SEVENTH WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP -- 1974
Co-favored with the USSR and defending champion Yugoslavia for the gold, the United States sent its youngest and its least internationally experienced team in history to San Juan. Unlike the Soviets who boasted of five veterans of the 1972 gold medal Olympic team, only three U.S. players had international experience.
1974 USA RESULTS (8-1)
Scoring over 100 points in each of its three preliminary round games, the U.S. opened with impressive wins of 135-85 versus the Philippines, 114-71 against Spain and 109-86 against Argentina.
Meeting host Puerto Rico, a squad U.S. head coach Gene Bartow had formerly coached, the U.S. claimed a 94-76 victory behind Gus Gerard's 20 points and a six-minute Puerto Rican dry spell late in the first half. The U.S. also cruised past Canada, 115-94, as John Lucas and Tom Boswell each tallied 22 points. Cuba played the U.S. tough before eventually falling 83-70 as Lucas led the U.S. with 22 points.
Luther 'Ticky' Burden pumped in 19 points and Lucas continued his hot shooting, scoring 17 points in the American's winning 103-83 effort over Brazil. The USA's win set up one of the major confrontations of the tournament as the two undefeated teams, the United States and Yugoslavia met in the semifinals.
Trailing Yugoslavia by nine points at the half, 50-41, the United States looked as if it may be headed to its first defeat, but the American team rallied back behind Burden's 27 points, and 16 points from Boswell and Lucas each, for a 91-88 victory.
Finishing the final round with a contest against the Soviet Union, the 6-0 U.S. squad found itself in foul trouble early. Deadlocked 55-55 at half, a late second half surge by the Soviet Union provided the difference as the USSR claimed a 105-94 win.The Americans racked-up 38 fouls which aided the Soviets in scoring 37 points from the charity stripe on 46 free throw attempts.
The American defeat set up a unique situation with three teams, the USA, USSR and Yugoslavia tied with identical 6-1 records. The tie breaking system of the higher numerical figure of points scored divided by points against afforded the Soviet Union the gold and Yugoslavia the silver. Much to the dismay of the Americans, the U.S. was awarded the bronze.
Lucas, Burden and Tom Boswell were named to the All-World team and Lucas was selected as the World Championship's Most Valuable Player.
|Tom Boswell||F||6-9||225||20||South Carolina||Montgomery, AL|
|Quinn Buckner||G||6-3||203||19||Indiana||Phoenix, IL|
|Luther Burden||G||6-2||185||21||Utah||Albany, NY|
|Gus Gerard||F||6-8||195||20||Virginia||Uniontown, PA|
|Steve Grote||G||6-0||190||18||Michigan||Cincinnati, OH|
|Rich Kelley||C||7-0||235||21||Stanford||Menlow Park, CA|
|John Lucas||G||6-4||170||20||Maryland||Durham, NC|
|Joe Meriweather||C||6-11||217||20||Southern Illinois||Phenix City, AL|
|Frank Oleynick||G||6-3||190||19||Seattle||Bridgeport, CT|
|Rick Schmidt||F||6-6||205||20||Illinois||Royal, IL|
|Eugene Short||F||6-7||205||20||Jackson State||Hattiesburg, MS|
|Myron Wilkins||F||6-8||224||22||Northeastern Okla. A&M J. C.||Fort Towson, OK|
|HEAD COACH: Gene Bartow, University of Illinois|
|ASSISTANT COACH: Arad McCutchan, University of Evansville (IN)|
|MANAGER: Herbert Mols, Buffalo, New York|
|TEAM PHYSICIAN: Anthony Daly, Los Angeles, California|
|ATHLETIC TRAINER: Skip Pickering, University of Illinois|
1974 USA MEN'S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM CUMULATIVE STATISTICS