer and all-over-the-court threat he can be. On the FIBA level Randolph could play anywhere from the three to the five.

* Randal Falker, Southern Illinois — A defensive lock-down specialist who excels in man-to-man, zone and in a press. Smallish for a power forward at 6-7, Falker is still active on the boards (7.2 rpg) and is adequate enough offensively (13 ppg).

* Kevin Love, UCLA — Tailor-made for the international game with his basketball IQ, ability to step out and shoot, and knack for handling the physical play allowed by FIBA refs. Offensive rebounds galore, and his famous outlet passes will ignite plenty of U.S. fast breaks.

* Jarvis Varnado, Mississippi State — Although he’s only 6-9, Varnado’s reach is that of a 7-footer. The nation’s leader in blocks (4.6 bpg) will return plenty of shots to sender, and he’s fast and athletic enough to get out and run with a fast-breaking squad. While still raw offensively, Varnado will only be called upon for his rebounding (5th in the SEC) and defense.

Just missed the cutJerryd Bayless, Arizona; Ryan Anderson, Cal; Joey Dorsey, Memphis; Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis; Luke Harangody, Notre Dame; Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina; Brook Lopez, Stanford; Eric Gordon, Indiana; Eric Maynor, Virginia Commonwealth; James Harden, Arizona State, Darrell Arthur, Kansas.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
  • D.H.

    The current US team has a huge psychological advantage. A lot of teams mentally would view their chances of winning prior to the game much differently (ie. no coaches stating their goal is to lose by less than 40). But with that said, I’m assuming all other teams can field pro’s either and therefore, I still feel the US would dominate. The college players have been groomed for years and have been in a top-notch basketball program, likely better than any other in the world.

  • Tha Boddy

    At this phase the college stars would get punished…Sad to say but alot of them have the skills but not the IQ needed and with the International team concept they would be getting the business

  • Kevin K

    michael beasley is a beast. his game actually fits FIBA better than the nba since he can do it all and size really won’t be an issue unless he guards yao… pau gasol?? please b-ezy will eat that cock-eyed spainard alive. where is the love for Russel Westbrook?? team wise, if they played together continuously, i believe they have a shot but i would say bronze or silver.

  • the haters POV

    i would take off one of the forwards (faulkner) and add a brook lopez or a joey dorsey. also, CDR gotta make this squad, lata for shan foster.

  • doc

    They could steal a bronze or silver and it would be a good thing. That team might get smoked or they might pull together and knock some teams off.Im talking about the legit teams not the Angolas, we will cream them regardless.But they could pull it off.

  • D.H.

    I dont think thats its fair to compare US team made up of college players to a international team made up of pros, NBA or otherwise. Of course Spain, with Pro players, would demolish a US team of college (amateur) players. You should always compare apple to apple; amateur/college US vs. International.

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    I think it’s fair to compare. Take a good international team who isn’t loaded with NBA players — let’s say Croatia. Do you think it’s unfair to matchup America’s best college players with a team who’s headlined by Zoran Planicic?

  • sumthinfresh

    i bet you BJ Mullins would punish some dudes in FIBA rules – guys a beast

  • bballinca

    They would not win it all but might medal.

  • http://bouncemag.com Mr. Make it Rain

    Randal Falker….really? Come on. He stinks

  • Chaos

    if the the team spent their time from april to august in the weight room, running and training, getting ready for the olympics, this team could keep up if not win. the difference is that they would have a dog fight each game (accept for angola…and i would think they would play harder than anyone thinks). dont forgert about russel westbrook and joey dorsey nwould bully th hell outta some those soft big men.

    thanks for the VCU love for adding Eric Maynor

  • Chaos

    what about dude from oklahoma….blake griffin i think his name is. he would be a good asddition instead of falkner. he plays above the rim and does all the garbage time stuff

  • Dagomar

    I have to say, the difference between a 19 year old kid fresh out of the college and an experienced star in the Euroleagues is still pretty big. It’s not as big in terms of talent or athleticism as it is in simple basketball IQ and maturity.

    Let alone the difference between a college kid and an NBA star like Manu or Dirk.

    This team would get violated by the better teams, but would qualify and might steal the bronze if they’re coached well enough and play together. But a team like Spain would beat them by at least 10 points.

  • http://www.barackobama.com Jim

    I can’t imagine it would go well, these are just kids. Our thrown together team in 2004 that had Tim Duncan on it got Bronze…how we could expect a thrown together team of 18 year olds to do better is beyond me.

  • Diego

    Concur with Dagomar. The better world teams like Argentina and Spain would be licking their chops and I think just kill the young, inexperienced (that would be the key) U.S. squad. This is where things were heading before the pros were allowed in the Olympics anyway. The pseudo-pros from other countries were catching up with/beating our college kids.

  • omar

    i don’t think they would earn a medal,they can’t even win like a under-20 ur whatever those fiba tournemnets are called


    gotta have bayless on there, period. i’d probably throw pyscho T in there too b/c of his heart and reckless abandon.

  • http://www.dimemag.com T.M.P.B.W.O.T.P.

    @Mr. Make It Rain — It would take you two months to score on Randal Falker.

  • TJ


  • http://www.dimemag.com Austin Burton

    From 1936 to 1988, other countries were sending their pros and the U.S. still dominated (for the most part) with our college players. Nine out of 12 gold medals.

    The ’84 team that won gold had MJ, Ewing, Chris Mullin, Sam Perkins, Steve Alford, Vern Fleming, Joe Kleine, Jon Koncak, Alvin Robertson, Wayman Tisdale, Jeff Turner and Leon Wood.

    The ’88 team that got bronze had David Robinson, Mitch Richmond, Stacey Augmon, Danny Manning, Dan Majerle, JR Reid, Willie Anderson, Charles Smith (x2), Hersey Hawkins, Bimbo Coles and Jeff Grayer.

    Yes, guys like Dirk and Manu and some of the other NBA alums on international teams are obviously going to give a college kid the business, but those guys give everyone the business. But you look at a lot of those teams and see they don’t have too much depth. It’s not like everyone on their team is a star in the Euroleague.

  • http://www.myspace.com/carli_borikua4life daquest?on

    @ austin the world has caught up to the us and many ppl dont know but during that time team usa had some close calls, i know that they almost lost to puerto rico a very long time ago(that kind of information is engraved on all of us when we are born) but never mind that, i think that teams from 1 to 14 could easily beat team usa if they sent college players. college players are not mature iq wise and their bodies will be lesser compared to grown men. and plz dont tell me that lebron is 23 and dwight is 21 because they are freaks of nature and they had the nba to groom them and make them beasts

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    You’re acting like there’s this huge gap between June of the year you’re drafted and October when the NBA season starts. You think June ’08 Beasley/Rose will be overwhelmed in FIBA play, but once they don an NBA jersey they’re miraculously able to handle it? Think about it: Most of the college players are guys who just got drafted or are at least NBA ready right now. I doubt that 14 international teams would easily beat them. Would rookie-year Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Deron Williams, etc. been unable to handle Olympic play?

  • Big Shot BOB

    No way these guys are bread over sees from young children. Can you imagine a team of college players trying to stop the likes of Greece and having to guard Shortsianitis aka baby Shaq. He gave NBA pros the business. They are pro’s which means they spend a whole lot more time in the weight room. Not to mention the Greek guards who are very experienced more so than NBA guards. They would pick and roll the college team to death. I say no contest not even a medal. At least with this years crop. Maybe if you take the 96 class with Kobe or last years class Oden and Durant.

  • Chaos

    tthe college players would have to have a high IQ in college…i think with the talent and athleticism that the players coming out of college have put with a coaching team of Coach K and maybe one other coach (roy williams or rick pitino) would def be winner…at least silver

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    What do you think American kids do all summer? Play ball, lift weights, etc. Dwight Howard didn’t wake up one morning looking like he does; T-Mac didn’t learn to shoot like that playing Nintendo; Derrick Rose isn’t that fast just because. The international squads were sending their best for years and hardly dominated American college kids. I think a U.S. college team could medal.

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    Put them in a system where they practice with each other longer than a week and a half and they could win gold.

  • souss

    You’ve got to love american arrogance! The redeem team has just started redeeming and here you are talking about winning a medale with college players. Please remember 2002, 2004 and 2006 before talking that non-sense

  • Big Shot BOB

    So your saying that a pro’s weight lifting regimine is similar to that of a highschool player….LOL Dude please pay attention to how college kids look then look at those same guys 3 years into the league. They all of a sudden look like the incredible hulk. Sure there are some exceptions. But trust me collge kids are to busy partying and eating what ever they want despite what there coaches are telling them. Most of them just arent mature enough. Remember the team in 04 consisted of rookie Lebron and Carmelo and they got beat and they had the help of NBA vets. Lets face it there’s no one on this years squad that could even be put in the same sentence as Lebron or CA.

  • http://www.dimemag.com Austin Burton

    If they aren’t mature enough, how do you explain the 9-for-12 gold medals before the U.S. started using pros? College-age MJ, Perkins, Alford, Tisdale, etc. weren’t mature enough?

    The loss in ’04 had a lot to do with attitude (guys didn’t care as much or take it as seriously) and the fact that there wasn’t any kind of “team” feeling.

  • AB_40

    They wouldn’t get out of poule play maybe some close games against teams like china or germany.

  • Data

    The college kids the US use to send were a lot older they weren’t the one and dones around now. I just think that they wouldn’t be ready to compete at that level on such a large scale. I could see some of them causing a scandal of some sort.

  • Bron42 had springs before slamball

    1) most of the guys named played in the usa vs world games and SMACKED the best international young players.

    2) 90% of the guys on this board were sayin how kevin durant deserved to be on this team last year and he technically would of been a inexperience youngin

    3) the only difference would be the experience. IF they had time to learn and build similar to the way this years redeem team did, theres no reason they wouldnt. I mean sure guys like yao would give them problem, but lets not make it like the majority of the international teams are super star loaded and would just mop the floor with them. Most have one good nba guy and a bunch of experience role players. Beasly, rose, griffin, mayo, demar drozen (think i spelled it wrong) etc..would all be able to get buckets against most come which is why they’ll be lotto pics. I’m not sayin they’d win gold but they’d keep up with most as long as it wasn’t “lets just throw some guys together and expect them to win” ala bronze medal team.

  • MoxWestCoastRep

    Team USA won Bronze with top tier NBA talent and you think College kids who havent played an NBA game and never played together would medal??
    Not a chance. They’d be competitive but, China, Greece, Argentina, Croatia, Lithuania would beat those cats.
    Not blow outs, but 10-12 point wins

  • MoxWestCoastRep

    @Austin- Dont you think the Golds in the pre-pro era were also due to the lack of talent in international play? The international game has only really taken off in the past 10-15 years….basically after Barcelona. So no that argument doesnt mean squat about why college kids would do well now. There were no Dirks Yaos or Ginobilis back then

  • dagood

    Pointless talking about 9 of 12 golds from the days when their were not even any international NBA players – it’s incomparable with taking on today’s international comp.

  • http://www.myspace.com/carli_borikua4life daquest?on

    back in the day international comp sucked, players like kevin durant come one in a hundred, they wouldnt win for gold, are u kidding me?? two years ago the us dint win gold and u think sending college kids will automatically win gold. first of all college kids are inexperienced and their bodies are fragile, only rare players make a big impact from college to pro the first year they get there. look at lebron’s physique when he came into the league and look at him now.. it is a huge difference. u cant send college kids to play agaisnt grown men. u are greatly underestimating the talent level on other international teams. u get better in the nba with that mentality that some of u mentioned one would think that a player is ready when they are born, just because they play everyday. it doesnt work like that u get better as time passes by.

  • Ernesto

    College players would be punished. No medal. Not close.

  • heavy d

    The bad thing is that it goes back to the lack of familiarity issue that the current team was trying to address. It would be a factor of how long they worked together in prep. I doubt they would have enough court time to become comfortable with each other.

    I’m thinking it is borderline for them to medal on sheer talent. They wouldn’t be much of a threat to win it all, but when the loss comes in the medal round determines everything.

  • war

    well if you take out the NBA players from the US team, shouldn’t you take out the NBA players from the other teams as well, i.e. Andrew Bogut, Yao Ming and Manu Ginobili? you’d also have to take out the pro players from the FIBA euro leagues, and the china leagues. That would leave the field pretty thin, and I’m thinking a US collegiate team in that setting would definitely land gold.

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    One reason the international teams got better since Barcelona is because they worked to close the gap after seeing the original Dream Team. Now if we had kept sending college players after 1988 and never sent pros, would those international teams be as good today?

    There were Dirks, Ginobilis and Gasols back in the day. Again, before the Dream Team, international squads were sending their best: Arvydas Sabonis, Sarunas Marciulionis, Drazen Petrovic, Oscar Schmidt, etc. These guys didn’t become great because they played in the NBA, they were great anyway. And Team USA used to routinely beat them with college players.

    I’m not saying a college team would dominate or that they’d even win gold, but I don’t buy the argument that China or Croatia would beat them easily.

  • Phileus

    Hold on a second! This isn’t “American arrogance” at all.

    First of all, it is true that the reason non-pros were able to win in the past is the same reason the ’92 team never broke a sweat: lack of equal international talent.

    But still, like Austin said, would you suddenly be willing to put take the argument more seriously if suddenly these kids were drafted?

    Look at a lot of international squads, filled with fringe former D1 or NBA players, plus a few Euroleague or NBA proven superstars.

    The college talents of today are the NBA superstars of tomorrow, right?

    … but as the past few years of USA Basketball have shown us, it’s not only about talent. The college kids would have the talent to win gold, but what about the maturity or the experience playing together? I don’t think so.

  • bill

    Austin is clearly talking about college kids Vs the international teams as they stand now. And I can’t believe how foolish he is being by saying they could medal. How can you even use that 9 of 12 line to justify yourself? I think its clear to everyone the standard of international ball these days isn’t comparable to that of 10 years ago, let alone 20 and 30 years ago when those medals were being won.

    Two or 3 of those college guys might be able to fit in on a medal team, but only because their inexperience and physical deficiencies would be masked by the vets surrounding them.

    12 kids in a tournament against grown professionals for a week. Not a chance in hell. I can’t believe the arrogance of you yanks

  • shake&bake

    Are you a pothead Falker?

  • http://nbaroundtable.wordpress.com/ Dave

    They’d get smacked around by grown men and lose.

    A team of young NBA stars could win. Guys still on their rookie contracts.

  • bill

    lebron, wade and melo couldnt win in 04.. what makes you think rose, beasley and mayo could win now?

  • the mamba

    I would add westbrook to that squad.

    But I don’t think they would beat argentina or spain. (Or maybe even lithuania)

    When ur talking going up against teams that have basically been playing together for 5 to 10 yrs and been pro players since teens it would be tough.

  • http://allthatjazzbasketball.blogspot.com/ Amar

    This is just silly. Esp. the coatia hate. If you’ve seen them play you know that while they aren’t filled with NBA talent that they play a strong team game and can get really hot from downtown.

    College kids (1 and dones) of today < College athletes of previous generations (3-4 years of play at that level, developing fundamentals, etc).

    Medaling is hard to do. Let’s make it easy for you Austin … would a team of college kids be able to beat Lith, Argentina and Spain in a game that has a medal on the line? If no, then shut up.

  • Kevin K

    for all you idiots that said lebron-melo-wade couldnt win so how can these rookies win… L-M-W DID NOT PLAY as much as they should have BECAUSE OF LARRY BROWN’S STUBBORNESS!! they played like 5-10 min at MAX. if you idiots saw prelimaries before the official olympic matches where L-M-W did play, they were destroying everyone. replace marion, odom, and starbury with L-M-W and its a completely new ball game even with them being rookies. you guys also telling me that pau ga-SOFT and dirk can guard Beasley? you telling me just because rose and mayo are rookies, that they will get manhandled by guys like calderon and them?? PLEASE. If the rookies had several month of trainig by playing with each other, they have a good shot a gold regardless of competition.

  • http://www.dimemag.com Austin Burton

    Man, that Patty Mills (college sophomore at a mid-major school) sure sucked going against grown men in the Olympics. You think of team of guys like that would get smacked around by China? Really?