Not enough big men? Not a problem for U.S. basketball team
Anybody ready for Blake Griffin at center?
It could happen in a few weeks when the U.S. men’s basketball team begins the Olympics against France.
Tyson Chandler probably will start at center, seeing how he’s the only 7-footer on the team, a constant point for debate at the weeklong U.S. training camp in Las Vegas.
Dwight Howard is out because of back surgery and Andrew Bynum is out because he wanted to rest his delicate knees. There went the two starting All-Star centers. It has left Team USA with a shortage of big men, but will it even matter?
The international game isn’t about brute force, thanks primarily to the long-running history of the “trapezoid” key, which kept post players from camping in the lane from 1956 until 2010.
Forward Lamar Odom was the center when the U.S. beat Turkey to win the FIBA World Championship two years ago. He made seven of nine shots and took 11 rebounds in an 81-64 victory.
When Chandler needs rest in London, Griffin and Kevin Love will spell him. They play power forward for their NBA teams and are listed at 6-foot-10.
Spain will be the biggest challenge with Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol and Serge Ibaka – two All-Star brothers to go along with a third player who led the NBA in blocked shots last season (3.7 a game).
“All the big Europeans are very skilled, stepping out and taking a lot of jump shots,” said Chandler, the NBA’s defensive player of the year. “I’m our one true center, but we’ve got some hybrids.”
The U.S. will be a long team at other positions. Kevin Durant (6-9) is tall for a small forward, and LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony are both bulky 6-8 small forwards.
TITLE IX AT WORK
For the first time, the U.S. Olympic team will have more women than men, with female athletes accounting for 269 of the 530 spots Americans will take at the upcoming London Games.
The USOC released its official roster Tuesday. CEO Scott Blackmun said the female majority was “a true testament to the impact of Title IX,” the law that increased opportunities for women in sports, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year.
Swimmer Michael Phelps, who already owns 14 Olympic medals, is one of 228 Americans making a return trip to the games.
High jumper Amy Acuff is one of seven U.S. athletes competing for the fifth time.
BERETS ARE BACK
On Tuesday the team unveiled buttoned-up, refined uniforms designed by Ralph Lauren for the opening ceremony. Men will wear navy blue blazers with the Olympic team patch, along with a red-and-navy tie and cream-colored flat-front pants. Women will pair the blazers with scarves with red-white-and-blue stripes and a knee-length cream-colored skirt.
All the team members will top off their uniforms with navy berets highlighted with red-and-white stripes.
World Anti-Doping Agency president John Fahey said athletes will face the strictest anti-doping program in Olympic history.
“I say this in the clearest way possible: If you are a doping athlete and you are planning to compete in London, then you must withdraw from your Olympic team,” Fahey said in a statement.