Appling Makes USA U19 World Championship Team
June 23, 2011
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Michigan State sophomore guard Keith Appling has been named to the 12-man roster for the USA U19 World Championship Team. The USA squad will look to defend the gold medal won by the United States in 2009 at the FIBA U19 World Championship.
Joining Appling on the team are James Bell (Villanova), Anthony Brown (Stanford), Jahii Carson (Mesa High School/Phoenix, Ariz.), Tim Hardaway, Jr. (Michigan), Joe Jackson (Memphis), Jeremy Lamb (Connecticut), Meyers Leonard (Illinois), Khyle Marshall (Butler), Doug McDermott (Creighton), Tony Mitchell (North Texas) and Patric Young (Florida). George Mason's Paul Hewitt is head coach of the USA U19 World Championship Team, and is assisted by Randy Bennett (St. Mary's) and Cliff Warren (Jacksonville).
Initially, there were 20 players trying out for the 12 spots. On Sunday, that list was trimmed to 13, with the final cut being announced on Thursday. Prior to his departure for tryouts, Appling reflected on what making the team would mean to him, especially after being cut from the 2010 USA U18 World Championship Team.
"A lot of people would love to have the opportunity that I'm getting (to represent their country)," said Appling. "Getting to see Kobe (Bryant), Lebron (James) and Dwyane Wade represent their country, I just want to do what they do. I'm really excited about it. You've just got to go out there play hard and be a team player."
"I like the depth and versatility of this team, in particular our big guys. I think our big guys are a great presence around the basket and do an excellent job of screening," said Hewitt. "Defense will have to be a staple for this team and we have work to do. I'm not happy with where we are defensively. I think we made steps, we're doing some good things, but in order to compete for the gold medal we have to get better.
The team will complete its domestic training Thursday at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., and then depart for Europe on June 24. The USA squad will train June 25-28 in Lithuania. The Americans will face the Lithuania U20 National Team in an exhibition game on June 26 in Panevrzys, Lithuania, and then meet the Lithuania U19 National Team on June 28 in Vilnius, Lithuania. The 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship for Men is being held June 30-July 10 in Valmiera, Liepaja and Riga, Latvia.
"The exhibition games are very important because they will help get us adjusted to the type environment we'll be playing in," said Hewitt about the USA's two "friendlies" in Lithuania. "The teams we're going to be playing there are obviously going to be more organized in their approach offensively and defensively, and they're going to test us. We're going to have to think. Right now I think we're doing it a lot on physical ability. I see some cohesiveness coming together but the two exhibition games in Lithuania will definitely test our cohesiveness.
"Even if we win a game, we've got to take a approach that it's like a practice and take a look at the things we didn't do well and see how we can improve on them. Certainly we need to keep building on our strengths but from game to game we've got to get something out of it that we can use to help us get ready for the next game," added Hewitt.
In his first year with the Spartans, Appling averaged 6.4 points and 2.8 rebounds. He shot a team-best .411 from 3-point range (39-of-95), and also led the squad with a .895 free-throw percentage for players with at least 20 attempts. He scored in double figures in eight games, and was MSU's leading scorer in two contests, including scoring a season-best 19 points in MSU's 71-67 overtime win against Northwestern. He also proved to be effective on the defensive end of the court, earning MSU's Best Defensive Player Award, as voted on by his teammates. In a game at Northwestern, Appling blocked five shots, equaling the fourth-best single-game effort ever by a Spartan, and the best by a Michigan State guard.
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