Three BIG EAST players were among the 12 men chosen to represent the U.S. in the 2011 World University Games men’s basketball competition after six days of training camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The BIG EAST representatives are Notre Dame forward Tim Abromaitis, Pittsburgh guard Ashton Gibbs and Syracuse guard Scoop Jardine.
“I think your strengths are going to come out in competition, and we have some very good players,” said USA and Purdue University head coach Matt Painter, who previously assisted the 2009 USA U19 World Championship Team to a gold medal. “I think we have some good point-guard play, some good, athletic wings that can shoot the basketball and then we have some good interior strength. So, I think we have balance. We do have some interchangeable parts, some guys at the three and four positions that can swing either way. We can play smaller and we can play bigger. It will depend on who we are playing against. I do think we can play a couple of different ways, and that’s always a positive.”
Cuonzo Martin of the University of Tennessee and Brad Stevens of Butler University are serving as assistant coaches for the 2011 USA Men’s World University Games Team.
Training camp continues for the team members through, Aug. 7, with two practices each day at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, and the team will depart for China on Aug. 8.
The USA will play an exhibition contest against New Century, a Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) professional team, in Huizho, China, on Aug. 11, before opening World University Games play on Aug. 13.
In all, 24 countries will compete in the international competition. The USA has been slotted into Pool D, along with Finland, Hungary, Israel, Mexico and South Korea. The red, white and blue will open play against Mexico at 6 p.m. on Aug. 13 (all times listed are China Standard Time, which is +12 hours from Eastern Time) and will then play Hungary at 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 14; South Korea at 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 15; Finland at 6 p.m. on Aug. 17; and Israel at 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 18.
Following the preliminary round, the top two placed teams from each pool will advance to the medal quarterfinals, which will be contested on Aug. 20. The semifinals are scheduled for Aug. 21, and the finals will be played on Aug. 22.
Four players possess prior USA Basketball experience. Jardine was a member of the USA Select Team that trained against the 2010 USA Men’s National Team in Las Vegas, Nev. Gibbs and Kentucky's Darius Miller helped the USA to a gold medal and 9-0 record at the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship, and JaMychal Green of Alabama was a member of the 2008 U.S. team that captured a 4-1 record and silver medal at the 2008 FIBA Americas U18 Championship.
The roster features two players – Abromaitis and Jardine – who graduated in 2011 with remaining eligibility, eight athletes from the class of 2012, one athlete who will graduate in 2013 – Vanderbilt's John Jenkins – and one player – Ray McCallum of Detroit Mercy – who recently completed his freshman season and will graduate in 2014.
Seven NCAA conferences are represented on the roster, including three schools from the BIG EAST and the SEC, two schools from the Big Ten and one program apiece from the Big 12, the Big West, Horizon League and Ivy League.
Eleven players earned individual recognition from their respective conferences following the 2010-11 season, including Abromaitis, who was the Big East Scholar Athlete of the Year. McCallum was the Horizon League Newcomer of the Year.
Listing on their conference first teams were: Missouri's Marcus Denmon (Big 12), Gibbs (BIG EAST), JaMychal Green (SEC), Jenkins (SEC), Orlando Johnson of UC Santa Barbara (Big West) and Yale's Greg Mangano (Ivy League).
Second team members included: Minnesota's Trevor Mbawke (Big Ten) and McCallum (Horizon).
Third team selections were: Abromaitis (Big East) and Draymond Green of Michigan State (Big Ten), and Jardine (Big East) was an honorable mention.
The player selections were made by the 2009-12 USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Committee. In addition to committee chair Jim Boeheim (head coach, Syracuse University), the committee includes NCAA appointees Lorenzo Romar (head coach, University of Washington), Bruce Weber (head coach, University of Illinois) and Roy Williams (head coach, University of North Carolina); as well as athlete representative Jay Williams, a member of the 2002 USA World Championship Team.