1. A Brutal Beginning
Normally I wouldn’t lead with the same point in two posts, but it was so bad I must beat this horse to death. It was reminiscent of a rec league game between five year olds. Neither team could even possess the ball. It looked less like basketball and more like a game of hot potato with whistles. I don’t know what was wrong with the Americans, but I’m glad it did not last for long.
2. Hamidou Diallo’s Bounce is Incredible
While the ball was bouncing everywhere, creating pure chaos to start the game, I was transfixed upon Hamidou Diallo. Even though he was the primary culprit behind the situation — getting a fingertip on the ball to poke it around and extend the loose ball mayhem — watching Diallo explode through the air for loose balls was captivating.
Known for his ability to finish fascinating dunks (he had a few), his athletic ability is impressive even without the ball in his hands. This Iranian shot never had a chance.
– FIBA (@FIBA) July 1, 2017
3. Cameron Reddish is Really, Really Good
He did not lead the team in scoring, thanks to a few impressive spurts from Diallo and P.J. Washington, but Reddish was the most consistent player on the floor for Team USA. The 6’8″ small forward spend more time as a guard on the wing than in the paint. He was patient when leading the offense with the ball in his hands and he was money from three in catch-and-shoot situations (3-for-3 from 3).
Reddish is considered the No. 5 player in the 2018 class and the second-best small forward behind Zion Williamson. Zion can out-dunk anybody, but I have a hard time believing he can out-play Reddish.
4. A Chance to Hear Cal Coach
During most early non-conference games at Rupp Arena, during down time you’ll hear John Calipari scream, “GO! GO! GO!” following a defensive rebound. You hear Cal call for his players to push the ball and so much more during the FIBA online broadcasts. The arena is pretty empty and there are no announcers. The only thing you can hear are whistles, squeaky shoes and Calipari’s screams.
5. Washington Does Work in the Middle
Limited in the first half due to foul trouble, Washington was excellent in the second half. He’s a big body that will surprise you. A few times on the perimeter he took an opponent off the dribble and finished at the rim; once it looked like he wouldn’t make it, but still finished with a powerful posterizing dunk.
Where Washington is at his best is in the middle of the floor. When teams try to test the Wildcats’ long-range shooting ability next season, Washington will be the zone-buster. Like Darius Miller and Isaiah Briscoe, Washington has a knack for finding open space in between a crowd. From there he makes great decisions and finishes with a soft touch.
Diallo brings the most entertainment value, but watching Washington develop throughout the tournament will be the most interesting Kentucky storyline.
6. The Purdue Kid Can Shoot
I had not heard of Carsen Edwards before today’s game, but after seeing the undersized wing knock down a few threes, I should have guessed he plays for Purdue. The 6-footer was money, hitting 3-of-4 three and 5-of-6 shots to finish with 15 points.
BONUS: WOW Tai Wynyard
It was from a different game, but his highlights are worth sharing again.
– FIBA (@FIBA) July 1, 2017