Australian U20's Nationals Day 1 Recap - McVeigh a driving force, Froling powers Queensland

The 2014 U20's Australian Junior Championships are underway in Perth and Day 1 has been full of action. We’ve already seen some great performances by both the Men and the women that should translate to the rest of the tournament. Here are some storylines from both the men's and women's action to follow after the first day of action:

Men's basketball

Jack McVeigh is a force to be reckoned with

It was rumored that McVeigh would not be participating in this tournament, for reasons unknown. Lucky for us, however, McVeigh was listed as a starter for Queensland’s first game against New Zealand. The Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence scholar did most of his damage inside the paint (5/6 FG inside the paint) and from the free throw line (8/9 FT). He’ll be the driving force that will help this Queensland team go far in this tournament, and if he manages to stay around his impressive efficiency rating of 28, the rest of the field had better watch out!

Victoria is stacked!

The VIC men’s team already look like the favorites after a comfortable 16-point win over a very respectable Tasmania side. It would be easy to single out Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence scholar George Blagojevic and his 3-point barrage (6/6) or Australian U19 Rep Geremy McKay and his inside presence (9/10 FG, all in the paint), but it’s when all of their pieces come together that makes for some great basketball. Although VIC was sound offensively (59% FG, 52% 3pt), they need to step up defensively if they want to go far in this tournament.

NSW could possibly go all the way

This NSW team looks to have entered the competition with a vengeance after many of them lost in the championship game of last year’s VIC side. Although the loss of AUS U17/U19 Rep Gerard Martin is extremely significant – Martin is out after re-aggravating a foot injury – they seem to have come together and are playing some great basketball, especially on the defensive end. NSW held ACT to just 20% shooting in just a 54-point showing by the nation's capital. NSW also looks good offensively; Xavier Cooks seems to be doing a bit of everything on the floor and Kai Healy is scoring with great efficiency. With the way things have looked thus far, we could be in for another NSW vs VIC championship game.

South Australia is a dark horse

In my preview of this tournament I listed Hamish Burns as SA’s sole hope in progressing through this tournament, well it seems as though I was half right. Sam McDaniel had a statement game in SA’s 10-point win over WA – 17 points and 20 rebounds with an efficiency rating of 33 (a tournament-high). McDaniel’s ability to dominate the boards combined with Burns’ finesse perimeter game provides a solid foundation for SA, and although the win was against a relatively weaker side in WA, both players will look to continue their tremendous play in the hopes of helping their state progress.

Women's basketball

Victoria’s women’s side is also really really good!

VIC had two Australian representatives come off the bench for their blowout win over New Zealand in Day 1’s action. Led by their defensive anchor Lauren Scherf – who had 6 blocks on the night - VIC managed to hold their opponents to just 19% shooting. Add in the smooth offensive efficiency of Washington St commit Louise Brown and VIC could very well be on their way to another championship.

Amongst Keely Froling’s injury, Alicia Froling steps up

This Queensland team entered the tournament knowing they wouldn't have one of the Froling sisters - Keely is in Canberra rehabbing a knee injury she sustained late last month. Alicia has taken it upon herself to step up and lead this QLD squad, and she did just that in Sunday’s win over ACT. The AUS U19 Rep had 26 points and 9 rebounds – 15 of those points coming in a monster 3rd quarter. If Alicia keeps playing the way she’s playing, along with the solid play of Kristy Wallace and Meg Essex, Queensland is going to be very hard to beat.

If Day 1 of the tournament is any indication, we’re in for a great week. Some solid individual play combined with some great team effort has provided a number of blowouts, hopefully we’ll see some more close games as we progress through the tournament. Below are the fixtures for Day 2 of U20’s Nationals!

Men's: 1pm - VIC vs NZ 3pm – QLD vs TAS 5pm – WA vs ACT 7pm – NSW vs SA

Women's: 1pm – QLD vs TAS 3pm – NSW vs ACT 5pm – SA vs VIC 7pm – NZ vs WA