Monday morning started off with a bang for fans of the Kansas Jayhawks as Bill Self’s Team USA/Kansas squad defeated Germany in the Gold Medal final at the World University Games, 84-77.
Kansas entered the game undefeated with a mixed bag of impressive blowouts and equally impressive closely contested games against several of the world’s best basketball teams. Having gone through the likes of Serbia, Brazil, Lithuania, and Russia, facing Germany in the final was going to be a tough task.
Team USA would play its eighth game in 10 days in order to win the gold medal, and after the first quarter when the lead blossomed to 13, the brutal schedule of games and practices appeared to catch up to them.
Tournament leading scorer Wayne Selden, Jr., looked exhausted, while Frank Mason III and Perry Ellis seemed sluggish as well.
Germany outplayed USA for the majority of the game, but through grit and pure determination, Mason, Selden, and Ellis led their teammates to a double overtime victory to reach the middle podium to watch the American flag get raised as the national anthem played in front of a large contingency of loyal Kansas fans in attendance.
Selden and Mason combined for 40 points, while Ellis chipped in 18 of his own to go along with 10 rebounds.
The physicality of international play to go along with the 24 second shot clock served as a completely different brand of basketball for Team USA. Pushes, bumps, and hand checks which would quickly earn a whistle in the NCAA were almost never called during the entirety of the tournament, while the 24 second clock forced Bill Self to get his team into its offense at a much quicker rate, speeding up the game and allowing USA’s guards to dominate the play.
Kansas typically runs its offense through the big men in the low post, and looks for open perimeter players if nothing around the rim is initially available or the defense collapses into the paint, however, because of FIBA rules and the physical play under the basket, Kansas’ big men played a more secondary role on the offensive end of the floor.
Throughout the eight games, Selden, Mason, SMU’s Nic Moore, and freshman LeGerald Vick were the high scorers, with Florida Gulf Coast guard Julian DeBose chipping in with a couple of big games.
Newcomer big man Carlton Bragg–more of a face up player at this point–was a big offensive weapon for the US. His ability to knock down mid-range jumpers and get buckets in transition added another offensive weapon for Bill Self, and was a look into what Kansas fans can expect from the freshman forward when the season starts in the fall.
Team USA is scheduled to arrive back in Lawrence, Kan., Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. at Hoglund Ball Park (KU Baseball’s field located on Naismith Drive next to Allen Fieldhouse). Fans are encouraged to arrive early (4 p.m.) and park in lot 112, which is directly across the street.
With Kansas playing basketball in late June and early July, the start of the 2015-2016 season will be here sooner than you think. If you haven’t purchased tickets for the upcoming season, head to www.ticketsforless.com for the best deals on seats for KU’s home games in what has the potential to be a magical season in Lawrence, Kan!