Week 1 – John Abdou

Introducing the All Access Game of the week! In this ongoing series, we plan to highlight one game a week from the Water Polo world, brought to you by the Water Polo world. Getting former coaches, players, and those involved in the sport to provide their unique insight into the game that means the most to them. Whether that be a NCAA, USA Water Polo, European league, or honestly anything with a ball in a pool. By drawing from those involved in the game, we hope to provide some insight and information not readily accessible from just from watching the game itself and, quite honestly, to just keep some great Water Polo games coming during a time when we could all use a little entertainment.

On this week we have Coach John Abdou of USA Water Polo, breaking down the USA MSNT vs. Serbia at UIC game. 

click here for a link to the game: USA MSNT v Serbia at UIC 

Coach Abdou Breakdown: 

  •  Myself and Greg Mescall on the Broadcast, so you can hear my comments throughout the game. 
  • 100 kids in a clinic right before the game. Food on deck for the athletes right before. So Team USA athletes were already exhausted before the game, but their commitment to growing the game in the midwest was inspiring. 
  • University of Illinois at Chicago does not have Varsity water polo but was the only Facility in the city (at the time) that could fit over 1,000 fans and have close enough of a regulation pool. 
  • Large Serbian population in Chicago, so the game sold out in less than a week with scalpers and high demand at the door before the opening sprint. You can hear “Serbia” chants at points in the game with as many as were there. 
  • Slight Shallow end on one side which added to angst amongst the players. 
  • about a 25 meter course… as opposed to 30 meters 
  • Sold out crowd. Standing room only 
  • 4 game series, USA had won the first three games in California 
  • 1 Referee on a floating device to referee on one side 
  • One of the best environments I’ve seen at a domestic game in the USA
  • Fight breaks out early in 3rd quarter 
  • Dejan Savic slaps Subotic on the bench after the fight in retribution for the fight
  • Rasovic injured 
  • Ben Hallock in was still in High School when he played in the game
  • Tony Azevedo controls the game with passing and setting up teammates, a masterful understated performance that displays why he was a 5 X Olympian. 
  • Many of the young athletes showed well for the USA too, you can see the real potential of USA athletes and their ability to compete against the best in the world. 
  • The good, the bad, the ugly, and the growth of water polo was on display here. Growing the game in a place where its needed, the physicality of the game and the beauty of two of the best teams in the world going at it. 
  • Currently highest number of views of any game on USAWP YouTube.

AllAccess Breakdown:

  • Shorter course was interesting, as Coach Abdou said on the broadcast, it lead to a much faster pace of game and plenty more possessions
  • The shallow end of the pool was hilarious to me, and very relatable to anyone who played in high school that ever had to compete in a pool that had similar features
  • Since this was the capping off of a 4 game series, the players had to have been accustomed to one another, so curious how that came into play overall in knowing your opponent and their habits
  • USA Coach Dejan Udovičić and his ties to the Serbian team was another fun wrinkle thrown into this game
  • Interesting surge in energy after the fight, both teams seemed to take this as more than just a friendly match after that moment early in the 3rd
  • The physicality was present from the start, but after the incident in the third, it was just on another level
  • The young guys on the team really had themselves a day. That was of course not without the assistance of the team veterans, including Tony Azevedo, but the young stars shown bright during this contest
  • The crowd was extremely into the game which made it even more fun to watch. It reminded me, as well as Coach Abdou on the broadcast, of the European league games where stadiums are packed to the brim. This is where we want to take the sport, and games like this help us get that one step closer

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