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June 14, 2007
Where once gold was a given, now it seems we barely expect to medal when we venture beyond our shores.
The U.S. team won gold at eight of the first nine Pan-Am Games, but it hasn't had the Midas touch there since 1983. In the most recent Pan-Am Games in 2003, the Americans didn't even medal.
Yes, the world has caught up to us. Yes, other teams in the upcoming Pan-Am Games in Brazil will be sending professional players against our collegians. But is a bronze too much to ask? Can't we hold out a sliver of hope for a silver?
It's fair to say this isn't even the best college team we can offer. Many of the top underclassmen are in the NBA Draft. A couple of top players (including North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough) turned down tryout invites for the Pan-Am team for one reason or another.
Still, there is a glimmer of hope. We appear to have a bevy of talented outside shooters, something U.S. teams of recent vintage have lacked. We also have some wide bodies who won't shy away if things get physical. So we'll see how it all comes together next month.
In the meantime, here's who Rivals.com experts Bob McClellan and Andrew Skwara choose for their teams out of the 30 invitees (listed alphabetically):