So the international basketball/football season is officially over at Northwestern with John Shurna's New Zealand trip ending with gold, so, let's analyze what all this flag-bearing means for NU, player by player.
John Shurna: Covered this decently yesterday, but hey. It's good to see that he's capable of being a contributing member on a gold-medal team where everybody involved is of a fairly high skill level. It's a little difficult to interpret how his numbers relate to his development as a player - first off, small sample sizes and mixed competition. Second off, he was playing power forward - hence the high rebounding and blocks numbers, whereas at NU, he'll be a three. Third off, the US team was all about the three ball - Shurna shot 18 threes and 17 twos, and that's less of a reflection of Shurna transforming into a jacker than it is a reflection of USA's strategy - four players shot more threes than twos, an additional three shot over 45% of their shots from downtown, Seth Curry shot 48 threes and 15 twos. So what I'll say is this: Shurna played a jumpshooting big man throughout the tournament, and did a pretty good job. "Jumpshooting big man" is a very close approximation of what Shurna will be doing at NU, although he will technically be the third tallest player on the court most of the time. Therefore, we should just be damn pleased that he did a pretty good job overseas representing his country, and he probably got some pretty decent coaching while there, and he'll probably be a better player for it, plus it looks good for him and for NU. So there. I essentially said nothing in this paragraph.
Kyle Rowley: Let's start easy: Kyle Rowley will get better with time, and a few weeks of practice on a team on which he was the youngest player was a really good way to start. Of course, the down side of this is that as the least senior member of the team - in fact, at 19, he's four years younger than anybody else on the team - and that seniority might have gotten him shafted in terms of playing time. And, if I must say so, these reports from latinbasket are actually somewhat complementary, which is sorta to be expected from guys whose job is it to write exclusively about Trinidad and Tobago basketball, but still good to see.
Now, here's the problem. At NU, Kyle starts at center, ahead of Luka Mirkovic, a pretty talented center with really good rebounding skills and touch extending beyond the three-point line. In the T&T, Kyle was on the bench behind Julius Ashby, who plays for Tokyo Apache, a confusingly named Japanese basketball team, and Miguel Williams, a 31 year old player for the Petro Jazz of the Trinidadian league.
That doesn't work.
Unless we want to start considering our team worse than the national team of Trinidad and Tobago, which I personally don't, something's gotta change.
The fact that the Trinidadian national team doesn't trust him to play in games which have a competitive level below that of Division I, much less Big Ten basketball, is not a good sign for his game now. Now, I have faith that his game will improve with time, but the wrong way to handle his development is by thrusting him into the starting lineup in one of the biggest seasons in Northwestern basketball history.
John Plasencia and Brian Smith: These guys won't play this year, but a few weeks of good coaching and a taste of winning didn't hurt anybody. Also, it looks like Plasencia's got some serious receiving skill - then again, it's really difficult to take anything out of a tournament in which the USA was so thoroughly better than their opponents. And that Plasencia is the GTEOATU19, but that's a given.
So, that's that. Because I'm really really good at finding perfect endings to blog posts, here's a dude playing the national anthem of the USA on steel drum, followed by a kid playing the Trinidad and Tobago national anthem on steel drum wearing a Santa hat.