Two South Carolina representatives spent their July 4 by celebrating the United States' birthday - in other countries.
Men's basketball coach Frank Martin and baseball catcher Grayson Greiner were each abroad as the USA turned 237 on Thursday, Martin as an assistant coach with Team USA for the World University Games and Greiner as a player with the USA's collegiate national team. Martin was in Kazan, Russia, as Team USA opened its World University Games stay with a 96-60 exhibition rout of Russian professional club UNICS, while Greiner was en route to Matsuyama, Japan, where the team was set to play its first game there at 1 a.m. this morning.
The basketball team played its first game just less than two days after traveling to Russia and looked a bit sluggish, before ripping a 22-6 run just before halftime to take control. Final Four Most Outstanding Player Luke Hancock scored 14 points to lead six in double figures, and Team USA's defense held UNICS to just five points in the fourth quarter.
"The way we've picked up the offense, the ball was a spotlight and it wasn't shining on any one person, it was distributed," coach Bob McKillop said in a statement (Martin and Michigan coach John Beilein are McKillop's assistants). "When the spotlight shines on everybody, we'll be very good."
Team USA will "unofficially" scrimmage Russia's World University Games team today, and then practice once more before opening competition on Sunday against United Arab Emirates. The game will begin a stretch of five games in six days, where Team USA will also play Czech Republic, Sweden, Australia and Canada.
After the preliminary round, the first and second teams in each of the four pools advance to the medal round, which begins on July 14. Team USA is 138-9 all-time in the World University Games, but hasn't won a gold medal in the event since 2005.
Greiner, after training and exhibition games vs. all-star or Coastal Plain League teams, is off on his first international tour (Greiner made Team USA last year but was unable to participate after injuring his knee just before the NCAA Regionals). Greiner has only played in four games as the team's primary catcher is Indiana's Kyle Schwarber, but is still hitting .385.
Coming off a 14-0 whitewash over the Carolina-Virginia CBL Selects, Team USA takes a 10-0 record to Japan. The squad will play one more exhibition, against the Shikoku College Baseball League All-Stars, before beginning a five-game series against Japan, which will be played in Matsuyama (two games), Hiroshima (one game), Utsunomiya (one game) and Toyko (one game).
After that, the team returns home for more all-star games in Elgin, Ill., before ending the summer with a five-game series against Cuba. Those games will take place in Des Moines, Iowa, Omaha, Neb. (two games), Cary, N.C., and Durham, N.C.
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