Following the dominant American performance in The Game at Radio City on Aug. 5, four of the preeminent women's basketball analysts broke down the U.S. Olympic Team's strengths and weaknesses and discussed their chances going to Greece for a third consecutive Olympic gold medal.
Rebecca Lobo - ESPN analyst and 1996 U.S. Olympic gold medalist
"The U.S. Team looked great defensively and Coach Chancellor has to be happy with that. They had only been back together for two days and a limited time to practice, but their effort was great. It will be a matter of executing once they get more time together. They had to be happy with the way Tamika Catchings played on Thursday night, filling in for Sheryl Swoopes. She started and looked great. Yolanda Griffith had 11 points and 15 rebounds in 18 minutes coming off the bench. And she was the one player who didn't have a chance to train with this group.
The U.S. just needs to get their checmistry back as they head into Olympic competition. You could tell it wasn't quite there with the number of turnovers that they had tonight, but they are a unit that has played together a lot, so the timing and chemistry will be there soon.
The environment at Radio City was great. The fans were really into it. They got the chance to see something that may never happen again after this season. It was definitely a great experience for the fans that were here and even the ones watching at home on ESPN.
It was hard for the WNBA team to put up much of a fight. No matter how talented the players are, to put a group together that doesn't get much practice puts them at a disadvantage. Playing with the men's ball also hurt them a little bit. They got open shots, but couldn't hit them. The WNBA All-Stars put on a good show for the fans, came out and worked hard, but they didn't have the size to compete."
Ann Meyers - ESPN analyst and 1976 U.S. Olympian
"There is a continuity there for the U.S. Team. The players know each other. They didn't play sharp at times, they turned the ball over way too much, but it was a matter of being on stage (literally) to perform and they just wanted to get a sense of what they can and will do in Greece. Van Chancellor did a lot of substituting, put out a lot of different combinations in there. Some worked, some didn't, and knowing that will be the key. He will probably shorten the lineup and go to the bench less once the competition gets more intense.
Tamika Catchings and Swin Cash both hit a stretch for the U.S. that sparked the team, then Sue Bird came off the bench and helped pad the lead a bit in the first half. Yolanda Griffith on the boards was too much and Lisa Leslie was just Miss Consistent once again. She is always so steady. I would say they miss Katie Smith and Sheryl Swoopes, and I think Diana Taurasi is still hurting a little bit.
Even with more practice, it would have been difficult for the WNBA All-Stars to make this game much more competitive. Size-wise, they couldn't match the athleticism or tenacity that the U.S. rebounders showed.
But this is the type of game that will help prepare the U.S. Team for Athens. Anytime they play together in a game situation, it helps them come together. It is unfortunate there was such a big deficit, because the closer the game, you raise your intensity and focus a lot more. In the 24 turnovers, you could tell there might not have been as much concentration. With some more time to prepare, they will be just fine."
Nancy Lieberman - ESPN analyst and 1976 U.S. Olympian
The U.S. Team looked really strong considering they were without two starters. They shot the ball really well, but I was most impressed with their passing. They went inside and outside, finding the open person. They also outrebounded the WNBA team by a wide margin, especially on the offensive glass. If you can get that type of effort from the bench, they will be in good shape. I thought Yolanda Griffith was fantastic. She was a monster. I also thought Tamika Catchings stood out. She is just unbelieveable. I think the United States can cut down on their turnovers with just more playing time.
"I am not saying the result would be much different, but with time toget adjusted to each other and the bigger ball, the WNBA All-Stars could have shot the ball better. Everything was front rim for them and they have too many good shooters for that ball to not have affected them a bit."
Doris Burke - ESPN analyst and Emmy Award nominee
"After only two days of practice, this was an incredibly impressive effort. Were there turnovers? Yes, but that is to be expected. Continuity doesn't come in two days, but this is a great collection of basketball talent. Right now, their defense is way ahead of their offense, but when you put these great players together who can defend and have great athleticism and skill, the United States will be an impressive team. And the WNBA All-Stars wasn't a pick-up team. The U.S. defeated was a group of very good WNBA players.
For the U.S., Yolanda Griffith really stood out for me. I know there was some controversey with her being the last selection, but I think we saw why she was chosen. She is one of the best rebounders in the entire world. She is long, she is athletic, she can score around the rim and she put to rest any doubt why she should be with this group.
Even is the WNBA had more time together, this game still would not have been close. You are talking about the best players in the world, the cream of the crop, and there is an interesting transition going on here. You have several three-time Olympians in Staley, Swoopes and Leslie, but you also have that group of seven newcomers who are our future. We are in very good hands with Bird, Taurasi, Cash. That's impressive, baby!"