In a game that absolutely no one is sure to remember, Team USA managed to quash the Dominican Republic with little help. They did it while beating the Dominicans in every conceivable statistical category.
There were signs of life from the small island team, though. Early on, they were able to take a 6-4 lead on the back of some amazing jumpers from Francisco Garcia and James Feldeine. Team USA promptly took a 14-0 run and never looked back. Feldeine and Garcia were able to exchange baskets for the rest of the quarter, but Team USA was slowly able to build their lead over the course of the second. The rest of the game wasn't much prettier.
In my mind, there was a clearly different focus when Francisco Garcia, James Feldeine, and Victor Liz were in the game. They were the only three players that possessed the quickness to beat their opponent off the dribble consistently. When they left the game, it was pretty obvious that they couldn't get much beyond a wild layup or bad three.
Still, even when those aforementioned guards were on the court, it was hard for the Dominicans to find much. Team USA relentlessly pressured the Dominicans behind the three point line, and wouldn't give Francisco Garcia any space at all. In an interview after the game, Kyrie Irving talked about his willingness to do whatever it took to get a role on this team, including full court pressure. I wouldn't expect this to be the last time Team USA employs this tactic.
"The manner in which we played was with great intensity and unselfishness", Coach K said after the game. "Almost all of our turnovers were attempted lobs for dunks. They weren't sloppy passes." Really, you couldn't have a more positive post-game press conference. The only other thing I'll say in Team USA's favor was that they did a great job of containing the pick and roll game. The Dominicans normally get a lot more production out of Eloy Vargas and Jack Michael Martinez, but it was extremely rare to see the rim unprotected. Team USA played deep, and rarely missed an assignment.
On the Dominican's end, it appeared as if they were more concerned with training than winning. All 15 players on their roster at at least 4 minutes on the court, and subs rolled in quite often. It's also possible that was a deliberate tactic meant to keep the team fresh, as they're quite known for playing a up-tempo and flashy style. Either way, they would have needed a sublime shooting night to win, and they didn't get it.
- James Feldeine will not play with the Dominican Republic while in Spain. According to Francisco Garcia, he has to start school tomorrow.
- Coach K, on why Derrick Rose chose to sit out: "You'll have to ask him."
- Coach K, on why Korver and Parsons didn't play: "We know who they are."
- Coach K was adamant that other players will get time on Friday. "We wanted to look and get more minutes. You can't get 16 guys in. Thank goodness that these guys have great attitudes. I know what Derrick Rose can do. He'll play Friday. 16 guys don't play Friday either."
- Regarding Cuts: In essence, Coach K said that there will be no cuts before Friday's game, but that there were likely to be cuts after that. Whether those cuts will bring Team USA down to 12 players before their training at Gran Canaria is uncertain.
- Coach K, on the play style of the Dominican Republic: "They play more like an American pro team. Dribble penetration, dribble hand offs, exchanges. So there's a little bit more talking."
- James Harden is so invaluable. He magnetizes to the rim on every fast break opportunity, and can create so easily off the dribble. Not to mention his awesome cross-court passes out of traps. Oh, how I miss him.
- Drummond played backup minutes tonight, and was much more of a rim protector than Plumlee was.
- DeMarcus Cousins played after his minor injury in practice on Friday that forced him to sit out Saturday's game against Brazil.
- Steph Curry played as a pure shooting guard, with very little dribbling or creating. He's pretty much a lock for that role at this point.
- The only statistical category the Dominican Republic won in the first half? Offensive rebounds, 6-5.
- There were three separate Derrick Rose chants at MSG, the loudest of which came during the early fourth quarter.
- Speaking of cheering, the Dominicans had a large and loud fan base throughout the game. Cheers for Dominican scores resounded throughout the arena equally with those from Team USA.
- New Jersey native Kyrie Irving got the loudest cheers during the introductions.
- Tim Hardaway Jr. was seen attending the game both here and in Chicago.
- 5 Team USA players were double-figures. The only players to shoot sub-50% from the floor were Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard.
- Team USA had 24 assists, and the Dominican Republic had 5. Go team!
- When Jack Michael Martinez, Elpidio Fortuna, and Edward Santana take the floor at the same time, there's a whole lotta hair going on.
What did you think of tonight's game? Drop a comment and let us know!