Denmark is one rarely associated with great basketball; indeed, the men’s national team is ranked no. 111 in the current FIBA standings, putting them well behind basketball powers such as Liberia and Togo.
Despite it all, suggests Tom Schad in the Copenhagen Post Online, “Denmark could become world beaters in basketball.” Citing the examples of Tony Parker, Dirk Nowitzki and Yao Ming, Schad argues that it only takes “one great player to give a country hope” in its national basketball program, and “For Denmark, maybe that player is about to arrive.”
That would be Anton Larsen, currently with Old Dominion University.
It’s a compelling argument, as basketball allows one outstanding player to carry a team through a tournament single-handedly – and Spain can be added to the list of countries that came from seemingly out of nowhere to become a perpetual powerhouse in the modern era.
On the other hand, if Larsen’s the centerpiece, wellllllll … time will tell, one supposes.
The seven-footer played sparingly in Saturday’s 63-46 loss to Northern Iowa (!), going just 0-of-1 from the floor in seven minutes. Last year, as a sophomore, Larsen played in 12 games last season, with season totals of 15 points and nine rebounds in 36 minutes.
Another potential problem: Larsen is 23 years old; at his age, Nowitzki had already played three years of NBA ball and was the top scorer in EuroBasket 2001. Parker wore two NBA championship rings (!!!) and one EuroBasket bronze medal. The Monarch is a bit behind the curve here, but presumably we’ll be seeing him with Team Denmark in FIBA Europe’s Division B play in 2013.
So call Larsen, like Danish basketball (particularly the U18s, whom Schad notes “finished second and are now considered one of the best young squads in Europe. Teen phenoms Rasmus Glarbjerg and Esben Reinholt will be particularly interesting to watch”), a work in progress. It’s good that they’re keeping the faith up there…