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James Jones helps lead Workforce USA to wins over Bahamas, Mexico

Jones served as an assistant coach on the USA Basketball staff, which secured two double-digit wins this previous weekend, ending 6–0 within the 2021 FIBA AmeriCup Qualifiers.

Workers Reporter

Courtesy of USA Basketball

Yale males’s basketball head coach James Jones was again on the hardwood final weekend — not for the Blue and White, however as an assistant coach for the Pink, White and Blue.

The USA Basketball squad traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico, final week to play their closing two video games within the 2021 FIBA AmeriCup Qualifiers. The staff secured a 93–77 victory over the Bahamas on Friday, adopted by a 96–75 win over Mexico on Saturday. Each video games occurred on the Coliseo Roberto Clemente, and Workforce USA certified for the 2022 FIBA AmeriCup match, ending the qualification spherical with an ideal document of 6–0.

“It was phenomenal,” Jones stated of his return to the sidelines. “Clearly I’d quite be with my staff [the Bulldogs], however it is a nice second to be round these guys experiencing one thing like this collectively for his or her nation. It was fairly thrilling.”

Ahead Paul Atkinson ’21, who was slated to make his Workforce USA debut over the weekend, was pressured to withdraw from the staff after testing optimistic for COVID-19, in line with a USA Basketball press launch. Atkinson was changed on the roster by Brandon Bass, who has 12 years of NBA expertise.

Jones, who has been the Bulldogs’ head coach for 22 years, stated that in Puerto Rico he did “the identical stuff I do with my [Yale] staff,” simply within the function of assistant coach.

Breaking from his regular function as head coach, Jones took on getting ready the scouting report, or “scout,” which entails doing analysis on the staff’s opponents, a process that’s usually assigned to one of many assistant coaches for the Bulldogs.

Within the first recreation of the weekend, Workforce USA obtained off to a scorching begin as two-time NBA All-Star Isaiah Thomas made three consecutive three-pointers within the first two minutes of the sport.

However the Bahamas confirmed their resilience and made it tough for america to place the sport out of attain. The Bahamas pulled out all of the stops on protection, displaying the People switch-heavy man-to-man coverages, in addition to a number of zone and press coverages. Workforce USA head coach Joe Prunty stated after the sport that he thought his staff responded “nicely, not nice” to those totally different defensive schemes. Prunty added that enchancment would come because the staff grew to become extra snug taking part in with one another.

“We had an excellent week of observe, however it’s totally different,” Prunty stated. “Getting on the ground and taking part in in video games is so vital.”

On the Friday post-game press convention, each Prunty and Thomas expressed the significance of coming collectively and taking part in as a staff. In a later interview with the Information, Jones stated that this was one thing that progressively occurred all through the week.

Thomas, one of many veteran leaders on the U.S. staff, spoke at a press convention after his 19-point efficiency towards the Bahamas about how nicely the group was in a position to mesh in only some days.

“We’ve been jelling quick — we’ve solely been collectively a bit over per week, we solely practiced like 4 or 5 days,” Thomas stated. “So for us to play like we did as we speak … that claims quite a bit about everyone on this staff.”

The next night time towards Mexico, america was rather more dominant, taking a 31–15 lead after one quarter. By halftime, the lead had grown to 25 factors, and an undefeated document within the qualifiers was all however secured.

“We did a significantly better job of taking good care of the ball tonight than we did the primary night time,” Jones stated. “We had far too many turnovers in that first recreation and tonight we lowered these.”

The People had solely 12 turnovers towards Mexico, 4 fewer than their 16 giveaways within the Bahamas recreation.

Whereas the advance on the court docket was a welcome sight, Jones was impressed with the camaraderie of the staff off the court docket as nicely.

“They care about one another,” Jones defined. ‘There are guys on the bench attempting to get guys that didn’t play as a lot within the recreation. It’s simply actually superb to me what an awesome degree of particular person is concerned with this program and the way a lot enjoyable it was to be across the guys.”

The FIBA AmeriCup might be held in September 2022.

James Richardson | james.richardson@yale.edu 

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