No particular history with Nat that I am aware of. (Very little history with any senior women's basketball that I am aware of)
Yes - Smyth did make some interesting choices. I remember a lot of noise being made over selections around that time. (Yep, Dench, and I think Egan & Derek Moore were also there, and from memory the team balance was weird too - lack of guards?) That all went down after a significant changing of the guard - which I guess has some parallels with the current Opals, although some of the Opals losses this time were pushed/ignored rather than retired.
And yes it was a 2 point game that included a multitude of sloppy plays, so there are plenty of moments we could point to as "what ifs" that could have resulted in a different outcome.
That's actually what makes it harder for me to do so. Had this been a tight, well-drilled team that made a few big blunders, you could point to those and say that some uncharacteristic errors were costly. But our whole tournament was defined by disappointing play. We looked a good team in one out of 6 games, and from everything I saw I can't say we deserved to advance further.
We probably should have defeated Serbia by 15+ , just as we should have dispensed with Turkey & Belarus with ease, but we failed to use our players to good effect. Even if you accept everyone's ideas about who should and shouldn't have been in the team, the fact is that our core of Mitchell, Phillips, Taylor & Cambage were always going to be the key players, and they were all there.
The constant sideline shouting thing really bothered me. To me, that type of micromanagement gives the perception of a lack of preparation, or a lack of faith in the players - neither of which is a good thing once you hit the quarter final stage of the Olympic games. If the players are listening to that, it has to be distracting and frustrating. If they're not listening, then that doesn't exactly say good things either.
Bombarding players with constant words ... how much of that sinks in? How do they process all the messages? Surely the system should be second-nature by this stage, and just the key adjustments should need to be pointed out.
I'd actually be interested to hear a pro player's take on that aspect - because maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree with this aspect. But I would think that the players on the court should be focussed on the immediate action and communicating with each other - not tuned in to an external voice. These are good players - and in most cases quite experienced - and I believe that their playing instincts would be diminished when their mind is not clearly focussed on the task at hand. By all means suggest a play to run or a change of defensive structure, but there's got to be a point where timely helpful advice just becomes a saturation of clutter?