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 We Need To Talk About Kevin

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Magic Man13
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Join date : 2010-06-11
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PostSubject: We Need To Talk About Kevin   Sat Sep 11, 2010 1:13 pm



ISTANBUL (2010 FIBA World Championship) – Many people who saw Kevin Durant score 33 points and carry the USA past a persistent Russia would suggest that he is the key to this US team.

Russia coach David Blatt certainly thinks so. “Durant is a monster, he’s the best player in the tournament,” he said.

“I said to my guys make him earn it. Don’t let him have a lob pass, or don’t give him open looks, make him work for it. I thought my guys did a pretty good job of that. But that is the definition of a great player, someone who makes plays when the defence is making them work.”

Blatt also said that coaching against the USA, his country of birth, and Mike Krzyzewski was a joy. He also gets great pleasure from coaching against players the calibre of Durant. “I love to see guys like Kevin Durant coming to play in these competitions,” he said.

“I think that’s wonderful. He didn’t find an excuse, he came here and is playing his heart out for his country.”

According to Krzyzewski, Durant’s involvement was never in doubt. “Kevin’s been with us the last five summers, with select teams and he almost made the 2008 Olympic team. No kid in the world loves playing more than this kid,” he said.

When he asked why he didn’t give his star forward more rest during the tense game against Russia, Krzyzewski’s answer was simple. “Probably the worst coaching move I could have made would have been to take him out of the game.

“We are going to go to him. If I learned one thing it is that you keep going to your best players and often they make you look good as a coach.”

Almost everything Durant has done at the FIBA World Championship has looked good, averaging almost 20ppg and 6rpg, and an amazing 30ppg at 54% and 7.5rpg in their two tightest games against Brazil and Russia.

Next, Durant and the USA must face a red hot Lithuania who are undefeated in the tournament, including wins against the first and third ranked teams in the world, Argentina and Spain.

Next on their list is the number two USA, and just as they closed down superstar Luis Scola in the Quarter Final, holding him to 13 points on 5/16 shooting, they will no doubt focus on also denying Durant space and opportunities.

Argentina coach Sergio Hernandez believes they can cause another upset. “They have a very big chance,” he said. “Both teams are very good. Lithuania is playing better basketball, better teamwork. USA play NBA basketball, this is FIBA. I think it will be a great match.

“If they play with the same concentration, discipline, shoot with confidence, they can beat the USA, and the USA know that,” Hernandez added.

Blatt also believes this is an even money contest, and thinks his good friend Kestutis Kemzura, the Lithuania coach, will have his team well prepared. “Coach K (Kemzura) knows what he is doing, I don’t want to tell him anything.

“They have a good team Lithuania, they haven’t lost a game and they are in a great situation. They should be competitive, both teams, and I am looking forward to it.”

But both Blatt and Hernandez also have reservations. “I don’t know if they can play again like they did tonight, because tonight was their best performance,” Hernandez said. “For me it was the best performance of the tournament.”

Blatt added: “Lithuania are a great team, but I’m afraid they’ll want to play the US at the pace they like to play at.”

The USA have weaknesses too. Against Brazil, once forced into a possession by possession half court game their offence stalled, scoring just 13 points in the third quarter and nine in the last.

Similarly, Russia controlled much of the first half and led 35-30 with 4:48 to play in the second quarter. Krzyzewski called an important time out and said that the pressure of being favourites can weigh on the minds of US players.

“What I worry about for US teams at moments like those is game pressure,” Krzyzewski said. “My main point at the time out was to say ‘just relax’.”

A slow start by either team could prove fatal for their gold medal prospects, and after starting poorly in their first six games Lithuania finally got it right against Argentina.

“Our key to the victory was to start off the game very strong. In the previous games we had situations where we were down 10 or 20 points,” said shooting guard Martynas Pocius, who played under Krzyzewski at Duke University.

“We knew we were the underdogs going into the tournament. Maybe a lot of teams didn’t think we could play this well, but we knew what we could do. We listen to our coach, we do what we are told, and I think we play as one, I really do.”

Coach Kemzura agrees. “There are different games (styles) and different tactics, but for me basketball is a team game. All five are involved. Maybe one day you can make shots, maybe the next day you can’t,” he said. “But you’ve still got to find a way to do something.”

Kemzura started his coaching career in Turkey and achieved championship success, and he likes being back for the FIBA World Championship. “Turkey knows how to be a good host,” he said. “It’s always nice to come back and see some old friends.

“For me, this is a lucky country.”

For the luck to continue, his team will have to do something about Kevin.

FIBA.org
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