Team USA Rolls Into Second Week of Competition, Face Toughest Opponent Yet Today

Team USA Rolls Into Second Week of Competition, Face Toughest Opponent Yet Today

It's been an up-and-down tournament for Team USA basketball in London
so far, but the unequivocally good news is that the team is still
undefeated going into their last contest of the preliminary round, today
against Argentina. With a victory, the team will finish the first
round with a Group A-best 5-0 record, and a chance to play the
fourth-place team from Group B in the Quarterfinal round on Wednesday,
likely to be Team Australia.

Argentina will be no easy out for Team USA, however. The Argentinian
squad is 3-1 in play thusfar, tied with France for the second-best
record in Group A behind the States, and has a number of pros and
pro-caliber players—most notably Spurs two-time All-Star guard Manu
Ginobili, as well as Suns power forward Luis Scola and our old friend,
small forward Andres Nocioni. (You remember how that guy actually
started a game for the Sixers last year? Whatta season we had.) By most
estimations, this'll be the toughest opponent the U.S. will face in the
first round.

Of course, the team already does have one very legitimate scare
behind them, as the guys just narrowly avoided defeat Saturday morning
in their game against Lithuania. A lax defensive effort on the part of
Team USA, and perhaps an over-reliance on the three-pointer on offense,
saw a Linas Kleiza-led Lithuanian team push the U.S. for all 48 minutes,
until a couple nice plays by LeBron James, and some big shots by Chris
Paul and Deron Williams, bailed them out in the final stretch for a
99-94 victory. For all the Dream Team comparisons, the '92 squad does
now have one real bragging point over this 2012 team: The Dream Team
never won by less than 32 points throughout their run.

Then again, the Dream Team also never scored 156 points in a
40-minute regulation game, as the 2012 Team did on Thursday against
Nigeria in their 82-point victory. The team set Olympic records for most
points scored in a game and largest point differential in a victory,
and Carmelo Anthony set team USA records for most points scored in an
Olympic game with his 37 and most 3's hit in a game with ten—in just 14
minutes of playing time, no less. Even our Andre Iguodala got in on the
scoring, connecting on all three of his attempts from deep—just a
fraction of the unthinkable 29 treys the team hit over the course of the
40-minute game. (The NBA record for a single game is just 23.)

Iguodala hasn't had a ton to do with Team USA's successes or
failures thusfar, getting most of his minutes after the game had already
been decided, and only playing three minutes against Lithuania. His
most consequential playing time probably came in Tuesday's game against
Tunisia, which was probably a little closer than it should have been
through fits first two quarters. Coach Krzyzewski decided that the
starters weren't getting the job done, so he left Iguodala's second unit
in to start the third, and they responded, opening the 13-point lead to
38 by the beginning of the fourth. 'Dre played his typical lockdown
defense, had a nice between-the-legs pass to Kevin Love for a
three-pointer in the fourth, and also contributed this trademark
put-back highlight dunk:

Today's game is at 5:15 EST, and should be a good one. Given that
the team has kinda played in an every-other-game sorta rhythm, hopefully
that means that this'll be a strong effort from Team US. If not,
definitely good to get the dud out of the way before starting the games
that actually matter on Wednesday. Go America.

Even Mike Trout wants to see Sam Bradford's return to Philly

Even Mike Trout wants to see Sam Bradford's return to Philly

When Angels All-Star outfielder Mike Trout's six-year, $144.5 million contract ends in 2020, the Millville, New Jersey, native will be in his prime at 29 years old, and Phillies' fans dream of seeing Trout playing at Citizens Bank Park could be come true.

For the time being, though, Trout, a season-ticket holder, is just chilling at Lincoln Financial Field as the Eagles play the Vikings on Sunday because the Angels are almost as bad as the Phillies and even he couldn't stay away from Sam Bradford's return to Philadelphia.

Michael Del Zotto, Scott Laughton return to practice

Michael Del Zotto, Scott Laughton return to practice

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers welcomed two more players out on to the rink for their practice following Saturday’s 6-3 win over Carolina. 

Michael Del Zotto (lower body) and Scott Laughton (lower body) returned to the ice for the first time since suffering injuries within days of each other. Before Sunday’s light practice, Del Zotto and Laughton had skated two consecutive days prior to work on their conditioning. 

“It’s nice to see them back with the group,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. 

Laughton, who injured himself during a training camp practice after losing an edge, was a bit more forward than Del Zotto on when he hopes to return. 

“I would say within the next five to seven days,” Laughton said.

The 22-year-old pointed to Saturday’s game with Pittsburgh as his target to return. 

As for Del Zotto, the defenseman didn’t want to jinx anything, saying it’s a “day-by-day” situation. He would like to think he’s working on the same timetable as Laughton. If that’s the case, he would be back either a few days before or right on cue with the projected four to five weeks he was scheduled to miss after suffering an injury to his left knee in the preseason against the New York Rangers on Oct. 6. 

“It’s kind of trial and error,” Del Zotto said. 

Above all else, though, the two were just happy to be back with their teammates. Del Zotto said that being around everyone really rejuvenated his spirits. 

“Just being back around the guys and having that team chemistry and camaraderie and being able to joke with the guys,” Del Zotto said, “it’s probably been the best thing for me.”

This past month has especially been hard on the two because of the timing and how last season ended for them. 

While there’s never an ideal time to suffer an injury, the pair saw training camp and the approaching start of the regular season in a different light than most of their teammates.

It was supposed to be their new start. Last season, Del Zotto missed the final few months, including the postseason, after ligament damage to his left wrist. He was having a strong preseason, arguably the top defenseman in camp at the time before suffering his setback.

“Being out so long last year and having to sit and watch playoffs than having six months of grueling rehab to get back into it … that made it sting that much more,” Del Zotto said. “That’s part of the game. It’s a contact sport. I signed up for this.”

The same can be said for Laughton, who experienced a scary injury in Game 4 against Washington after being dumped head first into the boards. 

“I was really excited to have camp and start the year here,” Laughton said. 

The two will be traveling to Montreal with the rest of the Flyers for Monday’s contest. They will each do the morning skate with another bag skate afterward.