Sunday’s action represented the final day of pool play at the U18 FIBA Americas Championships in Colorado Springs, with the United States U18 team taking on an Argentina squad that was also 2-0 in pool play. Yet while there was no separation in the records there was in the skill level, with Billy Donovan’s team reaching the 100-point mark for the third consecutive game as they rolled to a 118-64 victory.
As a result of the victory the United States has now locked up a spot in next summer’s U19 World Championships.
2015 five-star point guard Jalen Brunson led six Americans in double figures with 16 points, and as a team the United States shot 54% from the field. The United States scored 62 of its 118 points in the paint, and they also converted 16 Argentina turnovers into 27 points. They never trailed Sunday, with a 16-2 run in the middle of the first quarter establishing a margin that proved to be too much for Argentina to overcome.
Joining Brunson in double figures were Syracuse signee Tyler Lydon (14 points; 12 in the first half), Duke signee Justise Winslow (13), 2015 five-star guard Allonzo Trier (13), 2015 five-star forward Jaylen Brown (ten) and 2015 Duke commit Luke Kennard (ten). Kennard and Winslow also led a balanced effort on the glass with nine and eight rebounds, respectively, and Texas signee Myles Turner accounted for four of the team’s ten blocked shots.
Also of note for the United States was their improvement in the turnover department. After committing 15 turnovers in their 100-46 win over Mexico on Saturday, the Americans committed just eight against Argentina and assisted on 21 of their 45 made field goals. Brunson (six assists) and Duke signee Tyus Jones (nine) combined for 15 of those assists, committing just one turnover apiece.
Next up for the United States is a semifinal matchup with the Dominican Republic on Monday evening, with Canada and Argentina meeting in the first semifinal. The Dominican Republic went 2-1 in Group A, with their lone defeat being a 79-67 result against Canada.
While a few teams did manage to hold special events for the official start of practice this weekend, most simply went about their business with drills and conditioning. One team that was the exception to all of this was Louisville, which held the first of its two intersquad scrimmages on Saturday. The Cardinals had a head start of sorts on the season, as they played six exhibition games in Puerto Rico this summer.
One hope heading into Saturday’s scrimmage was that guards Trey Lewis and Quentin Snider would have better chemistry than they did in Puerto Rico. But according to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal, that remains a work in progress for the Cleveland State transfer (Lewis) and rising sophomore (Snider).
They struggled in Puerto Rico, and they struggled again in Saturday’s Red-White scrimmage, the first public intrasquad practice since August. They played one half of the game together, paired with the presumed starting lineup with Mangok Mathiang out with an eye injury, a group that also included Damion Lee, Jaylen Johnson and Chinanu Onuaku.
That team lost the first half by 13 points to a younger group of Louisville players, and Lewis and Snider combined for eight points on 3-of-12 shooting, five turnovers, five steals, four assists and three rebounds.
“I thought (Snider) and (Lewis) did not play well together,” U of L coach Rick Pitino said. “They’ve got to get used to that. Neither guy made other guys better. That’s what they need to learn to do.”
As Greer also noted in his story the Cardinals have in recent years employed backcourt tandems in which both guards are capable of making plays for themselves and others. On the 2013 national champion team Peyton Siva and Russ Smith led the way, with Smith being joined by Terry Rozier or Chris Jones the following season and Rozier/Jones being the grouping last season before the latter was dismissed from the team.
Once Jones was dismissed Snider saw more time on the court, and his development was one of the keys for a Louisville team that fell one win short of the Final Four. Louisville needs him to take another step forward heading into the 2015-16 season, because even with Lewis’ experience at the Division I level Snider has more experience playing in Pitino’s system.
But while Saturday’s scrimmage didn’t go as well as anyone involved hoped, there’s still plenty of time for Louisville to work out the kinks before they open the season November 13 against Samford.
With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.
Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.
“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”
Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.
As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.