College Basketball Nation: Egor Koulechov

3-point shot: Summer school for hoops

August, 29, 2013
Following up on more August trips, here is what three teams learned.

1. Arizona State: The Sun Devils went to China and according to the staff had a tremendous cultural bonding experience. The post-trip buzz was about how well the three freshmen played, according to associate head coach Eric Musselman. That means ASU expects to get production out of wing Egor Koulechov, Chance Murray and Calaen Robinson, who is listed as a sophomore but didn't play last season. The Sun Devils were in search of a backup point guard on the trip and likely found two in Murray and Robinson. ASU desperately needs more options and depth to be an NCAA tournament team. The Sun Devils figured out they've got to incorporate more touches for JC transfer Shaquielle McKissic and Penn State transfer Jermaine Marshall. They will be led by point guard Jahii Carson (with an assist from forward Jordan Bachynski), but Carson can’t do it alone. Musselman said the staff was impressed by the young core, but "Carson has stepped up his game both on and off the court skill-wise and with leadership.''

2. Wisconsin: Coach Bo Ryan said he realized "Canadian basketball is much better than people realized, better than it's been.'' He said the Badgers learned how to play with more tempo and movement. The freshmen picked up the drills and the style in which the Badgers will play. He said the management of Josh Gasser's minutes was critical, since the point guard who sat out last season with a torn ACL must be ready to go for the start of the season. Gasser will share the position with Traevon Jackson. "Josh is still tentative and that's to be understood. He's not quite there yet,'' said Ryan. "But he shot it pretty well. This trip gave him a chance to do a lot of shooting.'' Ryan said the Badgers showed they have more depth on the perimeter. He said working with a 24-second shot clock was beneficial to handle late-game situations. The Badgers definitely played to the fast-paced game, giving up 95 points in a loss to Carleton to start the trip and 92 in a win over Ottawa. Expect those defensive scoring numbers to be much lower once the Badgers get into the season with a traditional 35-second shot clock. Wisconsin has to get the defensive numbers down with a brutal nonconference schedule with games against St. John's in South Dakota, Florida, at Green Bay, Saint Louis (and then ODU or West Virginia) in Cancun, at Virginia and Marquette. The Badgers did get a Big Ten "break" with three of the first five conference games at home.

3. Clemson: Coach Brad Brownell said the Tigers will shoot much better this season than last after the 10-day trip to Italy. Clemson averaged 95 points on the four-game trip. "We still don't know how our young post players will react under real pressure,'' said Brownell. The only two posts who played on the trip were Landry Nnoko (11 blocks and 11.5 rebounds) and Josh Smith (13 boards a game). Jaron Blossomgame still wasn't healthy enough to play after offseason surgery and JC transfer Ibrahim Djambo and freshman big man Sidy Djitte of Senegal didn't go on the trip. "Everyone on the perimeter is a year older and just better than last year,'' said Brownell. That helps. This team will still rely heavily on K.J. McDaniels, who was scoring at a clip of 15 points, grabbing nine boards and blocking a total of 12 shots. McDaniels had to play more because of the thinning forward crew. Spokesperson Philip Sikes had a complete report on the trip and noted the improved play of Damarcus Harrison, who was in shape, Jordan Roper for his consistency and Devin Coleman for getting through the games and travel after returning from a torn Achilles.

1. USA Basketball should reward Billy Donovan by considering him for the FIBA World Basketball Cup in 2018 and the 2020 Olympic staff in some manner. Donovan won gold medals for the U-18 last summer in Brazil and then Sunday for the U-19 in Prague. He showed the loyalty to come back and coach in consecutive summers and to see the FIBA World Championships to the conclusion. There's no reason why Donovan shouldn't be in consideration for the spot to potentially replace Mike Krzyzewski as the USA National Team coach. Donovan has now proven he can win at the American and International level. The next national team coach doesn't have to be an NBA coach. The replacement for Krzyzewski should be an experienced coach who has won in the states and abroad. Donovan was willing to sacrifice his summers for USA Basketball and blended a collection of college/high school players in three weeks two summers in a row. He won gold each time.

2. North Carolina head coach Roy Williams told USA Today for a June 17 story that he has ideas about the punishment for P.J. Hairston but was waiting for the legal system run its course. USA Today dove deeper about the rental car Hairston was driving when he was arrested, making the story even murkier. How Carolina handles this case will be very interesting to watch. Spring and summer suspensions are often criticized but at least they are done to send a message. Sometimes they don't have teeth. Sometimes they do. Hairston was allowed to still try out for the World University Games team despite the pending case. The one thing that is missing so far from Hairston is any sort of apology. That would be a start.

3. Arizona State is off to China in August in what should be a critical trip for the Sun Devils in their quest to get to the NCAA tournament. Jahii Carson returns to lead the Sun Devils and should be one of the top point guards in the country. ASU associate head coach Eric Musselman said the most important thing on the trip is to get the new players game experience. ASU needs to get Chance Murray, a guard, and Egor Koulechov a small forward as well as Calen Robinson, necessary game experience. The Sun Devils are looking to shoot quicker next season and run more of a fast-paced offense. Musselman said in the spring the Sun Devils were using a 24-second shot clock in workouts to push the tempo. Head coach Herb Sendek is open to tinkering all the time. He is clearly leaning on the NBA influence of Musselman to increase the productivity.