Team USA holds first practice in Germany

COLOGNE, Germany -- Larry Brown wants to move on.

The U.S. Olympic basketball coach said Sunday that the
suspension of Allen Iverson, LeBron James and Amare Stoudemire is
forgotten. He would rather focus on a tough road trip against some
of Europe's top teams leading up to the Athens Olympics.

Brown refused to let Iverson, James and Stoudemire play in the
team's 96-71 win over Puerto Rico on Saturday, punishment for the
trio showing up late for a team meeting.

"It won't happen again. They'll play the next game and some
will start," Brown said.

The U.S. squad arrived in Germany on Sunday, shook off the jet
lag and held its first practice.

And Brown is having some second thoughts about whether this
series of exhibitions, which includes a game against world champion
Serbia and Montenegro, is ideal for his team.

That's a switch from last year, when he was eager for the trip
after the U.S. team romped through Olympic qualifying in Puerto
Rico with a 10-0 record. Since then, however, veterans from that
team, including Mike Bibby, Tracy McGrady and Ray Allen, have
bailed out.

Now, Brown is drilling the youngest U.S. Olympic team, with an
average age of 23.6 years, since NBA players were first allowed
into the 1992 Games.

James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony may be talented, but they
are newcomers to basketball abroad. The team played together just
one week, and many players will need a crash course in the
different rules of the international game.

Brown thought the team had put all that behind them in Puerto

"We thought that team would be playing. We thought we had laid
the foundation," Brown said. "Now I think maybe we can use the

The U.S. team faces Italy on Tuesday, followed by Germany and
Dirk Nowitzki on Wednesday. Then it plays two more away games
against Serbia and Montenegro and Turkey, whose NBA players include
Utah's Mehmet Okur.

"I hope this trip will competitively toughen us up," Brown

Sunday's practice, during which Brown worked on some plays, was
a closed session in a sweltering small gym. Only a handful of
reporters were let in to watch a late shootaround and talk to the

That will be different against Italy and Germany. The NBA stars,
often still called "The Dream Team" abroad, have awakened huge

From across the world, the German organizers of the exhibition
game said more than 500 media sought accreditation for the two
games, with around 350 gaining approval. That's about a 100 more
than followed the U.S. team's training camp in Jacksonville.

While handling the growing hoopla, Brown will have to get his
young team used to the international game's wider lanes, the
different calls from referees, the shortened 3-point line, along
with schooling them in some simple plays.

All that will be needed to offset the American's disadvantage,
which proved so costly at the world championships in Indianapolis,
where it was beaten three times and finished sixth.

While the U.S. squad has three short weeks to forge a cohesive
team, other world powers like Argentina and Serbia and Montenegro
have players who have been on the court together for years.

Not that the Americans and their young stars are worried.

Anthony has already boldly predicted a gold medal, while James
said he isn't concerned about upholding the American's 24-0 mark
since NBA players were allowed in the Olympics.

"There's no pressure at all," James said. "If we get better
and do our job, we have a great chance of accomplishing our