Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Is It Consistant?

Last week the NBL had its hands full simply passing out suspensions and fines. I think you would be hard pressed to find someone that didn’t believe that all of the incidents that came into question were worthy of punishment.

The real question is, “Did the ‘powers that be’ get it right when you look at the sentencing? It is my opinion that most involved got let off lightly, with the exception of one future Hall of Famer, who got a very raw deal.

So let’s start off with none other than Adelaide 36er Lanard Copeland, who faced a charge of “Adopting a Threatening Attitude to an Offical”. In the brief footage I saw, I will agree that Copeland deserved the early exit.

I would have been less surprised if Copes had received a monetary fine, just as Coach Trevor Gleeson had only weeks before when facing similar charges. The verdict left his wallet $1500 lighter in that case.

On top of that, you should have to take into account that fact that in a long 18 year career Copeland has avoided the judiciary completely. All things weighed up, the one game suspension that ensued was a little too steep for my liking.

The next case involved the King’s Russell Hinder and West Sydney’s Clint Reed who were faced off against each other in a little stoush. Their charge was “Fighting”. Both were found guilty and were fined $600 and $850, respectively.

Again comparing the outcome with that of Copeland’s, I have a hard time getting my mind around the concept that, a player misses a game for arguing, but only misses out on a little cash if he lays his hands on someone? Hmmm,…

I may just have to rethink some of my personal philosophies. I would like to think I would lean toward being more of a lover than fighter. But hey, I might just have to move with the times.

The other really interesting outcome of last week was the $20,000 fine handed to the Perth Wildcats as a result of carrying too many contracted players on their roster during a portion of the season.

I will admit that I do not have a copy of the NBL’s rules and regulations at my fingertips, but from what I understand of the matter, the Wildcats played outside the rules.

The 20K fine may seem like a lot of money to fine a team that probably just tried to bend the rules a little. I just feel like it cannot be proven that the games they won during that time were not as a result of having one extra player on their roster and thus, those games should be taken from their win column.

Perth is currently positioned in fourth right now and have the possibility of moving up to third before the end of the regular season. This can equate to more home finals in the playoffs, which equals to greater revenue for the club. All of a sudden that $20K means very little.

In our business, the bottom line is all about the wins and loses. Just ask the Bulldogs and Warriors teams if they would have preferred to pay a fine or lose competition points when the NRL found them guilty of playing outside the rules.

I know my opinion on these proceedings amounts to very little and will be lining the birdcage sooner than I would care to admit. I just know I am not the only person that notices these inconsistencies and maybe if we just keep squawking a little about them from time to time someone who makes the decisions will take a second glance.

This column can be found weekly in the Townsville Bulletin .

Monday, January 28, 2008

All Time Hawks Team

The fate of the Wollongong Hawks is coming soon. One of only two inaugural teams remaining (Brisbane is the other.), it is going to be interesting to see which way this goes.

So, I have dug into my collection of the now defunct "Media Guide" and come up with my All Time Hawks Team. The only rule I have is there can only be two imports.

PG: Gordie McLeod gets the nod here. The Hawks have had some impressive PG'S thru the Gong (Mee, Bruton, Hayes, LaFleur, Overton, Hubbard), but there have only been two guys to average better than 10 assists in a season in NBL history, and McLeod is one (1985), DMac the other ('95, '96).

SG: Matt Campbell fills the other backcourt spot. He has had a lock on this spot for the past decade so not too many people have had a go. He is truly a great clubperson off the floor, while on it, he keeps his opposition honest every night. (others: Corkeron, Johnson)

SF: Glen Saville is a lock here. Very similar to Campbell in the fact no one has had the spot longer. Saville went there as a young punter from the AIS and was rewarded in 2004 for his hard work. He has become a fixture in the Boomers line up. (others: Timmons, Fairs)

PF: Melvin Thomas over Norman Taylor. Thomas always got the job done no matter what type of shape he looked in. Over his career his jumper improved, so together with his low post game, this leftie was a handful every night. Norm Taylor was a cult hero in my household growing up, all due to the size of my brother's rear end. (others: Taylor, Ritter, Bickett)

C: Chuck Harmison fills the other import spot. He would have brought a little style to this squad, especially with those headbands he "sported". This was a tough decision as Borner was a league MVP, but I just feel those other guys cannot be left of this squad. Plus Big Ray Ray once called me John Riley. (others: Todd Mundt, Theron Wilson....hehe)

I have to apologise to Michael Jones and Jim Slacke as my knowledge of your games is limited to nil, but your stats are impressive.

I cannot wait to hear from some Hawks fans as I'm sure I have left of some "Super Stars".

Sunday, January 27, 2008

MVP Gets Hands On More Dough!

Sam MacKinnon has one of the most versatile games in the NBL, so now the one time league MVP (and dual Olympian) feels it is time to share his cooking skills with the Brisbane area.
MVP of Pizza?

Slammin Sam has opened up a Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar in the suburb of Hamilton. Word has it that Sam can be found assisting behind the counter, when he is not on court. (I would love for someone to let me know if he is versatile in the kitchen.)

Crust even caters to the gluten free client. This is a great alternative, especially if you have children who suffer from food allergies. (Even Jamie Oliver will be impreseed with this review.)

Last but not least, if you have had too much to drink or just could not be bothered to get the car out, Crust home delivers to the "local area". (I found out Townsville is not in the local area.)

Imagine that, Sam MacKinnon dropping off your pizza and Eddie Groves riding shot gun, just in case you have kids that need some day care.

So, if you are in Bris Vegas on holiday or live in the area, drop by 2/20 Racecourse Rd and get your "laughing gear" around one of these gourmet pizzas.
NBL Boxscores: Round 19

Thursday, January 24, 2008

It's Just Not Cricket

D.K. Lillee and friend Mr Longneck

Bowled over

WHEN you travel around Australia as part of your profession, you begin to catch yourself referring to your hotel room as `home'.
You also occasionally bump into some of your `roommates' who share this type of lifestyle.
Last weekend at the Gold Coast, those roommates were part of the `Legends of Cricket' tour.
It was the perfect chance for some of the more seasoned members of the Crocodiles to reminisce about the good ol' days and our childhood heroes.
Our Victorian contingent, Rohan Short and Brad Sheridan, were caught on a number of occasions bowing down to worship Dean Jones.
OK, even I will admit that he got us out of many a pickle but take it easy boys.
The rest of us were hoping Warnie wasn't lurking around a corner or who knows what response would have followed.
After playing with the Breakers for a few seasons, Ben Pepper is the closest thing we have to a Kiwi on the roster. Well, he was in heaven when he and Sir Richard Hadlee had a nice long chat (over a rack of lamb) about the days when New Zealand actually put up a fight against the Aussies.
Poor Chris Cairns looked like the third wheel at their table. I think Pepp and Sir Dick would have much preferred the company of father Lance.
One legend that still draws an audience no matter where he is is none other than DK Lillee.
When he walked through the door you could sense that the breakfast crowd was just waiting for any excuse to erupt into a chant of `Lilllllleee, Lilllllleee'.
I can't be sure, but I think I heard rumblings when he put his bread into the toaster.
It was none other than assistant coach, Lyndon Brieffies who caught the legendary fast bowler's attention.
Now, I have to admit that I was sitting a couple of tables away and had to rely on my masterful lip-reading ability to interpret their conversation but from what I could tell Lillee's words were something like this: "Son, Tony Greig making a statement by wearing a crash helmet to protect himself from bouncers was one thing but I reckon with a melon the size of yours, your best bet would be to find a position as a human sightscreen."
At least that was what I could deduce from their interaction.

My article can be found every week in the Townsville Bulletin.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Who is the MVP?

With my sulking offically over from our bad loss to the Blaze, I'm back in the saddle ready to throw my two cents in on the MVP debate.

It has offically become a two horse race in my view. Tigers Chris Anstey and Bullets Ebi Ere. Sure others will poll well, Redage and Ballinger, but Anstey and Ere deserve the publicity this race is beginning to generate. It will be a nailbiter because everyone has their opionion, one way or the other. Could there be joint MVP's? That would mean two Hummers though.

In my mind there is only one MVP, and unless he stops playing there is no reason he should not be crowned MVP. I call for Mr Chris Anstey. I'm sure people are going to say I'm bias towards a fellow Aussie, but trust me, Anstey still owes me money from a bet we had years ago. If anything, that costs him points in my view. Sorry I got sidetracked there, on with the show.

My theory for the award is quite simple. Anstey makes the Tigers an upper echoleon team. If he is out, they come back to the pack and join the rest of us at around .500.

You take Ere out of the Bullets and they remain a top level team. This has been proven with the abscence of last year's MVP, Sam MacKinnon. Slammin Sam has missed a lot of this year due to injury (and business opportunities. Can anyone tell me how Crust Pizza is tasting, and if they have seen Sam working the counter?), but the Bullets jugganaut has keep ticking over. They have players that can step up their producivity when they get their number called. All teams do not have that luxury.

I did like how coach Joey Wright came out and said that Anstey should dominate as there is a lack of depth in the big man department. While Ebi on the otherhand goes up against quality guards every night in the guard dominate NBL.

I understand where he is coming from and he is only trying to hype up his guy (and his coaching ability), but Anstey has done some things the league has not seen for a long time.

Anstey has had several (3 or 4, I need Mark Slocombe) 20-20 games this year. Just off the top of your head, tell me the last guy to have 1 in a season, let alone multiple. You really have to think about that, and cast your mind back to the 90's.

Now do not misunderstand me, Ebi is on fire and putting up some ridiculous numbers, but if the league is so lacking in big men, why hasn't former MVP Paul Rogers reached this 20-20 milestone, or young rookie sensation Nathan Jawai given it a nudge.

Enough of the stats as I believe numbers only make up some of the story in an MVP race. This is why the big man from the Tigers should be crowned the MVP. If he is not in their line up, they become a middle of the pack team.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Still A Lot To Play For

Yes fans, it is that time of year,…a time when all the boring clichés about winning and losing are saturating the airwaves with the same frequency as a downpour during the wet season in Far North Queensland.

But please do not be put off by the jabbering. The race for this year’s championship will come right down to the final buzzer. Let’s take a closer look.

We have three teams (Wollongong, Singapore, and South) who are still fighting off the possibility of the dreaded wooden spoon. Currently the South Dragons are poised to take out this dis-honour, but only two games separate the group so it is there for the taking with any one of this troika.

At 9-13, the Razorbacks are in limbo. This would be a nightmare for rookie coach Rob Beveridge from a motivational stand point. The young Pigs will be satisfied in knowing that they have managed enough wins to have clawed their way out of the bottom of the ladder, which is a position they have all but owned the previous two seasons. However, they have fallen just short of being able to factor into the playoff mix.

This next cluster of six teams includes Adelaide, Cairns, Perth, Gold Coast, New Zealand and your Crocodiles. Each of us has to approach every game like it is a final from here on out.

To give you an example of just how close it is, Perth who is currently in fourth position, sits on 12 wins. Bump on down the ladder to ninth place and you’ll see Adelaide with just two fewer wins (10) but placed outside the top 8.

Just for the record, the Crocs are currently sitting at sixth despite having amassed 13 wins, due to the factoring in of the win/loss percentage.

This group faces an absolute dog fight for the remainder of the season. Many of us control our own destiny, however, because we have yet to face each other for a complete series.

Look at the Crocs home stretch for example. We have six games remaining. Four of them are against Cairns and the Gold Coast, who we meet two more times each. All three of us are entrenched in the battle for fourth position in the playoffs. Win the majority of these and you place yourself nicely for post season play.

This leaves the top three teams who are doing their own bit of jostling as well. The Kings (19-3) would be very unlucky to miss out on winning the regular season.

Their hiccup against Adelaide last weekend may just give Melbourne and Brisbane that glimmer of hope that can be dangerous. Currently the Tigers and Bullets are in a tight race for second with just one loss separating them.

Ok, so I could continue to carry on with this analysis with my own drawn out list of clichés, but that’s just not my style. I’ll leave you with these parting words. It ain’t over ‘til it’s over so hold on tight and enjoy the ride. The Crocs are heading down the home stretch and will be going for broke in the dying seconds of the game. Let’s get the party started ‘cos you gotta be in it to win it.

Maybe I need to re-evaluate my style.

My weekly article can be found in the Townsville Bulletin every Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Could We See Two NBA First Rounders?

Continuing on from my college write up from Sunday, the experts are saying if the NBA draft was tomorrow, Australia would be responsible for two first rounders and a second round pick. If you do not believe me check this out! There hasn't been a draft since 1997 that has seen this many Aussies being talked about in NBA circles. (Can you name all four of them?)

First to hear his name could be Andrew Ogilvy. Currently in his first season at Vanderbilt, Ogilvy will have a tough decision when his season comes to an end. He has to decide if he wants to forgo his remaining three years at college and flee for the NBA. If he is in a good college environment and he is living life, it is hard to give this up. College life is the best!

On the flip side, if he leaves for the NBA and was to get drafted somewhere near 20, he becomes instantly wealthy. Being drafted in this position is worth about 3 million plus dollars. Something I would have trouble turning down.

Ogilvy has good hype around him right now and if he continues to play well in the tough SEC conference, the first round is calling him.

My NBL Rookie of the Year, Nathan Jawai, is currently predicted to go around pick 24. I can see NBA team executives falling in love with his great hands and explosive power around the basket.

In my eyes Jawai has the potential to move rapidly up or down. Playing in the NBL, the NBA scouts only see him play a few times a year, then they have to trust other people's word. (Unlike Ogilvy, he will be playing in front of scouts every night.)

The advantage though is, when he goes and works out for teams he is relatively unknown so he has a clean slate. If he goes gangbusters in the workouts his stock will skyrocket.

Jawai has captured their attention, now it is up to him to see where his chips fall come June.

The other player currently on the draft board is Aleks Maric. He is sitting at pick 48 (2nd round) right now. From what I have seen I do not think he can work his way into the first round, but his impressive numbers in the Big 12 conference will catch plenty of second round pick attention.

Other Aussies that may create some hype come draft time are Aaron Bruce and Joe Ingles.

Bruce also plays in the Big 12 Conference, but has seen his stock decline since his freshman year. In saying this though, if Bruce wants to exhaust all NBA avenues I can see him on a summer league roster. From there, anything can happen.

As for Joe, I'm not sure what his time frame is for giving the NBA a crack, especially if he is trying to get to Beijing in the same year. Tough timing.

If Ingles was to flirt with the NBA, he could do as Brad Newley did. Go over there this year, get his feet wet, then go after the next year.

It is interesting and exciting times for Aussie products right now. I hope that all become a success as this will help our national team. From this I believe there will be a positive effect on the NBL.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

No Perfect Season For Aussies In College

Today marked the end of perfection for two Australians playing in the NCAAs in the USA. Andrew Ogilvy of 13th ranked Vanderbilt Commodores and Aron Baynes of the 4th ranked Washington State Cougars tasted defeated for the first time this season.

Ogilvy and the Commodores (16-1) lost to the Kentucky Wildcats in double OT in front of 24,000 screaming Wildcat fans. The young Aussie got off to a slow start but eventually found a rhythm to finish the game with 16pts, 5 rebs and 5 blocks. Boxscore:

As for Baynes, he faced a double team all night from the 5th ranked UCLA Bruins. He finished the game with 8pts and 7rebs but battled foul trouble throughout the game. The Cougars record is now 14-1, while the Bruins roll on to 16-1. The Pac 10 title should come down to a good battle between these two teams, with Oregon and Arizona possible contenders as well. Boxscore:

One of Australia's other NBA prospects, Aleks Maric was in action against the undefeated Kansas Jayhawks.
Nebraska was unable to come up with the win, but Maric was the equal game high scorer with 19. Boxscore:

Other Aussies in Action Today: Boxscores

Pat Mills (Hughes and Walker), Zarryon Fereti, Sam Harris, Aaron Bruce, Alex Opacic, Daniel Dillon, Nicholls St Crew, Marko Deric, Martin Iti

NBL Boxscores, Round 17

Hawks v Kings, Taipans v Wildcats, Breakers v Blaze, Wildcats v Blaze, Bullets v Taipans, Tigers v Pigs,
36ers v Kings, Crocs v Breakers, Slingers v Hawks

Friday, January 11, 2008

Get Your NBA All Star Ballot In

Time is running out to vote for your favourite NBA player to be involved at NBA All Star Weekend. Some players are taking it upon themselves to get down to New Orleans. Check out Chris Bosh and how far he has gone to get your vote. He won me over will his stellar performance.

Since the NBA season is well under way, here are my starting lineups for the East and West.

Jason Kidd: Producing three triple doubles in succession, this game is made for him.
Paul Pierce: Finally getting some praise for his skill because he is on a winning team.
LeBron: Nothing needs to be said.
KG: Has Boston thinking they have a chance.
Bogut: 1st Aussie to represent us in this game. What an honour that would be! (Dwight Howard, honourable mention)

Steve Nash: Him and Kidd could battle to see who is the last one to shoot in an All Star game.
Kobe: Most complete player getting around.
Brandon Roy: He has the city of Portland and Bill Walton excited again.
Boozer: Is a beast every night, so you have to reward his effort.
Duncan: Boring, but gets the job done. He is the "Big Fundamental".

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Sometimes You Are Reminded It Is Only A Game

Every now and then I am reminded that things happen in the sporting world that carry far greater consequence than whether or not me or my team won or lost during the week. This week I was reminded not once, but twice.

The first incident was the shock passing of former ABC basketball commentator, Clinton Grybas, who at the age of just thirty two passed away last Saturday night.

Always enthusiastic and up to date on the goings on in most any sport, I always enjoyed running into Grybas and having a chat about anything and everything happening in the world of sport.

There was something about him that made you feel like this guy was going to become a voice of sport for years to come.

Grybas had moved on to join the AFL commentating ranks and it didn’t take long for his colleagues to acknowledge his talent. In fact, I had once heard him referred to by his peers as “the next Bruce McAvaney” - quite a compliment in the world of sport.

I was fortunate enough to see him work firsthand. He plied his trade with a dedication and work ethic that any of the professional sportsperson he spoke about on the field would be proud to call their own.

The second notable event involved Gold Coast Blaze import, Juaquin Hawkins who suffered a minor stroke and, as a result, will be sidelined for the remainder of the season.

Fortunately for Hawkins he is expected make a full recovery and be back on the court next year.

The eye-opening thing about this health scare with Hawkins is that anyone would take one look at the guy and assume his health would be the least of his concerns.

I know that I feel like because I’m relatively young and in good physical condition things like strokes are not something that can affect me. I now have to reevaluate this assumption to a certain degree. It is one of those situations where you take a little more notice of some things when you know something similar has happened to someone you know.

Now I’m not insinuating that once the ball is thrown up on Saturday night I will approach this or any game differently than my previous 400 odd games. But I am going to choose to use these events as valuable lessons that bring perspective to the life of sport.

Sometimes we need to be reminded to make the most of our opportunities while they are still in front of us.

My weekly column can be found in the Townsville Bulletin.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Can You Ever Be Too Tall For Hoops

The Incredible Shrinking Basketball Players

How to make it as a hoops star in the Philippines. Step one: Get shorter.
By Rafe BartholomewPosted Monday, May 21, 2007, at 11:54 AM ET

A player gets measured for the Philippine basketball league
Everywhere you look in the Philippines, there's a jerry-built basketball game. In farming towns without paved courts, kids dribble on dirt and bank shots off of two-by-fours lashed to coconut trees. On Manila street corners, players who can't afford sneakers run the court in flip-flops or bare feet. The country's professional players, however, play on state-of-the-art courts and wear top-notch apparel. Still, the Philippine Basketball Association is missing something just as fundamental to the game: height.
Basketball is a tall man's game. But in the Philippines, where men are short and hoops is an obsession, something's got to give. Several native "big men" are barely taller than 6 feet 3 inches, the standard height for NBA guards. Dunks are so rare in the PBA that the league has toyed with the idea of making slams worth three points. The league adds a dash of high-wire athleticism by allowing each team to hire one foreign-born star. But permitting American 7-footers to play would wreak havoc among the Lilliputian locals. As a result, the PBA bans imports taller than 6 feet 6 inches.
The rule works. The PBA's foreigners are a versatile bunch: pure shooters, workhorses who do a little of everything, burly inside operators. But while the imports typically dominate games, they still leave room for the best Filipino players—guards who whirl through defenses and score on twisting layups—to do what they do best.

The height limit may be good for the PBA, but it forces tall players into a Catch-22. After a lifetime spent exaggerating their height to look more appealing to scouts, players must try to become shorter to play in the Philippines. The teams, too, have an incentive to sneak in over-height imports—every inch gives you a competitive advantage. As a result, foreigners in the PBA, and the franchises who bring them over, have come up with several shrinking techniques. Some of the methods are tricky, some are pseudoscientific, and others are just plain batty.
The league's original height-altering technique was a trip to the barber. Weeks before he died of a heart attack in March, former PBA Commissioner Jun Bernardino told me that in the 1970s and 1980s, teams tried to shave inches by shaving players' heads. This practice has lapsed somewhat as large hairstyles—Afros, shags, flat tops—have gone out of fashion. The technique isn't foolproof, either. As teams sometimes discovered, it's not big hair but pointy skulls that disqualified their imports.
Need a quick fix, and a shaved head won't cut it? Coaches swear that intense exercise in the hours before a measurement will knock as much as an inch off a player's everyday height. Conventional wisdom in the PBA holds that shoulder presses and squats compress a player's bone structure, while running in the tropical heat will shrink you via dehydration.
The science behind this notion is, well, nonexistent. A quick survey of orthopedic surgeons at New York University Medical Center revealed a mix of outright contempt and polite skepticism. "We know of no method to shrink people," replied Dr. Joseph Bosco. The kinder, gentler Dr. Donald J. Rose offered this explanation: Weightlifting could compress the soft, fluid-filled disks between the vertebrae, and aerobic exercise could cause dehydration-related shrinkage in the disks. The resulting loss in height would be in millimeters, not inches, though.
The easiest way to shrink a basketball player has proven the most effective. Before the league allows a player to suit up, he must pass an official measurement. To appear shorter, players simply hunch over and bend their knees. Other temporary shrinking techniques include tucking your head into your chest and wearing billowing shorts that conceal bowed knees. Since as early as 1990, the PBA tried to counteract this technique by hiring men to push on players' knees and attempt to straighten their joints. Despite the straighteners' best efforts, the hunching player would hold the position and claim it was his natural posture.
Players and coaches get overcome with giddiness when discussing these finer points of height manipulation. Nic Belasco, a 10-year PBA veteran, gleefully re-enacted the bent-knees, tucked-chin stance for me after practice one afternoon. Tim Cone, head coach of the Alaska Aces, demonstrated how an import could lose an inch or two by leaning against a wall.
Alaska's current import, Rosell Ellis, has displayed a miraculous ability to shrink and grow over his five PBA seasons. In 2001, the league capped height at 6 feet 4 inches, and Ellis measured a shade over 6 feet 2 and a half. This season, with a 6-foot-6-inches height limit, he came in at almost 6 feet 5 inches. It's safe to say that Ellis, 32, didn't have a growth spurt. He told me that before his measurement in 2001, a coach advised him to make himself as short as possible so he could play in tournaments with even lower height limits. Ellis recalled the PBA's knee-pushing henchmen doing their darnedest to straighten him out, but he locked his joints and pushed his head down toward the base of his neck. Behold, the amazing, adjustable-height basketball player!
The PBA is well beyond the stage of questioning the logic behind its habitual athlete shrinking. The important thing is that it's always worked: If a team wanted to sneak in a tall import, it could always finagle a way to do it. That's starting to change now. Just before the current season got underway in March, former Seton Hall standout Kelly Whitney got the boot for being too tall. Whitney was done in by a new measuring technique. In 2005, the PBA began measuring imports lying down. Players are forced to lie flat on the ground with their feet against a board, while league employees pin down their knees, shoulders and heads. As of yet, nobody's figured out how to cheat this new system.
When you think about it, it's a wonder that the PBA permitted height fraud throughout most of its 32-year history when such a simple solution was available. Bernardino told me that when he was commissioner in the 1990s and early 2000s, every team was allowed to witness the measurements and thus couldn't complain about the results. Coaches who watched players droop and bend their way into the league acquired a bemused fatalism similar to the outlook many Filipinos have toward their famously corrupt politicians—they couldn't stop the cheating, so they laughed at it. The recent change to lying-down measurements seems to have been motivated by nothing more than a changing of the guard. Perry Martinez, head of PBA officials, told me that when his office took over measurement duties in 2005, they chose the new method because it yielded the most accurate heights.
There have been no official complaints about the stricter rules, but there have been unintended consequences. Last season, Alaska signed Victor Thomas, a two-time veteran of the PBA's 6-foot-6-inches-and-under tournaments. His coaches assumed that Thomas would make height and didn't bother attending his measurement. Shockingly, Thomas had sprouted and now stood taller than the limit. Alaska brought in a less-experienced player and was eventually swept in the playoffs. Thomas, for his part, found that being too tall for Philippine basketball was no career kiss of death. An Argentine team scooped him up shortly after his dismissal from the PBA, and he's since gotten another gig in Brazil. Victor Thomas may be too small for the NBA and too big for Southeast Asia, but in South America, he's just right.

NBL Articles: wildcats new import Hawkins suffers stroke commentator dies,22606,23017776-5006371,00.html boti's weekly best,21985,23014362-11088,00.html Anstey injured? crocs ready

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Perfect NBL Player

If I was able to built the best Australian player possible in the NBL, this is how I would go about constructing this unstoppable player.

Lets start this player with raw power and athleticism. No one does this better than Rookie Nathan Jawai so this is a good foundation to start with. To compliment what Jawai gives, I will add Stephen Hoare's nose for the ball. "Sneaky" always seems to find the loose ball or tip it to a teammate.

Now this player needs to have some vision and understanding for the game. This is where Brett Maher comes into the equation. Has shown that he is the best Australian player to demonstrate this over the last decade. He just does not have the running mates he once did so his assist stats reflect this.

Being it is my player, he needs some range capable of opening a game wide open. So enter...let me got it, number 31..JR.

You have to have a mentality for taking over games so sprinkle a little of CJ Bruton over this player. Over the past few years, no one has come up with the key baskets like CJ.

How do I fit a little of last years MVP, Sam MacKinnon, into this mix. I will add him for defensive purposes. When not hindered by dickey knees Sammy can guard all positions on the floor.

This player needs to be able to create a double team in the low post, so Chris Anstey will get the call up here. You have to respect his scoring ability down there, but he can also make the pass out of there when necessary.

The only thing I see lacking now is end to end speed. Luke Martin gets the nod here. Having been a former teammate I have seen him on a daily bases. I'm confident to say he would beat myself, Maher and CJ in a foot race.

There you have it. The complete player for the NBL to look out for. I just wonder if Eddie has enough money to keep this guy in Australia before he bolts elsewhere.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

How To Get Stronger

My weekly article from the Townsville Bulletin!

Early this week former Townsville Sun and one time team mate of mine, Derek Rucker, offered his view on the current state of the NBL to the Sydney media. I am only too aware that Rucker’s opinions hold variable weight amongst many within the basketball community of Townsville, but I have to say that in this instance I would agree with his assessment of our situation.

In case you missed the article, here are some of his more note-worthy points.

Firstly, he said he believed that the league in its current state needed to cut itself back to a ten team competition. Admittedly, this means making some tough decisions, but I also believe these decisions will result in better quality basketball in the long run. Talent will be deeper on each roster and the disparity in talent levels from team to team should be somewhat bridged.

Rucker’s second recommendation was that the current 48 minute game be trimmed to 40, as to fall in line with most other international competitions.

This is a valid point for a couple of reasons in my mind. I have, through the years, heard the ‘average’ fan mention that a game can drag a bit, particularly in the last few minutes. Maybe trimming a few minutes makes it a more viewer friendly package for the general public because it gets us to the tactical point of the game sooner.

It is also my understanding that the forty minute game makes a more attractive package for free to air TV coverage. A forty minute game slots nicely into a two hour block of time, whereas the forty eight minute game carries over to an extra half hour which creates scheduling difficulties.

The only thing those of us who have been around long enough to witness the changes the game of basketball has undergone over the past decade can do is voice our concerns based on our experiences. I support Derek’s bottom line assessment that the league needs to make some big decisions in an attempt to reclaim our position in the business of Australian sport. If this does not happen, I am afraid that we could face the possibility of an unsure future.

Over the years there has been story after story about how the American players have faired with our Australian fauna and flora, in particular in tropical North Queensland. We have heard of the grown man who would not unpack his bags for fear that a gecko would make a home in one of his pockets. And there has been the renegade cane toad that has held the odd player hostage in his own home simply by standing on the front step.

Well finally,…there has been a legitimate ‘attack’ and there culprit has left a mark as proof.
Galen Young was recently awoken from his sleep after a spider decided to make an assault on his abdomen. Galen was only too happy to show off the resulting war wound.