Team USA impressive vs. Lithuania ... or was it?
Originally Published: August 13, 2006By Chris Sheridan | ESPN Insider
Something that Jerry Colangelo has told me over and over again -- "Don't judge us until this thing is over" -- kept bouncing around my brain in the wee hours of Sunday morning as I watched Team USA take apart Lithuania 111-88 in tune-up game No. 4 heading into the World Championship. And don't let that 23-point final margin fool you. This thing was over before halftime, even if the men in green and gold piled up a few meaningless points in garbage time to make this one look closer than it actually was. Trying to make sense of how this warm-up bodes for what's in store over the next three weeks, there was a conflict inside my rapidly balding noggin. The right side of my brain was impressed, but the left side kept reminding me to keep this one in perspective and judge it for what it was: A meaningless exhibition game against a young, overmatched eventual first-round opponent that didn't want to show too many of its cards. We'll divide my brain in two, calling the right side Good Sheridan and the left side Bad Sheridan as we try to sort out what this victory means heading into the opening round of the World Championship next Saturday -- still a long way away from the gold medal game Sept. 3, when fatigue, both mental and physical, is going to be a huge factor. Good Sheridan: "You can't really find much to dislike about the Americans after this one, can you? That four-point victory over Brazil the other day was just the wake-up call they needed, eh?" Bad Sheridan: "Maybe you weren't watching Kristof Lavronivic lead all scorers with 26 points. Just goes to show you how big men who can score from inside and outside are going to give the U.S. team problems. Brazil was a lot quicker than Lithuania, too, so I'm not going to let this win cloud my overall vision." Good Sheridan: "Problems? What problems? The Americans were up 18 after one quarter and 22 at the half? This was pure domination, no?" Bad Sheridan: "Yeah, but that was only Lithuania, and they're playing without Sarunas Jasikevicius, Silius Strombergas and Ramonas Siskauskas, three veterans who are sitting out this summer. Lithuania actually looked even more inexperienced than the young U.S. team, and even China can move the ball upcourt better than these guys did." Good Sheridan: "Why are you always looking to pick apart the U.S. team?"