Ahearn Selected to Represent USA
The official 12-man USA Basketball Men’s Pan American Games Team was announced Wednesday night after six days of training in Tulsa, Okla. The U.S. squad, comprised for the first time in Pan American Games history of NBA Development League players who are under contract to play in the NBA D-League in 2011-12, will continue training in Tulsa through Oct. 22 and will compete Oct. 26-30 in the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Selected as a finalists for the USA team were: Blake Ahearn (Erie BayHawks/Missouri State ‘07); Brian Butch (Injured for 2010-11 season/Wisconsin ‘08); Justin Dentmon (Texas Legends/Washington ‘09); Jerome Dyson (Tulsa 66ers/Connecticut ‘10); Moses Ehambe (Iowa Energy/Oral Roberts ‘08); Marcus Lewis (Tulsa 66ers/Oral Roberts ‘09); Leo Lyons (Austin Toros/Missouri ‘09); Renaldo Major (Dakota Wizards/Fresno State ‘04); Donald Sloan (Reno Bighorns/Texas A&M ‘10); Gregory Stiemsma (Sokhumi Tbilisi, Georgia/Wisconsin ‘09); Curtis Sumpter (Maroussi BC, Greece/Villanova ‘07); and Lance Thomas (Austin Toros/Duke ‘10).
“Obviously this is a tough selection just because guys have competed at such a high level. They’re doing what we’ve asked, they’re all good guys, but we can only take 12. At the same time you’ve got to get 12 so we can relax, catch our breath, guys don’t have to press now, this is our team and we can really focus on competing in the Pan Ams,” said USA Pan American Games and Tulsa 66ers head coach Nate Tibbetts.
“I think what excites me about this team is our commitment to defense, our guys have really bought into that. And then we’ve got some guards that can really push it and we’ve got some bigs that are really, really playing hard and are game changers just with their effort.”
Assisting Tibbetts on the USA bench are Tulsa 66ers coaching staff members Jermaine Byrd and Dale Osbourne. Additionally, Austin Toros head coach Brad Jones and Idaho Stampede head coach Randy Livingston are assisting as court coaches during the USA’s training camp.
The Pan American Games, held every four years in the year prior to the Olympics, are being held Oct. 13-30 in Guadalajara, Mexico. The men’s basketball competition, which features eight teams, is being conducted Oct. 26-30.
The USA men were drawn into Group B for the Pan American Games and are joined by national teams from Brazil, Dominican Republic and Uruguay. Competing in Group A are Argentina, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. The U.S. men open preliminary round play Oct. 26 facing Dominican Republic (5:30 p.m. CDT), then face defending Pan American Games champion Brazil on Oct. 27 (8 p.m. CDT), and conclude preliminary play versus Uruguay (5:30 p.m. CDT) on Oct. 28. Semifinals action will be played Oct. 29, and the finals will be contested on Oct. 30.
The player and coaching staff selections were made by the USA Basketball Men’s Pan American Games Committee, approved by USA Basketball's Board of Directors and are subject to final approval by the U.S. Olympic Committee Chief Executive Officer.
The USA Basketball Pan American Games Committee is chaired by USA Basketball Men’s National Team Director Sean Ford, and also comprised of Tibbetts, 2000 Olympic gold medalist Steve Smith, NBA Development League Vice President of Basketball Operations & Player Personnel Chris Alpert, and NBA Development League consultant Gordon Chiesa.
USA Men In The Pan American Games
The Pan American Games are organized by the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) and are a multi-sport competition open to men and women representing countries from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean.
Comprised of college players, the USA men in the 2007 Pan Ams dropped their first two games and then reeled off three consecutive wins to finish 3-2 and in fifth place. The American men have earned a medal in 12 of their 15 Pan Am Games appearances, including a record eight golds, as well as three silvers and one bronze. The U.S. men currently own an 84-13 (.866 winning percentage) all-time mark at the Pan Am Games.
Held since 1951, the USA dominated the first five Pan Am Games, earning five consecutive golds. At the 1971 Pan Ams, despite a record of 2-1 in the preliminary round, the USA did not advance to the medal round and for the first time in Pan American history did not win the gold medal. However, the United States rebounded for a 26-0 record over the next three Pan Am Games and captured its last Pan Am gold in 1983. The gold medal has eluded U.S. teams the past six Pan American Games as the Americans have earned three silvers and a bronze medal.
Many USA Basketball athletes who have been selected to a Pan American Games team have gone on to compete in the Olympic Games, while many others enjoyed stellar professional careers. In all, 34 USA Pan Am basketball players have also been a member of a U.S. Olympic squad, including Ernie Grunfeld, Grant Hill, Luscious Jackson, Michael Jordan, Christian Laettner, Danny Manning, Chris Mullin, Emeka Okafor, Sam Perkins, Oscar Robertson, David Robinson, Isiah Thomas, Jerry West and Jo Jo White.
While the list of former Pan American Games players is impressive, the list of head coaches is even more striking. The list of head coaches of USA Pan American Games teams includes Jay Wright (2007), Tom Izzo (2003), Mo McHone (1999); Mike Thibault (1995); Gene Keady (1991); Denny Crum (1987); Jack Hartman (1983); Bob Knight (1979); Marv Harshman (1975); Jim Gudger (1971) Hal Fischer (1967); Garland Pinholster (1963); Fred Schaus (1959); Lt. Norman Pilgrim (1955); and Hal Fischer and John Longfellow (1951).