August 9, 2012 Wizards and Terps Final Olympic Grades
Welp, you knew it had to end eventually. The Olympic basketball semifinals/finals are not for everyone. In this case, they are definitely not for any former or current Washington Wizard/Maryland Terrapin players, as none remain in the tournament. Wednesday was just a day for closing out.
First, Russia edged former Terrapin Sarunas Jasikevicius and Lithuania in a hard fought battle 83-74. Jasikevicius, in what will likely be the swan song performance for his Olympic career, looked every bit his age by going 1-of-4 from the field over 19 minutes for three points. Not to mention his turnover problem reemerging, as he finished the game with six total against only three assists. He was clearly having problems getting around future Timberwolves guard Alexey Shved, who even on a poor shooting night still outplayed him. Furthermore, it really just seemed like Jasikevicius was getting minutes because it could have potentially been his final game. Younger guard Mantas Kalnietis probably should have received more playing time, and in fact would have put them in a better position to win (as much as it pains me to say that about Sarunas).
Next, Kevin Seraphin and France were dogged by Spain in the fourth quarter of their 66-59 loss that could have been closer were it not for so many French mental errors. Seraphin had, without a doubt, his worst game of the tournament, playing only 7 minutes while registering more fouls and turnovers (three each; six total) than points and rebounds (three). As is his propensity for picking up quick fouls, yesterday was no different as he quickly rendered himself worthless via sloppy play. They certainly could have used him against Marc and Pau Gasol, as former Wizard Ronny Turiaf looked like absolute garbage, culminating with his embarrassing hard foul which essentially cost France the game (though that torch will be passed to Nicolas Batum).
Finally, Argentina fought off a furious late-game run by Nene and Brazil to hold on and win the “Battle of South America” 82-77. Nene, presumably playing injured, was the lone bright spot for local fans as he gritted out a poor shooting performance with all around good play. He logged the most minutes during any tournament game up to that point yesterday with 27, and the result was a nice 12 rebound, 7 point performance. His facilitating play late in the game opened up the floor for Brazil and spurred their 23 point fourth quarter in which they cut a 12 point deficit down to three.
Unfortunately, Luis Scola, Andres Nocioni, and Juan Pedro Gutierez gave Nene, Cavs center Anderson Varejao and Spurs forward Tiago Splitter work on the defensive end all game, combining to score 40 of the 82 Argentinian points. Nene also had two careless goaltending calls late in the game, which didn’t necessarily help his team (though you can’t blame him for trying). Overall, Nene didn’t play terribly by any means, but his offensive production wasn’t there when Brazil needed it most during their 2nd and 3rd quarter droughts.
(Strike three, you’re out)
Kevin Seraphin: B-
Seraphin should have been much more effective throughout this tournament, but his positive play was marred by the fact that he constantly got into foul trouble. He finished the tournament averaging 6 points and 3.3 rebounds over 6 games, with his best performance being a 10 point, 7 rebound, and 3 block line against Argentina. At times, Seraphin seemed like one of the best players on the court, while in other instances he just looked lost against more dominating forwards. He averaged just over a block a game during the tournament, but also racked up 19 fouls in a six game stretch (something he definitely needs to work on for the NBA). Three fouls a contest in international play is a death sentence, given the five foul rule.
In the end, Seraphin could have done better, but he is still only 22 years of age which indicates room for improvement. I’m sure in 2016 Seraphin is going to play a much larger factor on France as the old guard (i.e. Ronny Turiaf) gets less and less minutes. In the meantime, he needs to work on playing more under control and can hopefully carry over this international experience into productive NBA play.
Nene proved to be a bit of a disappointment as well if we’re being honest with ourselves. I expected him to be a much more dominating scoring option for Brazil, which is something they could have used. Instead, Anderson Varejao had more points than Nene throughout the tournament (albeit in one more game, but it’s still Varejao). He just never demanded the ball on offense, and was way too passive of a forward given how talented we all know he is. Part of that, I’m sure, had to do with his lingering plantar fasciitis which caused him to sit out the game against Spain. That he’s out of the tournament is of great relief for the Wizards, as it means he is going to be able to rest up for the NBA season a bit longer.
What did he do that impressed me? Rebound. Nene was the fifth-best rebounder in the entire tournament, averaging 8 per game. I loved that he got after it on the defensive end, fighting down low for boards with opponents. He played the ball off the rim nicely, and it’s a credit to his defensive positioning ability. Speaking of defensive, Nene wasn’t too shabby on the defensive end, holding his own against a lot of talented forwards (with the exception of his game against Argentina). His defense is always going to be a plus, and he showed it this tournament.
Sarunas Jasikevicius: A+
I’m giving Sarunas an A+ because I respect the hell out of that guy. Sarunas didn’t have a bad tournament by any means, averaging 6 points and 5 assists throughout; rather than dwell on what he did this tournament, we should acknowledge all he has done throughout his international career. A bronze during the 2000 Sydney Olympics for Lithuania (their third medal in three straight Olympic games), a 2003 FIBA Eurobasket Gold medal, and another bronze medal in 2007 FIBA Eurobasket. He’s played in the NBA, he’s played in Israel, he’s played for FC Barcelona, he’s dominated the Greek Leagues and he’s represented his country incredibly well–all for the love of the game.
Sarunas could have quit on his dreams a long time ago, but he never has and as a sports fan one has to acknowledge a guy who is so internationally renowned. Yes, he’s a Terrapin, and yes I’m biased to them, but Sarunas goes beyond that. At 36, this is likely his last Olympic games, and while I’ll be sad to see him go, he has kept Lithuania in contention since his arrival and will no doubt play a part in their future. And for that, Sarunas get’s an A+.
Tags: argentina, basketball, brazil, france, Kevin Seraphin, lithuania, Luis Scola, Maryland, Maryland Terrapins, nene, nene hilario, olympics, sarunas jasikevicius, seraphin, Washington Wizards, Wizards