The makeup of Team USA’s 2014 World Cup roster gives head coach Mike Krzyzewski "an opportunity to throw a new look at people" according to USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo on Aug. 23. Will the length of the U.S., who have four “Bigs” 6-foot-10 or taller, makeup for being without several stars who withdrew from the team?
Team USA, the defending World Cup champions, typically rely on their speed and athleticism as they did the past two major tournaments -- 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey and the 2012 Olympics in London. It was thought that was the way Krzysewski was going to go this year with 13 of the 19 players in camp being guards/small forwards after the withdrawals of Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge.
However, Andre Drummond, 21, was so impressive during training camp, and perhaps with a eye towards a rematch with Spainin the championship game, the USAB’s brain trust couldn’t resist keeping the big fellow. Spain has a front line that features Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka.
"[Drummond] is a blossoming center in the NBA," Colangelo said. "He's just a kid, but he's come a long way in a very short period of time. We see him as a big part of our future. It's a little bit similar to Anthony Davis getting his opportunity in London.”
"Maybe it kind of catches people by surprise. Yes he's young, but a 7-foot, 280-pound guy who can run the floor the way Drummond runs and who protects the rim ... when you describe all the physical attributes, that's a hard call to leave a guy at home."
The thought now is that Krzyzewski will occasionally use Davis, who is expected to start at center, and Mason Plumlee at power forward alongside the more traditional centers that Drummond and DeMarcus Cousins are. Kenneth Faried , who is projected to start at power forward, is the only other true power forward on the team though wing Rudy Gay will also see action at the “four”.
Despite having an “extra Big” on the roster, the U.S. still has plenty of speed and athleticism with Davis, Drummond, Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, James Harden and DeMar DeRozan.
The key for the U.S. will be how the team’s chemistry develops. With all departures of key players and Paul George’s leg injury during the intrasquad scrimmage, this team hasn’t gotten to play together a ton.
The good news is that the U.S., which has one more exhibition game -- against Slovenia on Aug. 26 in Gran Canaria --, got a favorable draw and will have five preliminary games to get things figured out.
The 2014 World Cup is comprised of 24 teams that are split into four groups who will play throughout Spain. The U.S. was drawn into Group C.
The U.S., the No.1 ranked team in the world, will open up the defense of their 2010 World Cup championship against No.39 Finland in Bilbao, Spain on Aug. 30. The Americans will then play No. 7 Turkey (Aug. 31), No. 19 New Zealand (Sept.2), No. 27 Dominican Republic (Sept. 3) and No. 45 Ukraine (Sept.4).
Group A: No. 10 Brazil,No.46 Egypt, No. 8 France, No. 20 Iran, No.11 Serbia and No. 2 Spain
Group B: No.3 Argentina, No. 16 Croatia, No. 5 Greece, No. 17 Puerto Rico, No.34 Philippines and No. 41 Senegal.
Group D: No. 9 Australia, No. 15 Angola, No.31 Korea, No. 4 Lithuania, No.24 Mexico and No. 13 Slovenia.
Each team at the 2014 World Cup will play the other teams in its preliminary group, and the top four finishing teams from each of the four preliminary round groups will then qualify for the round of 16. Winners of the round of 16 games will advance to the quarterfinals, while losers are eliminated. Winners of the quarterfinals games will advance to the medal round semifinals, while the quarterfinals losers are eliminated from the competition. Winners of the semifinals will advance to the Sept. 14 gold medal game, while semifinals losers will meet in the bronze medal game on Sept. 13. The games from the round of 16 to the semifinals will be played in Barcelona and Madrid, and the bronze and gold medal games will be held in Madrid.
Since the first FIBA World Championship was held in 1950, the USA has won 11 medals – four gold medals, three silver medals and four bronze medals – while compiling an all time 114-27 win-loss record. Led By Krzyzewski, the Americans are defending World Champions having claim gold in Istanbul with a 9-0 record.
So, yeah, the Americans are still the favorites though they could have their hands full with Spain and maybe a few others.