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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Pan Am ... or bust?

JULY 14 - Took a quick ride down to the Philly area on Friday to meet with the USA Basketball staff to help prepare for the upcoming USA Senior National Team training mini-camp, to be held in Las Vegas July 20-22.

The USA Basketball contingent was in Haverford, PA to prepare a team of top collegians for the Pan Am Games, which are now on-going in Rio, Brazil.

Here is a take on the try-out from CNN's Seth Davis:

Last weekend in Philadelphia, 30 of the top college basketball players in America came to Haverford College in hopes of becoming one of the lucky dozen who will get picked to play for the U.S. at the Pan American Games from July 25-29 in Brazil.

Think about that for a moment. Every one of those guys is the best or second-best player on his team. In high school, each was the best by a long shot. All their lives, they've been stars. Yet there they were, scrapping and clawing just to get a jersey. It was unfamiliar territory, to say the least.

"I can't even think the last time I had to fight like this," said Indiana senior forward D.J. White, who will enter next season as one of the favorites for Big Ten player of the year. "I made my varsity as a freshman in high school. The only other sport I played is baseball, and that was Little League, where everybody plays."

I had a slightly different take on the trip and two things jumped up:

1. I respect and agree with Georgetown's Roy Hibbert's decision to stay in college and play a fourth season of ball with the Hoyas. He needs to improve his game and grow stronger in order to be a top-notch NBA prospect. Even then, he will need some time and some very good coaching to make it at the NBA level.

2. The Pan Am Games team for the USA, which hasn't won a gold since 1983, will need to play at a very high level to attain that goal this summer. I really hope they can do it.

The college kids assembled at Haverford College, will need to gel as a team and will have to do that in short order. They will need bigtime play from the smaller guard corps and they will need to 'hit some shots.' Now there's a real news bulletin, eh? Villanova's Jay Wright will have his work cut out for him. However, he is a top notch coach and will get the team to play at its best.

I believe Jay IS a very good coach right now, and can be a GREAT coach as he gains more experience. If I were at the helm of an NBA team, I would consider him for a head coaching gig in a NY minute.

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