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1974 USA Men's World Championship Team


  • Date:
    Jun 10, 2010

San Juan, Puerto Rico • July 3-14, 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)
USA 135 Philippines 85
USA 114 Spain 71
USA 109 Argentina 86
USA 94 Puerto Rico 76
USA 115 Canada 94
USA 83 Cuba 70
USA 103 Brazil 83
USA 91 Yugoslavia 88
USSR 105 USA 94
1. Soviet Union (6-1)* 8. Canada (1-6)
2. Yugoslavia (6-1)* 9. Mexico (5-0)
3. USA (6-1)* 10. Czechoslovakia (4-1)
4. Cuba (3-4) 11. Argentina (2-3)*
5. Spain (2-5)# 12. Australia (2-3)*
6. Brazil (2-5)# 13. Philippines (2-3)*
7. Puerto Rico (2-5)# 14. Cent. African Rep. (0-5)

*Final standings determined by point differential between tied teams.
#Final standings determined by results between tied teams.
NOTE: Team records reflect results from Final Round or Classification Round games only. Result versus preliminary round opponent were also included in Final Round or Classification Round standings.


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


Luther Burden 9

182/ 20.2
John Lucas 9

178/ 19.7
Gus Gerard 9

118/ 17.1
Tom Boswell 9

98/ 10.8
Eugene Short 9

86/ 9.5
Richard Kelley 9

84/ 9.3
Joe Meriweather 9

67/ 7.4
Quinn Buckner 9

59/ 6.6
Frank Grote 8

26/ 3.2
Frank Oleynick 4

16/ 4.0
Richard Schmidt 6

16/ 2.6
Myron Wilkins 4

8/ 2.0

OPP. TOTALS 9 295-

758/ 84.2

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