Team USA Crushes Angola in Women’s Basketball

Onward and upward for Team USA, who have yet to face a challenge across four quarters in group play these Olympics and may not have to worry until bracket play begins.

The Americans destroyed an inferior Angola team today, 90-38, moving to the top of Group A standings leading into Wednesday’s match-up against Turkey. The Americans are 2-0 in London and will have a point differential of +67, almost double that of group co-leader China.

There is just too much elite talent on Team USA for their opponents, at least thus far, to keep up, though Croatia capitalized on U.S. mistakes early in their opening match-up, hanging tough until the fourth quarter. Versatility is key for Team USA, with any player on the roster capable of taking over the game. A glimpse at the box scores thus far shows this flexibility: six different players – half the team – have scored in double digits at least once.

Coach Geno Auriemma has been exploiting his depth with multiple full-team substitutions, “hockey subs” as the announcers have called them, replacing all five players at once with fresh groupings and different players taking the point, Sue Bird and Lindsay Whalen most often. Candace Parker (Williams) at center has been a dominant force for Team USA, posting back-to-back double doubles and blocking four shots today.

China might be the biggest challenge for Team USA in Group A, but watch out for France and Australia out of Group B. Australia is typically another powerhouse in women’s basketball, but they themselves fell to the French in their second game in overtime. Still, both teams have reached the 70-point mark in both games, proving they can score.

Team USA will face Turkey, the Czech Republic and China in order to conclude group play.

Current Women’s Basketball Standings (Courtesy of NBCOlympics.com):

Group A

RK TEAM GP PTS
1 2 4
2 CHNCHN 2 4
3 TURTUR 2 4
4 2 2
5 2 2
6 2 2
RK TEAM GP PTS
1 2 4
2 2 4
3 2 3
4 2 3
5 GBRGBR 2 2
6 2 2
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Olympic Tennis Roundup: Team USA and World Notables

Any other time of year, and not having Bravo in my cable lineup wouldn’t be such a huge issue. Other than the occasional “House” marathons, I don’t really have a burning desire to keep tabs on the real housewives of New Jersey, if they are – in fact – “real.” But right now, the absence of Bravo from our TV back home here in Mississippi has got me jonesing for some Olympic tennis action.

Luckily, this year’s Olympics are streaming live, so I’ve been able to catch some of the action from Wimbledon here and there. Here’s a summary of how Team USA is doing in the tournaments, and where some of the other world notable players stand. And how cool is it that Wimbledon is hosting the Olympics?!

Team USA

First, meet Team USA!

Men:

  • Bob and Mike Bryan (doubles), twins world ranked ATP No. 1 in men’s doubles
  • John Isner (singles/doubles), ATP No. 11-ranked in the world
  • Andy Roddick (singles/doubles), ATP No. 21-ranked in the world, former U.S. Open Champion
  • Donald Young (singles)

Women:

  • Liezel Huber (doubles), naturalized South African with multiple doubles Grand Slam championships, one with current partner Lisa Raymond
  • Varvara Lepchenko (singles), naturalized Uzbek-American
  • Christina McHale (singles), New Jersey native and current WTA ranked No. 26 player in the world
  • Lisa Raymond (doubles), former Florida Gator and 11-time Grand Slam doubles champion, formerly No. 1 ranked doubles player
  • Serena and Venus Williams (singles/doubles), many-time Grand Slam singles and doubles champions and top-ranked in the world

Notes:  Mixed doubles pairings have not yet been determined. Also, all matches, men’s and women’s, are played in the best-of-three format. Generally in international play, men’s matches are played in best-of-five format.

Team USA In Action:

Men

  • Roddick defeated Slovakia’s Martin Klizan in straight sets, 7-5, 6-4, in his first round match. The story there was unforced errors, where Roddick’s were limited to 5 and Klizan had 21. Roddick moves on to a power match-up in Round 2 against World No. 2 Novak Djokovic of Serbia.
  • Isner has had a little more trouble, needing tiebreakers to win the first set in each of his matches. Isner took down Belgian Olivier Rochus, 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, in the opening round. In his second round match against Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri today, he emerged victorious, 7-6 (7-1), 6-2. Isner will play Serb Janko Tipsarevic for the right to advance to the quarterfinals.
  • Young lost to Italy’s Andreas Seppi in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, in the first round.
  • Bryan/Bryan took down Brazilian pair Belucci/Sa in three sets, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3, in the first round. They will face Russian pair Davydenko/Youzhny on Court 18 tomorrow.
  • Isner/Roddick, not known for their doubles play, fell to another pair of Brazilians – Melo/Soares –  in straight sets, 2-6, 4-6.

Women

  • Lepchenko took three sets to down her first opponent, Paraguay’s Veronica Cepede Royg, in the first round, 7-5, 6-7 (6-8), 6-2. The epic 2nd set lasted 75 minutes. Lepchenko meets Germany’s Julia Goerges in the second round tomorrow.
  • McHale lost in the first round to former world No. 1 and former French Open champion, Serb Ana Ivanovic, in straight sets, 4-6, 5-7.
  • Serena Williams has dominated in her first two rounds, defeating both European opponents in straight sets. She dispatched Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic, 6-3, 6-1, and Poland’s Urszula Radwanska, 6-2, 6-3. She will face Russia’s Vera Zvonareva in the third round and is set up to meet the winner of world notables Daniela Hantuchova (Slovakia) and Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) if she reaches the quarterfinals.
  • Venus Williams dispatched her first round opponent, Italy’s Sara Errani, in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1. She’ll face Canada’s Aleksandra Wozniak in the second round tomorrow.
  • The Huber/Raymond pairing enjoyed a first round bye and will face their first opponents, Poland’s Radswanka sisters, tomorrow in the second round.
  • The Williams sisters defeated Romania’s Cirstea/Halep in straight sets today, 6-3, 6-2. The match was played a day late due to weather delays from the previous day. They will play their second round opponents, Germany’s Kerber/Lisicki, tomorrow.

World Notables

Men

  • Wimbledon champ Roger Federer (Switzerland), has returned to the venue in fine fashion. Federer has advanced to the third round, defeating  Colombia’s Alejandro Falla in the first round, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3, and France’s Julien Benneteau, 6-2, 6-2. He plays Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomen next.
  • Djokovic beat his first round opponent, Italy’s Fabio Fognini, 6-7 (9-7), 6-2, 6-2.
  • Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro has advanced to the third round and awaits Frenchman Gilles Simon.
  • Hometown favorite, Brit Andy Murray, plays Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen in the second round.
  • Rafael Nadal withdrew from the Olympics with an injury.

Women

  • No. 2 in the tournament and the world, Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, was ousted by Goerges in the first round.
  • Russia’s Maria Sharapova defeated Israel’s Shahar Peer in the first round and takes on Britain’s Laura Robson next.
  • Belgium’s Kim Clijsters is set up for a thrilling power match-up in the third round against Ivanovic. Clijsters is re-retiring from international competition after this year’s U.S. Open.
  • Wozniacki and Hantuchova meet in a third round match-up featuring two players formerly ranked in the WTA top 5, with Wozniacki a former No. 1 and Hantuchova reaching No. 5.
  • Russia’s Nadia Petrova and Maria Kirilenko meet China’s Peng/Zeng pairing in the third round.

Franklin, Grevers Lead Golden Monday in the Pool for Team USA

Ryan Lochte is the premier name on the minds of swimming fans and smitten women the world over, but Monday’s finals belonged to two other members of Team USA Swimming, as Missy Franklin and Matt Grevers were victorious in the backstroke, continuing American dominance in the event.

Women’s 100m Backstroke Finals

Missy Franklin, a 17-year-old swimmer residing in Aurora, Colo., came from tenths of a second behind at the 50m turn, overtaking Aussie Emily Seebohm to win the gold medal in 100m Women’s Backstroke. Seebohm allowed Franklin to overtake her on the last length of the pool but was never in danger of finishing any lower than a silver medal. Japan’s Aya Terakawa came back from fifth place at the turn to finish with the bronze medal.

Franklin’s feat is especially notable considering that less than 15 minutes prior to racing for gold, she swam in the semifinals of the Women’s 200m Freestyle, qualifying for the eighth and final spot.

Men’s 100m Backstroke Finals

In Beijing in 2008, Chicagoan Matt Grevers finished with a silver medal behind American all-time great and world record holder Aaron Piersol, whom Grevers touted as the best in the world. Piersol remains the world record holder in the 100m Backstroke, but he no longer holds the Olympic Record, which Grevers broke today on his way to taking the gold medal. Fellow American Nick Thoman made up substantial ground to give Team USA a 1-2 finish, winning his silver medal by .05 ahead of bronze medalist Ryosuke Irie of Japan.

Grevers’ Olympic Record time was 52.16 seconds. Thoman was third coming off the wall at 50m but stuck in the middle of a crowded pack gunning for silver. He held on for second place, fending off Irie, who had come back from 6th at the wall.

Women’s 100m Breaststroke Finals

Rebecca Soni seemingly struggled in the first 50 meters but battled back and made a mad rush down the stretch, but in the end she couldn’t overtake young Lithuanian swimmer Ruta Meilutyte, settling instead for a well-earned silver medal.

Soni went into the wall at the 50m turn in fourth place, a strong split considering she was near the back of the pack for much of the first length of the pool. The difference was too much to overcome, despite a spirited effort in the final 10 meters. Soni finished with a time of 1:05.55, a mere .08 seconds behind Meilutyte, who is the youngest woman to ever win the event and secured her country’s first medal at these Games.

American Breeja Larson was almost disqualified for entering the pool early, but further investigation revealed there was a technical malfunction, causing the start to sound before the swimmers were instructed to take their marks. Larson hit the wall at 50m in second place, but faltered down the stretch and finished in sixth place.

Soni will compete in the Women’s 200m Breaststroke and will swim breaststroke in the Women’s 4 x 100m Medley Relay.

Men’s 200m Freestyle Finals

The race was Lochte’s to win as he faced a field missing 2008 gold medalist Michael Phelps, who decided prior to the Games beginning to drop the event from his program. Coming off the wall at the 150m mark, Lochte was in position to clinch at least a silver medal, possibly overtaking France’s Yannick Agnel, who was less than two-tenths of a second ahead, for gold.

Instead, Lochte faltered down the last half length of the pool, giving way to China’s Sun Yang and Korea’s Park Taehwan, who tied for dual silver medals. Lochte was in at least third place at every split of the race before finishing fourth.

Team Ryan will enjoy Lochte for two more individual events – the 200m Backstroke, possibly his best event, and the 200m Individual Medley, where he’ll again go head-to-head against Phelps. Lochte will also swim for the U.S. in the Men’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay.

Women’s 200m Individual Medley Semifinals

Caitlin Leverenz and Ariana Kukors qualified with times of 2.10.06 and 2.10.08, respectively, in the women’s 200m individual medley finals tomorrow.

Men’s 200m Butterfly Semifinals

Phelps and fellow American Tyler Clary both posted qualifying times in the 200m Butterfly and will swim in the event finals tomorrow afternoon.

U.S. Women’s Volleyball Team Takes Down Brazil

It was in some ways a tougher match for Team USA than their opening match against South Korea, but the American women hung tough and defeated Brazil in four sets, 3-1 (25-18, 25-17, 22-25, 25-21). The match featured the top two FIVB ranked teams in the world, with USA No. 1 and Brazil No. 2.

Team USA couldn’t close the Brazilians out in straight sets, losing a close third set and giving Brazil momentum to make it close in the fourth set. Indeed, it seemed Brazil would force a decisive fifth set, and the Americans displayed uncharacteristic mental lapses on defense. However, whatever ground Team USA gave to Brazil was given right  back on the service, where Brazil performed miserably, enduring seven unforced service errors.

Team captain and setter Lindsey Berg served for match point, which featured a dramatic series of volleys culminated by a Logan Tom kill for the victory. Tom had an excellent balanced performance, while Destinee Hooker again was a force up front with 23 points. Jordan Larson contributed 18 points. Libero Nicole Davis led the team with 26 digs and 33 receptions on defense.

Here’s the box score on the game. Team USA has defeated two of the toughest opponents in the Group B draw and is tied for the lead with China with six points (two wins in two matches played each). They will face the Chinese on Wednesday.

More to come on Team USA women’s volleyball, including team analysis and player profiles.

Lost in Translation: Cultural, Political Implications In Play at Games

Typically, the Olympic Games are viewed as a respite from global conflict and politics. However, this isn’t always the case.

This article by Reuters details how the British recording of the Hungarian anthem was out of touch with traditional rhythm and tempo, an error discovered after a Hungarian fencer won gold.

Interesting to note that the London Philharmonic Orchestra recorded this and more than 200 other anthems and presented the recordings to the IOC as a gift. Oh and by the way, they recorded them at Abbey Road Studios.

The Hungarian Olympic delegation simply asked that a proper recording be used, but as for any ill will over the mishap, they decided to just “Let It Be.”

Event managers in London also gaffed on the soccer pitch, putting up South Korea’s flag when the North Korean women were about to start playing. The reps from the People’s Republic refused to take the pitch for an hour after the gaffe. In a swimming event, a Tunisian swimmer refused to enter the pool with an Israeli swimmer who happened to be in his country’s military and took part in military exercises against Palestine.

Even during the Opening Ceremony, such tense situations were relevant. Commentators wondered about Argentina’s reception during the ceremony, as England and Argentina have been at odds over islands off the coast of South America. Taiwan, in order to participate in the Games, has acquiesced to being referred to as Chinese Taipei. Also, newly-christened South Sudan is not represented at the Games, though a South Sudanese athlete is participating. He escaped the war-torn area and, at last check, was awaiting visa clearance to get to London and compete under the Olympic flag as an “Independent Olympic Athlete.”

Anthem gaffe tarnish gold medal for Hungarian

LONDON, July 30 (Reuters) – Aron Szilagyi’s perfect rhythm won him gold in men’s individual sabre but the Hungarian Olympic Committee said on Monday London’s organisers were off-key with the country’s anthem and asked that it be changed…

Olympic Fencing 101: Don’t Call It a “Sword”

Editor’s Note:  Kent Moore is a public relations professional from California. He has great expertise in fencing, and gladly offered to write a guest post on the intricacies of Olympic fencing.

If you’re like me and love sports, then you and the rest of the world are watching the 2012 Olympic Games in London. For some, it’s a chance to check out sports they have never seen or heard of. In the case of fencing, probably a majority of you are in that category. Being a fencer myself, who has competed both in national and state competitions, below are the basics of what you should know about fencing for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Fencing Basics

I could write a book about the fencing basics, but the quick version is that fencing has three different styles of competition:  foil, epee, and saber. All three weapons have different rules and target areas. Each match, or “bout,” as it’s called, is played to 15 touches. The bout takes place on a “strip,” measuring 14 meters by 2 meters, where the fencers can only move forwards and backwards. A large fencing competition, like the Olympics, usually has both individual competitions and team competitions, which consists of three fencers for each team.

USA Fencers

While countries like France and Italy have produced some of the best fencers in the world, anyone who knows the sport well is aware that the U.S. is now finally being able to give European fencers a run for their money. For instance, this past Saturday, foil fencer Lee Kiefer took fifth place in women’s foil, which was the best result for a women’s individual foil fencer since 1956.

Though as we look towards the rest of the games and you find yourself wanting to watch a spectacular fencing bout, I would highly suggest watching both the women’s saber and men’s foil individual competitions. For women’s saber, Team USA has two-time gold winner Mariel Zagunis. Besides a laundry list of wins and accomplishments, which you can read here, Mariel is the Americans’ best hope for obtaining a gold medal in fencing. While in men’s foil, Team USA has foil fencer Race Imboden. Ranked number one in the nation and fifth in the world, this red headed youth is a force not to be underestimated. Being his first Olympics, I believe he is going to give the world a show they soon won’t forget.

When To Watch

If you’re ready for some swashbuckling action then check out the NBC schedule here, and for more information about US fencing, check out www.usfencing.org.

Day 3 Team USA Olympic Schedule

Here’s Today’s Schedule of Team USA Olympic Events. I’ll work on updating you on events that have already completed. Remember, I will be updating this site live, but I won’t post anything with spoilers of events that will air on prime time to social media until the events air.

  • NOW – Serena Williams (USA) vs. Ursula Radwanska (POL), Women’s Tennis Singles; Marli Malloy (USA)vs. Giulia Quintavalle (ITA), Women’s 57kg Judo Bronze Medal; American divers David Boudia and Nick McCrory in men’s Synchronized 10m platform diving (likely to air primetime); American rider Tiana Coudray and Team USA on the course in the Equestrian Cross-Country Event
  • 9:30 a.m. – American Zach Railey races in the Men’s Finn Sailing event
  • 9:45 a.m. – American light heavyweight Marcus Browne takes on Aussie Damien Hooper in Men’s Boxing
  • 9:50 a.m. – American duo Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih race in the Men’s Star Sailing event
  • 10:00 a.m. – American John Isner takes on Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri in Men’s Tennis Singles
  • 10:30 a.m. – Team USA Men’s Gymnastics Team in the Team Final event (will be shown prime time)
  • 10:45 a.m. – Team USA Women’s Volleyball Team vs. Brazil
  • 11:30 a.m. – Venus and Serena Williams take on Romania in Women’s Tennis Doubles
  • 1:30 p.m. – American medalists Allison Schmitt and Missy Franklin swim in the Women’s 200m Freestyle semis
  • 1:40 p.m. – Team USA Women’s Water Polo Team vs. Hungary
  • 1:43 p.m. – American Ryan Lochte goes for gold against China’s Sun Yang and world record holder Paul Biedermann of Germany in the Men’s 200m Freestyle Final.
  • 1:51 p.m. – American Missy Franklin goes for gold in the Women’s 100m Backstroke Final
  • 1:58 p.m. – Americans Nick Thoman and Matt Grevers go for gold in the Men’s 100m Backstroke Final
  • 2:15 p.m. – Americans Rebecca Soni and Breeja Larson go for gold in the Women’s 100m Breaststroke Final
  • 2:32 p.m. – American Michael Phelps looks to advance in defense of his gold medal in Beijing in the Men’s 200m Butterfly, perhaps his best event. American Tyler Clary will also swim.
  • 2:55 p.m. – Americans Caitlin Leverenz and Ariana Kukors, the current world-record holder, will swim in the Women’s 200m Individual Medley semis.
  • 3:00 p.m. – Americans Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal hit the beach against Poland in Men’s Beach Volleyball
  • 4:15 p.m. – Team USA Women’s Basketball takes on old foe Angola
  • 5:00 p.m. – Americans Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings under the lights against the Czech Republic in Women’s Beach Volleyball