U.S. Schweitzer team tunes up with victory
MANNHEIM, Germany — The U.S. team displayed a lot of its inside presence and a little of its outside prowess for the upcoming 22nd Albert Schweitzer International youth basketball tournament in its final tuneup game Thursday night at the BFV Sports Arena.
The U.S. team, composed of 10 NCAA Division I prospects from the U.S. and two players from DODDS-Europe, defeated Germany’s national under-18 team 90-85 behind strong inside play from muscular 6-foot-8 Tyrell Biggs of Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J.; 6-foot-7 Providence recruit De Sean White of Cardinal Dougherty High School in Philadelphia; 6-foot-8 Brandon Coster of Seton Hall Prep in West Orange, N.J.; 6-foot-10 BYU-bound David Burgess of Woodbridge High School in Irvine, Calif; and 6-foot-7 Casan Breeden of Marlboro County High School in Bennetsville, S.C.
The Germans made a late run and cut a 10-point deficit to two, 82-80, with 2:05 to play, but U.S. point guard Kyle Lowery took over the next 65 seconds, driving the lane for a layup and a four-point U.S. lead. He then stole the ball and hit a layup on the ensuing inbound passs to make it 86-80.
“After a few practices, we’re starting to come together as a team,” said U.S. coach Dick McCann, a retired Air Force officer. “I’m not satisfied yet, but we’re getting there. It takes time.”
McCann knows about time. He has coached every U.S. team since the Americans began bringing U.S.-based players to the biannual Albert Schweitzer event in 1973. He has 10 gold, a silver and two bronze medals to show for his 15 previous appearances here.
“We have some interesting players,” he said. “I can tell you this, we're a lot stronger inside than we have been in the past.”
As usual, the local players on the team, 6-3 Heidelberg senior Jonathan Williams and 6-9 Kaiserslautern sophomore Aaron Ellis, played sparingly on Thursday, but entered the lineup late in the game with everything still on the line. Williams, a two-time All-Europe first-teamer and MVP of February’s Division I tournament, was fouled on a drive to the rim that brought a congratulatory hug from Biggs, and made one of two free throws. He didn’t, however, enjoy his unaccustomed position as a reserve.
“It’s no fun when you’re not playing,” he said.
McCann hopes that the fun comes with his players winning, which has proved to be more difficult in recent years.
After winning his sixth straight AST gold medal in 1996, McCann has endured losses in the semifinals the last three times out, with two bronze medals and a fourth-place in 2002 the final outcomes.
He’s out to fix that beginning at 8 p.m. Saturday when his team tips off against Sweden in the first of three pool-play games. The Americans will play Poland at 8 p.m. Sunday and Italy at 8 p.m. Mionday, all at the BFV Sports Arena, with the outcomes of those three games determining whom they’ll play in the crossover round which begins on Wednesday. Semifinals are set for Friday with the championship and third-place games scheduled for Saturday, April 17.