Team USA


V.21 No.33 | 8/16/2012
The US women are dominating like it aint no thing ...
AP photo by Eric Gay

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Team USA women's basketball dominance overshadowed

While the USA men's basketball has been making headlines with its blowout win over Nigeria and the relentless stream of questions about whether this team could beat the 1992 Dream Team, there's been a steady storm of wins accumulating on the women's side that very few people have talked about.

On Tuesday, the women put up nearly twice as many points as their opponent, Team Canada. Team USA slaughtered Canada so effectively that only two players— Chelsea Aubry and Kim Smith, both D1 talents during their college days in America—scored in double figures.

Aside from demolishing Canada, Team USA has now won 39 straight Olympic games. The last time the women's basketball team lost was in 1992, when that storied men's Dream Team was unveiled to the world.

Since '92, however, the men's game has teetered back and forth between nonchalant dominance and embarrassingly lackadaisical effort, resulting in a disappointing bronze medal in the 2004 Olympics in Athens. While the men's team recommitted after those Athens games, the women's team never needed to; they never stopped winning. They haven't lost a game in the preliminary rounds of the Olympics since 1976—the very first time women's basketball was even a sport in the Olympics.

Team USA faces a tough challenge on Thursday, going up against an Australian team that made waves of its own in the publicity field, and has played some mean games of basketball, to boot. The Opals will challenge the Americans inside with strong post play, but might have trouble with the way Team USA likes to get out and run on the break.

More importantly, the mainstream press is doing its quadrennial look at women's basketball: seemingly impressed, ESPN even featured a story about how the US women are the real Dream Team. That being said, it's troubling, as with so many other professions and occupations, what kind of disparity the women will come back home to, regardless of whether they medal or not, gold or otherwise.

While the league minimum in the NBA—where every player on the men's team has a job after the Olympics are done—is at least $473,604 dollars, depending on whether it's a rookie contract, women in the WNBA cannot earn more than a $103,500. Anthony Davis has trademarked his unibrow, just in case he needs to supplement his income. Meanwhile, female greats like Candace Parker, Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi barely have name recognition.

It'd be wonderful if the Olympics rewarded the best play with the most money or the most fame, or whatever it is that society decides is the way to reward these people who dedicate their lives to excellence. Unfortunately, it seems the thing we value most is a good story.

V.21 No.29 | 7/19/2012
The 2012 Team USA men’s bball squad

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Olympics basketball forecast

Team USA had better watch out for Spain and Argentina

In 2008, the United States basketball team was on a mission to restore our title as the best basketball nation in the world. Named the “Redeem Team,” Team USA showed dominance resembling the classic Dream Teams of the past en route to the gold medal. They were under massive pressure from the nation to deliver following the disappointment of the 2004 team. This year’s team is more worried about bragging about upstaging the 1992 Dream Team and dunking exhibitions than defending the title. Despite being lead by LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, key players like Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose are injured.

But before the Olympics, America will play some tune-up games to get ready for London. They already passed their first test by embarrassing the Dominican Republic 113-59. John Calipari lent his services to the Dominican but it was no match for the athleticism and talent of the United States. However, the victory was bittersweet as L.A Clippers star Blake Griffin was injured in practice prior to tip-off. Now Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski must depend on No. 1 pick Anthony Davis to play big minutes against difficult international competition. Most basketball fans are assuming Team USA should destroy the competition, but with a limited time to gel as a unit and injuries, international teams should feel optimistic to pull off the upset.

Spain failed to capture the gold against Team USA in Beijing in 2008, but they pose the biggest threat to America's gold medal chances. NBA veterans Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka will dominate the middle and should give them an advantage over every other team in the Olympic tournament. Pau Gasol, Rudy Fernandez and José Calderon round out the rest of the pros to give Spain a combination of speed and experience. By avoiding the Americans in group play, Spain shouldn’t have in trouble make it to the medal round. When they final collide with Team USA, the only advantage Spain will have is their inside presence. Without injured point guard Ricky Rubio and the lack of a true superstar, they will have to hope America gets cocky and overconfident in order to prevail.

Similar to Spain, Argentina is on the quest for revenge. In ’08, Argentina went 4-1 in group play but fell to America in the tournament round. Manu Ginobili led fellow NBA pros Carlos Delfino and Luís Scola on one of the most experienced teams in the tournament. Even though Argentina finds themselves in the same group as Team USA, they shouldn't feel intimidated as they defeated the United States in the 2004 Olympic Games. They may lack the number of pros compared to other top international teams, but their success in international competitions make Argentina a contender to win gold in London.

V.20 No.26 |

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Team USA Takes the First Step

Team USA took its first step in the march back to World Cup supremacy on Tuesday, beating Korea 2-0. 

The US Women, as previously noted, have had a comparatively rough time of it lately in the World Cup; after winning the inaugural competition in 1991, taking third place in 1995 and winning it all again in 1999, with the memorable finish from Brandi Chastain, we've been stuck in third place since. (This, of course, discounts the success the women's national team has had in the Olympics: winning gold in 2004 and 2008 makes it hard for anyone to feel like we've not been performing.) 

But before thinking about winning it all once again, the team had its hands full with the first round of pool play. Korea proved a capable opponent, despite being ranked only eighth in the FIFA World Rankings to Team USA's first. The first half of action was a sloppy affair, as neither side was able to connect for a goal. 

In the second half, the big story got its traction. Lauren Cheney put the ball in the back of the net with a header from an Abby Wambach cross. Cheney was not a normal starter for Team USA, but got the nod for this game from coach Pia Sundhage over Megan Rapinoe. As the Women's World Cup was still being built up to, there were whispers among many soccer fans about the inconsistencies of this squad. Coach Sundhage knew that something had to change and took a bold risk in inserting the more-recently experienced Cheney over Rapinoe. She also demonstrated the kind of leadership that recognizes Rapinoe as the type of player to overcome what some might see as an insult. The gambit obviously paid off, and Team USA now has something positive to focus on, instead of subliminally addressing those whispers. 

Team USA has plenty more ground to cover in order to be mentioned with some of the classic teams that came before them, but what we saw on Tuesday (in the second half, at least) is a positive sign of things to come. The women get their next chance to prove their mettle on Saturday. The game will be televised on ESPN 2 at 10 a.m. local time, and will be simulcast on ESPN3.com. 

V.19 No.25 | 6/24/2010
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Team USA Wins Group C!

The United States men's soccer team won its group in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa thanks to a dramatic 1-0 victory over Algeria. After a scoreless regulation game with plenty of chances on both sides, Landon Donovan was able to find the back of the net in the 91st minute off a rebound from the Algerian goalkeeper resulting from a great run by Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore.

With this win, the team accomplishes one of its goals for this World Cup: advancing beyond the pool play stage. When the group was revealed, many critics said that if the United States did not advance, it would be seen as a failure on our national team's part. Mission accomplished.

This team did not lose a game in pool play. The U.S. overcame two disallowed goals in two consecutive games that have roundly been proclaimed by announcers from multiple countries to have been fair goals. The team went down early in both of the first two games against England and Slovenia and narrowly avoided doing the same in the last game. The players continued to fight when other teams would have given up and when other teams, historically, have done so.

With this victory, the USA finishes pool play with five points, the same total as England. However, because of the goal differential, Team USA wins the group. This is the first time our team has won the group since 1930, when the first World Cup took place. The 1930 World Cup was also Team USA's best finish, when we captured third place. Worth noting, though, is that only 13 teams competed in that World Cup, as opposed to the 32 that compete in the modern tournament.

Team USA now awaits the runner-up from Group D, which could be either Ghana, Germany, Australia or Serbia.