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European Trip Is Telling for U.S. Select Basketball Team

July 03, 1988|Associated Press

BILBAO, Spain — George Raveling knows the ingredients to make gold: chemistry, philosophy, rebounding and defense.

That's what Raveling, who coached the U.S. Select basketball team to a 6-0 record on its European swing, believes is necessary for the U.S. Olympic team to win the gold medal in Seoul in September.

"You start to choose your team based on chemistry and basketball philosophy," Raveling said. "I have always felt that rarely do the 12 best players make the best team."

Raveling and assistant Bill Stein will make some recommendations to Olympic Coach John Thompson as to which members of the Select team to retain.

Those players will be invited to join an already-chosen 16 to try out for the 12-player Olympic squad that will go to Seoul.

Raveling knows what is ahead for the coaching staff. He was an Olympic assistant to Bob Knight in 1984 and will be at Thompson's side at Seoul. He knows what is needed to win gold, as the U.S. did in 1984.

"I think we'll need consistency in defensive performance and consistency in rebounding performance," Raveling said. "I think the offense will take care of itself. Some of our defense has to be our offense."

He also knows what is missing this year.

"The most obvious thing that jumps out at me is that we don't have a Michael Jordan. We don't have a Patrick Ewing," Raveling said. Both players were stars on the 1984 team.

So it won't be easy when the final group converges at Georgetown University next month.

"The hardest part is now ahead of us," Raveling said. "The process dictates that you have to let some good players go. It's a numbers game. Only 12 stay."

With the tour over, the Select players returned home today, with most hoping for a call in the next week to be invited back. Three players--David Robinson, Dan Majerle and guard Charles Smith--are already headed back to Georgetown.

Robinson, the college player of the year in the 1986-87 season, is still trying to get back into top shape after spending a year in the Navy.

"I felt that David started off slowly and built up," Raveling said of Robinson's overall tour performance. "I am not sure that we'll be able to afford that luxury in Korea.

"I think that David appears to a player to get up for the big game, but when we get to Korea, every game will be big. One loss can knock you out of the chance for the gold medal," Raveling said.

Robinson saved his best performance for the Selects' toughest opponent, Spain, in the final game of the tour Saturday. He had 18 points and nine rebounds in 22 minutes of play.

"I think the best thing I have gotten out of the tour is that I have been able to see what I have to work on. The more you play, the more you find out where you are weak," Robinson said. "This trip has done a really good job of showing me that."

He ended the tour with a total of 54 points and 45 rebounds but showed signs of rounding into top form in the last two games.

Majerle, of Central Michigan, and Smith, of Georgetown, are already ticketed for the final tryout camp, leaving about another half-dozen vacancies.

Likely candidates include guards Rex Chapman of Kentucky and Steve Kerr of Arizona, both excellent three-point shooters, as well as forwards Stacey Augmon of Nevada Las Vegas, a fine defensive player, and Shelton Jones of St. John's.

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