Morning Five: 07.11.11 EditionPosted by rtmsf on July 11th, 2011
- In a somewhat shocking turn of events at the FIBA Under-19 World Championships in Latvia, Team USA lost 79-74 Friday to Russia in a quarterfinal game where the Yanks simply could not throw the ball in the ocean from outside the arc (0-9). Nor, apparently, could they defend it, as Russia dropped 12 threes on its end, making it virtually impossible for a team lacking much of an inside presence to win the game. The American team regrouped to throttle Poland on Saturday before finishing the tournament by beating Australia, 78-77, Sunday to take the fifth place trophy (USA’s worst showing since 2003, also a fifth place finish). Connecticut’s Jeremy Lamb was the undisputed leader of this team, averaging 16/4 in taking 53 more shots than anyone else on the team, but the surprise of the squad may have been Creighton’s Doug McDermott, the 2010-11 MVC ROY but someone that most national fans haven’t yet heard of. The rising sophomore went for averages of 11/6 in the tournament and proved the only player on the roster capable of reliably hitting threes (39.3%) — keep an eye out for this future March Madness hero in coming seasons.
- So what happened to cause a disappointing fifth place finish (Team USA was expected to win gold or silver) in Latvia this year? Luke Winn writes that the hordes of A-list stars who opted to stay stateside this summer — from UNC’s Harrison Barnes to Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger — had an obvious impact; but he also mentions some of the chatter from NBA GMs and scouts who openly suggested that some of the players didn’t take the competition seriously enough. Whether this is yet another indictment of the infernal AAU system in America, or simply a matter of players foolishly failing to recognize that the rest of the world can play too, we’re not sure. But the fact remains that USA Basketball is nowhere near as fearsome of an entity as it once was — especially at the younger levels.
- We always talk about ranking the programs on the measure of how well they put players into the NBA, but that doesn’t always give us the entire picture. For example, a school might have ten players in the League, but they may all ride the pine. Another school might have half that many total players, but three or four of those could be All-Stars. Dollars for Ballers took a stab at this problem by considering player salaries. While @SportsGuy33 persuasively argues that NBA salaries are not always commensurate with talent and productivity (hello, Rashard Lewis!), it’s a better proxy than none at all. So given this, would you believe that Michigan State’s five players — Jason Richardson, Zach Randolph, Morris Peterson, Shannon Brown, and Charlie Bell — had the highest salary average at $7.76M than any other school with at least three players? Duke, with its 13 total pros, many of whom have been around for a while, collected nearly $90M in salaries last season. Really, the only way to do this kind of analysis accurately is to tie programs to individual and team outcomes, but this is a decent start.
- Some players get tattoos and carve messages into their hair to rep for their families; incoming Kentucky freshman Michael Gilchrist decided to change his name. According to his tweet on Friday afternoon, one of the best freshmen in the country has officially changed his name to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. He chose to add Kidd to his existing surname to honor his deceased uncle, Darrin Kidd, a mentor who suffered a fatal heart attack on the same day MKG signed his letter of intent last year; and, of course, his father, Michael Gilchrist, Sr., was shot and killed fifteen years ago.
- On a sad note, former TCU head coach Neil Dougherty died last Tuesday during a jog in Indianapolis. He wasn’t carrying identification and is not a local resident — he was in town as part of his current job with iHoops, an NBA/NCAA joint initiative — so after passing during the run, his body was kept as a “John Doe” until last Friday when his identity was revealed. Dougherty was a long-time assistant throughout the 80s and 90s, most notably at his home-state school of Kansas under Roy Williams, and his age of only 50 years has many folks in Lawrence and Fort Worth shaking their heads. He leaves a wife, Patti, and three children. RIP, Coach Dougherty.