The first three games for Coach Calipari’s U19 Team were clean sweeps. Team USA led by massive margins, and each player showed what they can do. Today, in the first quarter of USA vs. Mali, we got a taste of what some tougher competition is going to look like.
Calipari admitted, “We started a little bit shaky.” The team worked out the kinks and adjusted to Mali’s hard defense, up by 20 points in the beginning of the second. “From that point on we played pretty well,” Calipari said.
Team USA went on to beat Mali 117 to 69. Tomorrow, the team will take a break from the tournament before their match up against either Germany or New Zealand. New Zealand has one of Calipari’s own Wildcats, Tai Wynyard, who has been a star player this tournament. Calipari said he likes the idea of playing against Wynyard and his team.
“I would like us to play New Zealand because, I think, I’d like to see Tai in this kind of game, but we’re gonna play whoever is there.”
Calipari wasn’t afraid to say he was worried about facing tougher competition.
“I’m worried,” Cal said. “I’ll tell you what I’m worried about: how do we perform and execute in a tight game, who can make a shot when it matters, who can make an open three when it matters. When the other team is gonna play loose, and it’s kind of on us to make plays, we don’t know yet, but we’re gonna find out.”
His instructions to his players heading into the quarterfinals, “Play. Do the things you do well.”