Olympics Basketball 2012: Great Britain's Many Struggles Will Prevent Them from Medal Contention

Jul 29, 2012; London, United Kingdom; Fans of Great Britain hold up flags and signs during the men's basketball preliminary against Russia during the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Basketball Arena. (Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)

In Great Britain’s opening game for men’s basketball, they were hoping to exceed expeectations in their home country. Though this was not the case as Russia defeated Great Britain 75-95.

What hurt Great Britain the most was the lack of production from the bench. Only one bench player scored: Dan Clark had 5 points. The bench shot a horrific 18.2% from the field only attempting a total of 11 shots. If this team hopes to get anywhere near medal contention, they must learn to have an effective bench. They cannot rely on their starters to do all of the work. The starters already did plenty, but they can only do so much. While the bench does not see as much playing time as the starters, it makes it even more vital for them to make their playing time productive. These bench players are the x-factor to this team’s chance of success, and unless they start playing well, success will not be coming.

Turnovers were also a problem for Great Britain as they committed 18 of them against Russia. Taking care of the ball has been a problem for this team, and it is something that they need to work on. Allowing turnovers just gives the opponent more opportunities to score. It is as plain and simple as that.

They also need to improve their shot selection and shooting percentage. Great Britain attempted 26 threes, but only made four of them. Shots cannot be taken just for the sake of taking them and hoping they will go in. Shots must be taken to make them, and the best way to do that is to take good shots. As for the general area of shooting the ball, they shot 32.9% from the field. While this is not the worse part about Great Britain’s game, it can be  much better. This goes hand-in-hand with choosing good shots versus just taking shots. With an improvement in those areas, Great Britain can have a better chance of achieving a medal.

Defense is also an area that needs work. Great Britain allowed Russia to shoot 62.7% from the field. They cannot allow their opponent to shoot that well, especially when they cannot even score themselves. If there are offensive struggles, those must be made up for with good defensive play. If not, everything will just fall apart, as it did for Great Britain.

Great Britain did take advantage of their size grabbing a total of 39 rebounds. This will be something they can use throughout the Olympics to help them become medal contenders.

Luol Deng and Pops Mensah-Bonsu performed well for their country, as was expected of them. Deng struggled with shooting but still managed to finish will 26 points (8-27 from the field), 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal. He also played 39 minutes out of a possible 40. Although it may seem like too much, Deng is used to playing excessive minutes. It may only become a concern if Deng’s wrist becomes an issue. This will be something to look for in the upcoming games for Great Britain.

Mensah-Bonsu also added 22 points points, 9 rebounds, and 1 steal. Joel Freeland had a good game posting a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds. With production like this, there should not be too much concern for the starters, as long as it is consistent. If not, this is where the bench is needed the most. Deng and Mensah-Bonsu cannot do all of the work. This is what makes the bench the x-factor. If the bench can produce enough to complement Deng, Mensah-Bonsu, and the remaining starters, Great Britain may be able to steal a win or two.

As of now, the chances of them achieving success in their home country is very slim. It would be embarrassing for any team to perform very poorly in front of their home crowd. If Great Britain is looking to prevent this, they better work on their game. There is a lot to do to become medal contenders. The bench needs to be efficient. Turnovers must be limited. Better shots must be taken. Defense needs to improve.

The next game for Great Britain will be Tuesday, July 31 against Brazil at 10:45 A.M. CT/4:45 P.M. local.

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