USA Coach Mike Krzyzewski said Wednesday he’s concerned about his team being undersized against a Russian team with an average height of 6-foot-8.
The Russians are led by centers Timofey Mozgov, a 7-foot-1, 250-pounder who leads his team in scoring (12.5 points a game), and 6-foot-11, 249-pound Sasha Kaun (11.5 points, 6.5 rebounds). You’ll be seeing more of Mozgov, 24, who was signed by the New York Knicks this summer. Krzyzewski also is concerned about Russia’s burly 6-foot-7 point guard Anton Ponkrashov, who’s averaging 7.3 points and 5.8 assists a game.
Krzyzewski plans to start the Lakers' Lamar Odom at center. The 6-foot-10 Odom has been quiet on offense (five points a game) in the tournament, but is tied with Kevin Durant for the team lead in rebounding (six per game). Expect 7-foot-1 Tyson Chandler to also get more playing time in Thursday’s game to offset Russia’s size.
Durant has been the player of the tournament for the USA, leading them in scoring (17.7) and getting an open shot from anywhere on the court. Meanwhile, Eric Gordon has been the USA's spark plug off the bench, averaging 11.3 points and shooting 54% from beyond the three-point line.
If the U.S. beats Russia, they play the winner of Lithuania-Argentina in the semifinals. Serbia faces Turkey in the other semifinal. The finals are Sunday.
-- Barry Stavro
Photo: USA Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Kevin Durant during Monday's win over Angola. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press