FIBA 2010 World Championship: USA vs. Russia Preview

USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (C) speaks with Rudy Gay (L) and Kevin Durant before their FIBA Basketball World Championship game against Tunisia in Istanbul September 2, 2010.  REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (TURKEY - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Chris Sheridan, ESPN: Lamar Odom will continue to start at center, but Tyson Chandler expects to see a bigger role in having to defend against the 6-foot-11 Kaun and the 7-foot-1 Mozgov, who will play for the New York Knicks next season after signing a three-year contract earlier this summer. The Americans will also be at a size disadvantage at the power forward position, where Andrei Vorontsevich, who plays professionally for CSKA Moscow, is four inches taller than his U.S. counterpart, Andre Iguodala. So it is to be expected that the U.S. team will press in the backcourt and near midcourt as much as possible, not only to try to force turnovers but to slow the Russians from getting into their offensive sets. The Russians run high pick-and-rolls and side pick-and-rolls on a majority of their offensive possessions.

Chris Tomasson, Fanhouse: The 1972 game, won by the Soviets on a length-of-the-court inbound pass with three seconds left that resulted in a game-winning layup after officials had overruled two failed Soviet inbound passes, was discussed earlier this week by Russian coach David Blatt. Blatt, a U.S.native who now holds dual American-Israel citizenship, talked about crying while watching the game as a 13-year-old in Massachusetts. But he now says he believes Russia was justified in winning the game and the Americans weren’t cheated. “He’s Russian,” said Krzyzewski, who was in the Army stationed in South Korea when that game was played. “He coaches the Russian team. So he probably has that viewpoint. His eyes are clearer now because there are no tears in them. It’s great. Whatever he thinks, he thinks. It really has absolutely no bearing on what we’re trying to do (Thursday). Absolutely none.”

John Schuhmann, Russia lacks offensive talent, but is a big, strong and physical team. The Russians go 6-foot-5, 6-foot-9 and 6-foot-9 at the two, three and four spots. And their two centers both play big, averaging 24 points and 10 rebounds. Russia will look to use their size and get under the Americans’ skin with more contact than they’ve seen all tournament. Russia wears teams down and punishes them late. Over the course of six games, the Russians have lost the first half by four points, but have won the second by 45. The U.S. hasn’t seen that kind of physical play in its last three games against Iran, Tunisia and Angola. But the U.S. will be able to draw on the experience of facing Lithuania in its first exhibition game after arriving in Europe. The Lithuanians hammered the Americans early and often whenever they tried to get to the basket or out on the break.

The USA/Russia quarterfinal will be aired live on ESPN at 11 AM ET on Thursday.

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