*Note: I’m not super familiar with the FIBA World Cup. Turns out there is a bronze medal game! Canada will face the US for the bronze on Sunday at 4:30 AM EST....set your alarm.
As most (if not all of you) know, The reigning, defending National Player of the Year, Zach Edey, spent a portion of his off-season balling out with the Canadian National Team. This caused Zach to miss Purdue’s European Vacation (or do you prefer Road Trip) but allowed him to bang in the post against professionals in practice, get some mop-up minutes in international play, and check out Jakarta. Not a bad summer vacation if you ask me.
While Dwight Powell (Dallas Mavericks) and Kelly Olynyk (Utah Jazz) received the lion’s share of post minutes for the mighty maple leafs, Zach did make a few special guest appearances late in games. Once Serbia had the game in hand, Edey hit the court for the last two minutes and tossed in a quick 6 points. Turns out he’s still one of the most efficient scores in the game, even when taking a significant step up in competition. It’s hard to judge how interested pros were in guarding him in the waning minutes of a game, but over the course of the tournament, he played 21 minutes and scored 19 points, going 9/9 from the field. You don’t get more efficient that 100% shooting. In addition to his scoring, Zach pulled down 6 rebounds, handed out 2 assists, and blocked a shot.
Despite limited game time, practicing against seasoned vets like Olynyk and Powell should only help the young big man. Banging with grown men in the post wasn’t the only benefit. He received an up close and personal introduction to the professional high pick and roll from budding NBA star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC Thunder). Between guarding a stretch 5 like Olynyk on the perimeter and trying to contain Gilgeous-Alexander out of the pick and roll, his experience on the defensive end of the court should pay dividends in the upcoming season.
With Canada’s exit from the World Cup, Zach will have plenty of time to get back to campus, rest up, and settle in before practice starts up. If nothing else, he has a great story for a “What did you do over the break?” assignment.
Now back to your regularly scheduled football coverage.