Day 4 Roundup: Plumlee Gets Shot At National Team
Las Vegas, Nevada
It started as a math problem. The USA Basketball Men’s National Team started training camp this week in Las Vegas with 19 players, leaving them a man short when they split into two teams for 5-on-5 drills.
Based on their need for more post players and his stellar performance for the Select Team at Monday’s practice, the coaching staff tapped second-year pro Mason Plumlee to work out with the National Team the rest of the week.
“It was funny,” said Plumlee, whose brother Miles was also playing with the Select Team. “They asked me if I wanted to, like I was going to say no.”
While it’s no guarantee, that opportunity could turn into more than just practice time. Plumlee will suit up on the Blue Team at Friday’s USA Basketball Showcase at the Thomas & Mack Center, and in the absence of many post options Plumlee (6-foot-11) could end up playing his way onto the FIBA Basketball World Cup roster.
“Mason has a chance to go forward,” said coach Mike Krzyzewski, who also coached Plumlee at Duke.
Managing director Jerry Colangelo and the coaching staff split the National Team up into two seemingly even rosters for Friday’s intrasquad scrimmage. The Blue Team includes guys like Paul George, Derrick Rose and Anthony Davis while Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving will lead the White Team.
Thursday’s practice was the lightest one of the week but Krzyzewski still made sure to put some different combinations out on the court together. Part of paring down the roster to 12 will be making decisions based not just on a player’s individual strengths but also how well he’s able to bring out the best in other players. Friday is another chance to see some of those combinations work with a few more people watching.
“It’s a different group every day, so you get to see how they interact,” Krzyzewski said. “How much do they carry over what we’ve been doing in practice to a game setting with a crowd, although we have a crowd here every day.”
The Showcase wraps up the Las Vegas portion of USA Basketball’s training camp. After that there’s some time off before the group reconvenes in Chicago on Aug. 14 for a couple days of practice and a scrimmage against Brazil on Aug. 16.
With the FIBA Basketball World Cup officially starting on Aug. 30, Krzyzewski isn’t in a big hurry to pick his 12. He called this the best opening to training camp he’s ever had with USA Basketball in terms of all the work they’ve accomplished, but the evaluation process is still ongoing
The 2014 USA Basketball Showcase tips off Friday, Aug. 1, at 6 p.m. PT and can be seen on ESPN. Tickets for the 2014 USA Basketball Showcase start at $10, and can be purchased by calling 702-739-FANS or online at www.UNLVtickets.com.