USA Men’s U19 Team Scrimmages Air Force Academy
The 13 finalists for the USA Men’s U19 National Team took a break from drills and conditioning Monday evening, and took the court against an unofficial group of players from the Air Force Academy men’s squad.
“I really appreciate (USA Basketball Men’s National Team Director) Sean Ford organizing that and having the Academy come play with us,” said U19 head coach Paul Hewitt (head coach George Mason). “I think we’ll get a lot of tape out of it, and we’ll be able to show the kids what we did and what we need to improve on.”
The two teams competed for a total of 50 minutes, broken up into five 10-minute quarters. International rules were in effect, and the USA team tried out different plays and defensive methods.
“I think it was a good test, especially against the group we played against,” Hewitt said. “They know each other a little bit. They know the Princeton offense. It tested our half-court defense in terms of guys being able to help pressure the basketball and not get beat. Early on they were hurting us with some screens, but I think we made some adjustments, and I thought the guys did a nice job.”
It was the team’s first scrimmage against outside competition, which the players said should help when it comes to playing in the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship For Men, which is being held June 30-July 10 in Valmiera, Liepaja and Riga, Latvia.
“It was nice to play someone other than ourselves,” said Meyers Leonard (Illinois/Robinson, Ill.). “It was pretty good to see each others’ talents both on offense and defense, and just to get a different feel for the game was nice.”
The USA beat the Air Force team 101-87, outscoring its opponent in each quarter except for the fifth.
Five players scored in double figures, led by Joe Jackson’s (Memphis/Memphis, Tenn.) 13 points. Tim Hardaway, Jr. (Michigan/Miami, Fla.), Doug McDermott (Creighton/Ames, Iowa), Anthony Brown (Stanford/Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Leonard also scored in double figures. Patric Young (Florida/Jacksonville, Fla.) led the USA rebounding effort with 10, falling one point short of a double-double.
“We’re starting to get a feel for each other,” Leonard said. “We can slow down in transition, we have guys that can shoot, we have guys that can score in the paint. I think we’ll be alright.”
While Hewitt sees some things he’d like cleaned up before heading overseas Friday, overall, he was pleased with the performance.
“I was happy with the effort,” he said. “I thought our defense was really good. I think our ability to rebound the ball will be one of our strengths.”