The United States won its first World University Games gold medal in 10 years with a thrilling double overtime victory over Germany. Perhaps struggling with such a hefty game load, the Americans really struggled offensively and allowed multiple double digit leads to slip away, but Frank Mason and company willed the team to victory. Mason made the two key free throws to tie it down the stretch before almost winning it in overtime with a steal and layup, but no foul was called on his shot attempt.
Based just on shooting percentages, Germany should have won: the Germans held the Americans to just a 34.7 percent eFG, and Germany shot 37 percent behind the arc while the United States made just five of its 23 attempts. But the United States dominated in the other areas, rebounding almost 40 percent of its misses and turning it over on just 13 percent of its possessions. No matter how bad a shooting night, those types of numbers are going to give you a ton of possessions with which to work.
As for how this impacts Kansas on the upcoming season, the extra playing and practice time should prove to be incredibly valuable, and the United States will get to bolster some of its biggest weaknesses with reinforcements. Brannen Greene and Svi Mykhailiuk will provide outside shooting, Devonte Graham (and Svi) will provide extra ballhandling to take some pressure off Wayne Selden, and Cheick Diallo will provide rebounding and will take some pressure off Perry Ellis down low. I also think that the two freshmen who did make the trip, Lagerald Vick and Carlton Bragg, got to kickstart their development a bit and both provided plenty of glimpses to get excited about.
It's tough to tell too much based on one tournament, especially one in which a team plays so many games in so many days, and we haven't seen what any of the other top contenders will look like, but based on their time in South Korea, I have no problem putting Kansas among the contenders for the 2016 national title. Just stay healthy, everyone. For once.
- Frank Mason was incredibly gassed all tournament, and still managed 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists in the gold medal game. He made two huge free throws down the stretch, and was basically the USA's offense in the fourth quarter. He'd better get some rest now, because I doubt he will get much from November through April.
- Wayne Selden struggled in the gold medal game, shooting just 4-17 from two and 2-11 from three, but he had a key three late, grabbed nine rebounds, and had three steals in the win. He also drew the most fouls in the game, and was pretty clearly the MOP of the tournament.
- Lagerald Vick made his only shot in just 7:30 of playing time, but showed plenty of flashes of athleticism, willingness to defend, and a good jumper that I am very excited about him going forward. He might not be ready yet this year since he reclassified to get into the 2015 class, but he's going to have a very good career.
- Nic Moore had a tough one in this game, but overall did a pretty good job. He took a lot of pressure off Mason with his ballhandling, and played tough despite giving up half a foot to almost everyone he was matched up against. His shooting was up and down but for the most part he was a huge factor in the USA not turning the ball over much all tournament.
- Julian Debose didn't get much playing time, but provided a spark off the bench, showed off some good athleticism, and was a willing defender.
- Carlton Bragg made three of his four shots and grabbed two rebounds. He showed off a nice between the legs dribble at half court, going through a pair of German defenders, and looks like he's already fairly up to the speed of the college game.
- Jamari Traylor got just four minutes, and I think his playing time will be something to watch going forward. Bill Self loves his energy, and I definitely think he's useful as that type of player, but if he can't cut down on the turnovers he doesn't have much of a roll on the team.
- Landen Lucas finished with eight rebounds and played some pretty good interior defense as the fight to be the first big man off the bench this season looks too close to call as of yet.
- Perry Ellis struggled from the field, going just 5-19, but had 10 rebounds, two steals, and drew five fouls. He clearly struggled with some big interior defenders, but I think his ability to put the ball on the floor will help him a lot this year, especially if KU can isolate him against big guys as well as they did in the semifinal against Russia, and the presence of Chieck Diallo should help take a lot of pressure away from Perry inside.
- Hunter Mickelson was maybe the breakout star of the tournament (other than Selden) and had another strong game today, going 3-5 from the field, grabbing five rebounds, and blocking two shots. The defensive rebounding maybe takes too much of a hit to have him and Ellis out there together, but his rim protection will be important going forward.