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What A FIBA Title Means for Team USA.

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Finally, after 16 years of struggle and international troubles, Team USA is victorious in the FIBA World Basketball Championships. The US can finally stand proud, winning with a cast of predominantly ‘B-Team’ players.  Kevin Durant was named tournament MVP, averaging nearly 23 points and 6 rebounds per game.  For the first time since 1994, USA Basketball reigns supreme internationally as the defending champions in Olympic and FIBA tournament play.

The “B-Team” looked great

So what does it all mean?  Honestly, not a great deal. It’s nice to be back on top, but it’s not hard when the teams you face are missing their stars.  The tournament is second tier to the Olympics because most stars are resting between NBA seasons.  International NBA Players like Tony Parker, Dirk Nowitzki, and Pau Gasol could change the complexion of games, but their absence left their respective teams struggling.  Most of these players will take part on the greater World stage in London 2012, which is where Team USA will find out again if they are for real.

Nonetheless, this is a nice win for Team USA because they showed they could play as a team without coveted NBA superstars.  Coach K couldn’t be a better selection to lead USA into competition because of his ability to unite and motivate his squad.  Krzyzewski great adjustments and emphasized the team play to their strengths exceptionally well all tournament.  Expect the firepower of Team USA to increase greatly when the NBA’s premier stars join in on the action in the coming years.

Who plays in 2012?

2008 was great

Here is whom I expect to fill out the London Olympics Roster in 2012:

Point Guards: Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose

Shooting Guards: Dwayne Wade, Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry

Small Forwards: LeBron James, Kevin Durant

Power Forwards: Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony

Centers: Dwight Howard, Amare Stoudemire/Kevin Love

While purely speculation, expect all the big names from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to return.  Williams, Paul, Wade, Kobe, James, Dwight, Bosh, and Carmelo will fill out 8 spots on the roster and be the core of Team USA.  Kevin Durant should return and potentially start, depending on how the lineup is worked out.

Gold in 2012 is the ultimate goal

Of the point guards in the FIBA games in this year, Derrick Rose looked like the best International fit.  With a couple more years of development in the league, expect him to make it because of his toughness and ability to get to the basket.  Kevin Love would add another solid post presence and be an outstanding hustle player.  Although he fit well within Coach K’s system, another player like Amare Stoudemire might get the nod if he is allowed to play by the Knicks.   The team also needs a shooter, and looking at a list of 3 point specialists, Stephen Curry looks to be the best down the road.  He was impressive as an NBA rookie and will only get better over the next couple years with his International experience.

Team USA should be heavily favored going into the 2012 games.  With the greatest star power of any team in FIBA, the US will be a tough match due to their unmatched talent.  The only way to beat them will scheme and strategy.  Teams will have to change the game completely with defense, by milking the shot clock and getting the most of their possessions, or playing extreme run and gun by launching 3s early in the shot clock.  Greece was the last team to beat Team USA in 2006.  If everything plays out as predicted, then that should hold when the US hoists gold in London.”

-Bjorn Zetterberg

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Cincinnati Bengals WR Chris Henry.

Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chris Henry has died, one day after falling out of the back of a pickup truck in what authorities described as a domestic dispute with his fiancee.

Henry

Henry

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said Henry died at 6:36 a.m. Thursday. Henry was 26.

“We knew him in a different way than his public persona,” Bengals owner Mike Brown said of the player who was suspended five times during his career. “He had worked through the troubles in his life and had finally seemingly reached the point where everything was going to blossom. And he was going to have the future we all wanted for him. It’s painful to us. We feel it in our hearts, and we will miss him.”

Police spokeswoman Rosalyn Harrington said homicide detectives have been assigned to the case but had no further information.

Henry was rushed to the hospital Wednesday after being found on a residential road “apparently suffering life-threatening injuries,” according to police. Police said a dispute began at a home about a half-mile away, and Henry jumped into the bed of the pickup truck as his fiancee was driving away from the residence.

Police said at some point when she was driving, Henry “came out of the back of the vehicle.” They wouldn’t identify the woman, and no charges were immediately filed.

Shock, Sadness Over Henry’s Death

We are greatly saddened by today’s tragic news about the loss of Chris Henry. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Chris’ family, including his Bengals family. I ask you to keep Chris Henry and his family in your thoughts today.”
– NFL commissioner Roger Goodell

We talked before every game and he would just say go out there and handle your business. I don’t know what else to say. He had been doing everything right.”
– Bengals WR Chad Ochocinco

We knew him in a way that [was not consistent] with his public persona. We liked him. He had worked through troubles in his life … to a point where he was going to have the future we all wanted for him and that he wanted for himself. At the time of his tragedy he was running to daylight.”
– Bengals president Mike Brown

For those who knew Chris, he was nothing like his public perception. A loving and caring individual, he was thankful for what he had in life, and proud of what he had overcome.”
– Andy Simms, Henry’s agent

I enjoyed our time together at West Virginia and we shared a lot of great moments. I have many fond memories of our three years together and will remember those forever.”
– Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez

The entire Mountaineer football family is deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Chris Henry. We say ‘Once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer,’ and Chris was a big part of our success during his time here. For me, he was a real joy to be around on a daily basis. He always came to work and loved to play football.”
– WVU coach Bill Stewart

I remember recruiting Chris to West Virginia like it was yesterday. He came from a humble background and was a wonderful young man and football player. Chris was like a son to me and I will cherish all the great memories that I have of him.”
– Michigan offensive coordinator Calvin Magee

Henry is engaged to Loleini Tonga, and the couple has been raising three children. Tonga’s MySpace page identifies herself as “Mrs. C. Henry” and has a picture of her next to a person who appears to be Henry. She also has a post from Tuesday talking about buying wedding rings. A neighbor said Wednesday that the Tonga family owns the home where police say the incident began. Charlotte is home to his fiancee’s parents.

“We ask that you keep Chris’ family — especially the young children he leaves behind — in your prayers,” Henry’s agent, Andy Simms of PlayersRep Sports said in a statement. “It is tragic when a life is taken so young. He was a man just realizing his potential, not just in football, but in life.”

Authorities have not announced the cause of death. Mecklenburg County medical examiner investigator Carol Cormier said they were expecting to receive the body later Thursday.

The Bengals (9-4), in the midst of their best season since winning 11 games in 2005, lead the AFC North. They visit the San Diego Chargers on Sunday and will wear a helmet sticker to remember Henry.

When the players received word Henry had died, quarterback Carson Palmer called them together in the locker room and said they should dedicate the game and rest of the season to Henry and the wife of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, who died unexpectedly during the season.

Henry was away from the Bengals after breaking his left forearm during a win over Baltimore on Nov. 8. He had surgery and was placed on season-ending injured reserve following the game.

“We are greatly saddened by today’s tragic news about the loss of Chris Henry,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Chris’ family, including his Bengals family. We have been in contact with the Bengals to offer our support through this difficult time.

“I ask you to keep Chris Henry and his family in your thoughts today.”

Throughout his career, his temper and poor decisions got him in trouble.

He was ejected from a game and suspended for another while at West Virginia, where former coach Rich Rodriguez told Henry that he was an embarrassment to himself and the program. His reputation was already costing him — the Bengals were the only NFL team to bring him in for a pre-draft visit in 2005.

They found that his demeanor didn’t match his reputation. Henry was shy and spoke in a quiet voice. They warned him that he had to stay in control if he was going to stay in the NFL. Then, they picked him in the third round.

In a sense, it was already a second chance.

“I’m worth the chance,” Henry said, when he showed up the following weekend for a rookie minicamp. “I’m just happy they took me.”

Henry become a vital part of the offense as a rookie, helping the Bengals reach the playoffs in 2005 with his ability to run past defenders to grab long passes. In the final month of the season, he also showed his other side, getting arrested for marijuana possession. After a playoff loss to Pittsburgh, he was arrested on a gun charge in Florida.

Henry and former Tennessee cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones became the league’s two most trouble-bound players. Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended both in 2007 — Jones for a full season, Henry for half of it — as part of a toughening of the league’s conduct policy.

When Henry was arrested for a fifth time following that season on an assault charge, the Bengals decided they’d had enough. At his arraignment on April 3, 2008, Municipal Court Judge Bernie Bouchard called Henry “a one-man crime wave.” He was released by the Bengals the same day.

It was a jolt to Henry, who had dreamed of an NFL career since high school, when he got the NFL logo tattooed on the back of his right hand. No team showed an interest in bringing him back. His career seemed finished.

Then, Brown — who refers to himself as “a redeemer” — changed his mind and gave him another chance.

“If you only knew him by hearsay, you’d think he’s some kind of ogre,” Brown said, during the Bengals’ appearance on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” series this summer. “It’s not true. He’s a good person. When you see him up close, you’ll find that you’ll like him. He’ll be a soft-spoken, pleasant person.”

This time, Henry seemed determined to stay out of trouble. After only 19 catches and two touchdowns in 12 games in the 2008 season, he set about making himself a topflight receiver again. He got into top shape and worked out with teammates in the offseason, showing more resolve than at any point in his career.

Henry also changed his personal life, spending more time with his fiancee and the three children they are raising. Teammates noticed a pronounced change in his demeanor.

“He’s a great kid with a great heart,” Palmer said as training camp started. “He’s changed his life around. He ran into some trouble, made some bad decisions, and realized that. He’s sorry for them, apologized for them, and has done everything he can to make himself a better person. I’m just proud of him.”

Before the 2009 season, Henry got a new tattoo that matched his new outlook. Below his left ear, in flowing one-inch script, was the world “Blessed.”

“I kind of felt like I dug myself out of the hole and started doing the right things,” Henry said in an interview with The Associated Press as training camp opened. “People say, ‘How you feeling now Chris? You doing all right?’ I just tell them I’m blessed. That’s why I got it.”

He caught a touchdown pass in each of Cincinnati’s four preseason games. A thigh injury slowed him early in the season, and he had 12 catches for 236 yards — his 19.7-yard average per catch leads the team — when he broke his left arm during a win over Baltimore on Nov. 22, ending his season.

“He was doing everything right,” receiver Chad Ochocinco said. “My grandma always says you never question the man upstairs on decisions he makes. Everyone makes mistakes, but I don’t see how Chris was supposed to go already, especially when he was on the right path. Other than that, he’s going to be missed.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.”

Via ESPN.com

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