Tuesday, July 31

Son, when you participate in sporting events, it's not whether you win or lose; it's how drunk you get.

So teddy asked me for some thoughts about how the Olympics is going so far. I figured after writing it all out, i might as well stick it up on the off chance anybody still checks this site. Okay so lets see if i can sort through all your questions. One, the make up of the groups. Completely random. They don't assign the groups based on ranking or anything, just random draw. So obviously that sucks. The groups were already set minus the three teams that made it in the qualifying tournament (LT, Russia, and Nigeria,) Russia got drawn into the weaker group, LT and Nigeria into the strong group. Although to be fair Russia is a serious medal contender so it's really Russia and Spain in one group, the US, France, and Argentina in the other group, with a weaker LT, and an upstart Brazil balancing them out, then all the doormats. Great Britain got a team in for just being the hosts, first time that's ever happened. In the past host countries have had an easier road, but there were still some requirements (which Britain would not have met.) Anyway, yes i wish that LT had gotten drawn into the weak group, instead of Russia. I think they would have had a good chance of coming in second in that group, and a reasonable chance (20%) of beating spain and being the 1 seed. The loss against Argentina was tough, but it was also unfortunate scheduling. Argentina is very top heavy, they basically have 5 good players, and crap all over the bench. Plus their 5 good players are old. So it's likely they will wear down as the tournament progresses. It would have been nice to play them in the 4 or 5 game. (And i wouldn't mind facing them again in the semi finals, if we're lucky enough to get there.) Also wish we could have taken on France earlier while Parker was still as rusty as possible. He'll only be getting better as the games go on. The top 4 from each group advance, so baring an unexpected loss to Tunisia LT still moves on to the quarter finals (even with a loss they would probably move on based off of tie breakers, although i'm not positive what all the tie breakers are.) A win against France would make it very interesting as LT, France, and Argentina would all likely end up with 3-2 records, creating a 3 way tie. But i think because of LT's huge loss to argentina they would probably lose the tie breaker anyway (although once again not positive about tie breakers, i couldn't find a good explanation.) And a win is not completely unlikely, LT was up against france last summer at Eurobasket and collapsed at the end to lose by 6 in a game they should have won. Not saying they should be favored, but it wouldn't be a huge upset. The ultimate scenario would be if LT beats France, and then catch the US in a trap game with the US looking ahead to Argentina. LT would probably have to shoot like 60 percent from 3s and jump out to at least a 20 point first half lead to hold off the US which would certainly win the second half by a wide margin. Obviously it's not very likely, but neither was an unknown 15 year old lithuanian swimmer winning a gold medal, and that happened (although that required only 1 performance of a lifetime, beating the US even if they play badly would require many of the basketball players having the performance of a lifetime.) In conclusion I strongly expect LT to finish 4 in the group. This means they will probably play the winner of Spain/Russia. LT lost to spain last summer by a dozen, they didn't play russia, but based off of games in common (Both beat slovenia, LT by 3 points, russia by 1 Both lost to france, LT by 6 points Russia by 8) I suspect they are reasonably similarly matched. I think russia has gotten better since last summer, while LT probably worse, but i give us at least a 20% to upset the number 1 seed from group B. The benefit of that would be that we would not have to play the US in the semi finals, which obviously would be preferable. In terms of thoughts on the Lithuanian team in general, i'm very disappointed so far in the play of Valanciunas. Last summer it was clear that he was raw but his potential was also clear and he had some big time performances, including against Spain and the Gasols. This year he seems to have either regressed, or at least lost the confidence of his coaches. He is getting into immediate foul trouble, and then getting an immediate hook from the coaching staff. Offensively he's doing okay, but he's not assertive enough. When the captain of the team went down (their starting center, Javtokas) just before the olympics, i thought it might not actually be bad, finally force Valanciunas into the lime light, but so far it hasn't worked well, and the coaching staff didn't give him nearly enough time today in what was basically a blow out by the 4rth quarter. It really suggests that not only does coaching staff think he is playing poorly, but that they have no confidence in him playing better and therefore are not bothering to waste minutes on him. I don't know if his fault, or the coaching staffs, but it's not good. Linas Kleiza has also been a bit of a disappointment. He really led the team to the bronze medal in the 2010 world championships, looked like he was becoming a dominating european player. Like a Scola. Not somebody who would dominate the NBA, but someone who would have to be reckoned with international play. He was hurt last year, and it seemed like his coming back would be a big boost to the team, but either his play has fallen of significantly, or he hasn't been able to reintegrate himself into a team that played last summer without him. Maybe he just had a once in a career streak at the world championhip, and now is playing as his normal self. The Argentina game was obviously disappointing all around, i was in particular disappointed in the number of threes they attempted (they were 1 for 2 in the first half, and 3 for 6 in the first three quarters.) It's one thing to have a bad shooting night, it's another to not even attempt any threes, especially for an unathletic team like LT, which isn't going to be able to drive to the basket like lebron can. It would be one thing if they were posting up Valanciunas or someone, but it seemed like they were just taking a bunch of contested long 2s the whole game. (Although my feed went out so i missed most of the second half.) There's a tricky set up at point guard, with the old guy, jasikevicius, coming off the bench. It seemed like kalnietis was growing up (jasikevicius didn't play at 2010 i don't think) but i'm not sure either of them is really comfortable with their roles sharing the point guard position, and they have both played pretty weakly, with way too many turnovers, and failing to get the offense into a proper rhythm. Kalnietis is probably looking over his shoulder every time he makes a mistake, and jasikevicius is just too old to be as effective as he once was. Obviously the Nigeria game went much better, and while Nigeria is certainly no powerhouse they aren't completely terrible. They did beat Greece in the qualifying Tournament to get to the Olympics. I don;t think they would beat them again if they had to, but their not quite the doormat that african basketball teams have been for the past 20 years. So while I take that win with a grain of salt, i do take it. In general i would say i have lost some confidence of making it the semi-finals, and my confidence was never that high to start with. But on the other hand, it was just one bad game against argentina. If LT goes out and beats france, it will be basically forgotten (except in the standings and tie breakers where it will still hurt.) I don't think there's any doubt this is the weakest team Lithuania has had since independence, maybe the individual players are okay, but they don't mesh well. There are only 4 players on this team who will be over 32 at the next olympics, and only 3 who will be over 34 (jasikevicius, songaila, and kaukenas.) Most of the core guys will be 30-32 So hopefully they'll still primes and some of the younger guys Valanciunas/Motiejunas/a couple other young guys who didn't make this year's team will have grown up and just be entering their primes. Ideally i see them becoming Lithuania's gasol brother's, only not actually brothers, but obviously both of them have a long way to go before either can come close to that.


Blogger Aras said...

Do I get a gold medal for reading the whole thing?

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