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Coach Kelly Graves and the U19 USA Basketball team is currently in Panevezys, Lithuania.
Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics

On The Road With Coach Graves: USA Basketball Blog 3

Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics
          Release: 07/21/2013
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SPOKANE, Wash. – This summer, Gonzaga University women’s basketball head coach Kelly Graves will once again represent the United States of America as an assistant coach of the USA Basketball Women’s U19 Championship Team. Graves and the squad will go for gold at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women held in Klaipeda and Panevė×ys, Lithuania, July 18-28. During his month long adventure with the U19’s – which kicked off July 1 in Colorado Springs, Colo., with training camp - Graves will blog and give Gonzaga fans an inside look into coaching for USA Basketball. With his impeccable wit that shines through in his blog, you won’t want to miss one!

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!!!

2013 FIBA U19 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FOR WOMEN UPDATE: Both the United States and Canada moved on to the Second Round of the championship. The USA U19 squad defeated Mali 103-26 Saturday to finish the preliminary round with a perfect 3-0 mark. Canada, who was without Gonzaga University incoming women’s basketball freshman Emma Wolfram after suffering a knee injury in the game prior, fell to France 65-60. Despite the setback, Canada finished the opening round in second place in its group with a 2-1 mark.

The USA advances to the second round as the top seed in the group and will meet up with Netherlands on July 22 (10:15 a.m. PT), followed by Canada on July 23 (10:15 a.m. PT) and currently also unbeaten France on July 24 (10:15 a.m. PT).

Canada opens the second round playing China on July 22 at 5:45 a.m. PT. After its game against the United State, Canada played Lithuania on July 24 at 8 a.m. PT.

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