Wright wants to bring Team USA gold in Pan Ams Print
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Thursday, 12 July 2007 21:07
NCAAB Headline News


 PHILADELPHIA (AP) -Jay Wright wants another gold medal around his neck.
Winning gold at the Pan American Games to go along with the medal he won at the 2005 World University Games might not be as easy in his second stint as Team USA's head coach. The United States hasn't won Pan Am gold since 1983, when Michael Jordan led the Americans to an 8-0 mark.
``We've got a great challenge and we're talking to the guys about that,'' Wright said this week.
While most coaches enjoy their time off between the busy July recruiting season and the start of school, Villanova's coach is excited about another chance to coach Team USA.
``It's an honor when they ask you,'' he said. ``You feel somewhat of a responsibility, not just to your country, but to basketball. It's a dream to coach.''
Wright's just glad he's only coaching and not the one picking the team, removing him from the potentially awkward spot of cutting one of his own players, guard Scottie Reynolds.
The USA Basketball committee will cut a group of 32 college basketball players down to 12, possibly by Saturday night, following the end of tryouts that started Thursday at Haverford College. The roster will make up the American team at the Pan American Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
In the last Pan Am Games in 2003, Team USA went 2-3 for a fourth-place finish.
``The toughest part is cutting players who have given up their time in the summer,'' Wright said. ``Once you pick the team, you're really relieved and you really enjoy the process. While you're going through the cuts, it's not a very enjoyable process.''
M's Josh Carter, Indiana's D.J. White, Tennessee's Chris Lofton, and Kansas' Mario Chalmers and Sherron Collins.
While the American roster is comprised only of college players, the team will be playing against countries that are sending professionals. Wright doesn't have much of a scouting report on the international teams yet. Then again, he's not even sure who's on his own team.
``You don't have a lot of time to prepare your team,'' Wright said. ``It's most important that you become a team so you can't really pay too much attention to detail. You've got to develop a familiarity with each other on the court and how you play.''
Wright does have a familiarity with Reynolds, who helped take the Wildcats to the NCAA tournament. Reynolds, who toyed with the idea of declaring for the NBA draft, spent part of this month at LeBron James' basketball camp and hoped to get a chance to play for Wright and Team USA.
Surely having an in with the head coach will help his cause, right?
``You have to go out there and prove yourself to everybody,'' Reynolds said. ``You don't want people to think you got this just because you're close to the head coach or a fan favorite.''
A big baseball fan who has thrown out the first pitch at a Phillies game, Wright was astonished that Tony La Russa left his own player, Albert Pujols, on the bench in the All-Star game. If Wright could take Reynolds, he would. He's just glad he's not forced to make that call.
``I want him to make it, but I've got to do what's best for USA basketball,'' he said. ``I know the committee is going to make the decision and I've got to support that.''
 

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