Tag: USA Russia

Andre Iguodala called the Russians a what?


Thumbnail image for Iguodala_USA.jpgAh, the joys of language.

A Russian player accused the USA’s Rudy Gay of calling them… well, Chris Sheridan from ESPN has the story.

“He say in Russian a bad word. I don’t know how he know this. I won’t even translate it. It’s bad,” said Russian forward Andrey Vorontsevich, who got yelled at by Iguodala after being a little too physical with Lamar Odom.

“All I said was, ‘watch it, watch it,'” Iguodala said, bewildered. “I don’t speak any Russian.”

Apparently (according to bilingual Russian journalist Vladimir Gomelsky of NTV+, the Russian all-sports cable network), if you say, “watch it, watch it” fast enough, it can be misconstrued as the Russian euphemism for a female canine.

Technically, the Russians were the USA’s female dogs. Still, not nice to remind them of it.

Now for some lessons in insulting people in Lithuanian

USA, Kevin Durant wear down Russians, win 89-79. Bring on the semifinals.


Thumbnail image for durant_team_usa.jpgIt’s still the one thing the USA can do in basketball that the rest of the world can’t match.

The USA rolls with a dozen top-flight players — Danny Granger leads the Indiana Pacers in scoring, is an All-Star and gets DNPs on this team. He’d star on any other team in the World Championships.

That kind of depth wears teams down, and that’s just what happened with the USA beating Russia 89-79 to advance to the semi-finals Saturday (against Argentina or Lithuania).

Early on the Russians did a good job of making the USA pay for defensive pressure and gambles. Russia is not a great shooting team but they couldn’t seem to miss their threes early on. They also crashed the glass hard at both ends, creating second chance opportunities for themselves (six offensive rebounds in the quarter), limiting the USA’s second chances. At the end of the first quarter it was 25-25.

Through it all USA did a great job of sticking with its game plan. First, get out and run — the USA picked up several baskets on run-outs after Russian makes.

The other was to attack the zone off the dribble and get inside, and nobody was doing that like Kevin Durant. Because there is no player in this tournament like Durant. He finished with 33 points for the game and was 8 of 11 on two pointers and got to the line nine times. He was in attack mode and carried the USA for stretches.

Russia’s effort was there, but they could not keep up with the waves of players the USA kept sending at them. Russell Westbrook came off the bench and his speed and pressure defense was too much for the Russians to handle, and he finished with a dozen points. Chauncey Billups had 15 points and was 4 of 8 from three.

Near the end of the second quarter, the USA went on a 12-0 run that gave them a seven-point lead and they never looked back. In the third the USA stretched the lead out by being efficient — the USA had no third quarter turnovers. Russia missed J.R. Holden, their star point guard, as they started to melt under the USA pressure in the second half. Mentally, the Russians could not stand up to the relentless American attack.

The one Russian most being watched in America was Knicks signee Timofey Mozgov — and he looked talented but raw. He had 9 points in the first quarter and showed that he is very good at setting picks and rolling to the basket. He outplayed Lamar Odom at times. Mozgov was also a foul sponge, picking up four pretty quickly, which limited his minutes and how aggressive he could be on the floor.

Mozgov is not going to come in and dominate at the NBA level, but he does some things well and he moves well. You can see him developing into something nice. Which is about what we all expected.

This was not a dominant USA performance, it gave you some glimpses of what the USA can expect in the next two rounds. Russia for long stretches went away from its Princeton-inspired offense and went pick-and-roll, and that gave the USA some trouble (especially with Mozgov as the roll man). But the USA seemed to improve at defending the play as things went along.

But it was still a quality win against a good opponent. A good showing for the USA. They may have to play better in future rounds, but this was a win to be proud of.

Russian coach, Coach K in cute little war of words


Thumbnail image for David_blatt.jpgHey, we’ve got some almost actual intrigue for today’s Russia vs. USA game at the world championships.

Russia’s coach Mike Blatt — a guy born in the United States now living in Israel and coaching the Russians — and Mike Krzyzewski are in a little war of words.

First, Blatt said that the 1972 Olympic gold medal game — a controversial ending where the Russians got three attempts to redo a final play — was indeed “fair.” Coach K responded that of course he said that, he’s Russian.

So today Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo got the response from Blatt.

“I think Mike’s overlooked the fact that I’m every bit as much of an American as him,” Blatt told Yahoo! Sports at his team’s hotel. “In America, we’re taught that freedom of speech and freedom of thought allow us to try and view things objectively, form our own opinions and express them.

“The ability to do that without risking it being called an act of unpatriotism may be lost upon him.”

This is what passes for trash talk between 50+ white guys. This is their dozens.

Well Thursday is the 38th anniversary of that fateful gold medal game and the game at the World Championships between the USA and Russia by players not even born yet when the first game happened will certainly settle everything. Right?

Preview: It's no Cold War, but Russia should scare the USA a little

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Thumbnail image for teamusa.jpgIt’s not the size of the test — although this will be a pretty good one for the USA — it’s the consequences of failure.

This is the round of eight — lose and go home. Early. Hearing from the home front about the failings of the youngsters of USA Basketball. Just like the Spanish team is doing right now.

The USA are the favorites, but the Russians bring some things to the table that should give the USA pause. This is not Angola or Iran — this is the best team the USA has seen since Brazil.

How Russia wins games is defense — a pressure matchup zone. (As The Painted Area points out, they actually run several variations of it.) It will almost look like a man-to-man because once you step into a zone the man is on you fast. This is not a simple zone to just shoot over the top of.

Opposing teams have shot just 40.8% overall and 28% from three in this tournament against Russia. That’s not an accident.

The USA needs to get its points two ways. One is how they always get points — force turnovers and get out and run. Russia will want to slow it down, if the tempo is up and the USA gets easy baskets in transition Russia cannot keep up.

The other is to use dribble penetration or passes to flashing bigs in the paint — but get the ball inside. Attack from the inside and open up outside shots on kickouts. Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant and Chauncey Billups should be able to get inside off the dribble. The USA cannot just settle for jumpers.

The other thing Russia brings to the party is size.

They have former Kansas Jayhawk Sasha Kaun at 6’11” (11.5 points, 6.5 rebounds), and he is usually subbed out by incoming Knicks center Timofey Mozgov at 7’1″. The Russians also have 6’11” Alexey Zhukanenko and 6’9″ Andrey Vorontsevich.

The strategy will be pretty obvious — pound the generally smaller USA team inside. The USA’s bigs are more athletic but Lamar Odom, Kevin Love and Tyson Chandler need to stay out of foul trouble, and they have to limit offensive rebounds and second chance points.

Russia is a bit shorthanded. Their two best players — Andrei Kirilenko and J.R. Holden — did not come and their best player here, Vik Khryapa, likely will not play due to injury.

Without them Russia does not score well. As you might expect from USA born, Princeton playing Russia coach David Blatt, they run the Princeton offense. Lots of cuts, back screens, backdoor cuts, and moves along the baseline, etc. If the USA falls asleep on defense Russia could get easy baskets. If the USA is focused the Russian guards should struggle with the ball pressure. Meaning the fast break points the USA thrives on.

This is a good Russian team, but not on the level of the USA. Unless the USA lets them be. And if so, this could be a stiff text. Complete with stiff consequences for failure.

Mike Krzyzewski not buying that '72 USA Olympic loss to Russia was "fair"


Thumbnail image for Krzyzewski.jpgEither Mike Krzyzewski forgot, or he took a little dig at his Russian counterpart. Smart money is on the latter.

Yesterday, Russian coach David Blatt said that the controversial ending of the 1972 Olympics USA v. Russia gold medal game was “fair.” That after Russia — playing the game in then Eastern Bloc Munich — was given three chances at a final play due to referee and clock malfunctions.

Coach K told Chris Sheridan of ESPN:

“He’s a Russian,” Krzyzewski said of Blatt, who actually holds dual American and Israeli citizenship…

“You know, he coaches the Russian team, so he probably has that viewpoint, and his eyes are clearer now because there are no tears in them,” Krzyzewski said.

Blatt was born in the United States, grew up in the Boston area as a Celtics fan, and played at Princeton. He’s American, with American citizenship (as well as Israeli citizenship, and it is that nation he currently calls home). He has coached all over the world, including Russia, but he is an American.

So Coach K took a little dig. Other guys with USA basketball are not as forgiving of those times.

NBA executive Mike Bantom, who played for that U.S. team, says the issue could be debated, but “if you lived it, and you were there, you know that it was wrong.”

And that was diplomatic. Off the record, the guys from that team still are pretty pissed about how that game ended. And their silver medals still sit unclaimed 38 years later as evidence.

The USA plays Russia Thursday at the FIBA World Championships. If you think 1972 is motivation, remember that not one member of Team USA was born when that game was played.