June 25, 2012

SMART ON SIDELINES AS USA BASKETBALL U-18 SQUAD TAKES HOME GOLD

SAO SEBASTIAO DO PARAISO, Brazil – There's a saying thrown around when everything is going right for a person that "everything they touch turns to gold."

Members of the college basketball community felt that way about VCU Head Coach Shaka Smart in recent seasons with back-to-back NCAA Tournament trips, a win at the ESPYs and that whole Final Four thing too.

After last week, that statement was actually true as Smart was on the sidelines as an assistant for the USA Basketball U-18 squad who took home the gold medal at the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship.

"I thought the guys did a terrific job of playing unselfishly the whole tournament and they really defended well against Brazil. I thought that was the difference," Smart said. "It helped that we had a terrific head coach in Billy Donovan, it was great to work with him and Mark Few is one of the best coaches in the country, so it was a great experience for me."

The squad went a perfect 5-0 at the tournament with victories over the Virginia Islands, Mexico and Brazil in pool play and Argentina and Brazil in the semifinals and finals. The USA, which averaged 97.2 points a game during the championship while winning its five contests by an average of 38.6 points a game, received scoring from 11 of its 12 players.

The USA's winning of the gold medal is the nation's sixth FIBA Americas U18 gold medal in eight championships, and the U.S.is now 43-2 all-time in the U18 zone championship.

The top finishers from the U18 championship – USA, Brazil, Canada and Argentina- each earned an invite to the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship.

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