Monday, July 12, 2010

FIBA U17 World Championship -- USA Over Poland 111-80

How the USA Brought Home the Gold
Team USA has routinely played these FIBA games for 90 or more possessions, while the Poles typically played for about 10 fewer possessions per game, 81. The Poles may have won the tempo battle, but Team USA won the game, harvesting over 1.33 points per possession, while yielding 0.99 ppp to the Poles. Poland started strong, punching the ball in twice inside the lane, to grab a 4-0 lead in the game's first minute, but Team USA responded with a 7-0, two minute run to grab the lead for good. Poland played a competitive first quarter, trailing by 5 (29-24) as the quarter ended. The Americans matched their first quarter production (29 points) again in the second quarter, but the Poles could not keep up, falling behind by 17 points going into half-time. The Poles won the third quarter (21-20), but the Americans turned on the after burners and ran out the fourth quarter with a 33-18 run, closing out the Poles 111-80, a margin of victory larger than their semi-final win over Canada.

Game-Highs, Leaders
6-7 forward Tomaz Gielo recorded a game-high 21 points on 9-15 (1-4, 8-11) and 2-2 shooting. Three other Poles, guards Filip Matszak (14 points) and Mateusz Ponitka (14 points), along with forward Piotr Niedzwiedzki (10 points) scored double digits points. Przemyslaw Karnowski paced the Poles with 6 (3-3-6) rebounds. James McAdoo paced Team USA with 20 points, scored in 24 minutes. McAdoo was efficient, hitting 9-13 from the field to go with 2-2 from the line. Three other Americans, Brad Beal (19 points), Michael Gilchrist (16 points) and Tony Wroten (13 points) recorded double-digit outings as well. Adonis Thomas snagged a game-high 8 (5-3-8) rebounds, followed closely by McAdoo and Johnny O'Bryant who snagged seven apiece in the winning effort. Point guard Quinn Cook dished 11 assists in 24 minutes of play. Cook's 39% assist rate, along with his 13% defensive rebounding rate atoned in part for an atrocious shooting night. Cook converted only one of seven field goal attempts, a three pointer he nailed in the third quarter. Coach Showalter allocated 60% of the playing time to his starting five.

By the Numbers...

Team USA shot well (59.2%), better than the Poles (52.3%), but the difference in the conversion rate does not explain the scoring gap between the two teams. All things equal, Team USA's margin of victory would have been between 10 and 15 points -- but "things" were not equal. A quick scan of the table indicates the Poles lost over 30% of their possessions (versus <20% for Team USA) and were unable to offset the difference either on their offensive boards or at the free throw line. The Poles' defense, second only to the USA through seven games, faltered badly in the eighth.

Notes & Observations
1. In the eight games of basketball in this tournament, the USA U17 team won 24 of the 32 quarters they played. Of the eight they "lost", three were 4th quarters, when the game was in hand, and three were lost by a single point.
2. Unlike Jeff Capel, who coached the USA team in the U18 Americas Cup Tournament, Coach Showalter gave his starting five at least 50% of the playing time in six of the tournament's eight games. Against Poland Coach Showalter used his starters for 60.2% of the game, only the second time in the tournament he kept his starters in for 60% or more of the game.
3. The Poles functioned as an "inside" team through much of the tournament, though in the games (versus the Americans excepted...) they "went outside" they were very effective. Using Kevin Pelton's "Inside/Outside" formula (for an A10, conference-wide application of this measure, check out Ray Floriani's piece over at College Chalk Talk. Ray employed Ken Pomeroy's variation to the teams of the A10 Conference), the Poles ranged from 0.10 (modestly inside-oriented versus Serbia) down to -0.55 (outside-oriented versus the Americans). Two of the Poles' "outside" games went well, they beat the Australians by 17 and the Germans by 46. In the gold medal game however, the Poles probably took their offense outside because they fell behind early.

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