PAN shAM Team Thoughts

Posted by rtmsf on July 31st, 2007

As we mentioned yesterday, Team USA’s Pan Am squad got off the plane in Rio and promptly found itself down 0-2 with losses to Uruguay and Panama, which effectively ended any chance for a medal at the tournament. Let’s say that again – Uruguay… and… Panama. If you thought losing to Serbia was bad… Uruguay? This small nation of 3.3M people stuck somewhere in South America between Brazil and Argentina is best known in hoops circles for putting only one player in its history, Ernesto Batista (Atlanta Hawks), into the NBA. As for losing to Panama, what else can be said? They’re known for a corrupt former dictator and an important canal – not exactly backdoor cuts and alley-oops.


This is All We Care to Know About Uruguay

At least Team USA rallied to win their next three games vs. Argentina, the US Virgin Islands and Panama (revenge is ours, Noriega!) to take 5th place at the tournament. (FYI – Brazil was the champion.) The more things change, the more they stay the same… Sigh… Doug Gottlieb writes today that “we stink” when it comes to international basketball, and he’s absolutely, positively, most definitely and completely right on that count:

We are Team USA, and we can not win the gold in any competition. The Pan Am team has not won gold since 1983. The Under-19 team has not won gold since 1991. The men’s national team has not won the world championship since 1994. The last Olympics gold came in 2000. We are the standard bearers for hoops across the globe, but in comparing our own image of how good we are to our overall performance, we stink.

He blames our international woes on the different styles of play and officiating, and no doubt that explains some of it. But from the non-player side of things, we still believe that our AAU-bred emphasis on 1-on-1 play over basic fundamentals such as passing, shooting and help defense is a more significant factor. When we were winning every international competition 20+ years ago, we were still more athletic than everyone else – that part hasn’t changed. What has changed is that the world has gotten significantly better (obviously), but more importantly, the US players have not. More athletic – definitely. More talented at one-and-one play – assuredly. More talented at team basketball – not even close. As Gottlieb suggests and we agree, this problem isn’t going away.

Doug Gottlieb

Gottlieb is a Doppelganger for an Intl. Hoopster

With that tirade over, we wanted to take a moment to look at the stats from the players on this Pan Am team to get some idea of whether any might have breakout seasons in college next year.

Pan Am Stats 3

According to the numbers and coach Jay Wright:

  • DJ White (Indiana) was the class of this team, nearly averaging a dub-dub, shooting 59% and leading the team in steals in only 24 minutes per game. If Eric Gordon is worth half of his hype next year, IU could really turn some heads in the Big Ten and nationally.
  • Wright slurped Roy Hibbert (Georgetown) for his mobility, but we were a little surprised he only managed eight blocks in five games.
  • And what the hell happened to Scottie Reynolds (Villanova)? We could be looking at a second coming of the Human Cannon (aka Dion Glover) here – 21% (8-37 FG; 4-19 3FG) shooting and a boatload of turnovers to boot. Memo to Reynolds – you had a nice freshman year, but just b/c the coach of your school coaches the team does not mean you have the green light on every possession.
  • Speaking of shooting, Drew Neitzel (Michigan St.) and Shan Foster (Vanderbilt) both shot poorly in the tournament, which is unsurprising considering neither is a pure shooter.
  • A pair of Pac-10 players, Derrick Low (Washington St.) and Maarty Leunen (Oregon) seemed to act as solid versatile “glue guys” that are so important for any team, according to Wright.
  • Joey Dorsey (Memphis) made a name for himself when he called out a Uruguayan center named Gregorio Odento and was summarily dunked on (or maybe we’re getting that confused with something else).
  • Guards Wayne Ellington (UNC) and Eric Maynor (VCU) both got hurt early, so we never really got to see what they could do.

DJ White

DJ White Ponders His Senior Year

All in all, it sounds like another uninspiring performance from Team USA. We’re definitely going to be keeping a closer eye on DJ White this upcoming season, though.

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Monday Thoughts

Posted by rtmsf on July 30th, 2007

A few different thoughts today, but none enough for its own post:

  • Circling back to the Donaghy saga, TrueHoop uncovered an academic paper on the NBA by a Stanford undergrad  named Jonathan Gibbs that echoes the findings of the Wharton study on college basketball by Prof. Justin Wolfers that we mentioned last week.  In summary, Gibbs found that there are a number of statistical outlier NBA games each season where heavy favorites beat the spread less often than they should, which, when controlled for confounding factors, is suggestive of pointshaving.  This certainly comports with our prior stance that it happens more often than we all think.  It seems that the only way to truly combat this problem is for the NBA and college conferences to use rigorous statistical analyses such as these to isolate anamolous game performances with respect to the spread (something that neither is likely doing at present), and then systemically review the games isolated for any funny business on the part of the players and/or officials.  Freakonomics at work, baby!
  • As the Wake Forest Nation continues to mourn the tragic loss of Skip Prosser, preparations are being made to say goodbye:
    • A public viewing will be held on Monday, July 30 from 2 p.m. until 9 p.m. at Holy Family Catholic Church in Clemmons, N.C.
    • The funeral mass will be celebrated at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 31 at Holy Family Catholic Church.  The mass will be simultaneously televised in Wait Chapel. Members of the Wake Forest University and Winston-Salem communities are invited to view the mass live in Wait Chapel.
    • The Wake Forest assistant coaching staff will serve as pallbearers. The current and incoming members of the Demon Deacon basketball team will serve as honorary pallbearers.
    • Burial is tentatively scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday, August 4 in Cincinnati.    
  • Finally, we’d also like to point out that the US Pan Am Team lost its first two games at the competition in Rio de Janeiro and was out of medal contention pretty much as soon as they stepped off the plane.  We’ll have a more detailed report later with respect to who played well and who didn’t, but for now, suffice it to say that fifth place with our best collegians is simply unacceptable and indicative of a much larger problem with USA hoops, as we discussed here.   
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Fast Breaks 07.16.07

Posted by rtmsf on July 16th, 2007

For some reason, we don’t recall summers growing up as this boring…

  • Mizzou players Kalen Grimes (accused of assault with a shotgun in, of all places, a Jack in the Box) and DeMarre Carroll (shot in the ankle outside a nightclub) were involved in separate incidents within five days of each other. Mike Anderson’s honeymoon is apparently over in Columbia.
  • Bad Luck in Durham: Duke’s Brian Zoubek broke his foot in a pickup game; and Demarcus Nelson broke his wrist at the Pan Am trials within the last week. No word on whether Greg Paulus’s mishap with autoerotic asphyxiation will affect his play next year.
  • The Big East moves to an 18-game conference schedule for 2007-08, so each team will play at least once next year. We like this trend.
  • SEC Commish Mike Slive will head the NCAA Selection Committee in 2009 – Ole Miss and Vandy are already making hotel reservations to reward their 18-10 records.
  • New Ohio St. President Gordon Gee says that he will not tolerate bad behavior on his watch within the Buckeye program… we’re still waiting on the punchline here.
  • The 2007 HOF Challenge on December 1 is set with two solid matchups: UConn vs. Gonzaga and BC vs. Providence.
  • Cal assistant Joe Pasternack takes the head coaching job at the University of New Orleans. Bears fans lament that Ben Braun didn’t take the job.
  • The Fanhouse put together its admittedly premature top 20 for the summer. Georgetown is too low on their list and Indiana is too high.
  • UCLA’s incoming frosh Kevin Love is the Gatorade POY. Still not sure how we feel about him – is he another Psycho T or Aaron Gray?
  • Wake got 2008 verbals from the #3 and #18 players last week (to go along with already committed #10), but is the Class of 2008 any good? Speaking of Wake, TrueHoop unearthed a fantastic introspective piece into the mind of the greatest Deac of all, Tim Duncan.
  • Seth Davis gives his takes from the road on the summer circuit.
  • Apparently Steve Lavin knows how to throw a party.
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