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Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Hoops News

Isiah Thomas is out as head coach of the Indiana Pacers, a move that surprises absolutely no one, except for the timing. Everyone knew Bird and Thomas don't mix and Larry, after coming back to join the front office, would want his own coach. Everyone also knows that coach most likely will be Rick Carlisle, a former Bird teammate and the guy who should've been hired instead of Thomas three years ago.

This move is a long time coming for Indy. I watched the Pacers get beaten soundly by the Celtics this spring, despite having far more talent than Boston, and Thomas deserves the blame for failing to get his guys to play as a team and employing some baffling substitution patterns.

The other big story is that the US barely beat Argentina in Olympic qualifying last night. We're now in an era when even with our top players on the national team (as opposed to the second stringers who played in last year's World Championship and lost to Argentina), the better foreign squads will push us. They play much better together than a US team that is thrown together at the last minute, and with the talent gap closing in recent years, the US is finding it can't just skate by in international competitions anymore. Maybe we should actually try to have a national team that practices more together and plays a better team concept in order to try to retain our slipping claim to global basketball supremacy? Of course, there may not be money enough to provide incentive to do this.

Kudos to Jermaine O'Neal for stepping up in the game last night. I hope the news about Isiah Thomas doesn't hit him too hard (O'Neal re-signed with the Pacers this offseason specifically out of loyalty to Thomas) and he keeps playing well because the US will need more of what he showed versus the Argentines.