JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Emeka Okafor's sprained ankle and Tim
Duncan's absence from a practice put a spotlight on the U.S.
Olympic team's lack of frontcourt depth.
"Yeah, I worry, but hopefully it's not anything real bad,"
coach Larry Brown said. "If it is, we've got to go to the
X-rays on Okafor's right ankle were negative, and the former
Connecticut star was to be re-evaluated Wednesday. He landed
awkwardly and turned his ankle during a drill about an hour after
practice began during the second day of the training camp.
Duncan felt ill and had a slight fever, prompting trainers to
have him skip the morning session of the team's two-a-day
practices. He participated in the entire evening practice, a team
The absence of the two left power forwards Carlos Boozer and
Amare Stoudemire as the only big men. Okafor is the U.S. team's
only true center, although Duncan is expected to man that position
for long stretches during the Olympics.
The expansion Charlotte Bobcats, who signed Okafor to a multiyear contract Tuesday, weren't thrilled with the center's decision to play in Athens and wanted Okafor to work out with the team and play in summer leagues. Team USA commitments prevent Okafor from doing that.
"We are somewhat concerned because all that basketball causes a lot of wear and tear and prevents you from being fresh at the start of the season," Bobcats coach and general manager Bernie Bickerstaff said in late June. "We have many concerns that we want to address."
Even at full strength, the Americans will be at a disadvantage
in terms of size and bulk against several opponents, a deficiency
that should be exposed the next two weeks in exhibition games
against Puerto Rico, Italy, Germany and Serbia and Montenegro.
"I don't look out there and see one guy that's not capable of
being a quality rebounder in this setting," Brown said. "My
Detroit team wasn't a huge team and we rebounded the ball. That's
just a commitment you make, and hopefully we'll do that. On the
offensive boards, sometimes athleticism and quickness is a real
plus, so hopefully we'll do the job in that respect."
Changes can be made to the roster until 72 hours before the
start of Olympic competition.
"We don't have anybody on hold or waiting in the wings," said
Stu Jackson, chairman of the USA Basketball selection committee.
"It would be unfair to the team to even speculate on [a possible
replacement for Okafor]."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.