Welcome to the eighth 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 #8: Monday, July 6, 2009
We’ve got some catching up to do. Hopefully you’ve been religiously reading the game stories on UWBadgers.com and know the details… but now for the real story.
We beat South Korea Saturday night 113-76 in our second game. Their team plays extremely hard and never stopped fighting until the final buzzer. We were up 30 at halftime and they even outscored us in the third quarter. This was the same team that lost to Finland two nights before by about 15 while we outscored Finland 87-40. Everybody brings their best for us but I like the effort we see because it will prepare us better for the next rounds.
Finland played just as hard with a bit more finesse. They didn’t shoot the ball well at all but we still gained valuable knowledge. We watched Coach Ryan’s teaching clips yesterday afternoon between practice and our game vs. South Korea. We found ourselves a new film room after film session one was in a room barely big enough to fit our team. We now have a wonderful set up in another building here in the village which makes the learning experience for our players easier and more enjoyable.
We are guarding the ball screen even better now and our offense is starting to show some continuity. Defensively, I have determined our biggest weakness is chasing shooters off of single and double screens as well as our weak side help. The more these guys play together in real game situations the more we learn how to play off of one another.
Saturday night we had over 20 assists, however we committed 26 turnovers mostly being credited to us not being strong with the ball. I appreciated South Korea hacking our arms off the whole second half because it was a great lesson on how to chin the ball, use the retreat dribble, ball fake and finding ways to get open for your teammates. The Koreans put a full-court press on us the entire second half and I don’t think they could have been happier scoring 76 points on the Americans. The Korean staff and players seemed more upbeat after a 37-point blowout than any team I have ever seen. We took this as a compliment, but at the same time we knew we had a lot more work on our hands defensively.
We have a film session today with teaching clips from the South Korea game and a scouting report on Greece, who we play Monday. We are getting our guys off their feet for a day because of our grueling schedule coming up. We only have one more day off before we leave on July 12th.
Greece has a very big and skilled squad and they are considered one of the best teams here in our field of 16. They played Serbia a few nights ago that was certainly closer than the final margin (81-50). We will have our hands full, but this game will be a good challenge for our guys and another great opportunity to learn in preparation for the medal round. However, if we lose this game, we will have to play the Serbs again in order to play in the quarterfinals (the first medal round). So this is a huge game for our team and we will be fully prepared for the Greeks. Now we just have to execute.
Editor’s note: Team USA defeated Greece 108-77 Monday night.
Random thoughts and events:
1.) While we were driving to a game the other day, our lead police escort blocked a street where there was a green light in order to assure our safety. The lead truck waiting at the blocked stop light had five men sitting in the front of the cab. The three men in the middle immediately put their hands up surrendering to the police; for what reason I will never know (wish I did). The driver and the far passenger quickly grabbed all their arms and threw them down in disgust. I could tell they were yelling at the three men, most likely hurling Serbian insults at them, trying to explain that the police were not there to arrest them; just to escort our bus. I was the only one who saw the occurrence but I laughed to myself the rest of the way to the gym.
2.) The Koreans somehow set their part of the village on fire last night. I saw the fire trucks from my window. I hope it wasn’t because they lost by 37 to us and I certainly hope everybody is okay.
3.) When we arrived at the gym Saturday for the game vs. South Korea, our players took the court to start warming up. I realized the Koreans were sitting on our bench with all their coaches, bags and water. The rules state in International basketball, as in the states, to start a game your players warm up at the opposite end of the court from your bench. Well, trying to communicate to the Koreans that I was taking over their bench (I was the only staff member out on the court at the time) was not the easiest thing I have ever done. Then their Serbian host came over after 10 minutes of me failing to communicate, with violent hand gestures, “my bench, your bench.” Trying to communicate something that simple in English, to Serbian, to Korean takes approximately 20 minutes, in case you were wondering. The coaches arrived at our new bench a few minutes later and asked if I was trying to start a pre-game fight. Nope, just securing the home bench.
4.) Later, right before we took the floor for the second half, after Coach Ryan’s halftime talk, I had to relieve my bladder in our player’s locker room bathroom. As I was about finished, I heard the locker room door shut. I knew I could be in trouble since the doors here lock from both inside and out. Sure enough, I pounded on the door for a good two minutes sweating profusely considering our locker room was about 100 degrees. Finally, I realized there was a window near the ceiling so I stood on a radiator to look out. Immediately, I saw Evana, the 18-year old woman helping us here who locked me in, come running with the key followed by our police escorts laughing hysterically (as did our entire team and staff when I walked to our bench). I enjoy it when people laugh at my expense. I barely made the buzzer but the shot chart was in good hands. Evana apologized many times but I’m not going to live this one down for awhile.