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Colangelo excited about Team USA potential

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff  August 15, 2010 05:32 PM

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NEW YORK -- Team USA chairman Jerry Colangelo (right) began his Sunday by releasing Oklahoma City forward Jeff Green and Washington Wizards center JaVale McGee from the team, trimming the roster to 13. He has one more cut to make before Aug. 26, when rosters have to be finalized.

After the USA's 86-55 exhibition victory over France at Madison Square Garden, it's apparent that three players are vying for two roster spots. Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook, Golden State sharpshooter Stephen Curry, and Los Angeles Clippers guard Eric Gordon are those three, and the decision will be difficult.

"There's so many outstanding athletes, they wanted to get down to a manageable number," Colangelo said following the USA victory. "Although we talked about 14 or 15, the decision came down to 13. We want to get those other (exhibitions) under our belt. We'll know a lot more after we play Spain and Lithuania."

Team USA heads to Spain on Monday for training and plays Lithuania and Spain on consecutive nights beginning Thursday. The Americans finished their exhibition with an Aug. 25 tune-up against Greece before the World Championships begin in Turkey on Aug. 28.

Neither Green nor McGee played during Team USA's scrimmage Saturday against China, a major hint of their Sunday fate.

When asked about the team's lack of size with McGee gone, USA coach Mike Krzyzewski said, "McGee wasn't playing before. So it's the same concern we had with McGee."

Tyson Chandler is the team's lone true center, although Lamar Odom and Kevin Love could spend time in the middle.

What has been apparent the past few weeks is that Team USA has positive chemistry. Unlike past USA Teams, which battled egos, fatigue and disinterest, this year's squad has grown closer.

"I love the character of this group really a bunch," Colangelo said. "It's a very young team. We're going to make mistakes. We're going to be inconsistent, but I think character and athleticism and some shots going down, we'll be OK."

Team USA is painfully young, with just two players over 30 -- Odom and Chauncey Billups and seven players 22 or younger, making 24-year-old Rajon Rondo look like a greybeard. There is concern that the pressure of international play in a hostile environment could rattle the youngsters.

"I would say inexperience (is a concern)," Colangelo said. "You never know how it's going to play out. But these are tough kids, tough minded. They want to win. They like each other. So there are a lot of offsets in the whole thing."

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