Saturday, July 28, 2012

What to Look for in the Olympics

Well, 2 US gold. One would hope.

What else?

Well, I guess you'd have to say that the women have been more impressive than the men so far, out-scoring 5 exhibition opponents 95-62 to the men's 99-73. I mean there's not much to pick from there. But the closest game for the women was a 19-point win over Turkey, 80-61, in Turkey. For the men it was 86-80 vs. Argentina. On the other hand, they man-handled a good Spanish team, in Spain, 100-78.

So, the initial point remains. Anything less than 2 golds will be a huge surprise, disappointment, upset, etc. etc.

The Men

Cocah K started LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Tyson Chandler, his only real center, in all 5 games. Chris Paul started 4 of 5 at the point. Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony split the 5th spot, and its that 5th spot that is the focus of the US offense. The 2 combined to score 31 ppg while shooting about 55 percent. (LeBron led the way with 19 points on 59 percent shooting, but that's more LeBron and less Coach K's offensive scheme.)

The US out-shot its opponents 52-43 percent from the field and won the possession game +12, grabbing an extra 3 offensive boards and creating 10 extra turnovers. Those turnovers led to a lot of easy breakaway baskets for the US, ergo their 52 percent shooting and 59 percent on 2-point attempts.

If anybody is going to beat the US that opponent--like Argentina in the exhibition game--will minimize turnovers. Argentina, with Manu Ginobili as their main ball-handler, committed just 13 turnovers. Forced to play mostly in the half-court, the US shot just 45 percent. If the US is going to lose, it will probably be due to shooting itself in the foot at the FT line. The US shot 66 percent from the line in the 5 exhibitions, and against Argentina it was outshot 66-55 percent.

Kevin Love has been odd man out so far, playing just 12 minutes per game. Only James Harden and rookie Anthony Davis have played less. Love is next to last in scoring with 4 points but has 4 boards per game in those 12 minutes. He's sharing space with Chandler (5 starts, 13 minutes) and Davis (9 minutes). The US has played 7 minutes per game without a post player on the floor.

The Women

The Minnesota Lynx are a huge part of this team with Lindsay Whalen leading a balanced scoring effort with 11 ppg and adding 3 assists in 20 minutes in the 5 exhibitions, while shooting a ridiculous 62 percent. Maya Moore has played 21 minutes, scoring 11 points with 6 boards and 3 assists. Seimone Augustus leads the team with 22 minutes, scoring 10 points on 50 percent shooting.

Still, these are the Connecticut Huskies/Suns out there, with Gina Auriemma in charge and Diana Taurasi, Tina Charles, Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Moore and Lindsay Whalen playing 112 out of 200 minutes per game.

Taurasi is the focus. She, too, is scoring 11 ppg (along with Whalen, Moore and Sylvia Fowles) with 3 assists. She has started all 5 games including 2 at the point when Sue Bird was out. From here on out, you can look for Taurasi--along with Candace Parker and Tamika Catchings, who also started all 5 games--to do most of the scoring. Parker and Catchings scored 9 ppg on 46 percent shooting in the exhibition season.

Less certain is the starters at the point and the post. It says here that Gino will go with what he knows, which means Sue Bird at the point ahead of Lindsay, and Tina Charles at the post ahead of Fowles.

Does the US have a weakness? Well, it shot 37.5 percent from 3-point land while opponents shot 32, that's not a huge differential. But it shot 52 percent on 2-point attempts to just 38 percent. And it won the possession game easily with a 16-9 edge on the offensive glass and a 25-17 edge in turnovers. Like the US men, anybody who is going to stay with the women is going to have to take care of the ball. And unlike the men, I don't think the women will face anybody who can do that well enough.

So, can anybody make a run at the US? No. Australia should emerge from the other pool to face the US in the gold medal game on August 11, but even with former NBA MVP Lauren Jackson back at full strength after a year of injuries, I don't think Australia has the athleticism to stay with the US.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

USA Men Rout Brits, Love Becoming an Afterthought in Coach K's Rotation

The USA men won for the 3rd time in 3 exhibition games, and this one was the easiest of all, 118-78 over the Brits at Manchester. The USA led 33-20 after 1 period, 55-37 after 2, then 89-55 after a 34-18 domination in the 3rd quarter.

Deron Williams started at the "1" in place of Chris Paul and scored 19 points. (Paul scored 3 with 6 assists and 3 steals.) Carmelo Anthony came off the bench to add another 19 points. LeBron James contributed 16 points and 6 rebounds, Russell Westbrook 15 and 9 assists, Kevin Durant 13 and Anthony Davis 11 with 4 blocked shots.

Speaking of Davis, he is proving to be up to the task of impersonating an NBA veteran, to the detriment of Kevin Love's role on the team. Love is coming off the bench and has played solidly, if unspectacularly, scoring 16 points in 3 games. Davis comes off the bench, too. Tyson Chandler is the only true center on the teams and thus is the starter at the position.

The Brits shot 52 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. Imagine what the final score would have been had they not been hitting from out there where you don't always have a hand in their face.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lynx Lead USA to Victory in Britain

Maya Moore led all USA scorers with 18 points while adding 5 assists, and was named Player of the Game, while Lindsay Whalen was the only other USA player in double figures with 13 and also recorded 5 assists. Seimone Augustus added 8 points, as the USA methodically dismantled Great Britain 88-63 in the 2nd of 4 pre-Olympic tune-up games.

So far the Lynx are totally tuned-up in two recent exhibitions versus Brazil and Great Britain. Whalen has been fantastic filling in for point guard Sue Bird, who has been at home due to a death in the family. Meanwhile, Moore has asserted herself like she does not do on the Lynx while Seimone Augustus has played the Moore role, which is to say as a solid role player. If the 3 continue to play as they have, the USA will be almost impossible to beat.

USA led pretty much the entire way, though just 25-21 after 1 period. By half-time it was 47-32, and after 3 the USA led 73-51. Actually USA trailed 21-10 early on, but used a 21-0 run to take control late in the 1st and into the 2nd period. 2 Moore throws and an old-fashioned 3 point play by Whalen got the USA within 21-17 and the game soon was for all practical purposes over.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Call for Nominations: Minnesota High School Basketball Hall of Fame


EDIT; I can't believe that 47 people have looked at this post (as of July 15) and there hasn't been a single nomination made. Stick your neck out. Put a name (and school and year) in the comment box at the end.

ORIGINAL POST: This announcement comes from the Minnesota High School Basketball Hall of Fame.

"ATTENTION MINNESOTA HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL FANS!

A committee was recently formed to organize a Minnesota High School Basketball Hall of Fame, and the we are seeking the public's input as well as basketball historians with possible future inductees.

The Hall will recognize Minnesota's outstanding players, coaches, officials, media personnel, and other contributors throughout the boys' and girls' high school basketball eras. We would like to receive any nominations for the Hall's initial class by Tuesday, July 31, 2012. This is an excellent opportunity for the general public to have an input on state high school basketball history.  

Minnesota is looking to become only the third state in the country to have a high school basketball Hall of Fame. The others are Indiana and South Dakota."

Nominees

Here are the nominees so far, so the purpose is to identify worthy candidates for enshrinement other than the following who are already under consideration. Please write in your nominations in the Comment Box at the end of this post.

Single Class Era

Girls

Pre-Title IX

Arlington 1927 10-0
Buffalo 1927-1932
Cromwell 1926-1927
Grand Meadow 1929-1939 94 consecutive wins
Aileen Just, Rapidan 1927-1929 Scored 30-32 points per game over 2 years
Litchfield 1927-1932 73 straight wins
Owatonna 1919
Coach Lila Reiersgard, Grand Meadow 1929-1936
Thea Sletkolen, Montevideo 1931-1935

Boys 1900s

Mpls. Central 1900-1902 The 1900 MN Gophers beat Iowa 30-4 and Central 8-7
George Tuck, Mpls. Central 1901

1910s

Fosston 1913
Harold Gillen, Stillwater 1914
Fred B. Hill Founder, MN State High School Basketball Tournament

1920s

Gaylord 1926
Moorhead 1928-1929 1st repeat state champion
Coach Glen Hanna, Moorhead
Martin Norton, Mpls. Central 1921 Record 77 pts in state tournament stood until 1944
Red Wing 1920-1922

1930s

DeLaSalle 1931 National Catholic champion
Mpls. Edison 1937 15-1 Regarded as best MN team to date.
Earl Moran, Moorhead 1939 1st player to win all- honors,
Coach Ray Parkins, Mpls. Edison
Coach Harvey Roels, Chisholm
Marty Rolek, Mpls. Edison 1934
Willie Warhol, Mpls. Edison 1937

1940s

Coach Chet Bisel, Lynd
Hal Haskins, Alexandria 1943
Jim Fritsche, St. Paul Humboldt 1949
Coach Joe Hutton, Hamline
Jim McIntyre, Mpls. Patrick Henry 1945
Vern Mikkelson, Askov 1945
Coach Mario Retica, Austin St. Augustine, Buhl, Hibbing
Whitey Skoog, Brainerd 1944

1950s

Coach Ove Berven, Austin
Coach Wayne Courtney, Mpls. Roosevelt
Sammie Evenson, Walker 1958
Leroy German, Madelia 1953
Norm Grow,  Foley 1958
Hopkins 1952-1953
Ron Johnson, New Prague 1956
Coach Butsie Maetzold, Hopkins
Mpls. Roosevelt 1956-1957
Tom Nordland, Mpls. Roosevelt 1957
Bill Simonovich, Gilbert 1951
Dave Tschimperle, Hopkins 1953

1960s

Coach Duane Baglien, Fergus Falls, Edina
Sid Bostic, Pipestone 1960
Bob Bruggers, Danube 1963
Bill Davis, Richfield 1960
Edgerton 1960
Edina 1966-1968
Coach Bun Fortier, Bemidji
LeRoy Gardner, St. Paul Central 1965
Coach Lloyd Holm, Red Wing,  Duluth Denfeld, St. Louis Park
Dean Veenhof, Edgerton 1961
Bob Zender, Edina 1968

Two Class Era

Girls

1970s

Laura Gardner, Bloomington Jefferson 1978
Cindy Haugejorde, New London-Spicer 1976
Joan Kowalsky, Benilde-St. Margaret's 1976
Lisa Lissimore, St. Paul Central 1978
Dorothy McIntyre
New York Mills 1977-80
St. Paul Central 1976-1979

1980s

Annie Adamczak, Moose Lake 1982
Jessica Beachy, Staples 1984
Coach Jerry Cool, Little Falls
Laurie Decker, Rochester Lourdes 1987
Denise Holm, Duluth East 1985
Janet Karvonen, New York Mills 1980
Angela Kuehn, MN State Academy for the Deaf 1985
Kay Konerza, Lester Prairie 1981
Judy McDonald, Chisholm 1984
Mary Jo Miller, Milroy, Tracy-Milroy 1988
Coach Terry Nelson, Austin Pacelli
Kelly Skalicky, Albany 1981
Janice Streit, Eden Valley-Watkins 1984

1990s

Coach Myron Glass, Rochester Lourdes
Tracy Henderson, Mpls. Patrick Henry 1993
Mauri Horton, Mpls. North 1999
Coach Terry Hunst, Bloomington Jefferson
Wendy Kohler, Alexandria
Shannon Loeblein, St. Paul Harding 1991
Coco Miller, Rochester Mayo 1997
Kelly Miller, Rochester Mayo 1997
Tamara Moore, Mpls. North 1998
Coach Dave Thorpe, Osseo
Megan Taylor, Roseau 1997

Boys

1970s

Randy Breuer, Lake City 1979
Pat Foschi, Virginia 1975
Gene Glynn, Waseca 1975
Andra Griffin, Mpls. Central 1977
Coach Jim Hastings, Duluth Central
Ronnie Henderson, Mpls. Marshall-U 1976
Mike Jerabek, Prior Lake
Steve Lingenfelter, Bloomington Jefferson 1976
Mpls. Marshall-U 1976
Kevin McHale, Hibbing 1976
Mark Olberding, Melrose 1974
Jeff Olson, Peterson 1975
Jeff Nessler, St. James 1972
Coach Ed Prohosky, Mpls. Marshall-U

1980s

Coach Bob Brink, Rocori
Coach Dan Brink, St. Paul Monroe, Central and Como Park
Coach Jack Evens, Bloomington Jefferson
Kevin Lynch, Bloomington Jefferson 1987
Coach John Nett, Winona Cotter
Coach Del Schiffler, Melrose, Woodbury
White Bear Lake 1984-1985
Barry Wohler, Bird Island-Lake Lillian 1981

1990s

Khalid El-Amin, Mpls. North 1997
Sam Jacobson, Park 1994
Coach Ziggy Kauls, Mounds View
Chad Kolander, Owatonna 1991
Coach Bob McDonald, Chisholm
Joel McDonald, Chisholm 1991
Mpls. North 1995-1997
Wabasso 117 Red Lake 113 (overtime) 1997

Four-Class Era

21st Century

Note that there is a 10-year waiting period for players and teams, so players and teams from 2002 and before are eligible, those from 2003 and later are not.

Girls

Coach Andy Berkvam, Lakeville North
Shannon  Bolden, Marshall 2002
Coach Brian Cosgriff, Hopkins
Coach Terry Culhane, Milroy, Tracy-Milroy and Marshall
Coach Mike Dreier, New London-Spicer
Coach Ray Finley, Blake, Breck, Providence
Mia Johnson, Mpls. North
Susan King, Holy Angels 2000
Lakeville 2001-2002
Coach Faith Johnson Patterson, Mpls. North, DeLaSalle
Coach Carol Visness, Kittson Central
Lindsay Whalen, Hutchinson 2000

Boys

Ken Lien, Mr. Basketball
Coach Larry McKenzie, Mpls. Patrick Henry
Coach Kenny Novak, Jr., Hopkins
Rick Rickert, Duluth East 2001
Southwest MN Christian 1999-2002
Jake Sullivan, Tartan 2000
Coach Dave Thorson, DeLaSalle

USA Men Rally, Women Waltz

The US Olympic teams played a double-header in Washington, DC, tonight vs. Brazil. Shockingly, the US men had to rally from a 10-point deficit to win 80-69, while the women won easily 99-67 as Lindsay Whalen led the USA with 21 points.

The Men

Brazil shocked the USA by shooting 62.5 percent in the 1st quarter (while USA shot 35 percent) to take a 27-17 lead. The USA forced 12 turnovers and held Brazil to just 5 points in the 2nd quarter to take the lead at 30-29 as Tyson Chandler got the steal and the slam to close out a 13-0 run. It was 37-32 at the half.

Brazil stayed within 65-59 at the 6:00 mark of the 2nd half but LeBron James scored the last 7 USA points for the final margin. James finished with 30 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals in 32 minutes of play. No other USA player played more than 25 minutes.

Kevin Durant added 11 points, Chris Paul 10 and Kevin Love scored 5 points in just 6 minutes of play.

Brazil out-shot the USA 50 percent to 41, and 60 percent to 48 on 2-point attempts. But the USA won the possession game big-time with 12 offensive boards and 23 Brazil turnovers.

Coach K said afterward that the USA lacked defensive intensity in the 1st, and that it would win (or lose) based on how well they play defensively.

The Women

Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore joined Whalen in double figures with 12 and 11 points, respectively, making it a stellar night the the MN Lynx. Diana Taurasi added 16 and Tina Charles 11 for Team USA.

The US led all the way, 27-14 after 1 period, 51-27 at the half, 72-48 after 3 periods and 99-67 at the final buzzer. USA scored more than 20 points in every period while Brazil did only once in the 3rd quarter.

USA shot 47 percent to just 32 percent for Brazil.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Lynx Win 2

After 3 straight (shocking!) losses, the defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx closed the 1st half of their 2012 season with 2 wins, thus taking a 15-4 record into a 5-week layoff occasioned by the 2012 Olympic Games. The Lynx, of course, have 3 players on the U.S. Olympic team--Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen--and so are fortunate that the entire league is shutting down for the occasion.

The Lynx are also fortunate to have followed their 3-game losing streak with 2 games vs. the WNBA's worst team, Tulsa, who enters the Olympic break with a 3-15 record. After hammering on the Shock 107-89 (in Tulsa) and 89-64 (today [Thursday July 12] in Minneapolis, the Lynx enter the 5 week sabbatical at 15-4.

15-4! And we're the defending WNBA champs! What could be better?

So how come the Lynx and their fans are feeling so blue? Well, there's those 3 straight losses after a 10-0 and then 13-1 start. And there's those 3 straight losses. And, oh yeah, there's those 3 straight losses. So the Lynx are 15-4. Would you have taken 15-4 before game #1? In a heartbeat. If they had won 4, then lost 1, then won 4 more, then lost 1, then won 4 more, then lost 1, then won 3 more, then lost 1, for a record of 15-4, there'd be no bellyaching. But, instead, 3 of the 4 losses came consecutively and, suddenly, the sky was falling.

But then came 2 wins vs. Tulsa in which:

Maya Moore broek loose for 26 points and 8.5 rebounds per game
Seimone Augustus scored 15.5 ppg
Lindsay Whalen scored 12. 5 ppg with 7.5 assists per
Taj scored 10 ppg with 10 boards and 2.5 blocks

Monica Wright (starting in place of Rebekah Brunson) scored 10 ppg with 2.5 steals
Candace Wiggins scored 17 ppg (25 in game 2) with 2 steals per game
Amber Harris scored 7 ppg

Brunson will be back from her injury (not serious) as will rookie Deveraux Peters. With those 2 and the 7 above producing like they did against Tulsa, the Lynx will be very hard to beat. But of course you cannot expect the same production against the rest of the league that you get vs. Tulsa.

The biggest point is that the Lynx waaay out-shot Tulsa, including a league record 69.5 percent in game 1, and even shot 82 percent from the line in both games. And they even out-shot the Shock from beyond the arc. In their 3 losses they out-shot their opponents twice on 2-point attempts but got totally demolished on the 3-ball.

The Lynx rarely win the possession game anymore--too many turnovers and too few offensive boards--and so the key through 13-1 was out-shooting their opponents, often by a wide margin. The key to the 2nd half of the season will be to find their shooting touch as well as enough defensive chops to get back to out-shooting people. We know they can do it vs. Tulsa. What about San Antone, LA and Connecticut?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

USA 17Us Easily Win Gold Medal

USA hammered Australia 95-62 to win the gold medal at the World Championships in Lithuania. As has been the pattern, the USA pulled away in the 2nd half. USA led 38-24 at the half, and won the 2nd half 57-38. Connor Frankamp led USA with 22 points, while Jahlil Okafor added 17 points and 8 boards and Justise Winslow 13 and 11.

Tyus Jones scored just 2 points but added 6 assists and 3 steals. He came off the bench but played a team 3rd-best 26 minutes.

Lynx Lose 3

OK, the Lynx are officially in a slump. The Lynx now have lost to the #3 and 4 teams in the WNBA on the road and now #2 Connecticut at home, 86-80.

For the 3rd straight game, the Lynx fell well behind--23-13 in the 1st, and 74-54 early in the 4th quarter. They quickly rallied to within 78-75 with 1:43 left to go, but got no closer.

Also for the 3rd straight game, an opposing guard and an opposing inside player pretty much had their way with the Lynx defense. This time it was Kara Lawson with 22 points and Tina Charles with 19 and 15.

Granted that Sophia Young, Candace Parker and Charles are all all-star caliber players. Ditto Becky Hammon, Kristi Tolliver and Lawson. But the fact is that most WNBA teams have a smooth operator in the lane and most have a solid perimeter threat. When exactly are the Lynx going to shut any of these people down?

But, wait. In the Lynx' hour of need, along comes the month-long schedule break for the Olympic games, preceded only by 2 games with the 2-13 Tulsa Shock. Still, a second straight WNBA title no longer seems likely, muchness inevitable. Maya Moore has struggled over these past 3 games, Lindsay Whalen has struggled at times, now (against Connecticut) Rebekah Brunson struggled mightily.

The consistent good news has been the Lynx' bench. Candace Wiggins continued her strong play with 11 points, Monica Wright added 6, Amber Harris 4 and Erin Thorn 2 for a total of 23 bench pints to 15 for the Sun.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Lynx Lose 2

With a 10-0 start, the MN Lynx set a new WNBA record for wins at the start of a season. At 13-1, they came within 1 win of tying the best 1-loss start of 14-1. But the fact is the Lynx are now playing .500 ball since that 10-0 start after losing at San Antone 93-84 and LA 96-90.

Neither loss was a big surprise--San Antone and LA are the #3 and #4 teams in all of the WNBA and both games/losses came on the road, where the Lynx now have the league's 3rd best record at 5-3. The real secret to their success has been an unbeaten 8-0 record at home.

What is distressing about the losses is that both had about the same shape. Not so much the ebb and flow of the game. The Lynx lost the San Antonio game in the 1st quarter as the Silver Stars took a 35-22 lead. They lost to LA in the 3rd quarter when a 49-43 half-time deficit ballooned to 73-57. They came back in both games but never quite got out of the hole that they'd fallen into.

What I mean is both teams beat the Lynx with the same basic formula. The inside game and the 3. Becky Hammon made 7-of-13 3s for 23 points for the Stars, while Kristi Tolliver was an insane 6-of-6 on 3s and scored 29 points. Both opponents shot better than 50 percent from beyond the arc.

Meanwhile, Sophia Young and Candace Parker each had a field day against the Lynx' inside D, making 18-of-27 shots between them for 22 and 28 points, respectively. What's more, they made 16-of-22 FT, getting to the line too easily and too frequently. Both teams out-shot the Lynx from the FT line, San Antone 86 percent to 71, LA by 82 percent to 53.

Taj McWilliams-Franklin got roasted by both of her counterparts while Lindsay Whalen and Maya Moore each had one poor outing among the 2. Seimone Augustus and Rebekah Brunson averaged 14 and 12 points for the 2 games, while Brunson added 9.5 boards.

On the plus side, the Lynx' bench continues to produce. Against San Antone, Monica Wright scored 18 and Candace Wiggins 10, while Devereaux Peters scored 5 points with 9 boards and 2 steals. Against LA, Wiggins scored another 10 points, as did Amber Harris.

The Lynx won the possession game vs. LA and broke even vs. San Antone. Ironically, they out-shot both from 2-point range. But they got out-shot badly from 3 and from 1 point range, which proved to be a recipe for trouble. The 3 point defense needs to tighten up and the Lynx need to get to the FT line themselves if they're going to stay on top in the WNBA.

Tyus Jones Scores 22 as US Advances

Tyus Jones led the USA 17Us in a 113-59 rout of Canada in quarter-final play, scoring 22 points with 6 assists. USA led 46-30 at the half, then scored more points (67) in the 2nd half than Canada did for the entire game.

Tyus Jones, Team USA Advance to Medal Round

The USA 17U National Team finished the preliminary round at the 2012 World Championships in impressive style, and now faces Canada in Friday's quarter-final round.

USA beat previously 3-1 China 116-47 on Tuesday to finish the prelims undefeated at 5-0. Canada comes into quarter-final play at 3-2. A win there sets up a semi-final match-up on Saturday vs. Spain (3-2) or China (3-2). Another win there and Croatia (also 5-0 in the prelims) is the likely opponent in Sunday's final.

In 5 games, Apple Valley guard Tyus Jones led Team USA with 27 assists (5.4 per game) while scoring 7 points per game. He started 2 games at the point guard spot, where Joel Berry also started twice and Conner Frankamp once. Jones played 19 minutes per game, Berry and Frankamp each 21. Jones' assist to turnover ratio was about 3.5 to 1, Berry was at 2 to 1, and Frankamp also 3.5 to 1. He shot a solid 54 percent from the field, 5th best on the team behind 4 inside players, but he made just 1-of-3 3s. Frankamp made 8-of-16 3s. Berry is from Lake Highland Prep, Apopka, FL while Frankamp is from Wichita North. All 3 are class of 2014.

Frankamp led team USA in scoring in the preliminary round with 14+ ppg. Jahlil Okafor of Chicago Whitney Young emerged as the USA's best all-around player, however. The 6-10 post (class of 2014) scored 14 points with a team-high 10 boards, while shooting 58 percent. He overshadowed the #1 player among the 2013s, Jabari Parker, also from Chicago (Simeon), who also scored 14 points per game.

Stephen Domingo, 6-7 forward and 2013, from San Francisco St. Ignatius, also scored in double figures (10 ppg) while making 12-of-28 3s. Justise Winslow of Houston St. John's, a 6-6 forward in the class of 2014, emerged as a defensive stopper. He led the team in blocks and steals while grabbing 7 boards per game.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

US Hammers France, Tyus Jones Drops Out of Starting Lineup

The USA 17Us clobbered France 86-50 to go 4-0 in the preliminary round of the World Championship play in Lithuania. USA led just 16-13 after 1 period, but stretched it to 40-24 after 2 and 60-32 after 3 to win easily.

And they did it while shooting poorly. USA shot 39 percent from the field to France's 31 percent, and just 17 percent on 3-point attempts versus France's 20, and 52 percent from the FT line to France's 50. But USA dominated the possession game, snaring an unreal 28 offensive boards to France's 15, and forcing 30 French turnovers while committing 16 of their own.

USA was led by Jahlil Okafor with 21 points and 13 boards. Justise Winslow added 7 steals.

Tyus Jones, Apple Valley, MN, led USA with 5 assists despite losing his starting spot. Coming off the bench, he played 21 minutes, scored 8 points on 2-of-6 shooting, with 5 assists and 4 steals. Jones continues to lead USA with 18 assists in 4 games, and his 7 steals are #3 among the Americans. He is shooting 5-of-11 (.524), 4th best on the team.

USA closes out the preliminary round tomorrow (Wednesday) vs. China/ The quarters, semis and finals  are scheduling for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Now 4-0, it would be a shocker if USA settled for anything less than a world title.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Tyus Jones, USA Under 17s Open World Play

Tyus Jones and the favored USA Under 17s have opened World Championship play in Lithiania with 3 decisive victories over Australia, the Czech Republic and Egypt. The USA (in Group A) and Croatia (in Group B) are the only undefeated teams after 3 rounds of play, and appear to be headed for the World Championship game onSunday, July 8.

Jones, Apple Valley point guard, started for the USA in all 5 of its recent games--2 in an exhibition in the Canary Islands and then the 3 World games to date. In the 5 games, Jones is scoring 6 points per game with 5 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 turnovers. He is shooting a respectable 14-of-26 (54.5 percent).

Here's a quick rundown of the 5 USA games to date:

USA 111 Egypt 73. USA outscored Egypt 36-15 in the 3rd quarter to stretch a 13-point half-time lead to rout proportions (86-52), then cruised home. Jabari Parker (Chicago Simeon) and Connor Frankamp (Wichita North) scored 18 points each, Jahlil Okafor (Chicago WhitneyYoung) snared 7 boards and Jones led in assists with 5.

USA 95 Czech Republic 57. USA pulled away from the start, but a 31-12 4th quarter margin accounted for the blow-out. Dakari Johnson (Monteverde Academy) led with 16 points and 12 boards. Jones played just 13 minutes due to foul trouble, and his backup, Joel Berry, led the way with 4 assists. Frankamp added 4 steals.

USA 89 Australia 67. USA pulled away from a narrow 6-point half-time lead with a 36-14 3rd quarter. Okafor scored 16 points, Parker grabbed 8 boards and Frankamp had 5 assists.

This was the 2nd time that the USA dominated the Aussies, having whipped 'em a week ago in an exhibition tournament in the Canary Islands 89-64. This came after USA had hammered Latvia 108-72. In those 2 games Jones scored 10 points on 5-of-11 shooting, while leading USA in assists in both games with 10 and 5, and also had 5 rebounds and 6 turnovers.

Okafor had 26 points and 15 boards vs. Latvia and 19 points vs. the Aussies. D. Johnson added 10 boards vs. Australia. Okafor leads the USA in scoring with 16 ppg across 5 games while Frankamp leads with 42 points (14 ppg) at the Worlds.

If forced to do so, I'd rate the USA players at this point as 1) Okafor, 2) Parker, 3) Frankamp, 4) Jones, 5) D. Johnson though he has been inconsistent, following his big game vs. Czech with 0 points vs. Egypt. Coming on strong has been back-up point guard Barry (Lake Highland Prep, Apopka, FL) with 9 points, 4 boards, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 turnovers per the 3 World games.