SAPPORO, Japan -- Here we are on the eve of Day 1 of the World Championship, and my heart tells me to go ahead and pick Team USA to win the gold. The U.S. players have developed a great camaraderie, they finally have a head coach who knows which buttons to push, and their confidence is not compromised by any misplaced cockiness.
The problem, however, resides a few inches south of my heart.
Down there, in my gut, I can't bring myself to pick them. Not when my gut keeps telling me to listen to my brain, and not when my brain keeps seizing upon what I perceive to be their shortcomings -- size and shooting, to name two -- and flashing back to images from 2002 in Indianapolis and 2004 in Athens, and even from competitions that preceded those two debacles.
The talent is there, but the experience is not. The will is there, but the wisdom is not. And while the camaraderie may be great, the on-court chemistry is still a work in progress.
I look at a roster headlined by tri-captains Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, I rehash everything I've heard them say about making good after their third-place showing in Athens, and I'm tempted to buy into the rah-rah dynamic, dub these guys The Redeem Team and tell y'all how great they're going to do down south in Saitama when the medal round comes along.
But I just can't do it.
Here are 10 reasons why: