Weber, Southwell guide Team USA to gold
Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber and director of student-athlete development Shane Southwell helped guide Team USA to the gold medal at the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) U19 World Cup with a 93-79 win over Mali in the tournament finals in Heraklion, Greece on Sunday (July 7).
Weber, who served as a head coach in the USA Basketball system for the first time in his career, led Team USA to their seventh gold medal at the U19 World Cup, including the first since 2015, with a perfect 7-0 record. Southwell served as the team’s video coordinator, while they were joined by college head coaches Mike Hopkins (Washington) and LeVelle Moton (North Carolina Central) on the coaching staff.
“Obviously, it’s a real honor and I think our player appreciate it, too,” Weber said about capturing the gold medal. “When the national anthem starts playing and you have a gold medal on, it’s special. I know it brought a little bit of tears to me. You’re just so proud to be part of it.”
Team USA averaged better than 100 points per game and won the tournament by an average of 28.7 points per game, including victories over New Zealand (111-71), Lithuania (102-84) and Senegal (87-58) to capture Group A then wins over Latvia (116-66) in the group of 16, Russia (95-80) in the medal round, Lithuania (102-67) in the semifinals and Mali (93-79) in the finals.
Leading tournament Cinderella – Mali -- just 42-40 after a back-and-forth first half, the American opened the third period with a 12-0 run that eventually became a 17-2 stretch in a 59-42 lead with 5:42 remaining in the third quarter. Mali, who knocked off New Zealand, Puerto Rico and France en route to the finals, never got closer than seven points the rest of the way.
“Our guys have been great since day one, they bought in,” said Weber. “Everyone said we played hard, but it was the team that played hard, and man they played hard. When we shared the ball and played hard, and played good defense, we were unstoppable (in the tournament).”
Mississippi State’s Reggie Perry was named the most valuable player of the U19 World Cup after averaging 13.1 points and 7.9 rebounds for Team USA. Weber and the Wildcats will face Perry and the rest of his Bulldog teammates at the Never Forget Tribute Classic on December 14, 2019 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
Perry was joined on the five-member all-tournament team by Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton.
Weber has been actively involved in USA Basketball for close to two decades. He served as a court coach at the trials for the 1991 Pan American Games Team and spent time with the 1989 USA Men’s World University Games and 1985 R. Williams Jones Cup Team that were led K-State alum and former Purdue head coach Gene Keady. Weber most recently served on USA Basketball’s Men’s Junior National Committee, which selects coaches and players for its college-aged competitions.
Now in his eighth season at K-State, Weber has led the Wildcats to a 150-89 (.628) overall record, five NCAA Tournament appearances (2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019) and two Big 12 regular-season championships (2013, 2019) in his tenure. His 150 wins are the third-most by a head coach (joining Hall of Famers Jack Hartman and Tex Winter) in school history and the most since Hartman retired as the school’s all-time winningest coach in 1986.
Weber has helped the Wildcats to consecutive 25-win campaigns the past two seasons for the first time in school history, which includes a trip to the Elite Eight in 2017-18 and a share of the Big 12 regular-season title in 2018-19.
Southwell, who was recently promoted to director of student-athlete development after a two-year stint as a graduate assistant, guided the Wildcats to 92 wins and four NCAA Tournament appearances during his four-year playing career. He also played professionally in Mexico, Australia and Switzerland.
Dating back to 1979 as the FIBA Junior World Championship, the U19 World Cup is played every two years and features the world’s top players 19 years old and younger. Team USA has now won seven gold medals, three silver medals and one bronze medal in 14 U19 competitions, including gold in four of the past six U19 World Cups (2009, 2013, 2015 and 2019).