Wednesday, July 8, 2009

WUG 2009 -- USA Over Serbia 68-66

With Serbia's 98-82 win over the USA squad in the Serbia International Invitiational last week this match was going to be a war. The players looked to this game for redemption from a dismal defensive effort (and a lost temper or two). Team USA was motivated. Let's hope, should these two squads meet for a third time in a late medal round (both advanced, the game result only dictated who each would meet in the quarter final round), the USA will stay motivated. A quick look at Oliver's four factors (with a side glance at the 1st USA-Serbia tilt) suggests that while the Americans still don't have the Serb's number, they made significant progress from their first effort...


For starters they slowed the pace and took a more deliberate approach to the offense, reducing their possessions by 8, 74 down from 82 (over 10% reduction) from their 1st game. The Americans also shut down the Serb's shooting. Serbia's PPWS was < 1.00 for the 1st time in the tournament (including the Invitational last week). The Serbs failed to convert shots efficiently nor did they get to the line (enough) to offset their lack of production from the court. If the Americans did not control the boards, they certainly did a better job under both baskets. Squad USA may not have been able to get 1/3 of their misses (about what is expected for offensive rebounding rates), they improved (modestly) over their 1st game effort against Serbia (25%). The big improvement came under the Serb's basket. In the 1st game the Serbs grabbed nearly 41.7% of their missed shots. The Americans slashed that rate by over 10% in the 2nd game, a big swing.

A look at the players stats:

Anderson, James22.50.00.0020.516.58.211.4
Battle, Talor55.070.81.3233.
Booker, Trevor50.033.30.839.
Brackins, Craig47.543.80.8825.
Butler, Da'Sean55.050.01.0228.
Fisher, Corey47.535.70.9122.
Hayward, Lazar22.533.30.6720.
Hummel, Robbie52.540.00.8014.70.03.519.5
Pondexter, Quincy62.540.00.8012.35.95.912.3
Thompson, Deon40.050.01.0023.10.04.625.6
Turner, Evan35.
Varnado, Jarvis10.0100.01.3815.

Starters are highlighted in green. Coach Ryan sprung a surprise by sitting Butler, Fisher and Thompson and giving the nod to James Anderson (Oklahoma State), Talor Battle (Penn State) and Jarvis Varnado (Mississippi St). Varnado was effective under the offensive boards, but ran into foul trouble early (Raduljica is the 7-0 center who gave the Americans fits in their exhibition game). Trevor Booker (Clemson) and Deon Thompson split the remaining time at the #5; both did outstanding work on the defensive boards (though as seen earlier the Serbs pulled down more boards). Purdue's Robbie Hummel also turned in an outstanding effort on the defensive boards. Talor Battle had a breakout night, converting 7 of 12 FGAs (3-6, 4-6) to post an eFG% of 70.8, both efficient and prolific. He drew a good deal of attention from the Serbs, taking 5 fouls from the Serbs (who tried to apply full court pressure on the Americans). Battle's 1.32 PPWS set the pace for the USA squad.

What's Next
The USA squad secured the top spot in Group I with the win over Serbia. Both the Americans and Serbs will advance to the medal round (the Finns and Greeks will compete for spots #9 through #16), and after taking Wednesday off face their quarter final opponents on Thursday. Team USA will face the 2nd place finishers in Group L, the Bulgarians, while the Serbs draw the Group L winner, Turkey. Bulgaria was beaten by Turkey 69-60. The tip off is set for 8:00pm Belgrade time (3:00pm EDT).

Additional Links
The AP wire story posted at USA Basketball.
The box score in .pdf format.
Some additional post game quotes. "...Everybody has their night, and tonight wasn't my night - tonight was a team night. We won the game. It was a close game..."
Corey Fisher, Villanova

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