Sunday, June 10, 2018

USA rolls at FIBA Americas in Bill Self’s debut as U18 head coach

Jayhawk Quentin Grimes scores 8

Kansas head coach Bill Self gets at his players during the second half of the Showdown for Relief exhibition, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Kansas head coach Bill Self gets at his players during the second half of the Showdown for Relief exhibition, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.


Bill Self didn’t face many snags during his debut as head coach of USA Basketball’s U18 team Sunday night at the FIBA Americas championship.

Nevertheless, after the US rolled past Dominican Republic, 105-73, in its preliminary-round opener, in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, the University of Kansas head coach sounded as demanding in June as he would in the heat of Big 12 play in January or February.

“We executed poorly the first half,” Self said, in a release from USA Basketball. “But, in the second half we looked a little better. Our athleticism and depth really wore them down and they got tired. All in all, considering the number of missed layups and the number of missed free throws, it’s pretty amazing that we scored over 100 points.”

The group of young USA prospects went on a 19-0 run in the fourth quarter.

“It was the best stretch of ball,” Self said. “We had a 20-point lead and I subbed the last three minutes of the third and they cut it to 13. And then we put the starters back in and the next thing you know, we go on a 19-0 run. That’s the way it is a lot of times with aggressive, athletic teams. You can putter around and putter around and then a three- or four-minute segment could be the segment that puts enough separation between you, where the other team can’t come back, and that’s what happened.”

Although incoming Kansas freshman Quentin Grimes didn’t take over the spotlight while playing for his college head coach, a pair of younger KU recruiting targets emerged as two of the team’s six double-digit scorers.

A 6-foot-9, five-star power forward in the Class of 2019, Matthew Hurt nearly delivered a double-double, with 12 points and nine rebounds.

Also a 6-9, five-star power forward and a rising high school senior, Bishop Miege standout Jeremiah Robinson-Earl added 10 points and six rebounds for the US.

Grimes, an 18-year-old guard from Texas, wasn’t far behind them in the scoring column. A likely starter at KU this coming season, Grimes contributed eight points on four-for-nine shooting, but missed all three of his 3-point tries, while distributing three assists, with two turnovers in his 23 minutes of playing time.

Point guard Cole Anthony led USA with 18 points and shot seven of 13 from the floor, as USA hit 49.4 percent from the floor and knocked down 10 of its 25 attempts from beyond the arc.

Alanzo Frink led Dominican Republic with 16 points on 5-for-14 shooting.

USA out-rebounded its opponent, 51-44, with Hurt’s nine boards tying Armando Bacot for the team lead.

USA plays again Monday (approximately 7:15 p.m. CT) against Panama, which lost, 84-51, to Puerto Rico in its opener.

Following the preliminary round, teams will be seeded within each group, and all eight teams advance to the Thursday quarterfinal games. The semifinals will be played Friday, and the finals on Saturday. The top four finishing teams will qualify for the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup.


Bryce Landon 4 years ago

Team USA has the right man leading it this summer in Bill Self.

U-S-A! U-S-A!

Jerry Rockhold 4 years ago

Benton, ty for the detailed story on the game.

Are any of the games available anywhere to watch live or even in replay?

Ryan Zimmerman 4 years ago

KU was in the top 20 as far as 3 point field goals made per game last year out of approximately 350 teams

No Malik. No Svi...even no Vick this season.

What is your prediction for where they rank this upcoming season?

Eliott Reeder 4 years ago

Very low, but our pts in the paint will rise exponentially.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years ago

You think? These guys will be going at it and at each other since day one of practice. I'm not so sure.

Charlie Moore has a decent three ball but not much in the mid-range, shooting barely 3% more overall. That needs to be addressed.

Udoka was already shooting 77% overall last season, the vast majority coming from passes with him deep in the paint. It will be pretty hard to get anywhere near that if he is working more on his midrange game but maybe this is a great time for him to improve his skills and let the other bigs pick up the slack.

I am not going to concede anything towards our three-point percentage this year until our freshman gets close to conference play.

You could very well be correct Elliott, guess I'm just looking forward to seeing how this team can become a real team, not just a bunch of guys wearing the same uniform.

Pius Waldman 4 years ago

Vick comments have been somewhat silent since his decision not to enter the draft. As for me if he desires to come back sure hope he gets the chance.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years ago

Man, tough decision for Self coming up before the start of the season. Grimes or Moore and both are playing near the top of their game. I would think that minutes played would trump who started. Good luck juggling one of KU's most talented team.

And not only that, playing time for the bigs might even be a tougher challenge.

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