HoopsHype Team USA rumors

September 12, 2014 Updates

The players were mostly politically correct in discussing the unexpected exit of the Spaniards, but they had to be as surprised by the development as the rest of us. Kyrie Irving, for one, said he welcomed the fact that the questions about Spain would finally come to an end. "I mean, you know, obviously everybody wanted to see us play Spain, but we're not, so those questions can go out the window," he said. "It's all about Serbia and France, and we're going to prepare as best we can." USA Today Sports

And then there was Faried. It was only fitting that he would be the one to break protocol when it came to discussing the Spaniards. Since the start of the tournament, the 24-year-old has brought an edge and an intensity that has served this group well. "I've been trying to hold my tongue for this one," Faried told reporters. "I felt as though we came out and did our job, and y'all kept saying, 'Oh, you're not going to beat Spain.' Spain couldn't even beat France. When Spain can meet us at the championship game, then come talk to me. "I wasn't surprised at all (about the Spain loss). There was too much hype around them. It was arrogant, borderline disrespectful to us, saying they're better than us, we're not going to be able to match up with their bigs and all this other arrogant stuff. I just took it as, 'okay, alright. Once we meet them in the finals we'll see what happens.' We can't even see what happens." USA Today Sports

So the guy from Slovenia brought a bottle of wine with him Friday night, and he was not going to take “no” for an answer from Krzyzewski under any circumstances, no matter how uncomfortable it was making the FIBA media officials. “I have a gift for you,” the reporter said. “Don’t bring anything up here,” Coach K warned. But security being just a tad lax at this event compared to previous versions of the World Cup (back when it was known as the World Championship), the reporter was undeterred. “It’s not such great wine, but sometimes you have to be modest,” the reporter said as he walked the bottle up to the podium and handed it to Coach K, who was gracious enough to go with the flow and accept it. SheridanHoops

September 11, 2014 Updates

But over in Spain, where the U.S. will play for the FIBA World Cup title on Sunday, Mike Krzyzewski believes he has the answer. It is a bit sentimental, but to this point, you can't argue with the results. He calls it "feel-it" moments: team visits to cemeteries, trips to military bases, anything to drive home the significance of representing one's country. "When it's time to change the culture of a team, your players have to hear it, see it and understand what you're trying to do," said Krzyzewski, the coach of the U.S. national team since 2005. "But to really make change stick"—and when he describes this, he drags out the word really—"they have to feel it. "To do that," he said, "you have to create moments." Wall Street Journal

Beyond hiring Krzyzewski as coach in the wake of the Athens debacle, USA Basketball also made a point of getting its players to buy into the meaning of international competition. "We knew we had ask our players for a new level of commitment than was expected previously and we had to get them to realize we weren't going to win international competitions doing things as we had," Colangelo said. "We needed them to see themselves not as basketball players but as representatives of our country, doing our service, our piece. We had to get them to feel patriotism and selfless service." Wall Street Journal

Jonas Valanciunas gave DeMarcus Cousins an elbow to the throat while boxing out. Boogie reacted and almost punched Valanciunas in the back of the head. Cousins got a technical. Valanciunas got… to watch his back when the Raptors play the Kings next season. Amazingly, this can be considered restraint and a sign of maturity on the part of Boogie Cousins. A year ago, he might have thrown a punch. Make no mistake, the FIBA officials are decidedly bad. USA leads 43-35 at the half. The Big Lead

It also turns this inaugural World Cup -- sporting that new name FIBA hopes will lend the event more stature -- into a tournament that will likely be remembered as the end of an era for not one but two international powers: Argentina and those very same Spaniards. It's hard to imagine Pau Gasol, Jose Calderon and Juan Carlos Navarro coming back to the national team for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil ... especially after the hell they'll catch for failing to deliver this time when hopes were so high. It's also fair to wonder how much they'd be able to offer at that point even if they did return. It thus seems safe to suggest that Spain, even if it can still field Marc Gasol, Rudy Fernandez and Ricky Rubio in Rio, will no longer be the same force Team USA has come to expect (and respect) since Spain won the 2006 World Championship in Japan. ESPN.com

September 10, 2014 Updates

Mike McGraw: There will be no USA vs. Spain at FIBA World Cup. Spain loses to France 65-52. Semis are USA-Lithuania on Thu and France-Serbia on Fri. Twitter @McGrawDHBulls

The popular narrative, which was relayed to him after Wednesday's practice, is that teams such as Lithuania and Spain have the formidable frontcourts to slow the USA's group of Faried, Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans), DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings), Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons), Rudy Gay (Sacramento Kings) and Mason Plumlee (Brooklyn Nets). Faried disagrees. "That's what's going around?" Faried asked with a quizzical look. "That's massively disrespectful. I'm not buying that at all. We'll just have to see tomorrow, I guess." USA Today Sports

"I think we've played well," Krzyzewski said. "I don't know what everybody has been watching, but our guys have played our butts off, have great camaraderie. "We've developed into a really close group, a good group. If we don't win, it won't be because we haven't put the effort and developed the camaraderie and all that kind of stuff. We're proving worthy of winning. Now whether we do or not ..." USA Today Sports

The question is whether it's as important as the Olympic basketball tournament, which has always been more popular in the United States. "To the basketball people of the world, this is the event," U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said earlier in the tournament. USA Today Sports

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