Overseas Trip Worthwhile For Beverley

FAYETTEVILLE — The next time Arkansas guard Patrick Beverley plays in a combative Southeastern Conference environment, he will remember Serbia.

He will recall the peanuts and bottle caps angry fans threw at him and his Team USA teammates — during games. He will think back to the arena with no air conditioning, with game-time temperatures outside of 102 degrees. And he will tap into recollections of the brutal name-calling he endured.

Compared to the vicious surroundings Beverley encountered during this summer's 2007 FIBA U19 World Championship For Men, competing in a testy locale such as Starkville, Miss., surely won't seem as tough anymore.

"I learned a lot about being mentally strong, about playing in a hostile environment," Beverley said. "It was basically the world against us. ... It helped my mental toughness."

Back in Fayetteville to start school Monday and partake in the first of Arkansas' 10 summer practices today, Beverley talked courtside in Bud Walton Arena about the benefits of international play.

Learning how to better deal with difficult atmospheres was just one of many for last season's SEC Freshman Of The Year. He slid over and played more point guard, enabling him to improve his ball-handling. He bettered his defense, often guarding opponents as much as four inches taller than him — albeit, Beverley was always quicker.

He played 13 games in 22 days.

In the process, he improved his leadership skills. Often, his actions were so revealing that he didn't need to open his mouth.

"He was our most valuable player," DePaul and Team USA coach Jerry Wainwright said Monday by phone. "I think it'd be hard to find another player in the country whose motor runs like Patrick Beverley. He didn't take even one practice rep off, ever, and that rubbed off on every player.

"His competitive spirit is unlike most players I've been around."

That work ethic and determination allowed Beverley to become possibly the most consistent performer for Team USA. He led the squad in minutes, points, steals, assists and three-pointers in World Championship games.

Before any of that occurred, he already had impressed his new coach. First-year coach John Pelphrey attended a Team USA exhibition game in early July in Dallas. Beverley's demeanor caught his eye. Pelphrey noticed him sprinting out of the locker room "with his shirt tucked in and his pants pulled tight."

"He looked ready to go from the moment he cleared the locker room," Pelphrey said. "I think every coach can appreciate that. ... We need that leadership out of him."

The trip to Serbia was about more than just maturing as a basketball player, though.

Beverley said the 11 days spent overseas taught him that Americans should feel lucky to live where they do. On an off days, Team USA players and coaches toured parts of Novi Sad, the host city. Some were still war-torn from the 1990s — one building they saw was a radio and television station that was bombed by NATO.

"The way they live is totally different from us," Beverley said. "In the USA, we're really spoiled. It made me look at life different. There were little kids, about three years old, that would ask you for money.

"It was a little depressing."

Wainwright said the team's hotel arrangements were humbling. He said there was definite anti-American sentiment. And Beverley scoffed at the idea of eating the food.

That led Beverley to McDonald's on most days. The 6-foot-1 native of Chicago never argued with that. The food was tasty, "just like at home," Beverley said, and the female workers were drop-dead gorgeous.

"I can say they have beautiful girls there," Beverley said. "It seemed like models worked at McDonald's."

The environment was much more friendly there than at the sweltering arena where Beverley and Team USA eventually fell just short of a gold medal. In front of a boisterous, downright mean crowd of 8,000, Team USA lost by five points to the host country.

Regardless, Beverley wouldn't trade the experience for anything.

"It was an honor to represent my country, and I learned a lot, even though I wasn't with my (Arkansas) team," Beverley said.

Beverley's Summer

Arkansas sophomore guard Patrick Beverley helped the United States finish second in the 2007 FIBA U19 World Championship For Men on July 12-22 in Novi Sad, Serbia. The United States, the tournament's No. 1 seed, lost to Serbia in the gold-medal game. The defeat was its only of the tournament.

When Beverley wasn't overseas, he spent time in Fayetteville working out, in Chicago visiting family or in Los Angeles practicing with NBA standouts such as Baron Davis, Josh Smith, Cuttino Mobley and Jordan Farmer.

World Championship Statistics

Category Average Team Rank

Points 13.0 1st

Minutes 27.8 1st

Steals 3.4 1st

Assists 3.2 1st

Three-Pointers 1.4 1st

Rebounds 5.3 2nd

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