Friar Basketball

US Improves to 2-0 Behind Myles Powell’s Explosive Night

Hall Team USA Asbury Park Press

The United States Pan American team is off to an impressive start in Peru.

A day after thrashing the Virgin Islands, 119-84, in the opener of the tournament, Ed Cooley’s bunch set it sets on a much stiffer challenge on Thursday.

Venezuela’s Pan Am team features eight players from its 2016 Olympic outfit, and brought both experience and physicality. This one played out far differently than the high scoring win over the Virgin Islands, as Team USA won a physical, defensive struggle, 70-53.

The difference on this night? The United States has Myles Powell.

Seton Hall’s rising senior looked every bit an All American on Thursday, scoring 30 points on a night when his teammates struggled to finish. Powell was off from long range early, so he attacked the paint and seemingly came up with a critical basket every time Venezuela threatened. He shot 12-18 from the field and made all nine of his attempts inside the 3-point arc.

Known for his long range marksmanship, Powell finished in traffic throughout the first half.

Then he started doing things like this in the second.

The US led by 12 at the end of three quarters, but that advantage shrunk to six early in the fourth. Powell twice countered with big shots when the lead dipped to six, highlighted by back-to-back 3-pointers in a 30 second span to push a 54-48 lead to 60-48 with 5:11 remaining. Neither team was scoring enough to comeback from 12 down mid-way through the fourth.

The two teams combined for just four field goals the rest of the way, as the US clinched a spot in this weekend’s medal round.

Venezuela shot just 28% from the field on the night. They were held to eight points in the 3rd quarter. Ed Cooley has to feel good about winning on a night in which his team connected on just 4-18 from deep.

So, how did the Friars fare? A day after leading Team USA in scoring, Alpha Diallo was out of sorts on Thursday. Those who didn’t watch the game will see a respectable stat line (10 points, five rebounds, three assists, five steals), but Diallo forced a few difficult shots and started the night 2-6 at the free throw line before connecting on a pair late in the 4th.

The one thing you can say about Diallo, however, is that he is among the Big East players most equipped to handle the physicality at this level. Cooley called this one of the most physical games he has ever coached and Diallo was more than willing to mix it up inside. At one point started doing pushups in front of the Venezuela bench. Not sure what that was all about.

As for the other Friars, both Nate Watson and AJ Reeves did not see action, while David Duke played 12 very effective minutes off of the bench. Duke connected on all three of his 3-point attempts against the Virgin Islands, but this game was more encouraging for how he handled pressure defense at the point guard position.

I wondered if Duke would play more off the ball in this tournament, but virtually of his time yesterday came at the point. He didn’t turn the ball over, and made two of three shots from the field. His only miss came on a wide opener corner three, but the two makes were impressive — a reverse layup and a step back mid-range jumper.

His only assist of the night was a beauty.

While Watson impressed in last week’s scrimmage on Providence’s campus, the coaching staff is leaning heavily on Creighton graduate Geoffrey Groselle. He was effective in 30 minutes, scoring 11 points on 4-6 shooting while making it difficult to get anything easy at the rim. His length is a factor.

The Villanova duo of Jermaine Samuels and Collin Gillespie combined to shoot just 2-10 from the field, but their activity was noticeable. Samuels in particular pursues loose balls and rebounds as well as anyone on this roster, plus he can hold up physically against professionals with 10-15 years experience.

The United States returns to action on Friday night against Puerto Rico (10pm, ESPNU). Puerto Rico is also 2-0, having defeated Venezuela (73-64) and the Virgin Islands (101-89).


Box Score:

One Comment

  1. Derec Lamendola

    August 4, 2019 at 3:05 pm

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