* Team USA coach Larry Brown had his squad were clicking on all cylinders by the end of the Tournament of the Americas on Sunday night. Even after being Olympic-qualified with Saturday's semifinal win over Puerto Rico, the latest version of Team USA proceeded to demolish Argentina 106-73 to take the gold medal and some measure of revenge over the team that upset the USA last summer in Indianapolis.
Former Tar Heel Vince Carter scored 12 points in the final victory as the USA went 10-0 during their stay in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Carter played in all 10 games, started 3 times, scored 12.6 points per game and played 200 minutes, second only to Mike Bibby (204). Carter had several stunning dunks on his way to making 48-of-75 field goal attempts (64%), 13-of-41 threes (45.2%) and a crisp 16-for-20 on free throws (80%),
Following the tournament, Larry Brown talked to the press about having North Carolina coach Roy Williams as a member of his coaching staff. "He's the same pedigree as me and I know how proud coach Smith was when we were both picked to coach this team," said Brown. "He's a phenomenal coach, a good friend, and it was really fun being with my whole staff, that made it special."
COTA IS BACK IN LITHUANIA
* For his fourth pro season since leaving North Carolina, Ed Cota has returned for another season in Kaunas, Lithuania. Cota led Zalgiris Kaunas (33-3) to the Lithuanian League title last season with his exceptional point guard skills, and contributions of 11.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. Cota previously played for the Gary (Indiana) Steelheads of the IBL and for Oostende in Belgium.
During the higher level of Euroleague competition last year, Cota was the regular season assist leader with 6.5 per contest in 14 games (5-9). Zalgiris will again be a Euroleague team in 2003-04.
This time Cota will have NBA veteran and European legend Arvydas Sabonis as a teammate. Sabonis is the majority owner of Zalgiris and has returned there to finish his career. The Zalgiris' training camp began yesterday.
WORTHY TO ENTER HALL THIS WEEK
* Former Tar Heel and Lakers star James Worthy will be enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. on Friday. Worthy will be presented at the 2003 enshrinement ceremony by his coach at North Carolina, the legendary Dean Smith.
Another former Tar Heel Hall of Famer will also be taking part in the event. Bob McAdoo, currently a Miami Heat assistant coach, will be the presenter for Dino Meneghin, considered by many to be the greatest Italian player. McAdoo, who was in the Hall's class of 2000, played seven seasons in Italy from 1985 to 1992.
The 2003 Hall of Fame induction activities will be held on September 5 and 6. ESPN will televise the highlights in a one-hour program on Sunday, September 7 at 6 p.m.
MONTROSS RETIRES FROM NBA
* NBA veteran Eric Montross announced his retirement from the NBA last week because of a foot injury in 2002 that Montross said "cannot be addressed satisfactorily to get me back on the court," according to several media reports.
The Boston Globe reported that Montross was told by nine foot specialists -- even a consultation at Duke -- that they could operate, but didn't know if it would work and would require at least a one-year rehab. Montross, soon to be 32 (see below), declined having the medical procedure and also turned down an offer to work for the Toronto Raptors for now. "I'm not slamming the door on any NBA opportunity. I need to take a few months to see what I want to do," said Montross, according to the Globe story.
Montross, who began his career in Boston as a second-team All-Rookie selection and earned almost $20 million during his NBA career, will be missed by fellow Tar Heel and recent Raptor teammate Vince Carter. "As far as having a big body out there, yes, we'll miss him. He gave us a presence out there, which is what we needed. He was great at throwing his body around. And, he's a Carolina guy. He knows how to play," Carter told the Globe's Peter May while in Puerto Rico last week. Also, May noted to Inside Carolina via e-mail that "they don't come any better than Eric Montross."
OKULAJA BEGINS EUROBASKET ON FRIDAY
* The scrimmages are finally over. The games of the 2003 European Championship will begin in earnest on Friday in Sweden and run through September 14, and will qualify three more teams for the 2004 Olympics.
Ademola Okulaja sat out Germany's last practice game -- a four-point win over Italy in Berlin -- to rest an injured foot. Germany's Dirk Nowitzki also was sidelined due to injury, but both Okulaja and Nowitzki are expected to be ready when Germany meets Israel on Friday. Lithuania and Latvia are the other teams in Group B. Former Tar Heel Henrik Rodl is working as a scout for the German national team.
Three European teams will earn Olympic berths in addition to Greece (host country) and Serbia & Montenegro (the current World Champion -- formerly Yugoslavia) based on the results of Eurobasket. You can visit www.eurobasket2003.com for the latest on the 2003 European Championship.
CURRY CATCHES ON
* Former North Carolina quarterback Ronald Curry took the suggestion/challenge of Oakland's head coach Bill Callahan and went through training camp as a wide receiver. After four preseason games, Curry had seven receptions for 76 yards with a long gain of 34 yards as a member of the Raiders receiving corps that includes NFL stars Jerry Rice and Tim Brown.
When final cuts were made Sunday, Curry's name did not appear on the transaction list of players waived by the Raiders, leaving him on the Raiders' 53-player roster heading into the regular season. According to the team depth chart, the speedy and versatile Curry could also see duty as a punt and kickoff returner. The Raiders begin the 2003 season on Sunday night (ESPN, 8:30 p.m.) against Tennessee.
TEASLEY LAST WNBA TAR HEEL PRO STANDING
* With a 74-64 victory last night over Minnesota, Nikki Teasley and the Los Angeles Sparks have advanced to the WNBA's Western Conference Finals. Teasley played 39 minutes, with 13 points (4-8 FG, 2-4 3-pt. FG, 3-4 FT), 5 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 steals, and got a postgame congratulatory hug from Lakers' center Shaquille O'Neal.
The Sparks came back from 0-1 to take Minnesota 2-1 in the best-of-three series. They will meet Houston or Sacramento in another best-of-three for the Western Conference title.
* Former Tar Heels Sylvia Crawley and LaQuanda Quick fell short of the playoffs with the San Antonio Silver Stars (12-22). Crawley played in 33 games, averaging 17.1 minutes, 3.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.6 assists. Quick (formerly Barksdale) averaged 6.5 minutes, 2.3 points, 1.3 rebounds and 0.2 assists in 26 games.
The San Antonio Express-News reported last week that Quick's offseason plan is to play pro ball in Denmark unless she is offered an assistant coaching job. Crawley will be busy with her custom clothing design business, according to the paper.
* Indiana Fever (16-18) rookie guard Coretta Brown also missed the playoffs. Brown had high-scoring games of 22 and 26 points during the season, but did not play in four of the last six games. Brown appeared in 30 games with averages of 17.4 minutes, 6.2 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.0 assists.
* WNBA veteran Charlotte Smith-Taylor of the Charlotte Sting (18-16) is now out of the playoffs after losing twice to the Connecticut Sun. Smith-Taylor, in her fifth WNBA season, played 27 games and averaged 16.4 mpg, 3.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg and .7 apg.
SEPTEMBER TAR HEEL BIRTHDAYS ...
* Mike Pepper: 9-2 (43) ... George Lynch: 9-3 (33) ... Kevin Madden: 9-3 (37) ... Byron Sanders: 9-8 (20) ... Walter Davis: 9-9 (49) ... Curtis Hunter: 9-10 (40) ... Larry Brown: 9-14 (63) ... Pete Chilcutt: 9-14 (35) ... Courtney Chambers: 9-16 (21) ... Rasheed Wallace: 9-17 (29) ... Leah Metcalf: 9-18 (20) ... Ryan Sullivan: 9-21 (27) ... Doug Moe: 9-21 (65) ... Eric Montross: 9-23 (32) ... Pete Brennan: 9-23 (67) ... Bob MacKinnon: 9-24 (43) ... Bob McAdoo: 9-25 (52) ... Rashad McCants: 9-25 (19) ... Sylvia Crawley: 9-27 (31) ... Candace Sutton: 9-27 (21).