Thursday, June 30, 2011

FIBA U19 World Championship -- USA Dominates Egypt to Open U19 Tournament

Playing to Seed
Team USA hammered Team Egypt 115-60 to open their defense of the U19 FIBA World Championships in Latvia this morning. Opening with a scoring outburst absent in their two exhibition games, the USA U19s piled on a 20 point advantage in the first period, 25-5, then withstood an Egyptian response in the second period to add another point (25-24) going into halftime. Creighton's rising sophomore Doug McDermott led all scorers with 19 points on 8-11 (3-4, 5-7) shooting. All 12 Americans in Coach Hewitt's rotation scored today, while McDermott, son of Creighton head coach Greg McDermott was the most prolific of seven double-digit American scorers. Jeremy Lamb, rising sophomore out of Connecticut nearly matched McDermott with 15 points on 6-12 (3-6, 3-6) shooting. Seven foot Meyers Leonard, another rising sophomore, this time out of Illinois, grabbed a game-high 11 (6-5-11) rebounds to log his first double-double in international competition. Crunching the game boxscore to develop some possession-based stats for the game...


The pace is still higher than many of these Division 1 players -- and Coach Paul Hewitt -- played last season, but today, against the Egyptians, it worked out well. The Americans shot efficiently (Michigan's rising sophomore Tim Hardaway dialed back his shot production and drastically improved his conversion efficiency), and those who formed the nucleus of the American offense, Joe Jackson (rising sophomore, Memphis, 15 points), Jeremy Lamb, Doug McDermott, Keith Appling (rising sophomore, Michigan State, 10 points) and Leonard all scored at a 58.7% eFG% or better (much better in most cases). The losses in exhibition were significant enough to wrinkle a few MSM eyebrows on this side of the pond. A 55 point margin of victory over Egypt suggests this team can dominate lesser competition. The question is how competitive will they prove to be against the better teams in the field.

Pools of Immediate Interest
Groups C & D will eventually be folded into Group F for a second round robin phase early next week. The standings at the end of opening day play...

Group C Group D
South Korea01Egypt01

Team Serbia downed Team China by a surprisingly close five point margin, 78-73 in other Group D action. If the scores are true barometers (and not opening day jitters...), play in Group D will be either very competitive...or not. The news that Team Crotia beat the Lithuanian U19 squad (that beat the American U19 team by 31) 88-73 caught me by surprise, more so by the margin (15) than the outcome. Are the Lithuanians prematurely celebrating, or are the Croates that good? Team Canada dispatched South Korea by a similar margin, 16 in their opening day 109-93 win.

Bell Tones
Villanova's rising sophomore James Bell started the game and played 15 minutes, scoring 4 points on 2-5 (0-1, 2-4) shooting. Bell picked up 2 rebounds and 3 fouls, while dishing 2 assists and 2 steals.

Who's Got Next?
The USA's U19ers will get to it tomorrow, as the Americans face off against Team Serbia at 4:00pm (local time, 10:00am EDST). The Serbs have beaten American teams in international competition before, so there will be no intimidation factors to count on in game two. The winner will punch their ticket to preliminary round two and Group F play, while the loser will have to wait on the outcome of the Egypt-China game.

Further Reading...
USA Basketball's game recap
Additional game game quotes from the coaches and s few of the players.

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