38-15 FIRST HALF LEADS TO 45-POINT WIN FOR USA
Jeff Walz's first game as the USA U 18 WBB head coach went pretty well, considering all things, with a 87-42 romp over Argentina Wednesday night to begin Pool Play.
"It was great to be able to get out there and compete." Walz commented after the win. "The players were excited. We were running around at times, playing hard, but not real smart at times, but the effort was great. So, if we can continue to clean some things up, offensively and defensively, and play with that kind of intensity -- good things can happen."
Walz started Ashley Joens, Aijha Blackwell, Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Christyn Williams and Nazahrah Hillmon-Baker. The (alledgedly) Argentinian play-by-play and color guys on the broadcast did an energetic broadcast and had fun with those names during the Spanish-only audio feed but the graphics insisted it was "Jones" not "Joens" for the US star most of the first half. My Spanish isn't very good anymore, so I didn't comprehend much of the commentary that was being offered...but the "talking heads" seemed quite excited and "into" the action, especially when Argentina did something well or Argentinian guard Camila Suarez did anything.
Argentina led once, at the very start of the game, when they hit a free throw. Aijha Blackwell gave USA the lead for good when she hit a layup seconds later and USA was well in control with a 12-4 lead at the 4:47 mark of the 1st quarter. Score it 18-8 USA after one quarter. We'll get to the rest of the action after a couple of tidbits.
A couple of things about FIBA rules are quite noticeable. First, the refs called "pushing off" on the offense very quickly -- it seemed any time a USA dribbler extended the non-dribbling arm, a whistle blew. The refs were also eager to call "steps" on the USA players.
The design of the gym where the events are taking place must have some huge windows and face east-to west. Rays of sunshine splashed down on the court during most of the first half, illuminating players and court. This burst of sunshine probably didn't affect the players...especially the USA girls ...they went on a 17-3 run to start the second quarter and led 35-11 with 2:04 until half. They ended the first half leading 38-15. I don't think the "sun in your eyes" excuse had any credibility here...
USA shot 65% from the floor in those first 20 minutes. They held a 30-14 rebounding edge and were led by Anaya Peoples' six points. 6'7" Sedona Prince added five. The first eight USA baskets were scored by eight different players. On the other side, the free throw shooting was lame...USA going 4 for 11...and USA was 0-3 in three-pointer attempts.
The second half started out well for the United States. A 7-0 run in the first 90 minutes made it 45-15. That grew to 56-22 when USA finally connected on the three, out of the hands of NaLyssa Smith. Blackwell followed that three with another three and after three periods, it was 61-27 USA.
The YouTube feed froze up and eventually disappeared at the start of the fourth quarter. When it finally came back, Walz's crew held a 76-36 lead with about five minutes remaining. 87-42 was the final score.
Blackwell and NaLyssa Smith led USA with 13 points each. All 12 on the roster played and all 12 scored. 60% from the floor from the game for the squad and 3-9 from beyond the arc.
Coach Walz seemed pretty calm throughout the contest, substituting in "platoons" of five every four or five minutes. He did smile a couple of times on calls that seemed to be questionable...the refs were from Canada, Colombia and Mexico. A good chance to see how the combinations worked for USA. Aijha Blackwell shows promise of being a good one and I wouldn't mind seeing her land on campus with the 2019 class. The University of Texas is definitely going to like Sedona Prince this fall and by joining a front line that has Jatarie White, Charli Collier and Joiner Holmes...the Longhorns will be a force in the Big 12 for Karen Astin. Christyn Williams "broke" a few ankles out there with her ball-movement and will be a nice addition for Geno and the Huskies.
If I were to provide a FRED report for the game (and it looks like I will) I'd have to go:
FREE THROWS -- Definitely no letter. 12-28 is 43%. There are 6th. grade teams out there who can do better. Say what you will about the venue, ball, lighting, etc. It's a pretty sad number.
|YABBA, DABBA, U (SA!)|
EFFORT/EXECUTION -- I'm going to give out a small case "e" here...mainly because of the 27 turnovers. Yes, there was a lot of good hustle out there, the players are still getting to know each other and the shooting was decent but more turnovers than assists. Hmmmm...
DEFENSE -- No problem with a capital "D" for the "d". Argentina shot 22.8% for the game and was 4-22 from trifecta range. At times, it seemed the Argentinians were afraid to take inside shots...who could blame them? USA had seven blocks and 19 steals.
FINAL FRED TOTAL: _-R-e-D
You can watch the replay at the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbFEwpUdeqc&feature=share
USA returns to play today when they'll take on Chile at 3 p.m. EDT. Chile fell to Puerto Rico 74-69 in earlier action Wednesday. Canada had no trouble with Colombia 73-49. Mexico looked impressive against El Salvador in the nightcap 88-48.
Today's game is at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpFrTmL01J4
IRELAND, AYESHIA FACE INDIA TODAY IN QUARTERS
Louisville's Field Hockey golakeep Ayeshia McFerran leads "The Green Army" into quarter-final action today with a contest against India in London, England. The Irish defeated India 1-0 to reach the quarters a few days back, but India got to the quarters with a win in crossover play.
The match is scheduled for 1 p.m. Louisville time. Broadcast details are sketchy...live updates will be available at sports.ndtv.com and live streaming can reportedly be seen at hotstar.com.
I'll search for an Irish feed for this contest and post it here if I'm successful...
In yesterday's quarters, Spain advanced to the semis with a 1-0 win over Germany. It took a shootout to get Australia past Argentina (6-4 in favor of the Aussies) after a scoreless regulation-time match.
Go Ayeshia! Go Green Army!