The USA vs France basketball finals was just amazing! It was evident that Candace PARKER and Sue BIRD played a key role in winning Gold for the USA. But I wonder how many people noticed that there was another – someone who took on an incredibly tough task in the background which ultimately helped team USA win (no not the coach, although he should get credit too!)
One of the reasons I was looking forward to the Basketball finals is to whether Celine DUMERC of France will be able to snatch the Olympic gold medal from the USA. She is a really good player and have pulled her team through difficult games throughout the competition. All the other French players were able to play to their full potential because of her play. So I anticipated that team USA will try to shut her down, like many of the teams who tried and failed in the competition. I thought of a few ways they could do this – double team, box-and-one, etc… But the one I wanted to witness the most is a man to man (or in this case, woman to woman) marking style defence where someone will take on the gigantic task of marking Dumerc. Many have failed in the past and resorted to double teaming (which only freed a French player so it didn’t work well). So I thought about the USA roster and wondered who would be the best player to do this and really, there was only one person fit for the job – Diana TAURASI. Lucky for me, it’s exactly what the coach went for!
Taurasi did a great job in marking Dumerc, she was always pressuring her and made her work so hard just to get a touch of the ball. Taurasi terrorised her rival so much, the other French players also started to feel the pressure and couldn’t pass to their star player. As the game went on, Dumerc faced even more obstacles such as having to go through 2 or 3 screens just to keep on her mark! The French grew more and more desperate and that only made them play worse. By the third quarter, the French team morale and will to play on was so diminished by Taurasi’s play that they couldn’t turn the tide back into their favour when Taurasi was on the bench. Often when the ace of the team is shut down, the skill of the remaining team members will determine the outcome of the match. Unfortunately for France, the USA team are very capable in their respective areas of expertise.
Without Taurasi’s persistent attacks on the French ace, the momentum for the USA wouldn’t have been as strong. She did something of such importance behind the scenes (this isn’t recorded in the stats) so her team mates will have something less to worry about. Lots of respect to her for not thinking about how to get onto the stats and doing something like this.
I also noticed from other matches that her play style reminds me of Magic Johnson… maybe she grew up watching him?
Congratulations for the women’s USA team for getting gold in the London 2012 Olympics.