The USA Basketball Junior National Select Team went on a 16-0 run in the opening five minutes of the second quarter, relying on opportunistic scoring and strong interior defense, to build a comfortable 40-13 lead, and from that point cruised to an easy 10
The USA Basketball Junior National Select Team went on a 16-0 run in the opening five minutes of the second quarter, relying on opportunistic scoring and strong interior defense, to build a comfortable 40-13 lead, and from that point cruised to an easy 100-80 victory over the World Select Team in the 10th Nike Hoop Summit held Saturday at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tenn.
The 20-point margin of victory, which equals the previous record (99-79) set in the 2004 game that was played in San Antonio, Texas, enabled the USA to win its sixth straight Nike Hoop Summit and build an 8-2 lead in the series.
In victory, USA Basketball reached the 100 point mark for the third consecutive game and its fifth in the last seven. Even though the Junior National Select Team placed five players in double figures, led by guard O.J. Mayo's (Huntington H.S./Huntington, WV) team-high 20 points, the storyline of the game wasn't necessarily offense, but defense.
'In any game you have to play defense. Coach Fitterer really put that upon us. You know if you want to win this game, you have to play defense,' USA guard Jonny Flynn (Niagara Falls H.S./Niagara Falls, N.Y.) said. 'This is so much fun. This is gonna be the last high school moment we have. Reminiscing over the past years, who got dunked on, who lost to who in certain tournaments, things like that. (This has been a) Real fun experience.'
When the Junior National Select Team opened its commanding 27-point lead in the second quarter, the World Team was held without a point for five minutes during a 16-0 USA Basketball run. The World Team, unable to use its considerable size to score down low or penetrate along the baseline, was limited to outside shots that became a series of one-and-done opportunities. Until the final four minutes of the second quarter, when the World Team converted on six of its final eight shots, it shot 16 percent from the field and managed only 29 first half points. That offensive output was the lowest since the inaugural Hoop Summit game in 1995 when the World Team tallied 37 first half points. With its tight defense, USA Basketball forced the World Team into 20 turnovers and scored 31 points off those miscues.
'That first group who played the first five minutes of the second quarter were flat awesome,' said USA mentor Pat Fitterer (Eisenhower H.S., Yakima, Wash.). 'That was great basketball and it was really fluid. And the second five minutes we were playing really good, and Jonny Flynn was playing such good defense. that all the sudden the other guys got antsy and we tried to double-team and we left guys open. and they wind up hitting six of seven shots to end the second half.'
Unlike the 2006 game when USA Basketball fell behind early and had to mount a comeback, the 2007 team led from start-to-finish, racing to a quick 7-0 lead following a 3-pointer by forward Kevin Love (Lake Oswego, Ore/Lake Oswego). The UCLA-bound Love finished with 13 points and eight rebounds before fouling out.
A 3-pointer by guard Jerryd Bayless (St. Mary's H.S./Phoeniz, AZ) with 3:44 to play in the first quarter gave USA Basketball its first double figures lead of the game, 16-5. The World Select Team got within six points, 17-11, following a dunk by Nigerian center Solomon Alabi. However, the USA would build a 24-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.
That double digit margin would withstand an improved third quarter by the World Select Team, but it never fell below double figures. At halftime, behind nine points from Bayless and seven from Love, USA Basketball held a commanding 46-29 lead. Bayless, who is headed to Arizona, finished 15 points and a team-high nine rebounds.
The World Select Team did come close to providing some drama in the third quarter. Fighting off nerves that perhaps plagued their efforts in the first half, the World Team whittled away at a USA lead that fluctuated between 14 and 19 points. With 3:47 to play, Alabi (five points, five rebounds) converted on the second of two free throws to bring his team within 10 points, 61-51. Alabi's free throw ignited the USA Team, especially Mayo, who scored five straight points to increase the USA Basketball lead to 68-51 with 2:24 to play.
Forwards Michael Beasley (Notre Dame Prep/Frederick, Md.) who is headed to Kansas State, Patrick Patterson (Huntington H.S./Huntington, W.Va.) who has yet to commit on a college next season, and forward Donte' Greene (North Catholic H.S./Baltimore, MD), who is headed to Syracuse, showcased their considerable skills in the fourth quarter when the USA built a 27 point lead, 94-67, with 4:15 to play. Beasley keyed the opening minutes and finished with eight points. During this run, Patterson had a nifty bucket underneath en route to a 12 point game and Greene became the fifth double figures scorer with 10 points, earned on a spinning move down low.
'The coaches stressed all week that they can knock down open jump shots so we just wanted to make sure that the point guards didn't get a lot of penetration and have their guys hit open shots. I think it started with me and D Rose making sure we played honest defense and cut down on their guard penetration,' remarked Mayo.
The World Select Team, which shot 39 percent for the game (45 percent in the second half) had three players score in double figures, led by an impressive 23-point performance by forward Nicolas Batum from France who connected on 9-13 shots from the field. Two World Select players, forwards Omri Casspi from Israel and Nemanja Aleksandrov from Serbia & Montenegro, each tallied 14 points. Aleksandrov led all players with 14 rebounds, but he alone couldn't nullify a 55-40 USA Basketball margin off the backboard.
The deep and talented USA team, which featured seven players with previous international competition experience, controlled bench play, outscoring the World Select Team 43-13. Thanks to high percentage shots, USA Basketball shot 52 percent in the second half and 44 percent for the game.
The USA Team connected on 38 field goals, 23 coming off assists, which set a new Hoop Summit team record. Ten of those assists, which tied Greg Paulus' mark of 10 set in the 2005 game, came from Flynn, who will be joining Greene at Syracuse. The USA also set Nike Hoop Summit Team marks for most field goals attempted with 86 (betting the previous mark of 83 set in 2004), and most rebounds with 55 (breaking the record of 45 set in 1997 and 2005).
Memphis All-Star Classic Red Team Earns 78-73 Win
In the third annual Memphis All-Star Classic, which preceeded the Nike Hoop Summit, the Red Team placed four players in double figures and despite a game-high 29 point performance from Overton H.S. guard Sergio Kerusch of the White Team, led from start-to-finish in registering a 78-73 victory at the FedEx Forum. The Red Team was able to off-set the spectacular outing by Kerusch (14-23 FGs), who also pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds, by getting 17 points from Myron Strong (Hamilton H.S.), 16 from Randy Culpepper (Sheffield H.S.), 15 from Gabriel McCulley (Craigmont H.S.) and 10 from Hauns Brereton (Bartlett H.S.). McCulley led all rebounders with 13, seven on the offensive end.