Game over

Dan Wetzel
Yahoo! Sports

ATHENS, Greece – Considering how humbling and horrible the loss to Puerto Rico must have been for Larry Brown, you expected a different reaction after the United States gutted out a 77-71 victory over Greece Tuesday.

You know, maybe a sigh of relief, a couple nice words, a little talk about building momentum.

Think again.

Listen to Brown, and his opinions are clear: The United States is not going to win the gold medal. It is still in a heap of trouble. This whole situation stinks.

And oh yeah, USA Basketball's selection committee screwed him, his players can't play and the refs here are blind.

In his trademark monotone, Brown's postgame press conference Tuesday was a series of barbs aimed at everyone and everything. This was a defeated coach setting up his excuse for the ugly end that he is convinced is coming soon.

Go ahead, take a listen.

Question: Would you like to shorten your rotation to eight players?

"I have thought about it," Brown said. "It is something other teams accept a lot better than our team would. That is something we need to be really careful of in selecting our team, to find role players. That to me is the way to go but not the way we have been making teams."

Question: Seeing how the U.S. once again struggled from outside, what did you think of your team's shot selection?

"I am not happy with our shot selection," Brown said.

"I thought at times we shot too quickly. And that is something we are continuing to talk about. We are open all over the place but there is a reason we are open. And I wasn't happy about it. And I think that was the first comment I made without being offensive.

"But believe it or not I think we will make an outside shot some time in this tournament.

"Obviously you have watched the NBA; shooting is a lost art. We accept a lot of bad shots, which is something that is troubling to me. With all of that being said, we had a lot of turnovers on the break tonight. We had a chance to bury them.

"We are trying to entertain sometimes instead of just play. And that is something we really need to correct or we are going to be in deep trouble."

Go ahead and reread that rant. No one was spared. Nothing was sacred.

Was it true? Sure, maybe. Was it necessary, timely or appropriate considering this is still a young team with gold medal potential excited that it had rebounded from the pits of Puerto Rico? No.

Brown sounds like he has given up on this team though. He isn't worried about anyone's feelings.

Brown is famous as a coach for two things: Winning – he's the only coach to capture championships in both college and the NBA – and jumping ship. He's coached 10 teams in the NBA, ABA and NCAA.

No one is better at bailing out of a bad situation before it takes him down.

But there is no out here. You don't resign in the middle of the Olympics. Brown may hate his team, he may curse his fate, but this time he is going to have to see it through.

So he's building his cover. He's repeating his excuses. He's spreading the blame.

Even after a victory.

He is blaming the USA Basketball selection committee that went with Emeka Okafor instead of Michael Redd, the stars who ducked out, the high school coaches who don't teach jump shooting.

He is blaming everybody.

This is the last thing this team needs. Even with all its flaws there is a breathtaking amount of talent here. Right now it needs a coach, a motivator, an advocate. The entire world – and face it, half the U.S. – is against these guys, mocking them.

They don't need to hear it from their coach too.

The one thing that will guarantee failure here, assure hoops ignominy, is finger pointing, pouting and press-conference rip jobs.

Tuesday night, after a gutsy, feel-good victory from a team that still has a real shot at gold, only one person here was acting selfishly.

And it wasn't one of those supposedly immature, egotistical players.

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