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Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

UConn Trio Shines For USA in Under-19 World Championship as Stewart Leads The Way

By Mike Siroky

When the 2013 USA U19 World Championship Team resumes play Monday it will be as a 3-0 team which has established dominance in the qualifying round, winning by an average of 63 in Panevezys, Lithuania

Players who chose to skip this team are missing a lot of fun.

Unfortunate Mali was the third victim, 103-26.

USA started on a 30-5 run. It was another game in which every player got a chance to show coaches Katie Meier (Miami) with assistants Nikki Caldwell (Louisiana State) and Kelly Graves (Gonzaga) what they can do under game conditions as a team.

A neat component here is that none of the three coaches has a player from their college team on this one, so they are truly free to judge talent without regard to hurting anyone’s feelings.

Before that, the opening wins came against the “hometown” team, Lithuania, 113-47, and against China, 103-56.

Breanna Stewart showcased a strong UConn contingent with 17 points against Mali. She hit 9-of-9 from the field and rested a lot after scoring19 of her 26 in the first quarter against Lithuania and then came back with 20 against China to emerge as the leading USA scorer.

“I think everybody’s played really good so far,” said Stewart of the 3-0 start. “We had some tough games against China. We didn’t know what to expect really from Lithuania or Mali.

"I think just playing when you’re not sure how the other team is going to be, I think it really helps, because that’s how it is the majority of the tournament. We don’t know everything about these teams.”

Kentucky-bound Linnae Harper led four others with 11 points each. Bashaara graves (Tennessee) had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Mali’s tallest player is 5-8 while all but two USA players are 6-1 or better.

“To Mali’s credit, they played really, really hard,” said Meier. “They disrupted us a little bit and turned us over in the last five minutes of the game. The stats don’t look as nice as we wanted them to.

"Overall if you were at the game I think you saw a team that was committed to each other, more than happy to share the basketball and really listening to the coaches. They are doing everything we need from them right now.”

In a 23-0 run against Mali, both Stewart and UConn teammate Morgan Tuck scored five. She had 18 in the opener and in the second game. They have started all three games. The third UConn player on this team, incoming Moria Jefferson, has averaged 33 minutes per game and started two of them.

Of Stewart, who was voted the most outstanding player as a freshman in April when the Huskies in New Orleans won their eighth NCAA title, Meier said, “The bright lights, she knows when it’s time to shine and she was just … Her efficiency, too.

"Her stroke was perfect and what I love about this team is that they were saying, ‘we’ll get it to Stewie. We have to feed Stewie.’ When she’s hitting her jumper, she’s very hard to guard.”

As the top seed in Round 2, USA draws Netherlands (1-2), Canada (2-1) and unbeaten France (3-0).

The top four teams from that round move onto the championship stage.

Originally known as the FIBA Junior World Championship, the tournament was played every four years starting in 1985.

FIBA changed its calendar in 2006 and now conducts the U19 World Championship every other year.

USA is 60-12 in the U19/Junior World Championships, capturing a fourth-consecutive Gold medal with an 8-1 record in 2011 and has taken five of the past six U19/Junior World Championships with a 48-4 record in that time frame, including the three wins this time.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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