Sunday, August 10, 2008

The game China was waiting for

KETV Newswatch 7's Matt Schick, who wanted me to mention him in this widely read blog, asked me a question once that I remembered last night here in Beijing. He asked if I ever get used to getting to do some of the stuff I'm doing right now. I thought of that as I sat inside Wukesong Gymnasium in Beijing getting ready to watch and do some play-by-play of USA -China in the Olympic games. And the answer is still no. This game captivated an entire country. Millions of Chinese did care about this game, and they all stayed up late to watch it. And I had something that they all wanted....a seat, four rows from the floor.

Inside the arena, the place was absolutely electric. An entire nation, rooting for their team to make a good showing. I will say remember Rocky IV? The part right before Rocky fights Ivan Drago and the Soviet National Anthem is played and the entire crowd is belting it out? I thought of that as the Anthem of the People's Republic of China was played before the game, and the ENTIRE building was singing it at the top of their lungs. Going to games in the States, you don't hear much singing of the anthem by the crowd, and when you do, it always surprises you. For the first time in my life, I knew how Rocky feel just a bit overwhelmed by your surroundings.

I don't know that anyone thought the Chinese would win. After all, they have never beaten the US in Olympic play, and until last night, the margin of defeat was 52 points. Not exactly a game where you'd pick the underdog. But with Yao Ming and crew, this is a better Chinese team.

The good news, at least in my opinion, is that this is a better United States team, at least better than what we've seen in the last few international competitions. Now, it's not the Dream Team. Nothing will ever be the Dream Team, in any sport. Greatest team ever assembled in sport, period. There's no debate about that, and never will be.

But this team has weapons. And they defend. One of the weaknesses of previous incarnations of USA Basketball is that the team has been willing to give up defense to get the ball back and dunk it on the other end. Well, they got plenty of dunks last night, but they also had several points in the game where they played suffocating defense.

The achilles heel of this team is two-fold. One, free throw shooting, and two, perimeter shooting. I think the second problem will be less glaring as the Olympics goes on, but the first could be a problem in a close game. We will find out nothing about this team in their next game. They play Angola. That could be the first shutout in the history of basketball.

But it's still pretty cool for me to be able to go to stuff like this.....just another week and then it gets serious. Medal round begins, and we'll see if the USA has what it takes to get back to gold.


TrooperBari said...

Hopefully Redd seeing something more than 12 minutes will help that 3-point shooting problem. Near the end, it looked like he was jacking up threes to make up for lost time.

Oh, and I know that "not in Kansas anymore" feeling pretty well. A friend dragged me to see the U.S. men's soccer team play Poland at Soldier Field. I knew I was in Chicago, but inside the stadium it looked, sounded and smelled as if I was in downtown Krakow.

Good luck with the rest of your stay. With Damon Benning otherwise occupied now, hopefully USC doesn't go downhill too quickly.

Schick said...


I'm glad none of this is lost on you. If you were taking any of this for granted, I would be ashamed to know you.

I still am, but for different reasons.

Thanks for the mention in your blog. Maybe this is my ticket to becoming popular.