By Gary Dickman.
I always feel a little down when a pro sports season ends. No matter the sport, I always feel that way, wishing the sport could continue after a playoff and championship. So when the NBA season ended last week, I was feeling that way for a little while.
Perfect timing with the Olympics starting and I, like most of us, are hoping for another gold medal for Team USA in men’s basketball. And they still have that opportunity. But it hasn’t started well, with a stunning loss to France on Sunday, 83-76. It’s stunning that Team USA had a 7-point lead, 74-67, with under four minutes left, and then got outscored 16-2 to lose by 7. I know a lot of people always expect a gold medal from our team, we do have the best players in the world suiting up for the red, white, and blue. But this isn’t like the original Dream Team in 1992. Even though we have the best players, many of them aren’t in Tokyo now. Some are hurt, some just didn’t want to play. Look at some of the great players that could have suited up: LeBron James, Steph Curry, James Harden, Kylie Irving, Donovan Mitchell, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Julius Randle, Trae Young, etc.
The team in ‘92 was the best of the best. There wasn’t anyone left off that team that you can make an argument should have been on, except for Isiah Thomas. Also, at that time, other countries didn’t have the talent then that they have now. And that’s partly because of the Dream Team, they created more interest worldwide. Again, I still think and hope we win a gold medal this year, but it should be acknowledged that more countries present a challenge to the USA than ever before. But with a 7-point lead late in a game should result in a win.
I don’t think the three players who just joined Team USA – Devin Booker, Kris Middleton and Jrue Holiday – can offer much. After a long season, and a pretty grueling playoff run, they’re now in Tokyo and expected to contribute. I don’t expect much from those 3, physically and mentally, those guys can’t have much left. Almost all of the other countries have current NBA players on their team. They not only know how to play vs a Kevin Durant or a Dame Lillard, they won’t be intimidated, either. These national teams also practice more together than our guys, and I think that shows in their chemistry and play. At times vs France, I thought the USA team played like it was an all-star game, kind of just going through the motions. Hopefully, they’ll bounce back and play for gold in 12 days. The great part is that there’s still basketball being played.
Here’s a great thought: This is the last week of no football until mid-February of 2022. To go a little further, there will be football and basketball non-stop starting next week until mid-June of 2022. Just writing this makes me smile.
This week, UH football will start practicing as they get ready for the season opener vs UCLA on August 28th, just four weeks away. The media somehow picked UH to finish fifth in the six-team West Division of the Mountain West. I’ve said for many years how irrelevant and unnecessary preseason polls are in any sport. There’s no way of knowing, for the most part, how a team will look with their new players and coaches as well. I know Alabama and Clemson might be the exception.
Let’s look at UH a little closer though. This team finished strong last year and won a bowl game. You look at this roster, and with so many returning starters on both sides of the ball, I don’t know why they were picked fifth. I used to be, but not any more, a fan who always picks their team to win it all every year. But with a Calvin Turner, Chevan Cordeiro and more back, why would the media pick UH fifth? I know it doesn’t matter much, I look at top 25 polls every year and a month after a season starts, the polls look much different than from the preseason. Happens every year. It’s much more important to finish high in the final polls or standings.
Along the same lines, the preseason All-American selections I find amusing as well. How can an incoming freshman be on an All-American team without playing a game in college? Some will be great, some won’t. Not only is it impossible to be certain of a new player, it’s not fair that freshmen are on these preseason teams without earning that recognition.
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