We didn’t think it would happen but the US lost a second-straight exhibition game, this time to the Australians. As ESPN points out, the US has now lost four of their past five games going back to the 2019 FIBA World Cup. This after going 75-1 under Mike Krzyzewski, Gregg Popovich’s predecessor as Team USA coach.
It’s still early, but there’s no way to avoid questions about Popovich coaching this team. He hasn’t had every break in the world so far, and it’s still quite early in this cycle, but you really can’t say he’s done a great job. And that’s not to say he can’t get it done, but well, so far he hasn’t and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, at least, has had a few things to say about it.
The US again didn’t shoot all that well although Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard did alright, with Durant hitting 4-9 from deep and 6-13 overall for 17 while Lillard managed 6-11 outside and 8-15 overall for 22.
IF it turns out that Popovich is the wrong guy for the job, who’s next? Well we have a suggestion about that.
As Coach K and Jerry Colangelo proved, you can leverage the US advantage in athleticism by focusing on defense, fast breaks that defense produces and solid shooting.
Who is out there who could possibly translate those things into a successful attack? Who could build an esprit de corps that Team USA clearly thrives on? And who really needs it the most? Who would like to redeem himself after a disastrous late-career run of scandal?
Ladies and gentlemen, the natural coach of Team USA, should Popovich not be able to get it done, is Rick Pitino.