Sunday, July 12, 2015

Germany hopes size, defense can disrupt Team USA offense in gold-medal game

German guard Maodo Lo (12) drives to the basket in a German semi-final win against Brazil Sunday, July 12, at the World University Games in South Korea.

German guard Maodo Lo (12) drives to the basket in a German semi-final win against Brazil Sunday, July 12, at the World University Games in South Korea.


— When the final buzzer sounded on Sunday, German players and coaches were excited about their 59-49 semifinal win against Brazil. But they knew they still had work to do.

Germany will face the United States men’s basketball team in the World University Games gold-medal game, after the Jayhawks beat Russia, 78-68, at 9 p.m. Monday (7 a.m. CDT on ESPNU) at Yeomju Gymnasium.

The German players didn’t stay at the arena for USA’s victory, planning to watch back in their rooms at the athletes village and rest up for the tournament final.

“We’ll prepare as best as we can,” Germany coach Henrik Rödl said. “We’ll try to use the strengths we had all tournament: a good defensive team, a good rebounding team and we’ll try to take care of the ball a little bit better, then we’ll have a chance to win.”

Germany leads the World University Games with an average of 50.5 rebounds per game and ranks second in points allowed (53.5).

“I think the zone is bothering opponents so far,” Rödl said. “Teams have made some shots, but I think it slows the other team down, makes them think a little bit. But our guys, they play hard together. And I think we have size. Size when you come into the lane, even when you think you have a good opportunity, we still have big guys in front of you that you have to score over, so that helps a lot.”

Germany has two current Ivy League players, with senior forward Hans Brase at Princeton and senior guard Maodo Lo at Columbia. Brase, who finished with 10 points and four rebounds on Sunday, led Princeton with an average of 7.5 rebounds per game last year and averaged 11.5 points. Lo was Columbia’s leading scorer last season at 18.4 points per game.

Rödl played at the University of North Carolina under Dean Smith, winning a national title in 1993, which included a Final Four win over Kansas. He was the third German to win a national title in NCAA history.

“I remember him,” Kansas coach Bill Self said of Rödl. “He was a good player. About 6-(foot)-8? That’ll be good. At least I have somebody I can talk to before the game.”

A few of the USA coaches attended Germany’s game against Brazil, which was three hours earlier than Jayhawks’ game against Russia.

“Our staff has only seen them once, but we’ll watch game tape tonight and in the morning,” Self said. “We’ll have a decent book on them. We probably had a better book on Lithuania and Russia because they played multiple games at the same site where it’s easier to scout.”

Germany only led by two points against Brazil entering the fourth quarter, but opened the period with a 9-3 run. Germany held Brazil to 28 percent shooting (18-of-64) and forced 19 turnovers. Bogdan Radosavljevic led the undefeated German team with a game-high 11 points and 13 rebounds.

“It was a game with a lot of mistakes,” Rödl said. “In the first half, both teams already had 25 turnovers. It was not pretty. Both teams obviously nervous and tired, and really tried to get over the hump. In the second half, we had a run that put us over and gave us that little advantage at the end. I thought that the guys had a little bit more energy and made some good plays down the stretch to win the game.”

Does Germany have any extra motivation playing against the Jayhawks?

“Nope, going for gold,” Rödl said. “I don’t think it makes any difference to the guys. (The Jayhawks) look like the best team in the tournament so far. But we’re playing in the finals, so we’ll see who the best team is. It’s the one that wins the last game.”

Gold medal pride

The Jayhawks moved one step closer to earning a gold medal with their semifinal win against Russia.

“I’ve never been a part of anything like this,” Self said. “But I would assume any time that, regardless of what event, you represent your country and you get a chance to get a gold medal, it would be a huge deal. What it could be … hopefully, it’ll be a start to a very special year.”

How do wins in the World University Games compare to the season?

“I don’t know if our fans would think this is near as big as an NCAA tournament game,” Self said. “But for the kids who have worked hard this summer and for the experience … it’s fun. But it won’t be fun from a fan standpoint like it is for us. But to these kids over here, it means an awful lot.”

Despite earning a spot in the gold-medal game, the Jayhawks aren’t satisfied until they complete their goal of winning the tournament.

“We’re all excited but we don’t just want to play for it,” KU junior point guard Frank Mason III said. “We want to win it. We’ll go back and look at tape on Germany and try to get better and do some things and hopefully get the win.”

At the World University Games, gold medalists don’t get their national anthem played afterward. Instead it’s the FISU anthem “Gaudeamus Igitur,” to promote unity between athletes from different countries. The medals are presented by college students aspiring to be flight attendants.

Self keeps learning

With a 24-second shot clock, Self has let the Jayhawks play without many set-plays on offense, which has helped USA’s guards create opportunities off of the dribble.

“We didn’t score on the block,” Self said after his team scored 38 of its 78 points in the paint against Russia. "Landen (Lucas) made two baskets on the block when we threw it over the top. But for the most part, everything was drive it or play to 15-foot jumpers or play to threes. I’ve never played this way. But I’ve learned a lot in the past month.

“We’ve always played to our bigs and we still have to. But you know what, the trust in guys to go one-on-one and make plays has probably made us better basketball players individually.”

Embiid out for the year

Sam Hinkie, the Philadelphia 76ers President of Basketball Operations and General Manager, confirmed in a statement Saturday that the team expects former Kansas center Joel Embiid to miss the entire 2015-16 season.

“A collective decision has been made that the best approach to promote full healing would be to proceed with a bone graft of the fracture site,” Hinkie said in a statement. “We anticipate the procedure will take place in the next 7-10 days and result in Joel missing the upcoming season.”

Embiid, the No. 3 pick in the 2014 NBA draft, missed all of last season with a fractured bone in his right foot.

“I haven’t talked to Joel,” Self said. “I don’t get it. I shouldn’t comment until I talk to him, but hopefully it’s not the case. When he left us, he had no foot problems."

More from USA-Russia


RJ King 5 years, 9 months ago

Most worrisome: “I think the (Germany) zone is bothering opponents so far.”

Most encouraging: "I’ve never played this way. But I’ve learned a lot in the past month."

Most amusing: "The medals are presented by college students aspiring to be flight attendants."

Eliott Reeder 5 years, 9 months ago

Lol, basically my thoughts exactly... well done.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 9 months ago

Interesting that they sing GAUDEAMUS IGITUR ( instead of the National Anthems to the winners.

It's difficult to understand how valid those German numbers are since the Pool, Pool A, was so weak. Additionally, it sounds like Brasil just ran out of gas in the 4th Q. We'll find out soon enough. Best we prepare to be the aggressor and close the deal for the Gold.

Rodney Crain 5 years, 9 months ago

To my earlier point this is second tier type tourney, still very nice to win and play in. It is more a FISU event than a major sporting event like the Pan Am games or the Olymplics. Wouldn't it be great if after the anthem homage to FISU our fans seranaded the team with the stars and stripes? That would be very cool!

How vain do you have to be for every champion to stand there and hear the FISU Anthem and not the winners country? Answer pretty vain... It sounds like something out of George Orwells 1984 book to me.

Rodney Crain 5 years, 9 months ago

Sure, even though we are really Team USA. Why not?

David Kelley-Wood 5 years, 9 months ago

I guess it's so obvious that it needn't be stated; nonetheless, it will be kind of off-the-charts cool for KU (plus two) to bring home the bacon for the USA, cool for the players, coaches, school, fans, the nation, you name it.

For KU to do it after 10 dry years of attempts by all-star teams, totally awesome! It's even hard to imagine people in Missouri rooting for Germany in this game!

Tony Bandle 5 years, 9 months ago

Something tells me that, unless the reffing goes completely out of whack [always a possibility in international play regarding a game involving a USA team], this game may not be as difficult as it would seem to appear.

The Germans are tall and tough but not quick and are lacking the athleticism so present throughout the USA squad. I see a double digit victory for the University of Southern Gulf Coast Kansas. :)

Rodney Crain 5 years, 9 months ago

Agree, its their zone that might make it closer than it should be.

Dirk Medema 5 years, 9 months ago

"keep it closer"

In the end (of the 3rd qrtr?) they will wilt like all the rest as we run them out of the gym and bring home the gold.

Rodney Crain 5 years, 9 months ago

It was in Munich that the *&$% started...

Rodney Crain 5 years, 9 months ago

We need to play with pace, hit our shots and rebound. Stay out of Foul trouble. Just like every game so far. Nothing fancy.

Bobby if you be so kind to get a few O2 bottles for Frank, Wayne and Hunter, as well as set up some IVs for half time, that would be much appreciated! :)

Lets go Hawks one more and we take home the GOLD, you can sleep all the way back to Lawrence once its over!!!

Mark Lindrud 5 years, 9 months ago

Don't forget to run. We wear down our opponents with our constant running up and down the court. Otherwise, I am with you all the way.

Dirk Medema 5 years, 9 months ago

Encouraging that Germany was saying they were really tired. It might be close for a half or so, but my guess is the same pull away finish results as the other team just plain wears out.

Scott Smetana 5 years, 9 months ago

It's great that we are learning ways to score besides the low block. Hunter and Lucas seem to be improving on defense and rebounding, but are still bad scoring on the block. Ellis is too small when nrear the rim with defense in position.

On a positive note, what a game!! Seldon is playing like an All American! Bragg has swag, and Vick is getting more comfortable by the minute.

Dirk Medema 5 years, 9 months ago

It seems to me that's part of Coach Self's message to the guys:

Hunter and Landon, we don't need you to be creators on O. We need you to facilitate Frank, Wayne, Perry, ... creating on O, and then you will get your points.

Perry, you're not a muscle guys, so use your greater ability in the open court to create drives or make them pay by just stepping back and drilling a J/3. You don't need to (try) out muscle anyone. You're a stretch 4, and that's okay, because you are really good when you play to your strengths, and not try to be someone you're not.

Gerry Butler 5 years, 9 months ago

OK guys, maybe a weird QUESTION but here it is anyways lol, IF we were to win the Gold, lets say would Devonte receive a Gold medal seeing he is a member being hurt? Or how about the other team members like Greene, because of being hurt, just asking guys

Micky Baker 5 years, 9 months ago

Irregardless of what you think about the quality of the opponents in the World University Games, this is good experience, particularly for the newcomers to get acquainted with the veterans and vice-versa. It also gives them a chance to play against players of a different style than is normally seen in conference play, like those players that they often face in the NCAA tourney with the various international styles of play. This also gives KU a lot of exposure of the best of the international talent that might want to play college ball in the US.

One other thing. This isn't a situation in which the best overall players in the country are chosen. This is essentially KU vs (enter name here). Now if two other guys weren't international recruits, it would be all KU instead KU plus 1 SMU plus 1 FGCU, even with the two injured players.

JD Roth 5 years, 9 months ago

Yep don't tell Bill Self, the players, or the fans there this is second tier. No way will they buy that propaganda. Go out and take the Gold!!!!!

Rodney Crain 5 years, 9 months ago

No need to tell them JD Self, players know this a second tier tourney. Not propaganda, its a fact.

Still a great experience and I hope we win the gold!

Micky Baker 5 years, 9 months ago

Correction. "It also gives them a chance to play against players of a different style than is normally not seen in conference play, like those players that they often face in the NCAA tourney with the various international styles of play".

Tom Jones 5 years, 9 months ago

Frank Mason beast mode again. Selden hits a clutch three after being horrid most of the game.

KU (USA) in double OT! Rock Chalk.

Mick Allen 5 years, 9 months ago

You are correct Tom. Frank was a beast. He kept us in the game when we went down by 5. He is one tough, tough little fella and he wants the ball at crunch time. If Graham had been healthy I assume Moore's minutes would have gone down. Shot the ball poorly again but his steal of the in bounds pass when we were 3 up and then converting the 2 free throws was as big a play as there was.

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