After their poor performances in exhibition games and at the opening of the Olympic tournament, Team USA picked up the slack and will now play France in the final game at the Olympics. There was a lot of concern initially from the media and the fans about Team USA and how players adapted to the international rules, which are quite different from those in the NBA. It took the players a few games to build chemistry and learn how to play off their strengths and weaknesses.
Many people were unhappy about how their head coach Gregg Popovich prepared the national team for the Olympic tournament, but now it seems his way of doing things actually produced results. For Team USA, anything except a gold medal is a disappointment, and now they have a good chance of securing another one in their resume.
Their success in recent games against formidable national teams like Spain and Australia can be attributed to a term Kevin Durant mentioned after their last game. The term used is ‘Strong Faces .’ Popovich elaborated what it means in an interview and how he took that over from Team USA’s former head coaching legend Mike Krzyzewski.
I copied that from Coach K. That’s something he’s been telling the Olympians for all the Olympic Games that he participated in as coach. And it’s basically a play on the next play, that you don’t react to a teammate’s turnover or referee’s call, or the fact that you missed a shot. Nobody cares. You don’t have that right. You owe your team, and you’re responsible to your team to move on to the next play. And he called it strong faces. As simplistic as that sounds, it’s really true. So, we’ve tried to adopt that.”Gregg Popovich, via USA Basketball
Coaching teams for the Olympic tournament is a much different process than preparing a team for an NBA season or the playoffs. Popovich knew that better than anyone, and even though he is one of the best coaches in NBA history, he wasn’t shy to admit he still has a lot to learn, which he most definitely did by consulting with Coach K. That is the true beauty of the game and even though he achieved everything in the NBA he still has an open mind that there is always room to improve and learn new things about the game and how to manage players. That is the greatness of coach Popovich which will be at full display in a game against France tomorrow. There is no doubt Popovich will prepare his team to perform at the best of their abilities while showing class and respect at the same time.