Team USA took on Great Britain today in Manchester, England.
The following are just some of the notes I took on the game as I was watching. Feel free to drop your own thoughts in the comments.
Starters: Augustus Taurasi Catchings Parker Fowles
- Leedham got on the board first for Team GB with a wide open 3-pointer from the right wing. Less than stellar defensive possession for Team USA.
- Charles is pounding the offensive boards already and got her first bucket off a putback. It would come as little surprise to see USA get more of those today.
- The US is somewhat graciously going light on the full court pressure, which it appears could blow this game wide open. Already a half court pressure set resulted in a Team GB turnover and missed fast break layup by Augustus.
- The U.S. is down 11-8 early and it's interesting that they haven't yet looked to go to a post-up much yet. On a first attempt to Charles with under seven minutes, it resulted in a turnover by a deflected lob.
- Team GB is down 15-8 early, relying heavily on jump shots that the U.S. simply isn't defending well. On the other end Team USA has been putting up a lot of quick jumpers. Already, the commentators have discussed the possible effect of transcontinental travel on Team USA.
- Charles makes a short jumper to bring the U.S. within 5 - 15-10 - before a commercial break. Have to imagine they'll be looking to go to the post more often after this break.
- Team USA is living off of jumpers at this point, many of which have been contested.
- The U.S. has taken the lead with a combination of increased defensive intensity and finally hitting some of those jumpers. Whalen, McCoughtry, Moore, Charles, and Cash are the team that turned things around. They end the period on a 15-0 run and a 25-21 lead.
- Cash makes an aggressive move to the basket to start the second quarter.
- The U.S. is certainly making a more concerted effort to go into Charles in the post, but Great Britain did a pretty good job of double teaming Charles and forcing a travel early in the second.
- Augustus knocked down a short jumper in the lane after establishing position - might be interesting to see more of that.
- The surprising thing is still the difficulty the U.S. is having just in making the entry pass to the post. Again, Team GB certainly deserves credit for some of that - they're doing a good job in rotating and getting to forced passes - but you might expect more from Team USA given the talent they have on the floor.
- Similarly, when the U.S. tries a high-low (or mid-low really) with Charles, she turns and passes the ball out of bounds.
- This might not be a concern because it's not yielding points, but Team USA is giving up a lot of open jumpers all over the court. Part of it is certainly a result of their aggressive trapping on defense in both the full and half court.
- Transition is still where the U.S. is thriving. It's simply too difficult for Team GB to defend a player like Fowles running the floor with Maya Moore handling the ball and able to make a nice pass.
- At half, the U.S. is up 47-32. Transition baskets have been their friend.
- First possession goes into the post and results in a turnover.
- Catchings made a nice drive to the basket and it's nice to see the aggression in getting to the hoop instead of settling for jumpers.
- Team GB is doing an outstanding job of driving to create/find open scoring opportunities. Team USA's rotations have just been a tad slow in getting out on shooters.
- More transition is really helping the U.S. this quarter and that's where Whalen really thrives. After Team GB threatened to make this a single digit game for a while, Team USA's defense ramped up the intensity and helped get the lead back up to 21 points with under a minute left.
- One thing that is noticeably improving over the course of this game getting shots off cuts after the high post entry pass in the triangle offense concept. That's not a substitute for improved post play, but it's nice to see some progress made in the half court sets.
- The U.S. has clearly been in control for most of the fourth and it's continued to be a transition-heavy game.
- There was a discussion by the commentators about the value of using the triangle with a talented team like this and Fran Frascilla noted that the triangle helps with spacing, which is definitely true. But the other part of that is making the right reads and that's something that just takes time to build familiarity with one another and where teammates like the ball. Despite a somewhat lethargic fourth quarter with the outcome no longer in doubt, the players in the game at the end started to make some of those reads although their execution was hardly pristine.
Final score: 88-63