KU's Tyshawn Taylor Leads USA U19 Men to Gold in Win Over Greece 88-80

July 12, 2009

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Recording a USA-leading 18 points, Kansas sophomore guard Tyshawn Taylor helped lead the USA to an 88-80 victory over Greece and the gold medal at the FIBA U19 World Championship here Sunday.

The win ended an 18-year drought between FIBA U19 World Championships for the United States men dating back to 1991. Taylor became the second Jayhawk to win gold for a USA Basketball team this summer as women’s basketball senior All-American Danielle McCray was a member of the 2009 USA Women’s World University Games squad which won gold in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday.

Besides 18 points from Taylor, who has six assists and five steals, the USA U19 team had another balanced scoring effort that featured seven players contributing eight or more points against Greece. The USA fended off a determined Greek team to win the gold. The USA squad, led by University of Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon, finished with a spotless 9-0 record and recorded a 22.2 margin of victory in the championship.

“We really set as a goal to win the gold medal. We also made it very clear that we hadn’t won this since 1991, we talked about that and we used that as motivation throughout the month we’ve been together and I think it was really an important part of our work ethic and what we did. We did a great job of committing to one another for a month and I thought it was just great. We had great kids that worked all the way through and committed to getting the gold medal and gave up, sacrificed individual glory,” said Dixon

“This team was unique as far as U.S. teams. I think it was better suited for international. We may not have had as many name guys as other teams, but I really thought it was suited and I think we selected guys that were suited to the international game and the FIBA rules. We really shot the ball well, we were skilled, we were a good free throw shooting team and I think that was something that was beneficial to us.”

The USA, medal winners now in seven of the nine FIBA U19 World Championships, hadn’t won the tournament since finishing 8-0 in 1991, capturing seventh (4-4) in 1995, silver (7-1) in 1999, fifth in 2003 and silver in 2007 in Novi Sad, Serbia.

A panel of accredited media representatives covering the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship selected the MVP and the All-Star Five of the Tournament. The All-Star Five of the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship featured Taylor and Gordon Hayward (Butler / Brownsburg, Ind.) of the USA, Toni Prostran (Croatia), Nikos Pappas (Greece), and Mario Delas (Croatia), who was also selected MVP of the championship.

“We got off to a 16 point lead at halftime and I thought we had played well. In the second half they came out and gave their run. I thought we didn’t get as good of a shot as we wanted and they hit a couple of big threes, one was a touch shot, another one was a transition one. You knew they were going to make a run and I think we withstood it pretty well and then kept the separation. We had a number of guys in foul trouble, we had to play through some things.”

With his 18 points, Taylor ended as the USA U19 team leader in scoring with a 10.8 average in eight games played. The Jersey City, N.J., native also led the team with 35 assists and tied for the team high with 14 steals. Darius Miller also had 14 steals in the tournament.

QUOTING Tyshawn Taylor following the gold medal game

What does it feel like now that you have achieved your goal?

“It feels good. We put in a lot of hard work. We’ve been together for like three weeks, three-and-a-half weeks now and going real hard. We had two a days back in Colorado at training camp so we’ve been going real hard and all that hard work paid off so everybody is excited and happy.”

The long period since you last won this, the 18 year wait, was that a motivating factor for you guys to end that draught?

“Definitely, Coach Dixon kept letting us know that we hadn’t won this tournament for a while., This was our time, we knew with the guys that we brought on this team that we didn’t have any superstars on the team, we just had really good players who liked being around each other and liked playing with each other so we knew it was going to be a fun experience.”

What was the key for you guys winning the gold medal?

“I think just playing hard and playing as a team. I think some people thought we were going to come out her and be selfish because we’re from the USA and we play for different colleges. Well we all came out here and we just played unselfishly, made the extra pass. If you look at it I think we played nine games and had we a different scoring leader every time and our scoring was spread out pretty well so I think we shared the ball well for a team that had only been together for three weeks.”

What’s the difference between playing teams like Croatia and Greece with their loud fans compared to playing in college?

“I think it’s the same, it’s like playing on the road a little bit when you got a big fan base like Croatia had yesterday with all their cheering and all that it’s just like playing on the road and I think some of our guys are use to it and we just had to keep our composure and keep playing.”

Watching from the sideline, it was a stop-start affair,did it feel like that as well?

“Yeah it did. I mean there were a lot of whistles blown, a lot of free throws taken, so I think we just had to keep playing. Our coaches kept telling us that we can’t listen to the refs so we just got to keep playing.”

Did you expect that?

“I knew it was going to be a tough game but I didn’t know how the whistle was going to go but you never know what the refs are going to do and you just have to keep playing. Greece played really tough and the refs had to blow their whistle a lot.”

Greece is a physical team, was is important to keep your composure against that physical challenge.

“It definitely was. they are a physical team,they’ve got big guys, they’ve got guys that can really step out and shoot, so we knew it was going to be tough game and they were going to come out and play tough because we beat them last time we played them. So we knew it wasn’t going to be a game where we come here and just showed up. We were up 16 at halftime and only ended up winning by eight and they cut it down to two or three so it was a tough game and they played really well.”

How proud are you to take that gold medal for your country?

“I’m so proud, I can’t wait to get home and show everybody. (Show all your friends?) Yeah I got bragging rights right now so I’m definitely going to brag.”

What does the gold medal mean to you after a month of hard work?

“It means so much. I’m glad I got the chance to represent my country. there were a few guys that didn’t make the team, but the guys that made it I think we all liked each other, we all played hard and it’s just fun. It feels so good to just come back after all t he hard work – the two a days in Colorado, being here and practicing right after getting off an 18 hour flight, it feels so good like all the hard work paid off.”

Features articles on Tyshawn Taylor

The Sporting News – July 13, 2009

(page 28) – http://today.sportingnews.com/sportingnewstoday/20090713/?sub_id=DMCjORi7qIlJs&folio=CGI