Tuesday, June 30, 2009

WUG 2009 -- USA Downs Russia 67-63 (Exhibition)

Working Out the Wrinkles
The USA squad slugged it out with the Russian squad 67-63, in the last game of the the Serbian Invitational Tournament, a warmup for the World University Games. With the win the USA squad posted a 2-1 record, 2nd to host Serbia (3-0). Serbia's University of Belgrade will host the World University Games this year, with the basketball tournament (the field consisting of 23 teams) scheduled to kickoff Thursday of this week (USA will play their 1st round game versus Finland, on Friday). The box score (and published accounts -- see bottom) indicates USA head coach Bo Ryan (Wisconsin) shuffled his starting five for the third time in three games, looking no doubt, for a combination that would start fast. He could not have been disappointed as the USA squad held a 9 point lead going into the locker room at half time. The Russians came out and evened the score by the end of the third quarter. The USA squad sealed the deal with a 17-13 4th quarter. As the possession-based stats below suggest, this was another defensive struggle.


The squad played the most down tempo game of the set, as each team garnered between 75 and 76 possessions. Coach Ryan's Wisconsin was the 2nd most deliberate team in the Big Ten in 2009. The Big Ten, home for coaches Todd Lickliter (Iowa), Bill Carmody (Northwestern of the Princeton Offense), John Beilein (Michigan) might be ranked the lowest possession conference among the BCS conferences. The tilt with Russia bore all the markers of a defensive struggle, a PPWS below 1.00, high turnover rates (TOR% -- above 20% for both teams) and efficiency ratings (Eff.) < 100.

A few possession-based stats for the squad:

Anderson, James10.00.00.0033.
Battle, Talor45.030.00.6518.821.20.00.0
Booker, Trevor17.550.01.0019.
Brackins, Craig17.5NANA0.
Butler, Da'Sean47.566.71.6710.710.00.06.4
Fisher, Corey70.054.51.1726.
Hayward, Lazar30.025.00.7233.
Hummel, Robbie47.537.50.9028.50.012.912.8
Pondexter, Quincy42.50.00.798.
Thompson, Deon65.060.01.0626.10.015.718.6
Turner, Evan62.50.00.2616.30.06.529.1
Varnado, Jarvis45.050.01.2115.110.622.76.7
Team Total39.00.91

The starting lineup is (again) highlighted in green. For the third game Coach Ryan decided to start the trio of Da'Sean Butler (West Virginia), Corey Fisher (Villanova) and Deon Thompson (North Carolina), while shuffling the last two spots (a wing spot -- #2/#3 and a low post spot #4/#5). He moved Evan Turner (Ohio State) and Jarvis Varnado (Mississippi State) into the starting lineup and brought Lazar Hayward (Marquette) and Trevor Booker (Clemson) in off the bench. The newcomers snagged 14 rebounds (6 more than they did as substitutes versus Serbia) and the shuffled combination netted 4 more rebounds than game #2 versus Serbia. Though the squad continues to struggle with shooting (see eFG% & PPWS above, both are below "good" levels of 50.0 and 1.00 respectively), Coach Ryan must have been happy, as he the starters take 58% of the playing time, well above the first and second game Min% of < 49%.

Additional Links
The AP wire story posted at USA Basketball.
The box score in .pdf format.
Some additional post game quotes.
Andy Katz mentions the squad and their shooting woes in his 6/29 blog entry (scroll down below the Memphis leadin). Also cited Villanova's Corey Fisher as "the most consistent player" so far.

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