A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Oklahoma’s Kelvin Sampson Selected USA Basketball 2004 Developmental Coach Of The Year
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Oklahoma men’s basketball coach Kelvin Sampson, who served as the USA World Championship For Young Men Qualifying Team head coach this past summer, was chosen as the 2004 USA Basketball Developmental Coach of the Year.
As a recipient of the honor, which was selected by the USA Basketball Executive Committee, Sampson has been nominated by USA Basketball for the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Developmental Coach of the Year award, which will be announced by the USOC at a later date.
Claiming a gold medal at the 2004 World Championship For Young Men Qualifying Tournament with a 5-0 record, Sampson also guided the U.S. to a 1-0 mark in exhibition play against Canada prior to the U20 Tournament of the Americas.
“This summer was a great experience,” said Sampson. “Coaching is about relationships. You enjoy the relationships you build in this profession, especially with the players. That group came together. From the first day, our directive was to be the best team we could be. And I told them I wasn’t going to take the best players, I was going to take the best team. And we did that.
“It’s wonderful to receive this honor, but the real honor is just to be asked to represent your country. The fact that they asked me to be the head coach of that team — I was raised to say ‘yes’ to that. It’s a sacrifice.”
“You have to weigh whether you need to be on the road recruiting or be around your team. But I felt last summer I could do it. My first thought when I was told I won this award was of Tom Crean and Dan Monson. We had a great staff. Every staff member was unbelievable.”
“Kelvin has been involved with USA Basketball for 10 years as either a head coach, assistant coach or committee member. His commitment to USA Basketball and passion for coaching is genuine,” said USA Basketball Executive Director Jim Tooley. “He did a tremendous job motivating our World Championship For Young Men Qualifying Team last summer and guiding them to a perfect 5-0 mark and the gold medal.”
USA Basketball’s Development Coach of the Year award was established in 1996 to recognize a USA Basketball head coach who, during the year of the award, made significant impact on the success of individual athlete and team performance at the developmental level.
Sampson, who in 2004 stood atop the medal stand for the first time with USA Basketball, set the tone for teamwork from the start. On July 16, the first day of USA Young Men National Team Trials, Sampson passed out cards to all Trials participants listing his five keys to the gold.
Those included his No. 1 directive: have fun. Sampson’s list continued with: compete our tails off, team before me, defense/no easy baskets and own the boards. He asked players to give him their all and in turn he would put everything he had into coaching them to the gold medal. They all complied, carrying their laminated cards on lanyards throughout the entire trip together. His methods, which saw the team scrambling for loose balls and fighting for rebounds in a particularly intense practice the day of the semifinals, paid off in spades for Sampson, his staff and the 12 young players who he molded into a team over the course of 17 days.
“This summer was an unbelievable experience,” said All-American and the USA’s starting guard Chris Paul (Wake Forest). “It was an opportunity to play for a different coach and I learned so many different things from him.”
“He had meetings with us, he taught guys individually as well as the team as a unit and really brought us all together as a team. But I think the biggest thing that he did was instill so much confidence in all of us.”
Assisting Sampson on the sidelines were Marquette University head coach Tom Crean and University of Minnesota head coach Dan Monson.
“Tom Crean and Dan Monson were absolute studs on that team,” added Sampson. “Whatever we did, we all did together. The two best guys in the tournament were Chris Paul and Sean May — those two led us to victory. I can’t tell you how much fun I had coaching that team. From the first day to the last day there was a bond that I think will follow those kids for the rest of their lives.”
“I’ll never forget standing on that medal stand when the United States’ flag was being raised. The sound of our kids singing the Star Spangled Banner reverberated throughout the arena. When it was finished, everyone just hugged. There was a bond that was formed with that group and some of those kids will probably stay in touch with each other for the rest of their lives.”
Following an 88-54 exhibition victory over the Canada young men’s team on July 25 in Saint John, Canada, the U.S. was slated to open tournament play against Venezuela on July 28. However, the opponents had travel difficulties and were forced to forfeit the contest. Sampson didn’t let his squad’s energy go cold and on July 29 piloted the USA to an 87-64 win over South American silver medalist Brazil.
The United States closed preliminary play on July 30 at the top of Group B with a convincing 92-79 victory over Central America/Caribbean champ Puerto Rico, which featured 7-2 Peter Ramos of the NBA Washington Wizards. Advancing to the medal semifinals, Sampson’s squad dispatched host Canada 86-63 on July 31, setting up a gold medal rematch against Puerto Rico. Battling for most of the game, Sampson and his assistants directed the U.S. to an eventual 97-86 victory and the gold medal.
As a group, the U.S. outscored its opponents 90.5 ppg. to 73.0 ppg. (+17.5 ppg) and outrebounded foes 38.8 rpg. to 31.3 rpg. The United States registered 67 assists and forced 65 turnovers, while making 43 steals.
The unselfish play of the Americans produced a No. 1 ranking in six major statistical categories, including scoring offense, scoring margin, field goal percentage (.482), defensive field goal percentage (.385), defensive 3-point field goal percentage (.200), and rebounding margin (+7.5 rpg).
An event which is held every four years, the World Championship For Young Men Qualifying Tournament format featured eight nations competing July 28 – Aug. 1 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and was limited to athletes 20-and-under (born on or after Jan. 1, 1984).
While the USA and Puerto Rico finished first and second, Argentina collected the bronze medal and Canada finished fourth as all four teams advanced to next summer’s 2005 FIBA World Championship For Young Men that is slated to be played Aug. 5-14 in Cordoba and Mar del Plata, Argentina.