Colorado point guard Spencer Dinwiddie enjoyed the distinction of representing Team USA Basketball this past summer as a part of the 2013 Men's World University Games in Kazan, Russia. Team USA's roster was comprised of college all-stars, with players representing the American Athletic Conference, Atlantic Ten, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Mountain West and West Coast Conference. Dinwiddie was the Pac-12's lone representative.
The 6-foot-6 floor general led the entire tournament with 5.5 assists per game while starting all eight games. He had 44 assists compared to 11 turnovers overall. Dinwiddie also chipped in 7.9 points per game and also led Team USA with 1.5 steals per game.
Unfortunately, Team USA placed ninth in the tournament. The Americans lost to Australia and Canada on back-to-back days in the preliminary round, which led to their demise. Canada had very familiar faces on their roster. Jordan Bachynski (Arizona State), Brady Heslip (Baylor) and Dwight Powell (Stanford) all suited up for the Canadians.
Dinwiddie made setting up his teammates a priority with Team USA, scoring became secondary. It was a different role Dinwiddie embraced, compared to his style of play for Colorado.
Dinwiddie has been a scoring point guard throughout his two-year career at Colorado. He led the Buffaloes in scoring with 15.3 points per game last season. He also led Colorado in assists last year, but he only averaged 3.0 assists per game.
Dinwiddie attributes his passing numbers with Team USA this past summer to the personnel he was surrounded by, and what the team asked of him to do. With a plethora of offensive options at his disposal, Dinwiddie was asked to be a distributor. He didn't have to carry the scoring load, like he's had to do at Colorado.
Dinwiddie chimed in on his role with Colorado, specifically his adaptability to his surroundings. "It all depends on the personnel I'm playing with, it's based on team need," Dinwiddie said. "Last year, coach preached get in the lane, attack the basket, draw fouls. We wanted to make more free throws than the opponent shot. I took that upon myself because I was able to get into the lane. Its no secret, our outside shooting wasn't always knockdown. When I got in the lane, instead of always making that extra pass it was draw contact, get to the line, try to finish at the rim. Those were my focuses. Its just really all about the personnel."
Dinwiddie thinks his assists numbers can go up this year, because of Colorado's talent. He can also take on a scoring role, if needed. His goal is clear: win. "When I play with people that are gonna knock down shots, like we have this year, we have people hitting shots," Dinwiddie said. "If they prove they can do that in the game, then I'm more than willing to pass. If we need to score, if we need 20, 30, whatever it is, then I'm gonna go out there and do that. Its really all based on whatever the team needs to get a win. If it needs to be 20 assists and zero points, then thats what I'll do."
In addition to taking on a traditional point guard style of play, Dinwiddie said he learned so much from his experience with Team USA. He also enjoyed competing alongside players who'd otherwise be opponents.
"You just learn what makes other people elite," Dinwiddie said. "That was a great learning experience. And you also learn how they lead their teams respectively. Its always a great experience to play and be teammates with people that you've competed with before. You see a whole different side of them."
Head coach Tad Boyle enters his fourth year at Boulder with high expectations, and it all starts with Dinwiddie. Dinwiddie figures to remain among Colorado's scoring and assist leaders. It all depends on what Boyle and Colorado need out of Dinwiddie. If it means being aggressive and looking for his own shot, then Dinwiddie will score in bunches. If it means setting up his teammates, Dinwiddie will pile on the assists, like he did this past summer with Team USA. The ultimate goal, no matter what is asked of Dinwiddie, is to win.