Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart didn’t play lot, but still had an impact, as the USA team rolled past Russia 115-47 on Saturday, June 29, 2013. The game was the the final round of pool play at the FIBA U19 World Championships in Prague, Czech Republic.
The Cowboy sophomore finished with four points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals. Through three contests, he has 20 points, 12 steals, six rebounds and six assists in 12 minutes per contest.
Smart had some early foul trouble, and was praised by coach Billy Donovan for being unselfish and putting the team first.
Next week’s schedule is set as teams move to the next level of competition. Monday the USA plays Brazil, Tuesday the team plays Australia, Wednesday it plays Serbia. Friday, July 5 through Sunday, July 7 will be elimination games. Finals, and medal games are set for July 7.
The USA team has cruised so far, winning Saturday’s game by 67 points, and winning the other two by more than 50 points each.
Billy Donovan about Marcus Smart
You’ve got someone like Marcus Smart, who if it were for a different choice wouldn’t even be here but would have been in New York for the (NBA) draft, and he comes back and plays and here tonight he picks up two fouls and he only plays 8 or 9 minutes and we win by 50-plus points and he’s on the bench, he’s cheering, he’s an unbelievable leader. He’s so unselfish. I just have a lot of respect and admiration for the way he handled himself. At the start of the second half he’s out there and we end up getting up by 35-40 points, there’s no reason to play him. He could be a guy who wants to be out there, that’s a competitor, but he makes it all about our team. I think our guys are understanding that we’ve got 12 good players and probably fewer minutes from everyone is going to be more for our team in just trying to play at a high intensity level and certainly I think it starts with Marcus.
Marcus Smart, after the game with Russia
How much fun is it to play with this group with the way everyone is playing right now?
It’s really fun; it’s exciting. To come out with a group of guys that only have one thing on their mind and that’s winning the gold medal. We’ve been playing great ball so far and like I said I’m excited for the rest of the tournament. I can’t wait.
Are you surprised by the chemistry and the way this team is playing together, sharing the ball?
No not at all. We have five veteran players that played in the 18-and-under and a couple of these guys played with the 16- and 17-and-under teams, so they know what they’re getting themselves into and what they have do for the betterment of the team and that’s to make some sacrifices of their own egos and we have a group of guys that understand that and are willing and able to do that and that makes playing with them so much fun.
What makes the chemistry so go right now?
I’d probably have to save everybody is getting the same amount of minutes, everybody is scoring and everybody is have a good time.
Marcus Smart after the first game
We’ve got 12 guys here that can go and that have the motor to go, so there’s no reason for one guy to hold anything back and try to conserve his energy because he feels like he needs to. We’ve got 12 great guys that can play and play at a high level so I think that’s a great way for us to go play.
How important is improvement going to be game to game?
We’re in a hostile environment over here, it’s clearly us against the world. The USA in the last 20-something years has won this gold twice so you know it’s us against the world. So we’ve got to come out and play and improve every game and if we let adversity within the team get us then there’s no way we can handle adversity against the other teams that we play.