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Sulaimon, U.S. Win U-19 Gold

Our apologies - we got a bit out of sequence with the final two games of the U-19 tournament. The U.S. beat Lithuania with ease, winning 100-60. We honestly expected this to be a really tough game - Lithuania is a small country but one which is basketball crazy and has some tremendous players. Rasheed Sulaimon didn't score but it didn't matter. Everyone bought into the basic U.S. template: selfless play and defensive intensity makes the offense easier.

In the title game, the U.S. had a rematch with Serbia, the only team that really gave them trouble in this field. The margin in the first game was nine; in the title game it was 14, with the U.S. winning 82-68.

Sulaimon scored 12 in the gold medal victory, only the second since 1995.

The overhaul Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski started is now complete and the U.S., Mike DeCourcy tells us, has every major title in international basketball: U17, U19, senior and Olympics.

That's pretty impressive, to say the least. It's comprehensive and if things are managed correctly, it'll be a long time before U.S. dominance can be challenged. What happened in the past - more organized teams which played a brand of basketball based on ball movement and three point shooting - is vastly more difficult when the U.S. brings coherent teams which bring waves of athletic defenders and guys who can run.

Some other countries will eventually adapt - Canada lately has produced some serious talent and the Canadians mostly play in the U.S. eventually in college or the NBA. Spain is not that far behind. Puerto Rico produces enough talent to play with anyone even though they haven't lately. The talent is there though. Someday China will be a power.

For today, though, the U.S. is alone at the top, and the two men most responsible - although they would surely share credit and indeed have made a point of doing so - are Colangelo and Krzyzewski.

Well done, to say the least.


The N&O's Laura Keeley tweeted a picture of Sulaimon after the win which, really, should become iconic. That's about as good as it gets.