NOTES ON A SCORECARD

If Team USA didn’t realize it was going to be extremely difficult to bring home the gold medal in the 2010 FIBA World Championships, last night’s escape against Brazil should make it clear….

Down 28-22 after the first quarter, we fought back, took a late lead and then had to watch Leandro Barbosa miss two last second shots to win 70-68….

And by the way, the Brazilians played without Nene and Anderson Varejao….

I picked Brazil as my dark horse team and they didn’t disappoint….

I also like Australia, who look good so far even without Andrew Bogut. Their point guard, Paddy Mills, was a star at St. Mary’s and first round pick of the Trail Blazers last season….

I’ve always liked him and he’s playing brilliantly….

As usual, we shot too quickly, didn’t have good ball movement and struggled mightily whenever Brazil went to a zone….

The Brazilian coach, Ruben Magnano, is one of the best coaches in the world and the only coach with two wins over our Dream Team. As the coach of Argentina, he handed our NBA all-stars their first loss at the 2002 Worlds and then repeated the win in 2004, when the Argentinians won the Olympic gold medal….

Watching the game, it was vintage Magnano; spreading the floor, running pick-and-roll and keeping Team USA’s defense confused and out-of-position. He also mixed in his zone defense beautifully and we played right into his hands by firing quick shots….

When Rudy Tomjanovic was canned as Lakers coach a few years ago and it wasn’t certain Phil Jackson was going to return, I suggested Magnano as a candidate. He’d just come off a win over our Dream Team in the Olympics and with all the international players in the NBA, the game was changing….

It might not be Magnano, but the time is coming when an international coach gets his chance in the NBA….

And if some team is smart, that guy will be Magnano….

One of my favorite sporting events is the U.S. Open, which began yesterday in New York. The crowds are rowdy, the tennis is fantastic and the night matches are as good as it gets….

Quarterfinal Thursday is arguably the best night in American sports, because we get multiple matches that often go late inot the night….

Unfortunately, they make the men play the Final on Sunday afternoon, usually after a grueling semi-final on Saturday, and we rarely get both players at 100%….

The guy who plays the late match on Saturday is at a severe disadvantage, because it’s often a brutal five-setter….

Then he has to come back less than 24 hours later and is gassed and less than his best….

The solution is simple; since the best moments at the Open always happen at night, the men’s final should be played on the Monday night before the NFL season begins….

The whole world could watch, it would happen in prime time and both players would be rested and 100%….

Instead, the idiots who run the Open have the semis and finals directly against the opening weekend of college and NFL football, ensuring almost nobody will watch….

Move the tournament up a week and play the final on Monday night, with no sports competition….

Makes too much sense….