Friday, August 31, 2012

Clint Eastwood and Mitt Romney Talk After the Convention

"Hi, Mr. Eastwood. Thank you so much for delivering that wonderful speech last night."
"But Governor, it was widely panned. Everyone is mocking me today. They think I'm a crazy old man."
"That's true. But at least they're talking about you and not all the lies in my speech. I count that as a win."

Monday, August 27, 2012

Journal Entry 8/27/2012

Apparently, diplomatic immunity does not extend to exiled dictators in America. That's what I get for putting my trust in Congressman Todd Akin! Thanks a lot, buddy!

So, since I'm currently unable to legally force women to be with me, I've had to stick to the online dating. I had a lovely evening of Indian food and witty banter with one woman who went to the bathroom when the check came and then apologized for going to the bathroom after I had paid. Later on the date, I had my arm on the back of the bench, but she didn't lean in when I had moved my arm there, so I was unsure about putting it around her. This made it difficult for me to make my move. As the former (benevolent!) maniacal dictator of my own personal fiefdom, these are problems I'm unaccustomed to.

I was at the metro and I had a question about peak of the peak fares before I put more money on my card. So I asked the attendant. I was in the middle of my question when the attendant said, "Just a second," shooed me aside, and opened the little swing gate for a native Washingtonian. My dignity was insulted. I ruled my own country for multiple years, decreed to my little heart's content, and this is the treatment I receive in return? I demand respect! After all, I drive a Honda Accord!

This week's projects include: further attempting to figure out the online dating scene, performing everyday tasks with extreme difficulty because my ability to do so has atrophied due to my time as the Dear and Fearless Leader, and finding Congressman Todd Akin so I can punch that rape-tease right in the face.

I'm looking forward to the rest of the week. Bye for now!!!!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Todd Akin

I like Todd Akin because he at least tells you exactly what he believes. If more people in Congress were like Todd Akin, then there would fewer people in Congress like Todd Akin.

Todd Akin called me yesterday and said, "The Holocaust wasn't so bad. The human body has ways to deal with being gassed and thrown into an oven."

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Journal Entry 8/23/2012

I asked my colleagues at the think tank about whether or not impregnating a woman through forcible sexual relations is not considered "legitimate rape." Turns out it's still rape. That's what I get for listening to Congressman Todd Akin. But, I do have another possible legal option to relive my days of having sexual relations with uncooperative women as I did when I was the Dear and Fearless Leader. My colleagues told me about something called "diplomatic immunity."

Apparently,  because of diplomatic immunity, I may be able to having unlicensed sexual relations with whoever I choose, and it doesn't matter if they become impregnated or not. But my colleagues were not entirely sure if diplomatic immunity extends to rape although it seemed to work for former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn. And, it turns out, Idi Amin used to purposely run into parked cars and smash mailboxes without reprimand.

I taught one of my classes in leadership at American University this week. I noticed a 250 pound bearded student began humping the bottom of the table. I'm not even sure what could possibly be pleasurable about the bottom of a table. Was it that metal thing? Or maybe the grooved wood? Anyway, you know how flimsy those tables are; when you try to erase, it shakes the entire table. Imagine a 250 pound man humping it.

It seemed like he thought he was slick and no one was noticing; meanwhile the entire class gawked at him in horror and disgust. He groaned like a happy seal. I attempted to press on rather than acknowledge this bizarre behavior. Eventually, he finished and a smug look of satisfaction rested on his face as the stench of freshly ejaculated sperm filled the air. The students around this pervert began gagging uncontrollably. Attempting to avoid gazing in his direction, even I could see-  via my peripheral vision- the giant cum stain that had pushed to the front of the pajama pants he was wearing. When I was the Dear and Fearless Leader, I didn't have to put up with displays like this. I would have had his dick sliced off and then shoved down his throat until he could no longer breathe... for the sake of our nation.

I'm looking to see if diplomatic immunity will work for me. I'm meeting with a lawyer tomorrow to find out. Bye for now!!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Journal Entry 8/20/2012

They say that women are attracted to power. They're also attracted to not being murdered if they don't comply with dictatorial whim. I have neither now that I've been ousted from my post as Dear and Fearless Leader. Attempting to attract women has been a very difficult adjustment for me.

I got a date for last Friday using an online dating site. Within ten minutes of the conversation, she asks me, "Do you know anyone around here who can get us a dime bag?"

On another date, this Saturday, I managed to be invited up to her place. We where kissing and dry humping and I became too excited. For a man used to beautiful naked women catering to my ever desire, it has been a rough couple of months. And it's hot here in the Washington DC area. I see so many attractive women showing off a lot of skin. Finally, I managed to convince a woman to have sex with me and I came before even a shred of clothing was removed. I left her apartment shortly after. I tried to call the next day a few times, but she won't answer. I'm not optimistic.

When I was the Dear and Fearless Leader, I first describe rape as "unwitting sexual relations" and later decreed that it was ethically ok. But I was going about things all wrong. I learned that in America, according to senatorial candidate Congressman Todd Akin, there is "legitimate rape." That's when you don't get the woman pregnant. So, if you do get the woman pregnant, it's not "legitimate rape." Why didn't I think of that! Some tyrant I was! Todd Akin puts me to shame.

I'm going to ask some of my colleagues about the legal merit of Representative Akin's assertions before I start impregnating a bunch of women against their will. I am nothing if not a responsible rapist. But this could really help ease my melancholy.

In other news, I went to a Sweet Frog for the first time today. I asked the girl working there for a small chocolate frozen yogurt with gummy bears. She told me the cups were over there and that I had to get it myself. I told her that I don't work at Sweet Frog. I am the former Dear and Fearless Leader, I work at a think tank and teach a course in leadership at American University. She didn't seem to understand. She said that I needed to pick a cup, get the chocolate frozen yogurt, and sprinkle on the gummy bears myself. Then, she said she would weigh it to see how much it cost. At this point I began screaming at her.

I actually can't wait to go to work tomorrow and find out about this rape thing. Things might be looking up! Bye for now!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Democracy Update

Friends! We are on the verge of creating a burgeoning democracy. Unfortunately, we needed to rid our government of many undemocratic people and replace them with those interested in democracy. That has taken some time. Next, we'll need to build up functioning political parties and competent candidates. That will take some more time. So, in the meantime, the military junta, led by yours truly, the Feared and Peerless Leader, will continue to hold down the fort until we can create a thriving democracy.

We have worked with the IMF to privatize the economy. Formerly nationalized industries have been purchased by successful entrepreneurs. The IMF suggested that we charge these wealthy entrepreneurs a minimal tax to help promote privatization. Then, that will allow these new titans of industry to hire you and you'll soon have steady work.

We are committed to respecting the human rights of every citizen. Particularly those citizens who were not members of the old regime. We need your full support for this transformation to work. Without it, we may revert back to the old ways. Of course, the military junta will need to take certain measures to ensure that support. But, rest assured, they will respect the human rights of this great land.

Today's decrees
The military junta is planning on holding elections just as soon as a healthy democracy is created.

Once newly privatized industries have their footing, they will start hiring, which will provide you with work.

Your human rights will always be honored as long as we can count on your full support.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Shutting Down Strasburg

There has been a lot of talk about the Nats' 160 innings limit for Stephen Strasburg this season. Strasburg is coming off of Tommy John surgery. Many outside the beltway seem to be miffed by it. It's almost like they are irked at the Nats' audacity.

Part of me hopes Strasburg is allowed to pitch the entire year. After all, any pitcher could be injured during his next pitch. Strasburg's presence would give the Nats their best chance to win.

A bigger part of me appreciates the 160 inning limit. It worked for Jordan Zimmermann, who is having a great year one season removed from a 160 innings limit. The Nats are thinking long term. Why increase Strasburg's chance for injury for one season? The Nats are hoping he'll be around for the next ten or fifteen seasons. They have a good young team that should be in contention for awhile. Really only Ian Desmond is having a career year offensively, and it hasn't exactly been unexpected. One could reasonably expect the offense to be better in the coming years.

Several pitchers have had career years. But the Nats have done a great job of hoarding good young arms. If a pitcher struggles, there's another one to replace him. Plus, the Lerners have shown their willingness to spend money. So, this won't be the Nats only shot at the title. That belief helps to ease the angst caused by shutting down Strasburg early.

Without Strasburg, the Nats' rotation is no doubt weakened. But the team still has the pieces to compete. After Strasburg sits, the Nats will have two Cy Young candidates at the top of the rotation. Edwin Jackson provides a veteran third. Then Detwiler or Lannan would be fourth, or even both could replace Jackson if he struggles. The Nats still have a strong bullpen. A lot of playoff teams wish they had that pitching staff.

The offense has been heating up as well. The every day players have slowly become healthy and, in fact, the problem is hey have too much fire power. Steve Lombardozzi and Roger Bernadina, two starter-quality players, are relegated to the bench. So, the Nats will be alright this year.

Then, there's the possibility of the Nats finagling with Strasburg's starts to extend him deeper into the season. Some have suggested having him pitch every 6th day, but the Nats don't want to mess with his routine. Others say the Nats should put him on the DL for a while. The problem is that Strasburg struggled coming off the DL in 2010. The rust showed. Perhaps, the Nats can pitch Strasburg 3 innings a game. But that would kill the bullpen until September. And even then, Strasburg would go from pitching 3 innings a game to 7+ in the playoffs? Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

So, taking a long term view and having faith in the Nats this season, I believe they're doing the right thing by shutting Strasburg down early. I applaud the chutzpah and foresight associated with such a decision.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Journal Entry 8/17/2012

It has been over two months since I was the Dear and Fearless Leader of my country. My own brother ousted me in a coup and now I'm in the Washington DC area teaching a college class in leadership and working at a think tank. I thought keeping a journal might help ease the sadness that has gripped me because of this turn of events.

Things were much easier for me when I was the unquestioned ruler of a nation. Earlier this week, I was standing just off the curb in DC and a police car nearly ran me over. Another day, I was driving and there was a truck stuck in the right lane. So, as did everyone else, I moved over left a lane. Another car, that was two lanes over, sped right into the lane I was moving into, and nearly ran right into me. I honked and he waved wildly and continued to gesture at me. When I was the Dear and Fearless Leader, that stuff never happened because people tend to not like receiving bullets to the head or being lowered slowly into shark tanks.

Mundane stuff is also very difficult for me. When I was in charge, I had people to take care of things for me, such as acquiring women and condoms. Now, I have to rely on my own charm to get the women. So, I signed up for an online dating site. I went on one date and I think it went well. I was nervous, but I managed to make a move and kiss the woman.

Later, in the parking lot near her car, we were making out. I tried unsuccessfully to get her to come back to my place. But she said, "I really want you to put your hand on my breasts." I thought that was a good sign. She gave me her phone number. I emailed her, but she blew me off. I wasn't sure about dating etiquette. I read an article online that said emailing was ok nowadays. When you are a tyrannical dictator, this stuff doesn't matter; you just rape if need be. The whole scene is really getting me down.

I went to Giant last week to try and buy condoms in case another date went better. The packaging was very confusing. I saw a small box for $2.99 that said lubricant in bold printed on it. I didn't want lubricant, I wanted lubricated condoms, so I kept looking. I saw a 12 pack for for $9.99, but without being allowed to rape people, that seemed like an optimistic amount of condoms to buy before they expired in three years time. So, I moved over and saw a box of extra-large condoms. To my surprise, there weren't any extra-small condoms; it was very upsetting. I had one girl break up with me before I became president because the condom kept falling off in her vagina. I don't want that again.

Last night, my friend advised me to go to the CVS and buy three extra-thin condoms. The problem is that my CVS doesn't have a self-checkout as does Giant. I'm too embarrassed to hand some condoms over to a cashier. Today, I went to a CVS in DC and it had a self-checkout. But I didn't buy the condoms because I didn't want to pay the 5 cents plastic bag tax and so I would just be sitting on the metro while holding a box of condoms. That defeats the purpose of doing the self-checkout in the first place. These are problems I'm unaccustomed to.

Hopefully, things will start to get better soon. Bye for now!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Golden Again

When Juan Carlos Navarro caught fire early, it was evident that this Gold Medal Game would be hotly contested throughout. The U.S. shot well from three point land, but so did Navarro. Yet, the U.S. took a 35-25 lead late in the first quarter. But Spain refused to go away.

A foul fest took place in the second quarter. The game stalled and it allowed Spain to get back into things and stay there. Navarro had 19 points in the first half. But Marc Gasol was inexplicably left out on the floor with three fouls. He picked up his fourth midway through the second. The officiating in that quarter was questionable. Andre Iguodala grabbed Rudy Fernandez and Fernandez shamelessly reacted as if someone had ripped his skeleton from his skin. It drew an unsportsmanlike foul. The U.S. led by one mere point at the half. Tellingly, Spain had scored 58 points in the half.

In the third quarter, Pau Gasol took over the game. He ended with 24 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists. Serge Ibaka also played well as Marc Gasol watched on the bench. Ibaka ended with 12 points and 9 rebounds in 21 minutes. The U.S. led by a point after three.

Chris Paul sparked Team USA at the start of the fourth quarter. His scores were timely and passes on point. The U.S. finally managed to string together some Spanish turnovers. The lead extended to six points early and Spain never really threatened again. LeBron picked up his fourth foul. Spain, who had been switching from zone to man, played a box and one to try and stop Durant. It didn't work. Durant ended with 30 points. LeBron came back in and did everything necessary to win. He had 19 points. Kobe Bryant had 17. Kevin Love played well down low. The U.S. won its second straight Olympic gold medal by the score of 107-100.

For me this win brought out some emotion. Olympic basketball is wonderful because it affords me the opportunity to fully appreciate and root for the players on the American team. Without it, I wouldn't ever have the chance to root for LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, or Kevin Durant because they don't play for my NBA club. But because we share the same nationality, I can. The U.S. men's basketball team also represents what America could be. Sure, they're overpaid professional athletes and expected to dominate every international game. But they put the hard work in to achieve that dominance. They are a collection of egos who are able to come together to work towards a higher goal. And they all do it with a palpable sense of humility.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

AIBA's Corruption at the London Olympics

One of the saddest aspects of the 2012 London Olympics has been the massive corruption associated with its boxing tournament. AIBA is the organization that is in charge of the Olympics' boxing program and it has a proven history of corruption.

In 2008, medals were bought, the corruption was exposed, and officials replaced. Last year, the BBC investigated the pending purchase of gold medals by Azerbaijan (part 1 here, part 2 here). The Azerbaijan government (or possibly an investor working through the government) made a curious investment in AIBA's semi-pro series in the United States. BBC uncovered emails to and from AIBA official Ivan Khodabakhsh linking the investment to the purchase of two gold medals for Azeri boxers during these Olympics.

The head of AIBA, Ching-Kuo Wu, who actually shutdown a press conference in 2008 that shed light on the purchase of medals at the Beijing Olympics, promised the BBC that an investigation would be conducted. Meanwhile, Khodabakhsh remains with AIBA.

During the London Olympics, curious decisions have been rampant. Two of the most ridiculous helped fighters from Azerbaijan. The New Yorker reported, the AIBA official from Azerbaijan, Aghajan Abiyev, said before the games,  “I consider that it will not be a big problem for our famous boxers to win medal in the Olympics. Surely, our boxers will gain medals in Olympic Games and we’ll see the type of medal in London.” Turns out they were two bronzes.

Abiyev and referee Ishanguly Meretnyyazov were expelled after Magomed Abdulhamidov received an absurd decision after being knocked down repeatedly in the third round against Satoshi Shimizu (watch the third round). I would argue that the expulsion of the two officials and the overturning of the decision does not represent an AIBA crackdown on corruption. Instead, the officials were punished for an incompetent and obvious attempt at corruption.

Teymur Mammadov of Azerbaijan, who took a bronze medal, was also given a laughable decision against Siarhei Karneyeu (watch the third round).

Other decisions have been dubious. Iran's Ali Mazaheri believes his fight was fixed after he was disqualified following repeated warnings for infractions that he wasn't really committing (watch round two). Today, in the light flyweight gold medal match, China's Shi ming Zou was given the decision over Thailand's Kaeo Pongprayoon with help from the referee. The crowd booed heavily. Worse, before the decision was announced, Zou acted like a man who knew he would get the decision. Pongprayoon prayed for a win he knew he deserved, but wasn't confident he would receive. As Zou's name was announced, Pongprayoon collapsed to the ground in grief and disbelief.

Perhaps the only tolerable aspect of watching Olympic boxing is the cathartic release that announcers Bob Papa and Teddy Atlas provide as they rail against AIBA's blatant corruption. Yesterday, AIBA asked Papa and Atlas to move from their ringside post because they were distracting AIBA officials. You can see how exposing AIBA's corruption would be distracting for their officials.

U.S. boxers have suffered mightily due to the corruption. No American male boxer advanced to the medal round. Errol Spence had to have a decision overturned to sneak him into the quarterfinals. He lost that in that quarterfinal contest, one he arguably should have won. Terrell Gausha lost by one point, a fight he deserved to win. Michael Hunter lost a tied decision in a fight that he too deserved to win.

While AIBA has denied wrongdoing, it is hard to imagine mere incompetence being the culprit for so many bad decisions.

Ching-Kuo Wu must be ousted as head of AIBA. The IOC needs to take a more active role in regulating the Olympic boxing tournament or, as painfully as this would be for boxers and fans, remove the sport from its games. The Olympics must be about fair play to hold legitimacy. The boxing tournament currently isn't.

Friday, August 10, 2012

One More to Gold

Argentina gave the United States a tough game as always. Similar to the semifinal round in 2008 and the exhibition game this summer against Argentina, the U.S. soared to a big early first quarter lead. Up 18-6, the offense stalled a bit.

Interestingly, the U.S.'s second team has struggled more than does the first team defensively against Argentina. That's because Argentina is able to move the ball off pick-and-roll, taking advantage of the second team's overplay. Pablo Prigioni had 6 assist, Facundo Campazzo 4, Manu Ginobili  and Carlos Delfino 3 a piece. Delfino's first half scoring got Argentina back into the game.

Kobe Bryant had a scoring burst in the first quarter. He ended with 13. But Argentina hung around and the score was 47-40 at the half. Chris Paul was expert at dissecting the Argentine zone.

In the the third, the threes poured all over Argentina's heads. A key play involved LeBron James (18, 7, 7) throwing a nifty pass to Kevin Durant (19 points) under the basket. Durant whipped the ball out to an open Carmelo Anthony (18 points, 6 rebounds) in the corner. Anthony bricked the three, but James grabbed the rebound and hit a cutting Anthony. Anthony unselfishly threw the ball out to an open Durant who had drifted out to the three point line. Durant nailed the three.

The difference between the decent first half and the avalanche of the second half was not much more than making open shots. When the U.S. hits a couple of threes in a row, their confidence builds. That explains all of those quarter-long scoring outbursts from different players. Much of the U.S. team is filled with streaky shooters. The defense begins to lose heart. The combination results in blowouts. That's essentially what happened today against Argentina.

The U.S. won 109-83. American plays Spain in the gold medal game. In the knockout round, the U.S. will have the same path, Australia-Argentina-Spain as they did in 2008. In this game against Argentina, the game took a little more than an hour and half. That was due to a lack of fouls. That spelled doom for Argentina, who needs to muck things up and ground the game to halt to win against the U.S.

A couple of other notes. There was a plethora of countries' flags that had nothing to do with the men's basketball semifinal round. There also seems to be an epidemic of coaches picking their noses.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Bernadina's Great Catch

On Tuesday, Roger Bernadina saved the Nat. Up by one run with two men on and two out in the bottom of the 12th, the Astros Brett Wallace hits the ball to deep left center. I was screaming for Roger to catch it, but I didn't really believe it was humanly possible. That was especially so as the ball drifted farther than I thought it would go.

Bernadina leaped and crashed into the wall, disappearing behind a jutting portion of the barrier. A Nat reliever jumped for joy like a two year old who just go some candy. That was really the only indication that Bernadina caught the ball until he slowly stood up and showed the ball in his glove donning a smile as wide as the ocean.

It's one thing to view great catches on replay. But their true greatness must be judged by watching them in real time. When the ball is hit, is it conceivable that the ball can be caught? That's why the Nats relieve jumped for joy. It was just about winning a game. It was about Bernadina achieving the seemingly impossible. I can only remember one other catch that I assumed had no chance of being made with so much on the line. That was Devon White's catch during Game 3 of the 1992 World Series.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

LeBron and Kobe Shine Against Australia

Australia hung around in the first half and stormed back at the outset of the third quarter on the strength of Patty Mills's brilliant play. He is to Australia what Carlos Arroyo was to Puerto Rico and what Tony Parker is to France. He finished with 26 points.

The U.S. didn't show a great amount of defensive intensity early. Australia found themselves near the bucket time and again, but missed layups repeatedly. There was a brief period at the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second and then again at the end of the second in which the U.S. showed better energy on defense.

LeBron James controlled the game in the first half, though not by scoring frequently. Deron Williams also played well. Kevin Love has had a very fine Olympics and continued that trend. Williams had 18 points and Love had a double double.

Australia spent much of the first half fouling. But, unlike 2008's quarterfinal matchup between these two teams, they weren't able to muster the same kind of free throw defense this time. The U.S. was an adequate 22 for 32 for the game. Australia's dearth of bigmen hurt them due to the foul trouble.

Kobe Bryant, who has had a poor offensive Olympics, finally turned on the switch. Chris Paul drove and kicked to Bryant, who nailed a three. That created a 20-point avalanche for Bryant. Kobe's play triggered the rest of the Americans to take control of the game. The faucet was turned on and Australia was powerless to turn it off.

Carmelo Anthony shot well for the first time in a couple games, but James was the story. He posted a triple double and his statistics don't truly explain his greatness in this game. He knew when to pass and which target to hit. He scored when needed. He rebounded effectively. And his defense was strong.

The U.S. shot 19 for 46 from beyond the arc. With this team, simply viewing the statistics does not tell the three point tale. Early in the game, the U.S. attacked Australia's zone. When Australia switched to man, the U.S. had a brief moment of forcing up threes in the first quarter. But, for the most part, the U.S.'s threes were either wide open off penetration or in transition. Forty six threes are an awful lot, but most came in the flow of the game.

The U.S. won 119-86, but the game was more hotly contested than the score shows. Argentina is next on the agenda for the U.S. in the semis. This has become somewhat of a heated rivalry as Argentina has finagled the referees by constantly flopping and picking fights with American players. It should be a rough one.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Men's Olympic Basketball Knockout Round Preview

The U.S. will face Australia in the quarterfinals of the Olympic basketball tournament. Australia can pull the unlikely upset. They shoot a ton of threes. They're streaky in that department, but if they're on, it could spell trouble for the Americans. The Australians also tend to shoot free throws well. They're led by Patty Mills, who has a 39 point game this Olympics. He also had a 30+ point game for the Spurs late in the year.

Argentina faces Brazil on the same side of the bracket in a battle of South American rivals. Either team will give the U.S. a tough game. They have experienced and stead guards and NBA bigs. Both teams gave the U.S. the toughest two contests of the exhibition session. This will a close game. I'd give the slight edge to Argentina, which could make for a testy semifinal matchup with the U.S.

Russia, the surprise winner of Group B, faces former Soviet satellite Lithuania. Russia has played three close games thus far, beating Brazil and Spain in two of them. They've relied on a different guy virtually every game. Andrei Kirilenko had a 35 point game. Vitaliy Fridzon has played two good games off the bench. Timofey Mozgov has also played well off the bench. But Lithuania is talented and experienced enough to pull the upset. This should also be a close game.

Spain and France round out a quarterfinals filled with rivalry games. Spain disappointed in the group stage. Perhaps, they were simply trying to set themselves up to be on the opposite side of the bracket from the U.S. France lives and dies with the talents of Tony Parker. They do have other good players, but Parker is an elite level player. Spain's strength is down low. They likely won't be able to stop Parker. But it might be difficult for France to stop the Gasol brothers. Look for France's Kevin Seraphin to get more playing time in that one. I've been higher on France than most, but I'm not necessarily picking them to win here.

If the U.S. makes it to the final, Lithuania might be the toughest matchup. Spain could also pose problems, although they didn't fare well against the U.S. in their exhibition game.

Monday, August 06, 2012

A Lopsided Second Half

Argentina gave the U.S. all it could handle in the first half. Scoring 59 first half points and trailing by a mere point, Argentina dispelled the rumor that it has a weak bench. The rainbow-shooting center Leo Gutierrez nailed a couple of key threes in the opening half. Manu Ginobili passed well and scored effectively, ending with 16 points in 25 minutes. Luis Scola controlled the paint; he had 11 in only 18 minutes.

Tyson Chandler has had a subpar Olympics. Without him, the only basket protection the Americans have is Anthony Davis, who rarely plays. Foul trouble has plagued Chandler, but he's allowed too many easy buckets when he is on the floor. Defensive intensity as a whole was the issue for the Americans in the first half.

Andre Iguodala has had a strong Olympics in limited playing time. He's done a lot of the little things. At the end of the first quarter, he received a pass for a wide open corner three, but instead decided to defer to Kevin Durant, a better shooter, who promptly nailed the trey. However, indicative of the first half, Iguodala skied for a dunk that went through the net, hit him in the chest, and bounced back through the basket. It was deemed no score.

Argentina has experienced and steady guards, so the U.S. was reluctant to utilize its customary pressure defense in the first half. In their exhibition session, Argentina exploited the U.S.'s frantic defense. But point guard Pablo Prigioni sat out this game with kidney stones. Back up point guard Facundo Campazzo is capable, but doesn't have Prigioni's poise or experience. A subtle change was Chris Paul pushed up on Campazzo in the third quarter while his teammates remained conservative. It was the right tactical adjustment. Campazzo struggled to get into the offense in the third and the number of easy buckets for Argentina plummeted.

LeBron James took the game into his hands early in the third and Durant continued the onslaught. James finished with 19 points and 5 assists. Durant had 28 points on 9 of 12 shooting from the field (8 for 10 from three point land). The combination of James's and Durant's offense with Paul's defense enabled the U.S. to take the third quarter by a 42-17 score. The game was effectively over.

Just before the buzzer sounded to signify the end of the third quarter, Carmelo Anthony rose to stroke in a three. Campazzo ran by and punched Anthony in the groin. The Americans were none too happy about Campazzo's cowardly act. Scola then marched over to the American bench and began woofing at the coaching staff. Perhaps, the Argentines were upset at the U.S. bench's enjoyment of their team's devastating third quarter. But that did not excuse Campazzo's cheap shot.

The U.S. kept it on the court. Russell Westbrook tied a couple of jet packs to his feet and flew in for a fourth quarter dunk. Curiously, he received a technical foul for staring down his opponent. Worse still, the officials had not penalized Campazzo for his dastardly deed.

I've been disappointed with Argentina in their two contests against the U.S. this summer. There might be a systematic problem with the team's competitive ethic and sense of sportsmanship. Campazzo was at the center of tension in their exhibition clash. He flopped into Paul, causing the referee to call a ridiculous technical foul on Paul. Andres Nocioni and Scola then took it upon themselves to start bumping chests with the Americans' two best players. Later in the game, Argentina was within four points and simply quit. Ginobili's constant flopping is in the same spirit as Scola thuggish mentality and Campazzo's disgraceful actions.

The U.S. had the last laugh with a 126-97 drubbing of Argentina. The Americans face Australia in the first game of the knockout round.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

A Competitive Game

Lithuania took a two-point fourth quarter lead. Lumps filled the throats of American players and fans. Lithuania shot 58% from the field. They shot a better percentage than the U.S. from the free throw line and three point line. And Lithuania out-rebounded the Americans as well.

The U.S. starters got off to a good start, but in a reverse of the Tunisia game, the bench (except for Carmelo Anthony) laid an egg. Anthony had 10 points in the first and the Americans took 33-25 lead. Lithuania cut that lead in half by the midway point. Effective ball movement created open shots for Lithuania. The lack of rim protectors also helped Lithuania keep it close.

Meanwhile, the Americans stubbornly chucked up contested three pointers despite struggling from long distance. At one point, the U.S. had made only 2 of their previous 19 threes. But the U.S.'s ability to force turnovers kept them in front most of the way. The ball-hawking defense instigated 23 Lithuanian turnovers, 17 of those from steals. The U.S.'s defensive aggressiveness has been the hallmark of the team, but it hurt them today. Lithuania continuously made the extra pass allowing for numerous open shots, which was directly responsible for their high shooting percentage.

Meanwhile, the Americans failed to probe Lithuania's zone until LeBron James took over the game late in the fourth. He had 20 points matching Anthony's team high total. Chris Paul had 6 of the team 13 assists. The low assist total shows that the Americans did not use their customary unselfish ball movement in this game.

For Lithuania, Linus Kleiza had 25 points and was the main man for his squad. Sarunas Jasikevicius was another key player, amassing 6 assists and shooting 3 for 4 from the field. He made his two three pointers. Martynas Pocius had 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists. Darius Songaila shot 5 for 6 for 11 points.

There was a number of fouls called in this game. That also threw off the Americans' rhythm. A choppy game will always benefit the U.S.'s opponent. The U.S. had to endure whistles and boos while on offense throughout the game. Thanks to James's run at the end, the Americans held on for a 99-94 win.

Some, including Coach Mike Krzyzewski, criticized the U.S. for running up the score in their 156-73 win over Nigeria on Thursday. I'm all for sportsmanship, but that does not involve giving less than a 100% effort. It was Nigeria's responsibility to stop the U.S. from running up the score, not the U.S.'s. The U.S. had open threes and took them. There's nothing wrong with that. There was no crotch-grabbing or unnecessary trash talk. All the U.S. did was honor the game by giving maximum effort until the final buzzer. That showed more sportsmanship than the alternative.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

A Record-Setting Demolition

I suppose it's in vogue to find something to criticize each time the U.S. men play a basketball game. Nigeria scored 73 points against the U.S. Nigeria hadn't scored more than 60 in its first two games. But that would be the height of nitpicking.

The U.S. played a nearly flawless game. They made 29 three pointers on 46 shots. But there can be no worries about the U.S. relying on the three too heavily because over 90% of those perimeter shots were wide open. The starters were embarrassed with their play against Tunisia and showed their level of pride by rectifying their poor performance in this contest. Kobe Bryant (16 points in 10 minutes) was especially magical on both sides of the floor.

Carmelo Anthony flew by the former American Olympic single-game scoring record. Anthony had 37 points on 10-12 shooting from beyond the arc in 14 minutes. The previous record was held by Stephan Marbury, 31, for that disappointing 2004 squad. The Americans also blew by the old record for most points scored by one team in an Olympic game. Brazil had 138 in a 1988 game. The U.S. scored 156. Forty nine of those were in a breath-taking opening quarter.

Russell Westbrook had 21 points on 7 for 8 shooting and 3 steals. Deron Williams had 13 points on 5 of 6 shooting and 11 assists. Only one American player shot under 50% from the field on the day. As well as the U.S. shot from three-point range, they were even better from inside the arc, going 30-37.

For Nigeria, Ike Diogu scored 27 points and often got inside to score. Tony Skinn, a Marylander who played on George Mason's 2006 Final Four run, crossed up James Harden, but played an overall poor game.

The Dream Teamers defeated Angola by 68 points in 1992. This win was by an incredible 83 points. The score was 156-73.