Welcome to the second installment of the World University Games blog on UWBadgers.com. Follow along as Wisconsin video coordinator Matt Ryan takes us along on Team USA’s trip to Colorado Springs and Serbia. Matt, who is the Director of Basketball Operations for Team USA, will bring the inside perspective as only the son of Team USA head coach Bo Ryan can. Check back regularly for more updates from the World University Games.
BLOG #2: Saturday, June 20, 2009
My peeps gave me some good feedback on the first blog and I have been asked to top it. Well, as Zach Morris would say…I’m not one to turn down a challenge.
I’ll start with the 4 players that were cut from the World University Games team. Unfortunately, 2 were from the Big Ten Conference, and Robbie Hummel had to say goodbye to a close friend and teammate in JaJuan Johnson. I will say all 4 guys gave their best effort and played extremely hard and unselfish, however, we can only take 12 to Serbia.
It’s a tough spot to be in when you only have a few sessions to prove yourself. The pressure is on, the intensity level is through the roof and you have a committee watching your every move. The committee made their selections, but the guys leaving are just as much a part of this as anybody on this team.
I commend their effort, enthusiasm, and responsiveness to the coaching staff.
We appreciate everything those guys gave us.
Speaking of the Big Ten, John Shurna from Northwestern made the 19-and-under team while Evan Turner, Robbie Hummel, and Talor Battle are all on Coach Ryan’s team. Also, Matt Painter from Purdue is an assistant coach with Jamie Dixon’s squad for the FIBA U19 World Championships.
World University Games, 19-and-unders, Big Ten, represent, babay babay…uhh.
Once we had our 12, everybody started to file out of the gym, but some stayed to watch Jay Williams approach me for a H-O-R-S-E rematch. I warned him about my much improved right-handed jump hook (I was completely lying) but he still wanted a piece of me.
We played for what seemed like an hour. We were both on fire, making impossible shot after impossible shot. It was like the Michael Jordan vs. Larry Bird H-O-R-S-E game in the old McDonald’s commercial (not even close, but let me have my moment).
My good ol’ pal and roommate, Nate Kinet, was filming most of the game, just about up until I laid on my back near half court and shot the ball backwards over my head from the ground. I drain it to put Jay at H-O-R-S to my H-O-R. I make a few more, he makes a few more…then he goes to the free throw line.
Makes it and I miss.
He stares me down, tied at S, and he shoots a pure jumper from half court and swishes it. Stares me down again and I finally realized why I sat on the bench at UW-Milwaukee and he started at Duke and for the Chicago Bulls.
Not only did Nate miss the YouTube clip of the century, but Jay once again got the best of me. I’m done with this story. I’m getting upset again.
That evening, Coach Ryan, Coach Jeter and Coach Haith conducted their first practice with the team headed to Serbia in a week. There was a lot of teaching from Coach Ryan, and the players seemed to respond rather intently and efficiently.
There are many leaders on this team, which helps greatly with communication. The most impressive part to me so far in the first two practices is the players’ enthusiasm and camaraderie for one another. You can already see how important playing for your country is to these guys.
You have Lazar Hayward from Marquette, a Wisconsin Badgers coach, all these different Big Ten players and guys from all over the country, yet everybody gets along and we are all on the same page. It’s a pleasure to watch and certainly a pleasure to be a part of.
Random thoughts and events the past couple of days:
1.) Nate went to work out at the gym and watched a blind woman walk in with her seeing-eye dog. She put weights on a bar and started squatting while the dog just chilled and watched.
2.) Nate and I walked passed Olympic bocce ball on the way to get some snacks. Nate knows they were just Olympians in training having some fun, but I refuse to admit it because Olympic bocce ball would be killer.
3.) My camera stand at the gym is a steep set of stairs on wheels. The tripod barely opens, in order to keep it on the top step, and it is taped to the bars of the metal staircase with athletic tape so it doesn’t fall overboard. I’m afraid of heights, as well, so I hold on to the metal bars attached to the stairs for dear life while filming. Good times.
4.) Evan Turner refers to his school as … “Thee” Ohio State University. So I’m now wearing Wisconsin stuff around him and referring to UW as “Thee” University of Wisconsin. Deal with it.
5.) A very attractive woman was in the cafeteria asking a cook for a chicken gyro. She called it a “guy-row” and a couple other things. I told her I thought it was pronounced “year-oh,” and gave her a couple of facts about the meat. She wasn’t impressed and I felt like Ron Burgundy trying to explain the history and meaning of San Diego. I saw her again today and she completely ignored me. Strike one.
6.) I talked to a couple of Division I women’s basketball officials who were working out at the gym we practice at. I talked to them for awhile and I later texted the girl I was interested in, asking her to come out to a local establishment with our crew. Strike two.
I’ll keep you updated all the way to out number 27 ... and when the female gender pitches me a perfect game.
7.) Syracuse has 15 managers per practice. Thus, each player has their own manager to look after their needs. I thought we had a lot at Thee University of Wisconsin, and we only have six per practice.
8.) Last one: Luke Winn, a writer for Sports Illustrated, came out with our crew last night figuring he may as well since it was his last night in Colorado Springs. We started out at a place where teeth were not required.
We later went to a place in downtown Colorado Springs that is best explained by, well, let me put it this way: Luke texted me today saying, “Getting wanded at the Ritz (but not the airport) was the highlight of the trip.” As in being wanded by a guy with a metal detector. Good stuff.