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Hey USA! There's no 'I' in team

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

Aug. 21, 2004
I'm in San Diego before I go to Seattle for a speaking engagement where I'm on the same stage as Goldie Hawn and Rudolph Giuliani. As exciting as that is, everywhere I go, people ask about USA Basketball.

The problem is, we don't have a team. It is a group of individual stars that are used to being the No. 1 option. The Olympic tournament so far has shown we have major deficiencies despite a dedicated coaching staff.

They don't understand roles, and they cannot shoot 3s while their opponents are taking advantage of the trifecta.

In its first four games, America has made a total of 18 3-point shots. In its upset of the U.S. team, Lithuania alone made 13 shots from behind the arc.

You can't play without 3-point shooters and without legitimate point guards. It is humiliating so far.

People can talk about not having the likes of Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Jason Kidd, but we do have Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, LeBron James and a lot of talent.

It comes down to hunger as well and I have to wonder if the foreign countries have more of that than we do! How hungry is our team? Think about the salaries of the players representing the USA compared to other countries competing against us.

Lithuania didn't have a star-studded lineup yet it prevailed.

The Americans have to do it with defense, athleticism and transition play. They must force turnovers because they won't win with perimeter shooting as opponents keep packing in the zone, making them shoot outside.

We don't have guys who can make shots. We have a team of athletes that try to penetrate against zones. They have to look in the mirror and realize they represent the red, white and blue.

I don't know how much pride they have. It hurts to watch these countries humiliate some of our best. Duncan and Iverson are among the best we have.

There is time to regroup. The Americans will be in the quarterfinals and there is still the opportunity to win the gold medal. This team has to play better to reach that goal.

Dick Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons and the University of Detroit in the 1970s before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. (He's been an ESPN analyst ever since.) Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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