ST. CATHARINES- The United States beat the snot out of Panama. The final was 118-26 and it should have been much worse. USA led 43-0 after the first quarter and 70-8 at halftime. I’m not kidding that they probably could have won by 200 points if they pressed the entire game.
It was tough to take too much away regarding individual play in such a lopsided matchup, but a few things stood out when watching Tyrese Maxey and UK targets Matthew Hurt and Cole Anthony.
1. Maxey is the real deal: Again, Maxey didn’t have to do too much but his intensity and effort would indicate this was a nailbiter. He finished with 14 points and it should have been more. On three consecutive trips he missed open threes and yelled some words to himself I can’t type here. All the shots looked good, but just a little off during that stretch. He went 2-of-7 from deep.
Defensively he has potential to be a star. He had to be called back by Self a time or two because he wanted to pickup full court but the game was such a blowout Self didn’t want to run up the score. I’d like to see him guard some better players, but I think I do him a disservice only talking about his offense.
Also, it seemed like Maxey was always sitting next to Cole Anthony on the bench. Maybe nothing but I found that interesting.
2. Matthew Hurt will be a great college player: It would be smart for Hurt to go to a blueblood for his college basketball career because he could thrive if he has help around him. He will be a pick-and-pop nightmare for opponents and his ability to stretch the floor is impressive.
I was actually impressed with his versatility. Self played Hurt at the three, which I’m sure was a recruiting pitch, but Hurt guarded every position and did a good job defensively. He also is known for his offense but his aggressiveness on defense and rebounding will make him a great college player.
3. Cole Anthony is a pure point guard: It was a quiet game for Anthony, but he finished with 10 points, three rebounds and three assists. My biggest takeaway was how everyone pretty much deferred to him as the point guard. When he was in the game he was going to bring the ball up the court.
Him and Maxey had great chemistry and Anthony told me after the game he would like to play with him in college (I’ll have more on that later) but they really fed off one another.
4. Kansas and UNC will rely on two USA players: Coby White should start for UNC next year and Quentin Grimes likely will start for Kansas. The Cats will play Kansas and UNC next year, and for both of those teams to be title contenders White and Grimes will need to step up in a big way. Grimes was fine tonight and efficient, but White really didn’t impress me in a blowout win (meaning I wouldn’t put too much stock into his so-so performance). White was actually beaten defensively several times and this wasn’t the team that should be beating him off the dribble.
5. USA is good: Duh. But I’d be surprised if any team comes within 15 points of these guys during this tournament. Bill Self did a good job constructing this team and they have scorers at every position. They play tomorrow at 6 p.m.