Wednesday, August 17, 2011

World University Games 2011 -- USA Overwhelms Finland

USA 124 Finland 64
Team USA secured the #1 seed coming out of Group D play as part of their continued domination of play in their pool. In the Shenzhen University Gym today they came within four points of doubling up Team Finland, 124-64. As Ray McCallum put it, "Before the game in film today, (Butler) coach (Brad) Stevens really stressed coming out strong from the get-go, being focused and playing hard. I thought that was what we did, and our walk-through this morning carried over to the game today...", as their 12 point lead (31-19) in the first quarter attested. The consistency and momentum continued into the second quarter, as Team USA padded their lead with another 13 points (32-19), taking a large 25 point half-time lead (63-38) into the intermission. Coach Matt Painter continued to employ a large rotation, using all 12 members of the squad with a relatively even distribution of playing time. No player drew more than 47.5% of the playing time (about 19 minutes) at his position, and fully eight players logged at least 40% of the playing time (at least 16 minutes) over the course of the game. Reeling from their 25 point first half deficit, the Finns sa the Americans nearly double their scoring margin by adding another 24 points to their lead with a 37-13 third quarter, pushing the score to 100-51. Team USA took their foot off the pedal in the fourth quarter and cruised home to a 124-64 win, a stunning 60 point margin of victory. With the game well in hand, USA Coach Matt Painter (Purdue) decided to experiment, "...We mixed up the line up a little bit tonight and swaped (sic) our point guards, Scoop (Jardine) and Ashton (Gibbs), just to get a different look and see how our guys would respond to it, and both groups played well..." The game starters, (Tim Abromaitis, the Greens -- Draymond & JayMychal -- Denmon and Gibbs) combined for 44% of the playing time, another indication of the large early scoring margin. The score by quarters...


JayMychal Green paced all scorers with 21 points (in 15 minutes of play) on 6-7 (1-1, 5-6) from the field and 8-10 from the line. Four other Team USA squad members Trevor Mbakwe (14 points in 16 minutes), Ashton Gibbs (13 points in 18 minutes), John Jenkins (12 points in 16 minutes) and Marcus Denmon (10 points in 18 minutes) scored more than 10 points. Draymond Green gathered nine (5-4-9) rebounds as three other Americans (JayMychal Green, Mbakwe and Darius Miller) collected six apiece. Anti Kanervo paced the Finns with a 20 point performance on 8-13 (1-4, 7-9) from the field and 3-4 from the line. Roope Ahonen scored 10 points while two members of the Team Finland squad, Petri Heinonen and Carl Lindbom grabbed team-high four rebounds apiece.

The possession-based breakdown...

Team USA82.61.5063.314.562.954.748.81.31
Team Finland0.7741.424.235.914.338.50.86

Team USA logged their fourth consecutive game of < 80 possessions with an offensive efficiency of more than 1.13. In three of those games Team USA logged an offensive efficiency (points per possession scored) of 1.31, an impressive level of scoring efficiency powered by shot conversion efficiency (eFG% -- note their 60% rate versus Finland), offensive rebounding rate (50% or better in three of their four WUG matches) and ability to get to the line (see FTA/FGA above -- 54.7%) as a percentage of their field goal attempts. If Team USA misses their field goal attempts, odds are excellent (about 1-in-2) they will rebound the miss and/or get to the line (again, about 1-in-2). On the defensive side Team USA has successfully limited their opponents to an eFG% of <45%, forced turnovers at a close-to 25% rate in three of four games and kept their opponents from balancing the scoring deficit with trips to the line. The American squad is one of four among the 24 team field that remains undefeated.

Team USA has secured a #1 seed going into the quarter final rounds, but still must face Team Israel on Thursday before taking on either Team Russia or Team Lithuania (for those following the U19 World Championships last month, sound familiar?) on Saturday. The USA faces off against Israel Thursday morning at 3:20 am Eastern Daylight Savings time in Shenzhen University Main Gym.

Further Reading
USA Basketball posted a game recap on their website, along with a box score and post game quotes.

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