Jonas Valanciunas had a monster game at the U19s yesterday against Team USA. His line: 6/11 FG, 11/15 FT, 23 points and 11 rebounds in 25 minutes. He led both teams in points and rebounds as Lithuania crushed USA 108-75. It was a tune-up game before the real tournament begins on the 30th, and right now you must be wondering what kind of an American team would lose by 32 points. Obviously, not a great one but the USA side did have its fair share of potential NBA players.
Florida Freshman, Patric Young, a 6’9″ center who was guarding Valanciunas couldn’t deal with his length or physical style of play as Valanciunas racked up free-throws whenever he pretty much wanted. The other notables included UConn shooting guard, Jeremy Lamb and Michigan guard, Tim Hardaway Jr. (yes, his son). The result wasn’t a terrible surprise because they lost to their U20 side by a big margin a couple days ago as well. Instead of breaking down his performance here, I’ll let someone else do it. Keep in mind, though, it’s one exhibition game.
Now that we have the formalities of a game played by one of our future players taken care of, let’s welcome Rob Mahoney from TheTwoManGame.com, the ESPN TrueHoop Dallas Mavericks blog, the New York Times, Hardwood Paroxysm and NBC Sports (this guy makes me look like a slacker for only working at RR). The topics of discussion are:
- Casey’s imprints on Dallas’ defense.
- Is a defensive big man really necessary in Casey’s system, or can the Raptors make-do without having a great defensive option at center.
- Can poor perimeter defenders be hidden?
- Has Casey helped Dirk Nowitzki improve his defensive game, and can those lessons be applied to Andrea Bargnani?
- Did Casey have a say in Dallas’ offense or was he mostly a defensive coach? How does his offensive philosophy translate to a head coaching role.
- Will the Dallas Mavericks let Tyson Chandler leave? What about Jose Barea?
- Thoughts on the Rudy Fernandez deal.
- How will Dallas replace Casey?
Do check out Casey’s latest interview with Sports Illustrated. Here’s a little quote from it:
We have to have a defensive emphasis. We have to create a defensive identity. Every single day there will be a theme of the day about defense, whether it be working on one thing in regard to the pick-and-roll or man-to-man or whatever. There will be a theme every day until we get an identity we can compete with.
On Bargnani not being a starter center any longer:
Well, he’s not going to be our starting center, really [because he's more of a power forward]. He’s in a similar situation with Dirk Nowitzki at this point in his career. I’d have to check their numbers, but I’d venture to say at this point in his career, he’s probably somewhere in the same area where Dirk was, where both have had to live down the reputation of being soft. And by the way, Dirk has never been anywhere near soft. Don’t ever use that word with him.
On using advanced stats:
SI.com: You’re an advanced stats guy, right? You look at points per possession, plus/minus and five-man lineups, right?
Casey: Oh, yeah. That started for me in Seattle, where we had Dean Oliver [now ESPN's director of production analytics]. I didn’t really understand the value of those numbers at that point, even though Wally Walker [a longtime Seattle executive] was really pushing us to embrace it. But being from the old school of coaching, I didn’t really know what to do with all of it.
On the news front, the Raptors might completed their coaching staff: Johnny Davis, Scott Roth, Eric Hughes, and Micah Nori.
There’s also a Sebastian Pruiti’s breakdown of how Valanciunas and Bargnani can survive together. Basically there are two steps to the process: 1) Valanciunas plays great pick ‘n roll defense, 2) Bargnani protects the rim by wearing a t-shirt which says I Got The Ebola – Highly Contagious!.