Now that the games count for real, all the pressure is now on all the remaining 8 teams in Beijing to bring home the bacon, none more than Team USA. After doubling up on Germany, Team USA will face Team Australia in the quarterfinals. Though I expect Team USA to win the game, I don't think they will come anywhere near doubling them up.

Team Australia and Team USA have already played, in the pre-Olympic tournament. In that game, Team USA struggled with Team Australia. I highlighted Team Australia's offense which at the time did not have Andrew Bogut in the lineup. I watched Australia dismantle the top team in Group A, Lithuania, and was extremely impressed with their offense especially. Now, I know that Lithuania had already locked up top spot in Group A and were probably only going about 90%, it was the way they won that impressed me. They didn't get a lot of cheapy fast break points, most of their scoring came from execution off their half-court offense, which will obviously be a major factor in their game against Team USA.

Multiple Sets:

What I like about Australia's offense is their versatility. They're most popular sets are the 2-3 high and 1-2-2 but I've seen them go 4-out 1-in and even 1-4 low. Here is the 2-3 high,

Here is their 1-2-2,

Backdoor Cuts, Give and Gos:

What Australia loves to do out of their set offense is to go backdoor and give and go. So, off their 2-3, their first cut is a flex cut and a look to the cutter. In their 1-2-2, you'll see the forward pops out to receive the pass up top, then looks for the corner wing to go backdoor,

Team USA will really have to be cognizant of the backdoors. Since we expect them to come out with their aggressive man defense, they will be especially vulnerable to getting backdoored, Coach K will remember just this past March when Duke almost lost to Belmont in the first round by getting backdoored.

Inside Out:

The major difference between the pre-Olympic game and tomorrow's game is the presence of Andrew Bogut. With Bogut, the American's have to respect his ability to post up and make plays 1v1. With help from the top, that will allow Australia's many shooters to get open shots,

I think for defensive purposes, Coach K will go with Dwight Howard anytime Bogut is on the floor, so that they won't have to double and have Howard play him straight up. I think both Bosh and Boozer just give up a little too much height to Bogut to cover him 1v1.

Pick and Roll:

Now, the past couple of games against Greece and Spain, we saw Team USA clean up their defensive coverage of the PNR. They'll need to continue to do that, except, they'll need to watch for Australia's shooters. The roll in this case is not as important as defending the pick and pop or just ball-screen for the quick jumper. Australia has some outstanding 3-point shooters that can cause a lot of problems,

Early Offense 3-pointer:

I don't expect Team USA will have too many problems with Australia trying to outrun them, but I highlight this just because it is something that we've seen Australia run on more than one occasion. They like to run 5 guys hard, and Patrick Mills will hit the trailer for the open 3-pointer,

Team USA likes to do this with Michael Redd in a lead position rather than a trailer, but nonetheless, the scouting is report is out there, Australia will shoot these early 3-pointers, and hit them, when open.


In my opinion Australia could very well give Team USA it's biggest test yet and if they go on to win Gold they may look back at this game and feel relieved that they came away with the win. Australia is extremely balanced, they have size and speed. They have toughness, after all it was Patrick Mills who refused to back down from a minor tussle in the warmup game. I think the deciding factor could very come down to whether Team USA can make outside shots and from the free throw line.

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