John Shurna and his USA U-19 Basketball team are the only undefeated team in the World Championships at 6-0, and will play in the quarterfinals today against Canada. What's more, Shurna has been a pretty integral part of the team. I talked about his double-double against Iran already, but since, he's started a few games. He put 13 and 6 on Egypt, 8 on a good Greek team, didn't score, but picked up 7 boards against Puerto Rico, and on Wednesday hit 4/5 shots against Lithuania to finish with 9 points. He's averaging a respectable 6.8 points and 4.7 boards in roughly 12 minutes a game - really not bad numbers, especially on a fairly high level of play. The numbers to really like are his 70% shooting clip from inside the arc and the rebounds, which has obviously always been NU's weakest aspect to our game.
However, I'm a little angry to see that USA Basketball's photographers continue to take exclusively unflattering pictures of John. (To see prior documentation of this, scroll to the bottom of this post and click on the "gawkiness" label.
John Shurna (11) tries to shoot a ball which weighs 150 pounds
But, anyway, good luck to Shurna against those silly Canucks today, and here's to him continuing his decent role play in purple this winter. I'd tell you to go support him by dropping a comment on his player profile, but, his comment section is relatively robust already. Who new Johnny had that much support in Lithuania?
On a sad note, Kyle Rowley did not attain Carribbean glory - after the 3-0 start the TnT team had, with much hullaballoo on this site despite the lack of Rowley contribution, the team fell 76-73 in the CBC Championship semi-final to the British Virgin Islands, who presumably made Raja Bell and Tim Duncan come to the tournament pretending to be 18 or younger, probably by having them wear Jonas Brothers t-shirts on court and talking about the latest episode of NYC Prep. Rowley didn't get any playing time in this game.
However, the team still had hope - after all, the gist of this tournament was that the top 3 teams went to next year's CENTROBasket tourney - all they had to do was beat Cuba in the third place game.
As a half-Cuban, this caused a major conflict of interest for me. Since I'm extraordinarily pasty and white and, according to Northwestern, only know somewhere between 83 and 88 percent of Spanish 101 and nobody in my family has been to Cuba since 1964, I have little in common with your average Cuban. The only determining Cuban factors are my ability to enjoy plantains, Celia Cruz, and Cuban sports teams. Thus, my two passions, Cuban athletics, and Kyle Rowley, were pitted head to head.
Ultimately, I decided I'd rather my motherland (or fatherland - I'm half on the wrong side for it to be a motherland) be victorious. Sure enough, they were, winning 91-77 on the back of 22 points from comrade Geoffrei Silvestre. Kyle Rowley played garbage minutes, and presumably demoralized, had only 2 points and 2 boards in 10 minutes.
The upshot of this? Well, the CBC Championship, like I said, is a qualifier for CENTROBasket, which is in turn a qualifier for the FIBA Americas tournament, which in turn is a qualifier for the FIBA World Championship, which the winner of gets an automatic berth to the Olympics. So this loss whittles Rowley's opportunities for Olympic Gold for two: either he can participate in the same event in two years, which will feed into CENTROBASKET again, which will again feed into the FIBA Americas tournament, which will this time qualify teams for the Olympics, or, he could try to pick up luge in time to be a member of the Trinidad and Tobago contingent at next year's Vancouver winter games. (Sadly, most 7'0 figure skating careers in Winter Olympic history end in heartbreak and occasionally fractured ice skating rinks.)
Shurna's place in U19 history will be discovered by Sunday - there will be posts by then.