Wadsack, Tuck set to help U.S. end Schweitzer basketball drought
MANNHEIM, Germany — Former Milwaukee Bucks head coach Larry Krystkowiak will lead the U.S. team in next month’s 25th Albert Schweitzer international youth basketball tournament, it was announced Friday.
But little else was disclosed about the U.S. team that will participate in the biennial event of 16 under-18 national teams at Mannheim’s Benjamin Franklin Village Sports Arena and the nearby MWS Halle am Herzogenried.
“The U.S. team is in the process of being selected,” Mannheim garrison commander Elizabeth Ryan Griffin said.
The United States has won the tournament, which will be played April 3-11, a record 10 times, but not since 1996.
Hoping to end the drought, Krystkowiak, who averaged 8.2 points and 4.9 rebounds in his 11-year NBA career and was 31-69 as head coach of the Bucks, is recruiting 10 U.S.-based blue-chip players to take on what amounts to the national junior teams of 14 nations.
There will be two German teams in this year’s event — the country’s under-18 and under-17 teams — along with the under-18 teams of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Croatia, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and Turkey.
Although the U.S. roster has yet to take its final shape, two players are guaranteed spots. A panel of DODDS-Europe high school coaches and Mannheim community sports director Theodus Green selected All-Europe guards Jamal Tuck of Aviano and Dillon Wadsack of Ramstein to fill the slots on the U.S. team reserved for local high school players.
Both seniors are just two weeks removed from leading their teams to consecutive European titles.
“Actually, I’ve just heard about it,” Tuck said Tuesday by telephone.
“I’m excited about going and playing.”
Wadsack, who uses his speed to break down defenses, expressed gratitude for getting the chance to play wearing a jersey emblazoned with “USA.”
“It’s a great honor to be picked,” Wadsack said by telephone Wednesday. “One of my goals this year was to play on the U.S. Albert Schweitzer team.”
If confidence can help the relatively inexperienced DODDS-Europe players stand up to the pressure of playing against some of the world’s most skilled teens and with the 10 NCAA Division I prospects who are expected to land with Krystkowiak on March 26, Tuck and Wadsack should be able to settle in nicely.
“I’ve always been able to hang with everybody I ever played against,” said Wadsack. “I’m looking forward to playing with guys who are better than me.”
Tuck, too, didn’t express much apprehension about moving up a level, or more. “The competition level is pretty high,” he said. “We’ll just have to see.”
Krystkowiak succeeds Lionel Hollins, head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies, as coach of the U.S. Schweitzer entry.
Hollins guided the 2008 team, the first since 1971 not to be coached by retired Air Force officer Dick McCann, to a fourth-place finish.
That was the USA.’s highest finish since 2002, when it also dropped its third-place game. The Americans finished third in 2000.
25th Albert Schweitzer tournamentWhen: April 3-11
Where: Benjamin Franklin Village Sports Arena and MWS Halle am Herzogonried, Mannheim
What’s at stake: International youth championship
Admission prices: April 3-9, adults 10 euros, youth 6 euros; April 10, adults 12 euros, youths 9 euros; April 11: adults 17 euros, youth 12 euros. Advance sales through www.ast-basketball.de.
Group A—China, Italy, New Zealand, Germany Under-17Group B—Brazil, Japan, Turkey, Germany Under-18Group C—Argentina, Croatia, France, U.S.A.Group D—Spain, Israel, Greece, AustraliaU.S. pool schedule
(all U.S. games at BFV Sports Arena)April 3—Vs. Croatia, 8 p.m.April 4—Vs. France, 8 p.m.April 5—Vs. Argentina, 8 p.m.April 6 – Off dayRemaining schedule depends on pool placement and results of games on April 7-8. Tournament semifinals are 6 and 8 p.m. April 9; championship game is 4 p.m. April 10. All games April 9-10 to be played at BFV Sports Arena.