U.S. team finishes seventh in Schweitzer
MANNHEIM, Germany — Behind a strong rebounding effort, the United States salvaged seventh place in the 23rd Albert Schweitzer International Youth Basketball Tournament with a 106-82 victory over Germany on Saturday.
“We crashed them hard,” Cole Aldrich of Bloomington, Minn., said of the effort that produced a 30-16 first-half rebounding advantage and a 59-45 halftime lead. “We knew we had the height and strength to do it.”
Aldrich, a 7-foot, 260-pounder who’s verbally agreed to sign with Kansas when his senior season ends next spring, said the emphasis on rebounding was designed to build and hold a lead. That was something the Americans failed to do in the losses to Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro and Italy that consigned them to their lowest finish in this tournament since 1971.
“Coach [Dick McCann] said we needed to get out in front,” said Aldrich, who grabbed nine first-half rebounds and finished with 17.
“We haven’t been playing catch-up all that well.”
The only catching up the U.S. did Saturday came with 8:38 to play in the first quarter, when a field goal by Anthony Stewart erased Germany’s last lead of the morning, 6-4. Stewart, from Jacksonville, Fla., finished with 14 points.
With Richard Jackson of Philadelphia scoring 13 of his 25 points and his Neumann-Goretti High School teammate Scoop Jardine getting 14 of his 23, the U.S. went on a 28-19 run the rest of the period to take control. The Germans came no closer than nine points during the final three quarters.
Germany’s Max Groebe got the better of his intramural duel with American Edwin Rios, a teammate at Chaminade-Madonna High School in Miami. Groebe scored 13 points to six for Rios, who’s verbally agreed to play for the Miami Hurricanes after he graduates in 2007. Rios, however, won on shooting percentage, sinking both of his field-goal tries, both three-pointers.
“Seventh place is better than eighth,” said McCann, who was coaching his final game for the team he has guided since 1975 to nine of its 10 gold medals, along with a silver and two bronzes in 15 appearances. “It’s nice to win the last game. It makes everything else seem good.”
Although seventh place was lower than the players expected, many said the experience had been personally beneficial.
“I learned a lot,” said Jackson, who picked up 11 rebounds and five blocked shots Saturday while scoring 20 or more for the third straight game. “I learned about shooting, passing — all the fundamentals.”
Aldrich said the tournament was an eye-opener for him.
“It was a great experience, playing against the best people in the world.” he said. “It’s not just the 16 best teams in the country, it’s the best in the world. I’ve got to go back and work on improving my game.”
He and teammate Jackson will probably be playing for Syracuse when the 24th AST rolls around in 2008, but Jardine said he’d like another try at a medal.
“I wasn’t ready when we started,” he said as young fans mobbed him, trying to talk him out of his game jersey, shoes and warm-ups. “It was a big adjustment for me to the way the teams move the ball and the 24-second shot clock.”
Pausing, he added, “I don’t want to leave.”
USA 106, Germany 82
(Seventh-place game Saturday at Mannheim, Germany)
USA 34 25 23 24 106
Germany 25 20 19 18 82
Scoring — USA: Richard Jackson 25, Antonio Jardine 23, Anthony Stewart 14, Luke Babbitt 13, Sam Muldrow 12, Edwin Rios 6, Cole Aldrich 4, C.J. Battle 4, Josue Soto 3, Matt Salay 2. Germany: Sajmen Hauer 22, Philipp Heyden 19, Maximilian Groebe 13, Max Dohmen 10, Phillipp Schwertheim 7, Ziyed Chennoufi 4, Oskar Fassler 3, Johannes Betz 2, Albert Kuppe 2.
Rebound leaders — USA: Aldrich 17, Jackson 11, Babbitt 7, Stewart 6, Jardine 5. Germany: Heyden 12, Dohmen 8, Chennoufi 7.
Assists leaders — USA: Soto 9, Jardine 3, Babbitt 2. Germany: Hauer 4.
23rd Albert Schweitzer Tournament
Canada 109, China 81, 15th place
Ukraine 62, Greece 61, 13th place
Spain 65, Sweden 49, 11th place
Australia 85, Israel 83, 9th place
France 72, Serbia and Montenegro 62
Turkey 59, Croatia 51
USA 106, Germany 82, 7th place
Lithuania 79, Italy 77 (OT), 5th place
Serbia and Montenegro 78, Croatia 75, 3rd place
France 78, Turkey 56, championship