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1979 USA Men's Pan American Games Team

EIGHTH PAN AMERICAN GAMES -- 1979

  • Date:
    Jun 10, 2010

San Juan, Puerto Rico • July 1-15, 1979


The 1979 Pan American team was one of the United States' youngest and most explosive squads ever. Behind the coaching of Indiana University's Bob Knight, the USA cruised to a 9-0 record and the gold medal, while averaging 100.8 points a game. It marked the first time that a United States team had averaged more than 100 points-per-contest in the Pan American Games.


1979 USA RESULTS (9-0) 
USA 136 Virgin Islands 88
USA   85 Cuba 53
USA   82 Brazil 78
USA   88 Panama 83
USA   97 Canada 76
USA   99 Argentina 73
USA 101 Cuba 83
USA 106 Brazil 88
USA 113 Puerto Rico 94

1979 PAN AMERICAN GAMES FINAL STANDINGS
1. USA (9-0) 6. Argentina (3-6)
2. Puerto Rico
(8-1)
7. Panama (2-0)
3. Brazil (4-5)* 8. Mexico (1-1)*
4. Cuba (4-5)* 9. Dom. Rep. (1-1)*
5. Canada (4-5)* 10. Virgin Islands
(0-2)
*Final standings determined by point differential between tied teams

 The high-powered offense of the U.S. featured five players who finished the competition averaging in double figures. Led by 6'5' Indiana University junior Mike Woodson, who averaged 18.3 ppg., collegiate All-Americans 6'7' Michael Brooks and 6'2' Kyle Macy contributed 17.4 ppg. and 12.1 ppg., respectively, while Mike O'Koren and Ronnie Lester also averaged in double figures. The USA's talent-laced roster also featured Minnesota junior Kevin McHale, and recent high school graduates Ralph Sampson and Isiah Thomas, who would all go on to stardom in the NBA.

Defeating the Virgin Islands 136-88, the USA was led by Woodson's 24 points, while O'Koren and Brooks each tossed in 21 points and Lester added 20. Knight's cagers handed Cuba an 85-53 setback as Brooks scored 16 points on seven of nine shooting from the field, while Lester accounted for 14 points and Sampson added 10 points.

Brazil proved a much tougher opponent, but behind a balanced scoring attack that featured five players scoring in double figures, including 19 from Brooks and 17 from Macy, the U.S. recorded an 82-78 victory. McHale's 17 points and seven rebounds helped lift the U.S. over Panama 88-83, and Macy's 17 points pushed the Americans to a 97-76 win over Canada. Woodson tallied a high of 30 points in the USA's 99-73 win over Argentina, then recorded 29 point showings in wins against Cuba and Brazil.

The United States clinched its seventh gold medal in eight attempts with a 113-94 victory over host Puerto Rico. Facing an outstanding team from Puerto Rico that had also compiled a perfect 8-0 mark prior to the Pan Am final, the U.S. relied on its balanced, but high-powered offense, for the win. Brooks led the USA team in its win over Puerto Rico compiling 27 points and 13 rebounds, while Indiana standouts Woodson and Thomas added 23 and 21 points, respectively.

The winning of the gold medal did not take place without controversy. The first incident was the ejection of coach Knight from the opening game against the Virgin Islands, a contest which the U.S. went on to win, 136-88. Knight also later had a run-in with a policeman at a practice session. Another occurrence took place during the second USA-Cuba contest as Macy suffered a broken jaw after being punched by Tomas Herrara of Cuba. Macy missed the final two USA games, while Herrara was only ejected from the game.

1979 USA PAN AMERICAN MEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM ROSTER

NAME POS HGT WGT AGE SCHOOL HOMETOWN
Michael Brooks F 6-7 220 20 LaSalle University Philadelphia, PA
Sam Clancy F 6-6 235 21 University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA
John Duren G 6-3 195 20 Georgetown University Washington, DC
Ronnie Lester G 6-2 170 20 University of Iowa Chicago, IL
Kyle Macy G 6-2 175 22 University of Kentucky Peru, IN
Kevin McHale C 6-10 220 21 University of Minnesota Hibbing, MN
Dick Miller F 6-7 221 21 University of Toledo Milwaukee, WI
Mike O'Koren F 6-8 205 21 University of North Carolina Jersey City, NJ
Ralph Sampson C 7-3 205 19 Harrisonburg H.S. Harrisonburg, VA
Isiah Thomas G 6-1 178 18 St. Joseph's High School Chicago, IL
Ray Tolbert F 6-9 220 20 Indiana University Anderson, IN
Danny Vranes F 6-7 195 20 University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT
Mike Woodson F 6-5 195 21 Indiana University Indianapolis, IN
HEAD COACH: Bob Knight, Indiana University
ASSISTANT COACH: Mike Krzyzewski, U.S. Military Academy (NY)
MANAGER: Fred Taylor, Ohio State University
ATHLETIC TRAINER: Bob Moore, San Diego State University (CA)

1979 USA PAN AMERICAN MEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM CUMULATIVE STATISTICS

  G FGM-FGA PCT FTM-FTA PCT REB/AVG PTS/AVG AST
Woodson 9 65-111 .586 35- 38 .921 14/ 1.6 165/ 18.3 10
Brooks 9 60- 91 .659 37- 50 .740 55/ 6.1 157/ 17.4 9
Macy 7 37- 59 .627 11- 12 .917 12/ 1.7 85/ 12.1 9
O'Koren 9 41- 70 .586 22- 27 .815 32/ 3.6 104/ 11.6 24
Lester 9 38- 80 .475 20- 24 .833 10/ 1.1 96/ 10.7 23
McHale 9 38- 64 .594 11- 16 .688 40/ 4.4 87/ 9.7 2
Thomas 9 33- 55 .600 17- 19 .895 6/ 0.7 83/ 9.2 24
Vranes 9 15- 34 .441 8- 11 .727 22/ 2.4 38/ 4.2 8
Clancy 7 10- 18 .556 5- 7 .714 23/ 3.3 25/ 3.6 2
Duren 8 10- 20 .500 4- 6 .667 6/ 0.8 24/ 3.0 7
Tolbert 8 11- 18 .611 1- 2 .500 13/ 1.6 23/ 2.9 2
Sampson 8 8- 17 .471 4- 7 .571 10/ 1.3 20/ 2.5 1
USA 9 366-637 .575 175-219 .799 243/ 27.0 907/100.8 121
OPP. 9 266-584 .455 184-283 .650 183/ 20.3 716/ 79.6 75

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