Can Team USA be better than 2008 champs?


Can Team USA be better than 2008 champs?

From Comcast SportsNet
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- They lost Dwyane Wade but gained Kevin Durant. Dwight Howard's size has given way to Russell Westbrook's speed. The Americans know their men's Olympic basketball team will look much different than the one that captured gold four years ago in Beijing. Three of the most important players from that team were unable to return, but the carryovers keep talking about being better now than they were then. "I think it has the potential to be that if we learn to use our versatility. It's a more versatile team than 2008. Now does that translate into being better?" coach Mike Krzyzewski said Sunday. "Although we don't have the center, that team didn't have Durant or Westbrook. So it's a different team and we'll see if it becomes better, but it can be. It could be." In some ways, that's difficult to envision. Wade was the team's leading scorer, averaging 16 points in just over 18 minutes per game off the bench. Howard started at center and averaged 10.9 points while shooting 74.5 percent from the field. Chris Bosh, also out this summer, backed him up and shot even better, knocking down 24 of 31 shots (77.4 percent) and leading the team with 6.1 rebounds per game. How can any team make up for all that? "Well, we have some guys that can pick that up," LeBron James said. "I mean, D-Wade was our leading scorer, but we didn't have Kevin Durant on our team. We didn't have the activity of Tyson Chandler on our team as well and the athleticism at the point guard position." Westbrook is an offensive upgrade over Jason Kidd, the point guard not back from 08, and is seen by teammates as the player who could most easily fill Wade's role as the game-changer off the bench. As James sees it, Andre Iguodala is more athletic than Tayshaun Prince, and James Harden can do more things offensively than Michael Redd. Prince and Redd, along with Carlos Boozer, were reserves on the 2008 team but were not retained. Kidd retired from international competition after winning two gold medals. "If you match us up, we have so many great pieces that guys can just play to their strengths, and I think we can be better," James said. Having Durant is a start. The NBA's three-time scoring champion had the best tournament ever by an American player at the world basketball championship two years ago, scoring 22.8 points per game. But the biggest difference could be James, who was already a great player in 2008 but has grown into the best in the world by now. Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Deron Williams, the other young players from that team, have made similar leaps toward superstardom, and Kobe Bryant has held steady where he was. "First of all, you have to look at the guys who are with us from the 08 team. They were 21, 22 years old back in Beijing. They're now in the prime of their careers, so they're a lot bigger, stronger, better basketball players today," USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said. "Those players by themselves are much better and I look at the players we've added. We have much more depth, much more talent than we had in 08 when I look at this roster versus that roster, and I'm not looking to make comparisons, but when asked the question, I'll put this team up against anyone." Center remains the biggest question mark. Chandler was the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year and has become more of a weapon offensively in recent years, but he's still not quite Howard. Kevin Love and Blake Griffin will have to show they can handle the move to center as well as Bosh did. The Americans averaged 106.2 points in 2008 and smashed their opponents by nearly 30 per game. Nobody was close to them until the gold-medal game, when Spain was within four points with 2 minutes left before the U.S. pulled away to a 118-107 victory. Playing at that level again won't be easy. So no matter what the expectations are now, none of them matter until the games start in three weeks. "We didn't do nothing yet," Anthony said. "So until we go out there and we win the gold medal, then people are going to talk, going to speculate, but we'll see after we win the gold medal if we determine if we're a better team than 08."

BC's ACC losing streak reaches 12 after 28-20 loss to Syracuse


BC's ACC losing streak reaches 12 after 28-20 loss to Syracuse

BOSTON - Eric Dungey threw for three touchdowns, Ervin Phillips had a pair of scores and Syracuse beat Boston College 28-20 on Saturday, sending the Eagles to their 12th straight Atlantic Coast Conference loss.

Dungey went 32 for 38 for 434 yards. He also ran 17 times for 54 yards for the Orange (4-4, 2-2 ACC).

Last week, he became the first player in school history to throw for over 300 yards and rush for over 100 in an upset victory over then-No. 17 Virginia Tech.

Patrick Towles went 4 of 14 for 45 yards for Boston College (3-4, 0-4) but did run 75 yards for a touchdown. He was taken out of the game early in the fourth quarter and appeared to be favoring his right leg.

Back-up Darius Wade drove the Eagles deep into Syracuse territory, but was sacked and then threw incomplete on fourth-and-14 with just under 2 minutes left.

The Orange went 86 yards for a score to make it 21-10 after an interception by linebacker Parris Bennett inside their own 5.

Receiver Steve Ishmael made an 11-yard TD catch along the side of the end zone, making a leaping grab and getting one foot to touch before he was knocked out of bounds.

One play later, Towles broke around left end and went down the sideline for his score on the final play of the third quarter. Mike Knoll's second field goal - a 39-yarder - cut it to 21-20.

Dungey's third TD toss - a 68-yarder to Amba Etta-Tawo - made it 28-20.

BC's Myles Willis had an 89-yard kickoff return for a TD.


SYRACSE: The Orange didn't play smooth offensively, collecting a handful of false start penalties and turning the ball over three times, but they go into a bye week with a pair of key victories.

BC: The Eagles can't make key plays when the game's close. They were driving for a possible go-ahead score late in the third when wide-open receiver Michael Walker bobbled a pass - with the ball flying into the air and into the hands of linebacker Bennett.


SYRACUSE: Travels to No. 4 Clemson on Nov. 5.

BC: Faces North Carolina State on the road next Saturday.

© 2016 by STATS & The Associated Press.

Spooner to jump back in for Bruins, knows he 'wasn't good enough'


Spooner to jump back in for Bruins, knows he 'wasn't good enough'

BRIGHTON, Mass. – After serving as a healthy scratch for Thursday night’s home opener, Ryan Spooner will be back in the lineup manning the left wing position alongside David Krejci and David Backes as that line looks for an offensive breakthrough.

Spooner will also be looking to change his early season storyline as it’s clear that Claude Julien is looking for more from a player that looked a little too passive on the puck to start the season.

Spooner wasn’t really utilizing his speed to put pressure on opponents, he wasn’t creating enough on the power play and there were a couple of instances where his mistakes led to directly to goals against. That’s not a good combination from a B’s perspective with a player who has showed plenty of game-breaking talent while posting 13 goals and 49 points last season.

“I have to take [the scratch] as a message that I wasn’t the player that I can be,” said Spooner. “I have to use it as motivation and just go out there and play.”

The speedy, skilled forward had just a single assist in three games to start the season, but to be fair none of the three forwards on his line, Spooner, Krejci or rookie Danton Heinen, looked particularly good once Backes was moved to fill in for the injured Patrice Bergeron.

Instead, it looked like Krejci centering one player skating out of position (Spooner) and another young guy (Heinen) just trying to gain some confidence in the NHL and things looked much better for Krejci and Backes after being reunited on Thursday. Spooner’s speed and playmaking could be an asset there tonight vs. Montreal, and certainly could help a power play that is 1-for-14 through the first four games of the season.

“He just has to be better. That’s why we sat him out. He just wasn’t good enough and he’s capable of doing more,” said Claude Julien. “We expect more out of him. He’s a guy that can produce and can play the full game, and he’s shown that he can do it. It’s nothing something that he has to do, but it’s something that he can do. That’s what we want.”

So, Spooner was scratched for the home opener after totaling an assist and seven shots on net in the first three games, and knows that he needs to be better than he was in the early going.

“I wasn’t moving my feet. I think I was playing too much of a passive game. I need to use my speed a little more when I’m on the wing there,” said Spooner, who still hasn’t played much more than a couple dozen games at the wing over the course of his career. “The first two games I didn’t think I played good at all, and the last game against the Jets was just so-so. I don’t think it was good enough, so it needs to be better.

“At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter which players I was playing with, the game I was playing just wasn’t good enough. That’s on me and I need to change that.”

Spooner will get a big chance to change that conversation when he suits up in a top-six winger role with Krejci and Backes on Saturday night while looking to provide a little more balanced scoring against Montreal.