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U.S. Basketball Looking Up

What to make of the U.S. performance in Japan? In general, we'd give
the team a solid grade. They played well for almost the entire tournament, went
8-1, and except for a disastrous spell against the Greeks, would have played for
the title. The prospects for Beijing are bright. And the team should be considerably better as well, and we'll give you two words why:

Greg Oden.

Oden, you may remember, was shutting down two seven footers at a time in AAU
ball. There's obviously a difference between AAU and FIBA, but being able
to guard two guys suggests a high level of mobility.

And if he can shut down the interior, then the defense can be extremely
aggressive on the perimeter. Add a Michael Redd or possibly J.J.
Redick, and zones become impractical.

Anyway, we thought they could win gold, and they weren't that far off. A
young team will be better in two years, and we look forward to watching the

And incidentally, what an amazing performance by Spain in the title game!