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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Pan Am Post Mortem by CSTV

Pan Am Post Mortem
By David Scott - July 29, 2007

Well, things could have gone a lot worse for Jay Wright's 2007 Pan Am Games squad that finished fifth at the Games with a 3-2 record. The reality of not medaling set in earlier in the week and the team showed some resiliency by winning it final three (seemingly meaningless) contests.

"This game was a real character game. I think it showed how much we've come together as a team," said Wright after his team's 77-74 payback win against Panama. "Obviously we're disappointed that we didn't play as well as would have looked to early. But what was left after those two games was to show what type of pride we had in representing the U.S. and what type of character we had in terms of our relationships with each other, and wanting to play with each other. I think winning these last three games lets these guys really feel good about each other. They just did whatever it took for each other for three games to finish in fifth place. It meant a lot to them I think they'll have memories for a lifetime. I know they had a great time, it was a privilege for them to play in the Pan Am Games and they're going to have friendships for a lifetime."

Undefeated Brazil (5-0) won the Gold with Uruguay and Puerto Rico taking home Silver and Bronze. The fourth-place finisher was 2-3 Argentina with Canada and the US Virgin Islands rounding out the 8-team field.

Some Pan Am Ponderings after the jump, keeping in mind that we witnessed none of the games (no ESPN Deportes on our system) but have read stats and results provided by Team USA and the Pan Am Game organizers. . .

The selection committee, headed by Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, said all throughout the trials that they were trying to build a team that would both be able to physcially handle older, professional players from the opposing elite countries AND be able to shoot straight.

They succeeded more on the first count than the second and that alone could explain Team USA's failure to medal. The U.S. finished seventh in 3-point accuracy at 29 percent (31 of 107). In the first, fourth and fifth games, Team USA was below 27 percent from beyond the arc. Shan Foster (Vanderbilt) proved to be the most consistent deep threat and Derrick Low (Washington State) was also confirmed as a good pick by the Committee.

. . . The same can not be said for the Jay Wright "binky" pick, Scottie Reynolds who started both of Team USA's losses and came off the bench for all three wins. He shot 4 of 19 from 3-point land, had eight assists and 15 turnovers and saw his minutes drop from a high of 29 in game 1 to just 5 in game 2.

Reynolds was, in our opinion, the shakiest pick of the 12-man squad but could not truly be argued with because part of the deal of coaching and dedicating time to USA Basketball as Wright has, is that when the time comes to field a team, your own guy is given the benefit of the doubt. In the long run, Reynolds and Wright will gain from the experience and that will help them during the Big East battles of February and March. For now though, the Coach knows that "his" guy didn't perform.

. . . If Reynolds was the Least Valuable Player, Indiana's DJ White was likely the MVP. After Game 4, Wright said, "D.J.'s probably played the most minutes of anybody and he's been our go-to guy. When it's tough and we need a basket, we go to D.J. and he's made the right play every time. He's doing a good job on the defensive end, too. I'm really impressed with him."

White never played fewer than 22 minutes and averaged 16.8 points and 8.6 rebounds for the Red, White and Blue. His tournament-nest outing came against the US Virgin Islands when he went for 22 and 13 in 24 minutes of play. "We started off 0-2 but we stuck together and that's the main point," White said. "We showed a lot of courage, this team has been together only two weeks so we feel pretty good about going 3-2. This was a fun experience playing against older, more experience guys, professionals. It was a good experience something I'll remember for a lifetime."

White needs to be given serious consideration for NCAA Player of the Honors if he continues to get after it the way he did the past few weeks for Team USA. He is easily the player who helped himself the most (by NBA standards) with the Pan Am experience.

. . . Wayne Ellington (North Carolina) missed all but the first game (where he played just ten minutes and had zero points) because of a sprained right shoulder, while Eric Maynor (Virginia Commonwealth) was unavailable to go for the final three games because of a right hip-pointer. With both guards being slight of build, it might lend some credence to the belief that Team USA needs to have some beefier, more physical guards in future International explorations.

. . . Georgetown big Man Roy Hibbert was up and down during his Rio stint, highlighted by a 19 point, nine rebound effort in Game 2 against Panama. But he also had three and four point outings. . . Michigan State's Drew Neitzel was steady for Wright, who also got nice bench minutes from Marrty Leunen (Oregon). . . Memphis's Joey Dorsey worked himself into the rotation after limited minutes in the first two outings. He had nine rebounds against the US Virgin Islands.

. . . The USA Women's team took home the Gold with a 79-66 win over host Brazil. The team was coached by Temple's Dawn Staley.

Posted by David Scott at 12:31 AM on July 29, 2007

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