Although the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Cup for men’s basketball tournament may tend to be slightly less invigorating – not to mention more anti-climactic – than the Olympics when the latter rolls around every four years, it nevertheless remains entertaining.
The sense of entertainment sprouts more from the sheer consistent, almost inevitable domination, from Team USA than the competition itself.
Let’s be honest: Seeing Derrick Rose dance around a defender, Demarcus Cousins bully a Serbian player or Kyrie Irving shoot the lights just because he felt like it never gets old.
It becomes even less fair with coach Mike Krzyzewski at the helm.
And with Team USA’s only prospective challenge in Spain knocked out of the tournament by France – yes, France – it was smooth sailing to the gold for America.
I do still have some criticisms of Team USA’s style of play from a fundamental standpoint.
Some of their flaws – mainly on the defensive end – were evident even in the preliminary rounds. It seemed at times Team USA became confused with all of the God-given athleticism on the same court and became stagnant as a result.
Aside from the unfortunate loss of Paul George due to his ugly leg injury, the only thing that got in the way of USA was themselves.
Their stints of erratic play on offense were concerning, especially with the “Splash Brother” Steph Curry and Klay Thompson in company.
In fact, a 2-3 zone was highly effective against USA at times.
On the other side of the ball, there were plenty of highlight plays courtesy of USA.
But some possessions were downright unacceptable.
Now, in their defense, James Harden was a starter on the team, which led to quite a few defensive lulls and easy backdoor buckets. Team USA struggled with teams with guards that excelled at the double pick and roll and handoffs.
God forbid if those teams had deadeyes in the corner, or it might have gotten rough for red, white and blue.
That being said, I can’t say much because, well, they won – and quite easily.
I strained all four of my eyes looking for a drip of sweat on any of our players. Serbia initially posed a well-worthy adversary in the first quarter, including putting Anthony Davis in foul trouble early. Serbia’s brute center gave the U.S. interior problems – that is, until Demarcus Cousins subbed in.
He played excellent defense and was all over the glass. Kyrie Irving lost his mind and put up 26 points going 6-6 from the promised land, leading U.S. to a 129-92 win and capturing the gold of course. Can’t say it was easy, but – wait, actually…
Pat Imbrogno became a star for the football team. From 1974-78, he was named two-time All-PSAC first team, four-time All-PSAC West selection, four-time Big Indianan Club award winner, and three-time ECAC all-district selection. Imbrogno was also named Small College All American and NAIA All-American.
As one of the best passer in IUP history, Ron McNabb was a great addition to the IUP men’s basketball program from 1979-83. He was ranked fourth all-time in assists (340) at the time of graduation, but now he is ranked eighth. McNabb, in his senior year, set a then-school record of 49 steals and also claimed a second spot for most assist in a single game in school history (13).
Heather Packard was part of the first PSAC championship in the women’s swimming program history in 1995-96. She received four all-conference honors, was part of the team that broke a PSAC meet record in the 400 Free Relay, and held five IUP records which include 200 Free, 500 Free, 1000 Free Relay, 400 Free Relay, and 800 Free Relay. Packard received the Most Dedicated Swimmer Award and achieved 18 top-three finishes in the PSAC meets.
As an inside linebacker for the football team, Nick Pascarella is known for the 12th longest interception return in the program history in 1989 against Slippery Rock (69-yards). He was awarded the Richard A. Smith Memorial Award twice, two-time All-PSAC West first team honors, and was part of the NCAA Championship game appearance in 1990.
Dr. Robert Raemore was head coach for the track and field team from 1980-84 and assistant coach from 1973-80, 84-2008. He coached three national champions, seven All-Americans, and a future Olympian. Raemore was named NCAA Division II Women’s Track and Field Coach of the Year in 2007. He passed away unexpectedly in 2013. Raemore is also a member of the PIAA Track and Field and the West Branch Valley Sports Hall of Fame.
Competing in two sports, Sara Raschiatore was on the women’s cross country team and the women’s track and field team. In cross country, she was a three-time All-American, finished first three different times at the conference championship, and finished fourth at the NCAA championships. She had the fastest 6K in program history when she graduated in 2003. She is now holds second. Rashiatore won five individual titles at the PSAC championship meets. She was named PSAC Championship Most Valuable Athlete, Most Valuable Track Athlete, and currently owns the outdoor record for the 300 meter steeplechase time.
Linebacker Gregg Schmidt joined the football team from 1973-77. He was named a three-time All-PSAC West selection, two-time NAIA all-district pick, AP All- American honors, Pittsburgh Press all-district honoree, and IUP’s all-time team. Schmidt’s senior year, he set the record for tackles (177) in a single season and is currently still number one. He also has claimed second in all-time tackles (421).
Je’Mone Smith was a wide receiver for the football team that made NCAA Championship game appearance in 1993. While at IUP, he was a two-year captain that received first team All-PSAC West twice and first team All-ECAC. Smith currently holds sixth in all-time receptions (129) and third in all-time receiving yards (2194). He continued to play in the National Football League with the Philadelphia Eagles after graduating IUP.
While wearing the number 75 on the IUP football team, offensive guard Chris Villarrial was a two-time All American. His number was also retired. Villarrial continued to play in the NFL for the Chicago Bears and then the Buffalo Bills.
Known as the strikeout king, Anthony Zambotti was one of the best pitchers in the baseball program at IUP. Zambotti holds the all-time record for strikeouts (332) for IUP and is second in PSAC history. He was named three-time All-PSAC West first team selection, Player of the Year his senior year, and Rookie of the Year his freshman year in 2000. Zambotti was drafted in the 14th round of the Major League Baseball by the Oakland Athletics. He is also married Sara Raschiatore, a fellow 2014 Hall of Fame inductee.
IUP professor and assistant coach William Betts, Jr. was also recognized for this year’s Honorary Bell Ringer Award. He broadcasted IUP basketball and football games in the 1980s and witnessed many conference and regional championships. Betts has been inducted to the Indiana County and Clearfield County Halls of Fame.