SEATTLE, JULY 29 -- Todd Day has developed a nice reputation at the Goodwill Games, something he can get downright defensive about.
With the absence of UNLV's Stacey Augmon, considered the nation's top defensive player, Day, the slender swingman from Arkansas, has filled the role admirably.
Tonight's gold medal game against Yugoslavia was to be Day's third straight with the assignment of shutting down the other team's top scorer. All three have different styles.
"These foreign teams play one guard and four big men, even if you do want to call those 6-8 guys guards," U.S. Coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Our guards have a hard time covering them because of their size, so there is a need for Todd to do that, and because of that need, he was able to get into the starting lineup."
Day's first start came against Italy, the game after the U.S. team's loss to the Soviet Union.
He was assigned to cover Antonella Riva, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard who had scored 34 and 29 points on a combined 21-for-38 shooting. Day harassed him into a six-for-16 effort and 21 points -- and a couple of temper outbursts -- in the United States's 113-76 victory in the final qualifying game.
Next was the semifinal against Brazil and 6-9, 225-pound Oscar Schmidt, perhaps the world's best scorer.
"Every defense in the world had been tried on him and we told Todd to make him put it on the floor and not get inside and to the foul line," Krzyzewski said.
Schmidt did score 38 points, but his first points didn't come until more than five minutes had been played. Again, there were fits of frustration against Day and the officials in the 112-95 U.S. victory.
"I hope people realize how tough that assignment was for Todd," Krzyzewski said. "Oscar is a legitimate 225 pounds and Todd doesn't have much meat on his bones."
Against Yugoslavia, Day was to guard Toni Kukoc, a 6-9 1/2 guard drafted by the Chicago Bulls.
Krzyzewski noticed Day's defensive abilities in one of the national team's scrimmages at Duke.
"I think he can be a great defender," Krzyzewski said. "He's been a good defender here. I saw that at the exhibition where, for a while, he was matched up against Johnny Dawkins. He can spread himself out at 6-8, and when he did Johnny couldn't get by him."
Day is the third-leading U.S. scorer at 20.5 points a game. He is averaging 3.8 rebounds, with seven assists and just two turnovers in four games.