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DeCourcy: US Basketball Is Still The Best And It’s Not Really Close

We basically agree but the Olympics is a tough place to show it

Spain v United States Men’s Basketball - Olympics: Day 11
 SAITAMA, JAPAN - AUGUST 03: Ricky Rubio #9 of Team Spain looses the ball against Jrue Holiday #12 of Team United States during the second half of a Men’s Basketball Quarterfinal game on day eleven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Super Arena on August 03, 2021 in Saitama, Japan.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The word chauvinist comes from a veteran named Nicolas Chauvin, who served during the Napoleonic Wars. He became famous for defending Napoleon under any circumstance, no matter what. Viva Napoleon! Viva France!

The word has very different connotations today but in the more traditional sense, Mike DeCourcy, in a good way, is an American chauvinist.

At least when it comes to basketball.

He consistently sees American basketball as superior, and our development system as superior too.

We don’t always agree with him, but in his defense, he is consistent and logical.

Take this piece about the US-Spain game Tuesday morning which saw the US pull away in the second half and win with relative ease.

He argues that the rest of the world is, in fact, not catching up.

We’ll certainly agree with him in that there is no country that has the depth of talent the US has. We could have taken this year’s Baylor team as a backup and it would have medaled.

Where the rest of the world has an advantage is in cohesion. Their guys spend a lot more time together than ours do.

That’s been particularly beneficial for the Aussies who have beaten a couple of times in recent years despite not being nearly as gifted.

Obviously this year’s team has improved a great deal in a short time but it’s still not easy to overcome the lack of familiarity. Spain got a lot of layups Monday night.

The best way to counter that advantage is to tap into our advantage: base the US approach around swarming, pressing defense and win in transition. Toss in some keen three point shooting and it’s a very difficult approach to stop.

Luka Doncic may very well propel Slovenia to the finals - they’re undefeated internationally with him on the roster - but the rest of the team isn’t nearly at his level. No insult to them, because who is? Doncic is a singular talent.

It’s not really Gregg Popovich’s style to press like that, but to his credit, he’s taken this team a long way from where it started, and remember, because of Covid, there was hardly any time between the end of the NBA season and the Olympics to prepare.

That said, we’d like to see a more aggressive defense and would love to see Rick Pitino take over.

On a side note, wouldn’t it be amazing to have the guy (Grant Hill) who set Christian Laettner up for The Shot in 1992 hire the guy who coached Kentucky in that game?