Martelli, U.S.A. Basketball make first U-21 team cuts
Posted: Sunday July 24, 2005 1:50AM; Updated: Sunday July 24, 2005 10:22AM
Michigan State guard Shannon Brown was amongst the U-21 team's first cuts after a dismal shooting performance at the tryouts.
2005 USA U21 National Team Trials Roster
Darius Washington, Jr.
Head Coach: Phil Martelli, Saint Joseph's University (Pa.); Assistant Coaches: James 'Bruiser' Flint, Drexel University (Pa.); Dennis Felton, University of Georgia.
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DALLAS -- After three days -- or nearly 12 on-court hours -- of heated tryouts for the U.S. Under-21 National Team, its roster of NCAA stars has been trimmed from 20 to 16. Head coach Phil Martelli and the USA Basketball Committee emerged from meetings late Saturday night with the first round of cuts in place, decisions made much easier by a trio of injuries.
Gone from the team are UConn forward/center Josh Boone, Oklahoma State guard JamesOn Curry, Kansas forward C.J. Giles -- all of whom were hurt -- and Michigan State guard Shannon Brown, who was the only healthy victim of the first down-sizing. After two exhibition games -- against the Mavericks' summer-league team on Sunday and the Ukrainian U-21 team on Wednesday -- the U.S. roster will be trimmed to 12 for the Global Games (from July 27-30 in Dallas) and the FIBA U-21 World Championships (from Aug. 5-14 in Argentina).
Brown, who led the Spartans to the Final Four in 2004-05, was one of the most athletic two-guards in the camp, but a severe spell of cold shooting brought about his dismissal. The competition at shooting guard has been especially fierce on this team -- Duke's J.J. Redick, Wake Forest's Justin Gray, Temple's Mardy Collins, Arkansas' Ronnie Brewer, and Villanova's Allan Ray all remain on the roster -- and Brown was just 3-for-20 from 3-point-land in unofficial camp stats.
"Shannon did everything that we asked of him on and off the court," Martelli said. "He gave maximum effort and had a great disposition -- but the ball just didn't go in for him."
Brown will be eligible to join the World University Games tryouts in Colorado Springs, Colo., later this week.
Had they not been hobbled, Boone and Curry would likely have been strong candidates to make the U-21 team's final roster for the Argentina trip. Boone was a major loss for the Americans, seeing that the squad now lacks a real center and will likely turn to two power-forward types in its starting lineup, Charlotte's Curtis Withers and Oklahoma's Taj Gray. Both players have been impressive, with Withers both the camp's leading scorer and rebounder thus far.
Boone's recurring case of muscle-spasms in his lower back -- which sidelined him at the adidas camp earlier this month -- flared up early on Day 1 of the trials, and despite extensive stretching, he was unable to return. Boone stood by the side of the court on Thursday, Friday and part of Saturday -- often with a look of genuine disappointment on his face -- before heading home Saturday afternoon. Neither Boone nor Curry, who was injured Saturday morning and departed later that day, intends to try out for the World University Games team.
Curry's injury was diagnosed as iliotibial band syndrome, or "runner's knee," a common affliction that WebMD describes as "an inflammatory condition resulting from overuse."
Giles suffered a hip pointer in the afternoon session of the first day of camp, and never returned to the floor. He returned home on Saturday and had yet to decide on making the trip to Colorado Springs.
Sunday's game against the summer Mavs -- in which Martelli said he intends to give each of the remaining 16 players equal time -- will be the U-21 team's first taste of outside competition. While players like Withers, Redick, both Grays (Justin and Taj), UConn's Marcus Williams and Rudy Gay look like good bets to remain, the final four cuts should be difficult for Martelli and the committee. Memphis point guard Darius Washington and Syracuse forward Terrence Roberts, two players who entered camp without lofty reputations (Roberts in particular), have put forth strong efforts and could very well slip into the final 12 come Wednesday night.
Luke Winn covers college sports for SI.com. Check back later this week for more reports from the U.S. U-21 trials in Dallas.