The summer months are extremely slow in the world of basketball. With the NBA lockout in full effect for over a month and college basketball still months away from starting up, there just doesn’t seem like a lot of news out there. That changed with Big Ten basketball this past weekend.
As few of you might know, a couple of the players in the Big Ten were invited to try out for the roster for the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s World University Games team. Matt Painter, the head coach of Purdue, coaches the team. So, keeping a few players from the Big Ten that he knows will help the team out in the long run. That’s exactly what happened with two of the players from the Big Ten, both seniors.
The first is Trevor Mbakwe out of Minnesota. He is seen to be a power forward that will get a lot of minutes in the games because of his intensity and his overall interior presence that he brings to the court. The last Golden Gopher to be invited was Vincent Grier six years ago.
The second player is Draymond Green from Michigan State. The Spartan brings true leadership and humbleness to the court. The small forward position doesn’t seem to be very deep, so minutes are expected out of Green. But, he may also play minutes at power forward because of the depth at guard for the US.
The games start out late next week in China on August 13th. The USA are one of the 24 teams in the field. We are in Group D along with Finland, Hungary, Israel, Mexico, and South Korea. The first game on the 13th will pin the red, white, and blue against our rivals in Mexico.
The time in China is a full 12-hour difference. So, our game at six at night will be played at six in the morning in the United States.
The United States has earned a medal in every University Games since its existence back in 1965. Last games, in 2009, the US finished 3rd after losing in the semifinals to Russia by a single point. Some players that have played in these games include Larry Bird, Ray Allen, Tim Duncan, and Charles Barkley. Eighteen total members of the USA squad have went on to play in the Olympics. Overall, the USA are 131- 8 in competition.
Two more cuts are still needed to be made, but both Mbakwe and Green seem to be locks. John Shurna from Northwestern was on the original lineup but was cut along with over ten others.