The US defeated
the Canadians 87-82 - but they had to come back from a 12 point halftime
deficit to do it.
Carrawell had a nice game, hitting for 12 points, 4 boards, 1 turnover
and 2 steals. Particularly nice to see was that he shot 6-7 from the free
throw line. That wasn't always a sure thing this past season, but this
summer he seems to be doing well.
The other ACC guy, Brendan Haywood, had probably his best game of the
tournament, hitting for 17 points, 9 boards, 6 of those offensive, no turnovers
and 1 block. The only complaint anyone might have was shooting 7-12,
which, considering he doesn't shoot outside of 6 feet, might be a bit low for a
power player. But big whoop - he's finally taking advantage of his size.
If this is the start of a trend, it'll be interesting. He's had the size
all along; it's the maturity which has been lacking. .
From here on out, the road gets tougher: The U.S. gets the home team, Spain,
and this is a country which has embraced basketball in a big way. We see
more and more of their players pop up here in college, and they play the game
like they bullfight - with great daring. (This is highly secondary, but if any
U.S. player catches on with the fans in a big way, he might have a career path
in Spain. Muggsy Bogues, for instance, made a huge hit in the 86 games and was
invited back to head a parade and could probably play a couple of years there
after his NBA time ends should he so choose. He was idolized). It
will be a very tough game.
Should we win that game, then a) the home team may well pull against us, and
b) the championship (or for that matter consolation) will have heavy political
overtones no matter who wins, Mexico or Yugoslavia - though obviously the latter
would be more intense (incidentally, we haven't seen any Mexican games, but we
assume that Eduardo Najera kid from Oklahoma might be playing for them).
Though the U.S. and Mexico usually have pretty intense matches in
international competition, especially, lately, soccer, and it is a complex,
often bitter relationship, it's not like we spent the summer bombing Tijuana.
If we played them, it will certainly be as intense as the U.S.-China soccer
match Sunday, and could even approach the intensity of the legendary
Czech-Russian water polo match, where players bloodied each other in the pool.
The U.S. has usually been at a disadvantage, despite superior talent, because
the team is thrown together at the last minute. That's still the case, of
course, but they have an advantage in that they brought two very sharp point
guards in Penn and Barkley. If you watched them this year you know what we mean:
these guys are really accomplished points, even Barkley despite his
youth. If they manage the team well, and Haywood manages the inside
well, they'll be tough to beat. Still, it's going to take a lot to beat Spain,
much less win the Finals.