Anthony says U.S. as good as gold

From Wire Reports

Carmelo Anthony has a message for Argentina, Lithuania and the other best basketball teams from around the world: The United States is going to win at the Athens Games.

"We're guaranteeing a gold medal. We're bringing it back," the Towson Catholic alumnus boldly predicted yesterday in Jacksonville, Fla., on his first day of practice with the U.S. national team.

It took very little prodding for Anthony to basically repeat what he said last week on David Letterman's late-night television talk show. It betrayed a level of youthful cockiness that might seem at odds with one of the main messages the American coaching staff tried to get across at the team's welcome dinner Sunday night: Respect the competition.

"That's just a young kid saying that," coach Larry Brown said when informed of Anthony's guarantee. "But as long as he respects the people we're playing against and understands how good they've got, I don't have any problem with that."

The United States will field the youngest roster, with an average age of 23.6, since it began sending pros to the Olympics in 1992.

Anthony turned 20 less than two months ago, making him the second-youngest member of a team that includes three players - Anthony, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade - coming off their rookie NBA seasons, along with rookie-to-be Emeka Okafor.

Brown held a nearly three-hour practice and planned to put the players through two-a-days yesterday and today in an effort to get them acquainted with one another. Only three players, Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan and Richard Jefferson, remain from the U.S. team that won the Tournament of the Americas last summer to qualify for a spot in the 12-team Athens field.

"We've got a lot of teaching to do," Brown said.

  • WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Minnesota Lynx guard Katie Smith's knee injury will not keep her out of the Games. Team doctors expect Smith, a four-time WNBA All-Star, to be out two to three weeks with a bruised right knee, but she still plans to play.
  • SECURITY: Security officials tested a new communication and surveillance system yesterday that will serve as the nerve center for authorities at next month's Games in Athens. The $312 million network - developed by a consortium led by San Diego-based Science Applications International Corp., or SAIC - is undergoing field tests after months of delays and disputes. On Sunday, police practiced moving athletes and games officials from Olympic Village and another site to the main Olympic stadium - a drill that involved 2,000 personnel and 90 buses. "We practiced moving people ... for the Opening Ceremony, a key event to get things started on the right footing," Marton Simitsek, a top Olympic planner, said yesterday. "I think it went well."
  • SOFTBALL: Mike Candrea will coach the U.S. team next month, fulfilling the wishes of his wife, Sue Candrea, who died July 18 of complications from a brain aneurysm. "Sue was so excited about the upcoming Olympics and would want me to continue on with our dream," he said. "Our entire family is behind this decision."
  • WEIGHTLIFTING: Szymon Kolecki of Poland, a silver medalist in 2000, will miss the Athens Games after testing positive for the anabolic steroid nandrolone.
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