U.S. team preps for Schweitzer with victory over German squad
Stars and Stripes March 22, 2008
MANNHEIM, Germany — Three days and two games into its European tour, the U.S. Albert Schweitzer team looked comfortably at home for most of an 80-69 exhibition victory Thursday night over Germany’s junior national team.
“Going overseas and playing ball is really cool,” said University of Cincinnati-bound Cashmere Wright of Savannah, Ga., who was wearing a U.S. jersey for just the second time.
Rather than increasing the pressure on him to perform, representing his country “just makes it more worthwhile,” said Wright, who scored 13 points.
Wright scored 10 of his points in the first half as the U.S. under-18 all-stars were ferociously erasing an 18-9 opening run by the Germans. The U.S. outscored its foe 39-20 over a 12:52 stretch in the first half, then continued the onslaught after intermission with a 19-10 third-quarter run.
The U.S. led by as many as 24 in the third quarter before losing focus a bit in the final going.
“We played a little better,” said U.S. coach Lionel Hollins, a former NBA head coach, referring to a 76-74 loss Wednesday to the Proveo Merlins of the German second division. The Merlins outscored the U.S. 25-18 over the final 10 minutes to pull out the victory.
“We played with more patience, played more defense. We were able to sustain things a lot longer.”
The University of Florida-bound duo of 5-10 Irving Walker and 6-10 Erik Murphy scored 21 and 17 points, respectively, to lead Thursday’s win. Murphy of Southboro, Mass., grabbed 12 rebounds in his 30 minutes of play.
“I’m excited about playing with him,” Murphy said of current and future teammate Walker of Middle Village, N.Y. “We run a ‘pick-and-pop,’ where I kick the ball back to him if I’m covered.”
Ramstein’s Brent Schuck scored two points Thursday, but that lone bucket was the go-ahead basket. It came with four minutes left in the second quarter and put the Americans ahead to stay at 35-34, their first lead of the game.
“We played with more energy in the second and third quarters,” Wright said of the game-changing 20 minutes.
“We had a two-hour practice today, and coach says we’re going to have another hard practice [Friday].”
Hollins, who played professionally in Europe as well as the NBA, said the limited amount of time for his team to come together dictates the pace for his team.
“They’re going to be tired,” he said, “but we have to use every amount of time we have. They’re not used to playing European style.”
The games were tune-ups for Saturday’s Albert Schweitzer tournament opener against Israel. The U.S. is to play defending champion France on Sunday and 2002 champion Greece on Monday. All three games tip off at 8 p.m. at the Benjamin Franklin Village Sports Arena, and by then Hollins hopes to have fine-tuned his talented 12 even more.
“We’re hoping to do better at getting out and running,” he said. “If we can get the ball off the glass and get running , we can get the most out of our talent.”
USA 80, Germany 69(Exhibition Thursday at Mannheim)
Germany..........23 15 10 21—69
United States..........19 29 19 13—80
Scoring—Germany: Maik Zaibes 11, Marvin Kruchen 10, Erik Land 10, Bastian Winterhalter 9, Simon Schmitz 7, Femi Oladipo 7, Nico Adamczak 5, Melvin Gyau 4, Niels Giffey 2, Robert Huelsewede 2, Jonas Wohlfahrt-Bottrermann 2. USA: Irving Walker 21, Erik Murphy 17, Cashmere Wright 13, Trevis Releford 13, Jeffree Withey 6, Oscar Bellifield 4, Brent Schuck 2, Anthony Stover 2, Wally Judge 2.