July 13, 2007

Marquette duo battling at Pan-Am tryouts

PAN-AM GAMES
When: Through July 29
Where: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Basketball competition: July 25-29
More from Rivals.com:
Defense key to hopes for gold

Marquette guards Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews are among the 32 players at the U.S. Pan-Am Trials at Haverford (Pa.) College, along with Golden Eagles teammate Dominic James.

They give Marquette the most players at the trials. Practices began Thursday night and continued through Saturday, with a pair of workouts on Friday and Saturday.

McNeal and Matthews have been giving Rivals.com reports from the practices throughout. Here's what they've told us.

Jerel McNeal's report from Pan-Am tryouts

THURSDAY EVENING AND FRIDAY MORNING SESSIONS

A lot of guys were impressive last night. (Kansas') Mario Chalmers did really well. (Indiana's) D.J. White played really well, too.

It's tough to get into the flow sometimes. We played 6-minute halves then subbed out five for five. There's a lot of talent. You try to come out and not be selfish and move the ball a lot.

I played with Mario, (Villanova's) Scottie Reynolds and (Georgetown's) Roy Hibbert. My team has been winning a lot of games, so, you know, I'm happy. We played against Wes' team, and he's playing well. I'm telling him to get more aggressive, make more things happen.

I think everybody is having a hard time shooting because it's a different ball (for international play). It's got a real different feel. To me it seems lighter than a normal ball, and they're new and slick. It's a tough transition, so guys aren't shooting it as well as I know they can. I'm sure that will pick up.

I love the coaches. They're out there helping us work hard, working with us. It seems like they're focused on giving everybody a chance.

FRIDAY EVENING SESSION

I played with (Washington State's) Derrick Low, (Kansas') Sherron Collins, (Memphis') Joey Dorsey, (Maryland's) James Gist, (Texas A&M's) Josh Carter and (Washington State's) Kyle Weaver. We did pretty well. We played two 15-minute halves, we were up 10 in the first half. They came back in second half. We lost by two in the last five-minute game. We lost to a team with (Kansas') Mario Chalmers, (VCU's) Eric Maynor, (Washington's) Jon Brockman, and (Georgetown's) Roy Hibbert.

Sherron looked real good. Joey was doing a great job, too. He's a load down low. Josh shot the ball pretty well. Eric Maynor made a lot of big shots for them. Roy had a real good game. He and Joey were going at it.

I did pretty good, picked it up a lot. I got my shot going. We were running and pushing the ball, and I was trying to show my defense.

As far as defense goes, I think the team will be mixing it up some. I can see us switching in and out of zones to confuse teams. I do think we'll use some full-court pressure as well.

Between practices (the team went from 10 a.m.-noon and 6-8 p.m.) we just went back to the hotel and ate and rested for a little while and then we were right back here. I wish I would have brought my (video game) system. I got my PSP. I'm working on Tiger Woods golf. I'm not as good at it as I am football and basketball games.

SATURDAY MORNING SESSION

I played with (Michigan State's) Drew Neitzel, (Kansas') Mario Chalmers, (Texas A&M's) Josh Carter, (Southern Illinois') Randal Falker, (LSU's) Tasmin Mitchell and Big Roy (Hibbert of Georgetown). We won our games. We dominated pretty much. It was a really good group to play with. Roy and Mario did a great job, and it was fun to get in a rhythm.

I think Roy is a shoo-in to make it. He's gotta be. He's been commanding double teams and nobody has been stopping him. He's getting a lot of "and-ones" and running the floor. He's been a load offensively.

Mario had a real good day today, again. He did a great job setting up the offense. He and I together made a lot of things happen defensively.

We (McNeal, Matthews and James) have still not been on the same team. We have our last chance tonight. Hopefully we will. It would be nice.

I can't really think of anybody shooting the ball well. (Alabama's) Alonzo Gee has probably shot the ball as well as anybody this whole time. Everybody else is maybe too scared to shoot. We've been told to try to penetrate and get easy shots.

I'm not a shoo-in. I'm just hoping that I'm doing all of the right things and can be an asset. Coming out here I think I did everything the right way. I didn't try to do anything beyond what I do. I played unselfish, played great defense for three days, tried to be a vocal leader. I showed my intangibles. If I make it, I'll show more of my individual ability. I think I did what I could.

I've been rooming with (Duke's) Jon Scheyer. He's a good guy. I know him from high school from the Chicago area. We've spent most of our time listening to music and watching movies.

SATURDAY EVENING SESSION

I think I played pretty well tonight, but some of the shots weren't falling like they were earlier on. I think some guys started to get fatigued, started to lose their legs.

We didn't go for as long tonight. Two 10óminute sessions for each of the four teams. I think the committee had a good feel for the team this last time, with maybe a couple of guys on the bubble.

I'd say there are three locks for the team: Big Roy is definitely on, Eric Maynor and Joey Dorsey. Everbody else is up in the air.

Dorsey is pretty funny. You think he's this big, scary guy, but he makes me laugh a lot.

I never did get to play with Dom or Wes.

I feel like I've learned a lot the last 3 days. You get to come out here against the top guys in college basketball, and it's like a pre-draft camp in a couple of years. I think it gave everybody a good feel for how much faster and more athletic everybody is, how much smarter you have to play. It has been a great experience, and I'll take it back and learn a lot from it. There are some things I know I can get better at, and some things I know I do just as well as anybody else.

Wesley Matthews' report from Pan-Am tryouts

THURSDAY EVENING AND FRIDAY MORNING SESSIONS

Mario Chalmers has been good both days. I like the way (Memphis') Joey Dorsey has played, too.

I'm playing with (Duke's) DeMarcus Nelson and (LSU's) Tasmin Mitchell. I played against (Washington State's) Kyle Weaver, which was interesting because we played against each other in high school (both players are from Wisconsin; Matthews played at Madison Memorial while Weaver suited up for Beloit Memorial).

Offensively the thing they've talked about the most is spacing. We're spacing, cutting, getting shots up. Do what you do is what they keep saying. If you're a shooter, shoot it, if you're a cutter, get to the basket, if you're a post man get on the block and post.

Defensively we played man-to-man last night and today we worked on zone. We ran a 2-3.

The ball definitely feels different, but I feel like it's heavier. Maybe it's because I'm a little sick, a little weak. (Duke's) Jon Scheyer - I know he's a good shooter - he looks like he's having trouble with it.

I've played against pretty much everybody. These are the best players in the country, so it has been a lot of fun already.

FRIDAY EVENING SESSION

I played with (Villanova's) Scottie Reynolds, (Tennessee's) Chris Lofton, (LSU's) Tasmin Mitchell, (Vanderbilt's) Shan Foster and (Indiana's) D.J. White. There are four teams of eight, and they switch them up every day.

(North Carolina's) Wayne Ellington played well tonight. Scottie played well. I didn't play against Jerel today. It'd be nice if we could be on the same team, but they haven't done that yet. I haven't played with Dominic either.

I think guys shot it better tonight. Maybe it's just a matter of getting used to the ball.

I've been sick. I don't know with what, but I've had a fever and my body is achy. I'm fighting though. Got to.

SATURDAY MORNING SESSION

I'm still fighting being sick. It has been getting worse every day. They have me on antibiotics, but they haven't kicked in yet. My whole body is just shutting down.

This morning I played with (Kansas') Sharron Collins, (Oregon's) Bryce Taylor, (Indiana's) D.J. White and (Maryland's) James Gist. We lost both games today. We just couldn't get it going together. Other teams were making shots.

I haven't played with Dominic or Jerel. I didn't play against Jerel this morning either. We really haven't seen much of each other.

(North Carolina's) Wayne Ellington is my roommate. Honestly I've spent most of my free time trying to get some sleep.

It's just bad timing. I've been working hard all summer, and one of the crucial points of the summer this happens. If I make that would be great. If I don't I'll be bummed out because I wasn't able to give all I had.

Wayne played well this morning. He was making some shots. I gotta prop up my roommate.

SATURDAY EVENING SESSION

I don't think I could pick a handful of guys who stood out above the rest. There's a lot of talent. Everybody has had their ups and downs.

The whole experience has been cool. It was a good feeling to be selected to come here and showcase what I can do. It was just bad timing with the health issues.

Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at bmcclellan@rivals.com.




 

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