Harrison Barnes says defense is USA Basketball’s ‘calling card’
Harrison Barnes believes that defense has to be USA Basketball’s calling card in the FIBA World Cup.
Barnes, who plays for the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA, pointed out that the offensive part of the game has never been a problem for past USA teams. The same may not be true for this year’s version of the American national team. As such, Barnes believes that it’s their defensive stance which will make or break the game.
“That’s got to be our calling card,” U.S. forward Harrison Barnes said, per Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press. “I think when you look at past USA teams, scoring has not been an issue. There’s been a lot of talent. But for us, we know that defense is how we’re going to stay in games, how we’re going to be able to win and compete. So I think we’ve done a good job of focusing in on that and that’s what’s really carrying us right now.”
As of this writing, Team USA is putting up 87 points per game — the lowest per-game mark by an American team in an international tournament since the 1998 world championships. They’re also shooting at 42.5 percent — which ranks 21st out of 32 teams.
Critics have tagged this year’s American national team as the weakest that the country has fielded in an international tourney. Though they’re still undefeated, many say that their chances of claiming the gold are very bleak. But Barnes, as well as the other Americans, know by heart that defense wins gold medals. They may not be able to light up the score box like their predecessors, but they’ll try their best to put their best foot forward on defense. Hopefully, it’ll be enough to win.