Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated previews Team USA’s quarterfinal match with Russia and notes that the Russian team is the tallest that USA has faced in the 2010 FIBA World Championships.
This height could create an opportunity for Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love, who is one of the few bigs on Team USA.
The Russians boast the biggest front line the United States has faced in the tournament. The 7-foot-1 Timofey Mozgov, who signed with the Knicks this summer, is the team’s leading scorer, and the Russians can roll out 6-11 Sasha Kaun (11.5 points, 6.5 rebounds) and 6-11 Alexey Zhukanenko. Toss in 6-9 power forward Andrey Vorontsevich, who ranks among the top 15 players in rebounding (6.8), and Russia is one of the most physical teams in the competition. Team USA has been surprisingly effective on the glass — it ranks first in rebounds per game (41.8), and Kevin Love, Kevin Durant and Lamar Odom all slot in the top 30 individually — but the Americans will have their hands full with Russia’s size.
“Their average height is 6-8,” USA coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “They’ll be the biggest team that we’ve played against. The center position has been an amazingly productive position with Kaun and Mozgov. They combine for like 24 points and 10 rebounds a game, which you would like for any center position. And just the fact they play a real physical brand of basketball … we have to be ready for that.”