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July 21, 2013 at 2:56 PM

Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves blogs from FIBA U19 World Championships

ZagsLogoI can’t believe Zags coach Kelly Graves isn’t a fan of “Man vs Food,” but he’s stuck with the English program as the USA U19 team plays in the FIBA U19 World Championships this month in Panevezys, Lithuania. Graves is serving as an assistant coach, the team advancing to the second round as the top seed and facing Netherlands (1-2) on Monday at 10:15am PT.

Incoming freshmen Emma Wolfram (Gonzaga) and Kelsey Plum (Washington) are participating in the tournament, Wolfram for her native Canada. Wolfram’s team faces the Americans on Tuesday at 10:15am PT. FIBA is providing coverage of the event.

Graves has been blogging from the tournament. He gives details of his living quarters and TV viewing in his third installment. Perhaps the programing gets better for the known insomniac, maybe even getting a chance to see Sunday’s premier of “Celebrity Wife Swap,” featuring WNBA legend Lisa Leslie. Then, again, Graves’ probably too busy to have ever heard of that show before, either.

Here’s Grave’s’ latest post:

On The Road With Coach Graves – USA Basketball Blog 3 (July 21, 2013)

I’ve been in Lithuania now for about six days and have really come to like this place. The people are nice, and it is beautiful, even though it’s a flat country. Driving the two hours from the capital Vilnius to where we are playing now, Panevezys, I thought I was driving through Iowa or something with all the beautiful farmland. It has rained pretty much every day we’ve been here though (but we’re not soccer and it’s always dry in the gym so who cares, right?). I was worried coming in about the food but so far so good and they feed us a lot—going to have to get back on the food wagon again when I get home. The players took some time warming up to the food, but just like with your kids at home–they’ll eat it if they’re hungry enough. Me, I’m always hungry! The hotel is interesting. I have three beds in my room, I’m going to call them 1/2 twin size–literally, if I put all three together it would be a queen, but heck, I’m sleeping great. The TV in the room is a 12″, bolted to the ceiling in the far corner. I have to squint to see anything, but again, it doesn’t matter much because there’s only one station that’s in English and as far as I can tell, it shows only a combination of PBS type documentaries and B-list cable channel shows that I’ve never seen. But they must love “Man vs. Food” because that’s on twice a night at midnight. I’ve never heard of it and have a strange feeling that I will never watch it again after I get home. Thank goodness for iTunes–that and game film have saved me.

With our convincing win over Mali last night, we move on to the second round of the World Championships. In our three pool games, we are averaging over 106 points per game and giving up only 43. Our rebound margin is +34 per game. Particularly impressive was our 103-56 win over an excellent China team, a team many figured would challenge us because of their size and precision but we played motivated and thumped them hard. The next round figures to be much tougher as we play Netherlands, Canada, and then France before we move into the medal round. Speaking of Canada, Emma Wolfram, our future Zag, injured herself early in their Netherlands game but she will hopefully be back for Canada’s later round games. She had five points and six rebounds in the first eight minutes of that game too before going down–she is a terrific player. Emma’s parents, Mike and Jane, are here and it’s been nice spending some time with them.

The Netherlands coach, (our next opponent) Remy DeWit, is a friend of mine from many years ago. He visited Gonzaga for a game last season and we were joking the other day that GU has had some amazing players of Dutch decent in the last few years who could help his team. How about these names: Courtney Vandersloot, Janelle Bekkering, and Claire Raap (not too shabby).

Getting to know the other coaches has been fun and I hope to keep in touch with them even after the tournament. We can learn a lot about how the rest of the world plays the game, especially the Europeans. Their precision, ball screens, and ball movement remind me very much of how the Zags play the game–it’s fun to watch.

Well, I have to run for now. Kate Meier, our head coach, and I will be representing the USA delegation today at a luncheon in town with the mayor of the city (don’t I feel like the big-time dignitary). I’ll try my best not to screw up our excellent diplomatic relations with Lithuania but don’t be surprised if changes are a coming…

Love to my family, my team, and all the Zag fans!!!

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