Greetings fellow hoops heads.
The U.S. just finished off an 89-73 win over Brazil in the second group stage of the FIBA World Cup, clinching the group and their place in the quarterfinals.
They will face France in the quarterfinals, the second place finisher in their group, who lost a tight one to Australia this morning.
If they get by France, they will likely face Serbia in the semifinals. Serbia takes on Argentina in the quarters, and was looking like the best team in the tournament until they lost to Spain yesterday.
Spain, which has been a world power for a long time but seemed to be at the end of their run, has been excellent behind the leadership of Ricky Rubio, who leads them in scoring, assists, and +/- among other things. He’s been magnificent in this tournament, which is fun to see for Rubio fans.
In Wolves related news, Josh Okogie has had an excellent tournament for Nigeria. Although they were eliminated after the first round, his performance throughout has been very good. He’s leading Nigeria in scoring, assists(!), steals, efficiency, other stuff. I’m not a believer in these sorts of things translating to the NBA, but it can’t be a bad thing that a young player like Okogie is thriving and leading his national team at such a tournament.
The Lynx were riding a five game winning streak heading into yesterday’s regular season finale in Los Angeles against the Sparks. Unfortunately, they couldn’t keep it going and lost 77-68. Sometimes the shots just don’t fall. It was disappointing because a win would have meant the sixth seed and a home playoff game against the Storm. Instead, they finish with the seventh seed and will play at Seattle on Wednesday night in a single-elimination game.
We’ll have more on the Lynx and their playoffs coming up.
Meanwhile, the team announced they have signed Sylvia Fowles to a multi-year contract extension. Terms were not announced, but it’s likely to take Fowles to the end of her career. I’m glad to see it, because Fowles is still one of the top bigs in the WNBA, and makes a huge difference for the Lynx.
Nepheesa Collier should win Rookie of the Year, although it’s possible she loses out to the Dallas Wings’ Arike Ogunbowale. But Collier was absolutely indispensable for the Lynx, a do-everything forward who incredibly led the league in minutes as a rookie. She also finished fifth in win-shares, sandwiched between veteran future Hall-of-Famers Fowles and Brittney Griner. She was one of the best players, not just rookies, in the WNBA and a fantastic steal at the 6th pick in the draft.
Unlike the basketball team, the U.S. men’s soccer team looks like a continued disaster. They lost 3-0 in a friendly to Mexico on Friday night, and it was a well-deserved score line. They simply lack the technical quality to play the possession oriented system that Gregg Berhalther is asking for. You can complain about player selection and tactical decisions all you want, and I agree, but the reality is they players simply aren’t good enough.
As a group, they lack quality first touches, fast and accurate decision-making, creative vision, and precise passing. Other than that...
It’s a function of poor development throughout the system. The USSF focuses on the wrong things, doesn’t invest enough in coaching, and seems mostly to care about cashing checks. The same thing is going to happen to the women’s program, especially if they insist that the top players stay in the U.S. instead of heading to the more competitive women’s leagues in Europe, without improving the overall development system here.
In better soccer news, however, I got this the other night:
I am finally the proud owner of the best jersey in American soccer. pic.twitter.com/PJLv5r4SCS— canishoopus (@canishoopus) September 8, 2019
This is the Forward Madison alternate. They play in the USL-1 and have a relationship with the Loons, who send out their young players to Madison for playing time. I lazily only went to my first game on Saturday, and it was great fun.
And that is an absolute stunner of a jersey.
What ya got?