For almost every country in the world, that would be a huge, positive headline. It would be a very popular thing. In this country, the home of basketball, it's a humbling statement. We're supposed to beat the rest of the world with our great athletes and coaching. Professional basketball players are the greatest athletes in the world. The men probably average 6'8" and 240 pounds. They can run like the wind, leap tall buildings with a single bound, etc., etc. -- you know the litany. But can they shoot? Can they defend the Pick & Roll?
I saw a couple of the games and saw what I always see in the arena of shooting. The players on the team are doing what they've been taught by coaches from a young age on ... to flip their wrists, shooting at the top of the jump, maybe even reaching in the cookie jar. They're also squaring up, especially at the free throw line.
Of those techniques, flipping the wrist is probably the biggest problem. Did you notice LeBron James trying to make outside shots and flipping his wrist and sometimes "short-arming?" He was trying to figure out how many of his amazing muscles to use. At times he can do it, but it's hard to do consistently and he didn't shoot well in this series. Flipping the ball from 3-point land, especially, is a huge guess. And, of course, when you start to miss, your mind goes crazy and makes it worse.
A PUSHING ACTION IS MORE RELIABLE
From my own experience and my research, I feel a pushing motion with relaxed wrist and hand is the most predictable and dependable. If done at the same speed every time, then it becomes repeatable, and then you just vary the arch to control the distance. As I've said over and over, this is how Chris Mullin shot, and Jeff Hornacek, and Steve Kerr. The few great shooters do/did this. Diana Taurasi, my vote for the best shooter in WNBA history, shoots this way now. If you get to see a slow-motion replay of her shooting, you'll see her hand bounce in the Follow Through, which means the wrist is relaxed. If it were tight, the hand would be stiff and tight, it would not bounce.
Carmelo Anthony was the best shooter on the USA Team. He saved the game against Italy. If he hadn't made 29 points in the second half, we would have lost that game, too. But he couldn't save us against Greece. He's flipping his wrist, too. But probably not as much as LeBron, and his high level of concentration and confidence make him one of the few "good, sometimes great" shooters.
It's pretty inept to shoot 10 for 40 three-point shots, as they did vs. Germany. And 9 for 28 vs. Greece in the loss. It's the same thing, the wristy, flipping release motions. And this is from the international 3-pt line, ~20' 3 1/2". This is more than 3 feet closer than the NBA 3-pt arch, 23' 9".
15 FOR 30 FREE THROWS ... WITHOUT SHAQ!
And the Free Throws! How can players, who have played as much basketball with as much athletic talent as they have, shoot 15 for 30, as they did against Argentina? How about 20 for 34 against Greece, missing 14 free throws and they lose by six points? And Shaq and Ben are not even on the team!
It's because of the wrist flipping stuff, in my opinion. The muscles of the wrist, hand and fingers are small muscles, what are called "fast twitch" muscles. They're not so reliable under pressure. A consistent push-and-flop motion, like I teach it, would serve all these guys well, be it for a jump shot or a free throw.
I'm not talking about the elevating, top-of-the-jump, fading this way or that way, kind of shot that these guys can pull off -- some of the time. With those shots you have to use your wrist and hand because there's little, if any, leg power left to power the shot. And it takes a super athlete of the Kobe Bryant or Tracy McGrady type to pull that shot off consistently (and they're still prone to periods of poor performance because it's so difficult). I mean, rather, the open outside jumper or set shot and the free throw that we mortals need to perfect.
We need a different way to coach shooting! My Swish Method is available to help all of these great players shoot better. It can't help with defending the Pick & Roll. I'll leave that to other coaches, but shooting, that's a subject I know.
Tom Nordland is a shooting expert and coach from California via Minnesota. His videos, coaching and writings are inspiring a Renaissance (a rebirth, a revival) in shooting around the world as players and coaches are taught the things that really matter in shooting. A great shooter as a youth, Tom was given a gift of seeing shooting like few have ever seen it. He sees the essence of great shooting and how to get there. The good news is that its very simple. The few great shooters of today and yesterday mastered simple things, not complicated motions. Improved shooting is now possible for everybody in the game, and mastery is available to those who sincerely dedicate themselves to it. Visit Toms website (http://www.swish22.com/) to read of his background and his articles and newsletters, and to view the remarkable endorsements and amazing testimonials for this approach to shooting.