Our hero, Talor Battle, has been in Belgrade, Serbia the last week in preparation for the World University Games with the USA basketball team. It’s hard to blog about something I can’t witness, unfortunately, so I suggest if you’re interested in following Talor and the team, just keep checking the USA Basketball website. There are plenty of photos and reports from the team’s events.
Just to bring you up to speed on what’s been happening, the WUG squad had 3 exhibitions in the 2009 Serbia International Invitational last week to prepare for the actual Universiade games that begin today for the US. They beat Canada and Russia, but lost to Serbia in the competition. Coach Bo Ryan has given Talor plenty of playing time (20.7 MPG, 4th highest on the team), but Talor’s been struggling quite a bit, at least from the floor (24% from the floor, 30% from 3, and just 46% from the foul line (sigh)). It’s tough to explain those numbers without seeing any action, but I would have to assume Talor is struggling to adjust to the officiating and physicality of the foreign game. Battle has only been credited for 5 assists in three games, but that leads the team. The USA have assisted just 19 of their 79 made baskets, so there’s some wild scorekeeping going on in Serbia. But typical Bubby was making plays at the end of games, especially against the USA’s close-call victory over Russia.
“The guys got it done tonight with hustle opportunities,” said USA and University of Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan. “(Evan) Turner, (Robbie) Hummel and Deon (Thompson), those guys, especially at the end, they were everywhere. Corey (Fisher) and Talor Battle. I just really like the way they stuck their noses in there.”
The actual World University Games began yesterday, but the USA’s first game is today (at 2:00 PM EST) against Finland. I’m not exactly sure how this tournament is set up, but there are 8 different pools consisting of either 3 or 4 teams. USA is in a pool with Finland and South Korea. According to the USA site:
The United States is set to open World University Games play on July 3 against Finland (2:00 p.m. EDT) and faces South Korea on July 4 (2:00 p.m.). Second round action is scheduled for July 6-7, quarterfinals will be played July 9 and medal semifinals are slated for July 10. The gold medal will be contested on July 11 (3:00 p.m. EDT).
There’s no video or audio coverage that I could find. Maybe that’ll change if the US gets to the finals or something. Let’s go USA!
PS: Luke Winn wrote a nice 1-page article in Sports Illustrated last week about Talor if you didn’t see it.