Australia's best keep sporting secret, David Andersen
The NBA Draft is fast approaching (June 26th) so for three Aussies the next month is going to be an important time in their quest to crack the "Big Time".
Nathan Jawai features heavily on all punters draft boards. ESPN'S Chad Ford has the Bamaga kid at 41 (Pacers), while NBA Draft Net has him at 39 to the Chicago Bulls. For what it is worth, Collegehoopsnet has him at 44 to the Golden State Warriors. Talk about consistant.
Now the mail on Nate is, there is not much. Because he has only played in Australia he is an unknown in many NBA circles. This can work for or against him.
When he works out for teams if he has a quality workout, this will be favourable. He will grab the attention needed to create a buzz and one team will be prepared to take a punt on him.
If his workouts go well he will play himself into the first round. If they are average at best, he will remain in the second round. Some team will take a gamble on him developing in the future.
Joe Ingles finds himself in the second round of the draft right now. Ford has him at 78, while DraftNet has the Spurs taking him at 47. Collegehoops ran out of ink before they got to him.
Joe is in a great position regarding his NBA career. Similar to what Brad Newley did, Ingles can go and get a feel for the whole draft process, then utilize the experience he gained this time round for next year.
I like the fact the Joe has a good feel for the game and does a lot of things well, but not great. This is where he needs to improve as a player and his stock will follow. Sure his perimter game needs work, but in the meantime he needs to continue developing his other good skills.
Whether he becomes a lockdown defender (Tayshawn Prince style) or a slasher who can finish at the rim or create for others he has to find his niche.
He will benefit from this year's trip over the Pacific but I look for Ingles to get drafted a year from now.
Last but not least Aleks Maric who has spent four years at Nebraska playing in the tough Big Twelve. Maric will get a look because he put together a good senoir season.
He is a second round pick at best. It will depend on a team falling in love with him and want a bruiser on their squad. Otherwise, big Euro dollars are waiting for him.
The next month is going to play a huge role in the direction these guys' basketball career take.
I wish them all the best in their endeavours.
In NBL news, the New Zealand Breakers may face a massive fine for signing players that were still with other clubs. My question is, who did know the status of the Bullets and Kings players/coaches this off season? If fines are handed out, should other teams get a little nervous about their recruiting this offseason?
The Adelaide 36ers offically announce the signing of Ryan Kirsten. With Coach Scott Ninnis signing another local product, former crowd favourite Jason "Blood Balls" Williams has switched his phone on so he will not miss his recall.
Mr Europe, David Andersen talks about his NBA dream. For any fan of hoops, you need to check out this article in Sports Illustrated on Andersen and his Russian team, CSKA Moscow.
David Andersen Interview
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Australia's best keep sporting secret, David Andersen
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
Good to see I will be able to resume my trash talking battles with Corey "Homicide" Williams at practice.
Corey "Homicide" Williams has re-signed with the Townsville Crocodiles for another two years. Williams burst onto the NBL scene a third of the way through last season.
Williams replaced the injured Rosell Ellis. They are now the import pairing for the Crocs after Galen Young was not retained after his DUI incident.
Both Sam MacKinnon and Jason Smith will be staying home and watching the Olympics with me. Dual Olympian (Atlanta, Sydney) MacKinnon will not be traveling to Beijing due to an illness that will sideline him for sometime. While injuries have caught up with Smith who is also a two time Olympian (Sydney, Athens).
If I'm David Barlow and Mark Worthington I go out and sent MacKinnon and Smith thank you cards. Due to the veterans having to pull out, the youngsters become locks for the team.
My locks: CJ Bruton(provided he is done chasing that "lucrative" Euro deal), Brad Newley, Glen Saville, Matt Nielsen, Andrew Bogut, David Andersen, Mark Worthington, David Barlow, Chris Anstey, Patrick Mills, Luke Kendall.....I guess that leaves one spot left for a big. Lets raffle it off to a youngster, just so he can gain experience.
I felt Barlow and Worthington were going to be bubble guys. They play positions where the talent is thick. Both would have had to beat out the likes of MacKinnon, Glen Saville, Brad Newley (currently playing in Greece) and Smith. Thanks to injury these pair will be making their Olympic debuts.
To rub salt into the wound, Coach Brian Goorjian is saying the Boomers have drawn a tough schedule. Folks, when you get to the Olympics, there are no easy ones. This is Goorjian at his spin doctoring best already. The Games are still months away and he is talking how it is going to be a battle to crack the top four in their bracket.
In NBL news, Brisbane finally have some good news and players. They signed the Jeweler, Mike Hill, Anthony Petrie from the West Sydney Razorbacks and college returnee Stephen Weigh. Sure these guys do not have people talking championship, but Brian Kerle can finally say he is building a roster.
The Cairns Taipans are not sure what to do on the recruiting front.
In NBA news, Larry Brown will be named the coach of the Charlotte Bobcats. Brown last coached the New York Knicks before Isiah Thomas took over.
I'm sure Brown did not want the Knicks job to be his lasting memory of coaching.
Brown will take over from Sam Vincent who lasted only one year on the job with the Bobcats.
Look for Brown to bring discipline and toughness to this young group and spark some interest in the Carolina area for this four year old club. Remember, Brown has great basketball ties in this geographical area.
Denver Mascot....Never Learns
Sunday, April 27, 2008
You have to love his honesty, but the timing and the choice of topic could have been handled better by the one time All-Star.
Ah, to live and learn..but his Dallas Mavericks did get their first win against the New Orleans Hornets to get back into the series. Hornets lead 2-1.
The Los Angles Lakers are toying with Enver Nuggets (no D in Denver..and assistant coach Mike Dunlap is frothing at the mouth) right now. 3-0. I can see the Nuggets making some big trades over the summer, maybe Carmelo!
Utah Jazz lead the Houston Rockets 3-1. T-Mac, will you ever get out of the first round? I hope so.
The champion San Antonio Spurs put on an absolute clinic in Phoenix yesterday. A sweep is not out of the question here. Suns look very stagnate on the offensive end. Who would have thought that? Spurs up 3-0.
Now to the East. The Boston Celtics let the Atlanta Hawks claim a game today. This will only re-focus the Celts. 2-1 to the Men in Green.
The Cleveland Caverliers are up 2-1 on the Washington Wizards. Whoever can win a road game will win this series.
Orlando Magic's frontline has been great. Chris Bosh cannot match the output of three. Look for the Magic to wrap this one up. Currently, 3-1 to the Magicmen.
The most surprising series to date is this one. Detroit Pistons vs the Philadelphia 76ers. The 6ers are currently leading 2-1 to my disbelief. I know I have one reader that did warn me to not underestimate this young Philly squad. I may have to re-evaluate but the Pistons will find a way.
As for the college seen, there has been a plethora of underclassmen heading to the NBA Draft. Sure, some are only going to "test the waters". Here is the complete list of players who have declared for now.
Sticking with the college scene, long time Duke assistant coach Johnny Dawkins fills the vacant Stanford job. Here is a list of coaches changing address in time for next season.
Changing gears to the NBL, here is a good read on James Harvey. He talks about all his ups and downs in the sport.
Last but not least, the Singapore Slingers reveal that Sam Harris is their Australian big man signing. Do not be alarmed if you have not heard of this guy, you are not alone. I'm actually looking forward to a Sam Harris (221cm) vs Greg Vanderjagt (213cm) matchup. It will look like this I imagine.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Over the past week there has been a few intriguing decisions made about athletes’ opportunities to participate at the Beijing Olympics. One campaign has ended prematurely, while the other seems to have been revived.
Nick D’Arcy has had his Olympic dream all but squashed by the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC). In case you have been hiding under a rock and are not aware of his out of the pool dramas, the champion butterflier was involved in a late night scrap with fellow swimmer Simon Cowley and is in court defending himself against assault charges as a result.
D’Arcy’s conduct was ruled by AOC president John Coates to have “ brought swimming, the team and the AOC into disrepute”. Hence, he was dropped from the Beijing Olympic swimming team.
So much for being innocent until proven guilty. I’m afraid athletes rarely get the benefit of that virtue nowadays. Considering his case doesn’t look like it will be decided until June by the courts, you would have to say this is a knee-jerk reaction by the AOC.
If D’Arcy is found innocent of the assault charges by the judicial system, he may still miss the boat for Beijing. He would then face another trial by the Court of Arbitration for Sport where he would have the lodge an appeal for reinstatement to the Olympic Team.
Imagine that,…an athlete missing out on a life long dream for something he is found innocent of in a court of law? We may just see it in this case.
On the other hand, soccer star and Olyroo Danny Vukovic’s Olympic dream has been given a second life under some interesting circumstances.
Vukovic has been appealing a suspension he incurred during the A-League final. His original sentence of 15 months after coming into contact with a referee during the final, has since been reduced to a nine month ban.
The story does not end here, however. Vukovic appealed yet again and his sentence now has been divided into two parts; Part 1 will be served from now till June 28 and he will resume the punishment for Part 2 on August 29 until October 5.
It doesn’t take a genius, only a calendar to figure out that this temporary pardon will allow the Central Coast Mariners’ goalkeeper to add the Beijing Olympic Games to his CV.
Over the coming weeks I’ll be interested to see if John Coates steps in and flexes his muscle on this decision.
If he doesn’t what message does this send? Initiating contact with a referee during a match is not as serious of an offense as losing your cool when you are out and about on your own time. Sounds like that about sums it up to me.
Again I will reiterate that I am not condoning the athlete’s behavior in either case. But I will say that if I was in their shoes, I am fighting to the death to get myself on the plane to Beijing. This is the pinnacle for any athlete and it only happens every four years.
The premature judgment by the AOC of D’Arcy just doesn’t sit right with me when you compare it to the decision made to benefit Vukovic. Often I find myself wondering if there might just be more to the story in cases like these.
You can read my article in the Townsville Bulletin every Saturday.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
I hope with his lucrative deal in Europe, CJ can afford a comb!
Today marked the end of an era for the Brisbane Bullets. Many would say they deserved what they got but the Bullets need to start looking for some new players.
Olympians CJ Bruton and Sam MacKinnon have the 2006/07 championship club in their rearview mirrors today. CJ is chasing the money in Europe while the former league MVP MacKinnon asked for a release. As told here yesterday, MacKinnon will join the Melbourne Tigers.
Another Bullet that is moving on is Dillon Boucher. Although he did not grab headlines like the other two, he will be missed. The New Zealand Breakers will utilize the tools (hustle) he brings every game. Boucher will be a nice replacement for the departed Mika Vukona (South Dragons).
Shane Heal has come out and said it is the Gold Coast Blaze or nothing for him. The Bullets must have been sniffing around to see what interest the "Blonde Bomber" had in driving up the highway everyday.
ABA Boxscores from the weekend:
Queensland - Micheal Kingma goes for 40pts/35rebs
New South Wales - Ben Arkell with a near quadruple double...7to's
Big V - Do you need NBL experience to play for Waverley?
SEABL - Since when has Anthony Stewart passed 13 times in a game?
South Australia - Oh boy, do Woodville miss Paul Rees, especially the jelly beans at half time.
Western Australia - Geordie Cullen and Carmichael Olowoyo are teammates.
Trick Shots with Sheed
Just in case anyone read yesterday's entry real close, I made 46 threes in five minutes today. Remember, I shot and rebounded my own ball. With little bit of luck and improved fitness I will crack 60 by the end of preseason.
And I hope you guys like the new look of the blog. Slowly but surely I feel it is improving with time. I cannot take all the credit. My main man Mili is responsible for the great "JR, On Fire" header.
Monday, April 21, 2008
I'm hoping I beat Tom Greer's 53, so he has to get more shooting tips from the great Andrew Gaze.
Today was offically the start of my preseason training for the start of the upcoming NBL season.
Sure the season does not tip off until the middle of September but there is only so much sitting around I can handle. I had a brillant family holiday where all we did was hit the beach for three weeks at Mooloolaba. My fitness reseme was a steady diet of beach cricket with my boys and then tearing up the waves with our Boogie boards.
I had the odd jog along the beah to check out the "white pointer" situation, but running is just not my thing.
So today it was back to the Crocs club to get the rock (ball) back in my hands. There is nothing like walking into an empty gym and letting your mind wonder as you hoist shots from all over the court. It is only April, but I'm already playing out what could be a game winner against the defending champs, the Melbourne Tigers.
When I talk about getting back into the gym, I'm not spending hour on hour in there. I go in with a purpose each day to get something acheived. Whether it is working on that dagger three in transition or post up game, I go with a end result in mind.
Kids ask me all the time, "how did you become a good shooter." First you have to put in hours and hours of practice, but the practice must be at a pace that is worthwhile. You can spend three hours getting nothing done or workout at game speed for an hour and make yourself better.
The tempo that you workout at is the key.
Tomorrow, my goal is to see how many threes I can make in 5mins. Just me, the ball and the hoop.
I will do this drill 5 times as I feel it is a good cardio drill to start getting myself back into basketball shape. Shooting while you are tried is key to making those shots late in the game.
I will keep you posted on how I did. Melbourne Tigers player Tom Greer made 53 with a rebounder today, so I will see how I stack up against the youngster.
Talking of the Tigers, when I head back to the gym tomorrow I can imagine that the player I'm hitting the shot over is Sam MacKinnon. Yes folks, Slammin Sam is heading back home to Melbourne and will be suiting up for the Tigers.
Owner Shamus McPeake must be trying to go toe to toe with Brian Goorjian to see who can stuff their cupboard full of more talent.
Top Ten Plays From the NBA Playoffs Today!
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Is Tony Rampton going on holidays to find his lost offense? Rob Beveridge hopes so!
I was looking for something to blog about today and I just happened to have clicked on this article that comes from New Zealand about their NBL.
John Dybvig is the guy responsible for this article, and after a little research I see he is not just a guy sitting in the cheap seats taking shots at everyone involved. This guy has played the game and coached a little as well.
I'll give him a little street cred and agree with some of the comments he makes.
Dybvig throws his hands in the air as to how NZNBL teams are allowing high profile players to take holidays during the season. I agree, how can a team that would have promised fans and sponsors they are doing everything to win allow players to cruise the world.
I as a player in this situation could never think about asking a team for a few weeks off. But, that is just me. Plus, it is three weeks I miss out on "busting someone's ass" then telling them about it.
In a situation like this though, quite often the finger is pointed at the player. It would never get to this situation if the administration would say NO to the player. A player will only take what they are promised, contracts included.
It seems that most of the players mentioned are involved in the Australian NBL and must want a break before they embark on another year in the ANBL. If the administration put their foot down and said NO, the player would then have to weigh up their options. Does my body need rest or does my bank account need a helping hand?
I will let Dybvig have the last word as he sums up what the end result will become if something is not resolved with this player holiday situation.
"If the coaches and the players don't give a dawn about the league, why should the public?" he says.
The playoffs began today with four games on tap. Here are the boxscores and recaps.
The Phoenix/San Antonio game was a ripper. Double OT.
Here is some of the game for your pleasure!
In NBL news:
The Singapore Slingers say they are on the verge of signing a Aussie interior players. Slinger fans are hoping Bob Turner is not going to relive his glory days and ask Neil Turner or Willie Simmons to come out of retirement.
It is slim pickings for NBL news, but several clubs must be on the verge of some news as many (my own Crocs, Bullets and Slingers) said last week that they would be making some announcements later in the week. We are in a new week now and nothing. Maybe the weekend was needed for the ink to dry on those contracts.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Mal Meninga....Finally gets rewarded
When I was a young punter growing up on the Darling Downs, there were two things that I was pretty passionate about, cricket and Mal Meninga.
My most impressionable years were the 70’s and 80’s and it was about this time Kerry Packer introduced us to World Series Cricket. I remember all the purists kicking up a fuss and condemning this “pajama” cricket.
Fast forward to today. Not only is one day cricket going gangbusters, but we are poised on the verge of seeing another innovation in the game of cricket, the Indian Premier League (IPL) which kicks off this weekend.
Some things never change. There are still the traditionalists turning their noses up at the 20/20 format the series will adapt.
The IPL got their show up and running quickly, which cost them a few of the most talented players in the world.
England and the West Indies have a series scheduled at the same time and thus English players were not allowed to take up any offers to play in the breakaway league.
I can see this becoming a problem if IPL becomes a big hit and players start to miss out on the big money offered in the sub-continent. It is going to force a player to weigh up his options once his contract expires with his country and that may mean some of the players opt in favour of the money.
The most glaring example of that right now would be England’s Kevin Pietersen. He would be one of the players commanding the big dollars had he been allowed to get in on the IPL action. Because of the figures thrown at these players, you can’t tell me he is not going to have to put some thought in before committing to England for another contract.
No fan of the game wants the situation to come to the point where we watch an international competition that is missing some of the best talent the world has to offer.
I hope that the cricketing countries unite in their support of this new arm of cricket sooner rather than later and can work harmoniously to promote the game in any form. I would love nothing more than to see the world’s best on display in both the IPL format and the international competition.
Now, on to Mal Meninga. He was my childhood hero and I still have the scars from when running over my brother to score that winning Origin try in the backyard to prove it.
I was nervous all day on Thursday for Big Mal. No one was happier to see his name revealed as part of the Team of the Century than me.
Through my eyes, Meninga always had to live in the shadows of “the King”, Wally Lewis, during his playing days. I think I was the only Queenslander during the 80’s that despised Lewis.
It began when Lewis was playing for Brisbane Valleys and Wynnum-Manly against Mal and his South’s Magpies in the Brisbane comp. It always seemed to be these two teams battling for the premiership.
This fierce rivalry that occurred between these two men (strictly in my head, I might add) intensified when Meninga moved to Canberra to join the Raiders and Lewis was with the powerhouse Brisbane Broncos.
The real kicker for me was that I felt Mal came up with the game winning plays, especially come Origin time, while Wally got all the glory for his gutsy and gritty play.
Well, my childhood hero has finally been given the recognition he has deserved for years and I can finally sleep easy.
Both these legendary figures of Rugby League got what they deserved and were both honoured with a position on the Team of the Century. Now I can honestly say I have put this fierce (yet, imaginary) rivalry between them to rest for good.
My article appears weekly in the Townsville Bulletin.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
The NBA's 82 game regular season is done. The playoffs begin Sunday (our time)so here is the first round matchups and who I feel will win their respective series.
Boston Celtics (1) vs Atlanta Hawks (8)
The Hawks have done well to get back into the playoffs, but the Celtics are on a mission. Celtics sweep this series. 4-0
Detroit Pistons (2) vs Philadelphia 76ers (7)
Like the Hawks the 76ers will be happy to be back in the playoffs. The Pistons are thinking championship. Detroit will have the brooms (sweep) out for the Sixers.
Orlando Magic (3) vs Toronto Raptors (6)
The Magic frontcourt will become too much to contain over a series. Raptors will provide some resistance if TJ Ford and Jose Calderon give them something. Magic in 6 games.
Cleveland Cavaliers (4) vs Washington Wizards (5)
The Cavs have the leagues best scorer in LeBron James, but the Wizards have three legit scorers (Arenas, Jameson and Butler). The Wizards have too many points in them. This will go 7 games.
Los Angles Lakers (1) vs Denver Nuggets (8)
The Lakers have been consistent all season. This alone will be too much for the erratic Nuggets. They will also be distracted by the attention Carmelo Anthony has attracted by doing his best Galen Young impersonation. Lakers in 5.
New Orleans Hornets (2) vs Dallas Mavericks (7)
The Mavs will have learnt from last years early exit. The Hornets are the unlucky team that has to feel the Mavs pain. Although it is a 2 and 7 seed showdown, it cannot be considered a upset. Mavs in 6.
San Antonio Spurs (3) vs Phoenix Suns (6)
Is this the year Phoenix gets past the champs? Suns GM Steve Kerr will be hoping so. His trade for Shaq was all about the matchup with the Spurs. They get it first round, but the Spurs slowly, slowly approach gets it done. Spurs in 7. (Will Robert "Big Shot Bob" Horry hip check Steve Nash again?)
Utah Jazz (4) vs Houston Rockets (5)
I really want to see Tracy MacGrady get out of the 1st round. Without Yao by his side, I cannot see this happening. Jazz in 5.
NIKE HOOP SUMMIT GAME
I touched on this game the other day. West Sydney Razorback coach Rob Beveridge was selected to coach the World Team who took on the Americans. If you are interested in checking out the players of tomorrow, here is where you can watch the whole game.
Adelaide's basketball writer Boti Nagy with his weekly wrap of what is happening. Joey Wright will coach the Bullets, now he needs some players. Often injuried American born Nick Horvath becomes a Kiwi. Former NBL player Grant Kruger is still setting screens. Another former NBL player, Blair Smith, is a player/coach these days. Gold Coast Blaze are happy that Bullets have survived, now they need to beat them. "World Champion" NBL player Ben Melmeth in rally car race.
1995..A younger JR
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
He made a Rookie mistake, but I want him back in Croc green.
I was very happy to read that there is still a chance Galen Young may still be a teammate of mine in Townsville.
Young is one of those team guys that stats do not tell the whole story about the impact he can have on a game. He should have polled better in the Defensive Player of the Year Award. He is a lockdown defender. You name them, he contained them this year and there are some serious scorers at the 4 position.
There is no doubting that Young broke the law and his punishment has been decided. Lets move on. It seems athletes have to play by a different set of rules sometimes.
If Young is retained, he will be better in the upcoming season than last year. Why? He knows what to expect in the league and us as teammates will have a better understanding of his game.
I may be way off in this thinking (Young returning), but I feel we will be a better team with him on the roster. Time will tell.
The Brisbane Bullets have found their new owner, David Kemp. He has wasted no time in appointing former Bullets do everything guy, Brian Kerle, as their new CEO.
If my mail is any good, Joey Wright will be re announced as coach tomorrow. If Wright is the coach, I believe a lot of the players will stay and all will not be lost in Brisbane. It is more the coach than anyone else that really dictates where a player wishes to play.
Players start their negotiations tomorrow.
Kings coach Bill Tomlinson has declared his team will remain a threat despite losing coach Brian Goorjian and players Jason Smith and Mark Worthington.
Bloopers....from the court, backyard, driveway and other places
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Ninnis will be hoping Luke scores like this for the 36ers!
Surprise, surprise, Jason Smith has followed coach Brian Goorjian down the Hume Highway to join the South Dragons. Smith has never played for any other coach in the NBL.
The Dragons also announced the signing of Kiwi international Mika Vikona. Playing under Goorjian we will see what kind of talent Vikona really has. He has been a role player in his first three years with the New Zealand Breakers, mainly living of rebounding and energy plays.
He will get to work on his skills under Goorjian so his game will be given the opportunity to develop. I will be watching this guy's progress with some interest. Some players are just solid role players, while other players need time to develop. By the end of the season, the league will have a better feel about Mika Vikona's basketball abilities.
Scott Ninnis is starting to get his Adelaide 36ers squad together. Today they announced that the big redhead, Luke Schenscher, has agreed to terms with his home team.
Signing the 7' former NBA player screams to me that Ninnis must be looking at modifying the free flowing style that 6er fans are used to seeing under Phil Smythe.
Big Luke is not a run and gun guy, but he may be able to ignite fastbreaks with his defensive rebounding and then be a presence down low in the half court. (I'm thinking Shaq in Phoenix type play!)
Another signing that happened today was the Townsville Crocodiles resigning local product Michael Cedar.
Although his signature does not grab the headlines like the others, this is a good signing. Cedar has improved every year in his three year career and he is only 21. This kid will only keep getting better as his confidence continues to grow to match his God given talents.
A message to Mike though, he has to keep putting up with me for another few years though!
An article that may interest some of you is this one regarding sports marketing. The NBL get a mention as well as other professional sports in Australia.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Thank God this is not the Jason Williams the Slingers are looking at!
It seems that a local businessman has come to the rescue of the Brisbane Bullets. Dean Kemp seems to be the man of the moment.
Kemp who has already committed a large chunk of change to the Logan Thunder is looking to add the Bullets to his portfolio. (If you do not know who the Thunder are, they are a new franchise coming into the WNBL this upcoming season.)
It is great to see that the Bullets are going to be around, but the question is, can Kemp keep the "big names" in town.
High profile players Sam MacKinnon and CJ Bruton have commented publicly about moving on. Time is money and this process has taken a little time so players begin to get itchy feet. Plus how much longer will it take Eddie Groves and Kemp to nut out the finer points of this deal?
Once they agree, the NBL has to approve the deal. Although a deal seems very close, it only takes a hiccup for the whole thing to drag on.
My point regarding this timeline is, if high profile players move on, it becomes tough to replace this calibre of talent. We all know at the end of the day, wins equal bums on seats.
As I said before, I'm happy to see the Bullets survive, but I will be interested to see what becomes of their roster.
The Singapore Slingers must be congratulated for thinking outside of the box. It has been reported they are trying to sign Filipino League star Jason Williams Castro.
Castro is 5'8 point guard with skill according to Ben Knight but what I like about this approach is Bob Turner and his staff are trying to get bums on seats. You must remember that Turner was partly responsible for the Kings glory days with crowds.
The Slingers are entering their third year in the NBL and it seems that Turner has a better feel for the Singapore basketball landscape and crowd numbers are set to rise.
If you do not know Filipino basketball, these players are rock stars in their country. I'm sure Turner is hoping Castro will be able to attract some of his countrymen to be spectators at games in Singapore. Smart thinking Mr Turner.
It will be interesting to see what type of impact Castro can have on the league. To date none of the local Singapore players have troubled a NBL scouting report.
In other NBL news, Basketball Australia and the NBL are going to accelerate the new look for basketball in Australia. Razorbacks head coach Rob "Give Me a Stiff" Beveridge is home after coaching the World Select Team against the USA.
Kenny and Charles Change Nappies (viewers with children may only see the funny side)
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Agent Zero and his game winners!
I've touched on the Western Conference playoff race, so I thought I better give the run down on the East with two games remaining in the regular season. This would be the scenario if the playoffs started today.
The league leading Boston Celtics (64-16) will matchup against the resurging Atlanta Hawks (37-43). (The Hawks have a 2 game lead of the 9th place Indiana Pacers. They should hold on.)
Joe Johnson is not just a one man show for the Hawks any more. He has the erratic Josh Smith who is a true stat stuffer across the board, riding shot gun. These two can win games together but throw in the ever improving pair of Marvin Willams and Josh Childress and the Hawks are beginning to assemble some substance.
Mike Bibby could be the real "X" factor for the young Hawks. He has major playoff experience and if he can recapture the form that saw him and his then, Sacramento Kings, come within a Robert Horry three of the NBA Finals, the Hawks may scare the Celtics.
The Celtics "Big Three" have been great all year. KG and Paul Pierce are being talked about for MVP honours, while Ray Allen has been providing game winners all season.
Adding Sam Cassell during the year gave them a veteran at the point if Rajon Rondo is having a quiet night. Sam I Am is clutch in the playoffs.
Although the Hawks are young and athletic all over the floor, I feel the veteran savvy Celtics will sweep this series.
The Detroit Pistons just quietly go about their business all season and finish with the 2nd seed without creating a fuss. They will get the slumpingToronto Raptors. (Yes, I'm tipping the 76ers will overtake the Raptors.)
The Raptors might win gold at the Beijing Olympics with all that international talent, but there is just something missing from the Dinosaur's roster to make them legit.
Chris Bosh is terrific, but on nights when he is struggling who do they turn to as their second option?
I also think they need to go with either TJ Ford or Jose Calderon. The Raptors coaching staff seem to go with whoever is playing better on the night, but this has to be disruptive to the rest of the team. The point position needs to be rock solid for a team to succeed.
The Pistons on the otherhand are just the definition of rock solid. You have to go out and beat Chauncey, Rip and Sheed. And now that they have a young bench, they may be ready to give the title another nudge.
This series might go 5 games if the Pistons forget to show up in Toronto for one.
This next matchup could become a hell of a series. Orlando Magic vs the Philadelphia 76ers.
Orlando have one of the best frontcourts (Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu and Rashad Lewis) in the NBA, but I still have to question their backcourt. Jameer Nelson and the erratic Carlos Arroyo have flip flopped at the point, so just like the Raptors, I question this.
Philly on the otherhand are stronger in the guard spot. If the two Andre's (Miller and Igoudala) can have a great series, the 76ers can trouble the Magic.
76er centre Samuel Dalembert is the "X" factor here. If he can give his team some consistent play, this will go a long way to containing manchild, Dwight Howard.
I'm going for an upset here. The 76ers start to rejuvenate this great franchise and win in 6 games.
Last but not least that leaves the Cleveland Cavs taking on the Washington Wizards.
King James (LeBron) taking on the high scoring Wizards.
The Wizards will put some series points on the board, especially with Gilbert Arenas back in uniform. Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler have been carrying this team in Agent Zero's absence.
The question in this series is, can LeBron get enough help from his teammates to get the win. Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak were traded for during the season to bring perimeter scoring, so that will be needed to counter the Wizards perimeter onslaught.
Big Zydrunas Ilgauskas is the "X" factor here. If the Cavs get in a half court game he has an impact during this series, but if they try and run and gun with the Wizards, Big Z will be sucking oxygen early.
Wizards in 7, with Gilbert hitting a walk off three at the buzzer.
In college basketball there has been a whole lot of coaching changes made already. You can track all the movements right HERE.
In NBL news the Melbourne Tigers have added Rod Grizzard to their developing All Star roster. It is believed they are also chasing Adelaide import Julius Hodge if Dave Thomas stays State side. Shane Heal and the Gold Coast Blaze will decide where their relationship stands during the week. Brad Robbins has signed on with the Perth Wildcats for a few more years.
Kobe jams today against the Hornets!
Saturday, April 12, 2008
If you didn’t already know, the NBL is in the middle of its ‘off season’, but that is not to say that there is nothing going on. And it looks like if things continue to go the way they are right now, we may see a shift in power next season.
The Melbourne Tigers, Sydney Kings and Brisbane Bullets have controlled the landscape for the past five years. The financial turmoil of both the Bullets and Kings has been well documented over the past couple of months and will most certainly result in a collapse on the strong hold they have held over the league in recent times. I think we will be seeing a few new teams emerging as title contenders as a result.
The Tigers will still start next season as title favourites. From what I hear they continue to be stock their cupboard to the brim.
This week, they announced the signing of import Rod Grizzard, who will join them after playing for the Singapore Slingers last season, his first in the NBL.
Bullets captain and former league MVP Sam MacKinnon seems poised to join the Tigers for the next three years as the Brisbane franchise struggles to find a new owner.
And you can be sure he won’t be the only Bullet to jump ship as players begin to get itchy feet over an uncertain future.
CJ Bruton has come out in the media this week and made comment that he is ready to move on if some plans don’t begin to eventuate.
Without either Bruton or MacKinnon, it would be hard to put them into that top tier of teams once the season rolls around. If both go, forget it. You are just not going and replacing that type of talent.
The Sydney Kings seemed destined for destruction, even throughout their quest for this year’s NBL title. Somehow they have found a way to keep a healthy portion of their roster together.
Unlike the Bullets, the Kings were chocked full of quality Australian talent that they will be able to build around with the addition of a few imports.
The bad news is that they haven’t managed to keep coach Brian Goorjian, Olympian Jason Smith and NBL All Star Mark Worthington. This will leave way too many holes in the boat and we will see the mighty Kings sink back to the pack barring amazing recruiting.
Although it’s not a good sign that franchises are going through times, I think it may just make the NBL more interesting. It will be good to see new teams make their way into the upper echelon and I’m hoping the change in power will help reignite interest in the sport.
One of the teams that appears to be capitalizing the misfortunes of the aforementioned teams is the South Dragons. will give the sport a boost in Melbourne. The Tigers/Dragons rivalry will give the sport a jumpstart in Melbourne, especially now that Goorjian is at the helm for the Dragons.
The Perth Wildcats also look like they are aggressively pursuing the talent left floating out. If they scoop up a few stars, this will only intensify the “West vs the Rest” mentality to another level. You have to hand it to the Sandgropers, they love to support their team.
A greatly improved and competitive New Zealand Breakers side will do nothing but enhance the match ups against the Aussie franchises. There is arguably no greater rivalry in the country than Aussie v Kiwi.
In any sport there are teams we love to hate. Due to their success and grip on the top positions on the ladder year after year, the Kings and Bullets have been on the top of that list.
I sense that a change is coming. And with it I hope comes a breath of new life into our sport.
My article appears weekly in the Townsville Bulletin.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Penney can be found carrying the clubs this off season!
New Zealand Breaker Kirk Penney is going to caddie at the Master's golf tournament. He will carry the clubs for two time US Open winner, Andy North. North will participate in the Par 3 Contest before the real deal tees off on Friday where we will see 9 Aussies in the field.
Former Gold Coast Roller, Brisbane Bullet and North Melbourne Giant Mike Mitchell has joined the WNBA franchise, Chicago Sky, as an assistant coach.
Over the last few years Mitchell has been honing his coaching skills at the college and high school level. Mitchell has joined the coaching staff that is lead by another former NBL player, Steven Key.
In other news, it is good to see that Ian Stacker has found his way back into the NBL. Stacker who is a very innovative coach will add a different dimension to the champion Melbourne Tigers. He is a coach that is prepared to try the unthinkable in game situations, so I'm sure he will give coach Al Westover plenty of food for thought.
If my readers of this blog have their finger on the pulse, it is believed that Jason Smith has already put pen to paper with the South Dragons. One anonymous reader says that the deal was done last weekend! (Anonymous said... It's a done deal Jason Smith signed with the Dragons last weekend.
April 9, 2008 11:36 AM)
It seems that Sam MacKinnon is heading to the Melbourne Tigers if the Brisbane Bullets cannot find a new owner in the very near future.
It must be hard to find an owner over night, but the longer it takes the Bullets to find some, I would hate to see what their roster will eventually look like. Players will only ponder for so long then they have to make a business decision that is best for themselves.
Brisbane people only need to look at the Singapore Slingers last off season dilemma and see what becomes of your roster if you have to wait until the death to recruit players.
It would be a shame to see an original team left chasing their tail when the season begins.
Brad Hill has jumped the border with fellow ex-Dragon Jacob Holmes and rejoined the Adelaide 36ers. Hill will be returning home and to the club where he started his career. Hill has not seen significant court time since a devastating arm injury against the Townsville Crocs in season 2006/07.
Although the college basketball season is done on the court, the focus now turns to who will declare for the draft. I will keep you posted as this happens, but here is an article that gives a good review of the college season.
Kobe or Shaq?
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
The new Mr Big Shot - Kansas guard Mario Chalmers
I was happy to open the Townsville Bulletin this morning and read that Michael Cedar is going to stay in Crocodile green.
Cedar has been slowly improving for the last three years that he has been a member of the Crocs. The season just gone has been his most consistent and productive of his professional career and I can only see him continuing to evolve into a solid NBL player.
There is no doubt his strength is shooting the basketball. He is quite a good athlete so when he understands when and how to utilize this, his game will move to a new level again.
Moving teams now, Mark Worthington has signed with the South Dragons.
Maybe the second worst kept secret of the off season (behind his coach), Worthington signed for three years to continue his player/coach relationship with Brian Goorjian.
Since this is finally official, the next question is, when does Jason Smith join the Dragons?
Kansas Wins NCAA Championship
Mario "Mr Big Shot" Chalmers was the hero for the Kansas Jayhawks. With the clock ticking down and the Jayhawks trailing by three, Chalmers calmly knocked down a tying three with 2.1 seconds remaining in regulation.
Kansas controlled the extra five minutes and won their first title since Danny Manning lead them to the title in 1988. This was the third championship in school history, but this teams 37-3 record goes down as the school's all time best.
Memphis seemed to be headed for their first title with 2:12 remaining in the game. Up by nine it just seemed the clock just needed to run down so they could celebrate. Not to be. Kansas win 75-68 in OT.
So much talk had centred around Memphis' poor free throw shooting but their coach, John Calipari, down played it all tournament. It came back and bit them right in the rear. They could have iced the game in the dying seconds by knocking down a free throw, but it missed and led to Chalmers tying three.
It is in the history books now, but if you missed the game I recommend you chase up a copy and check it out.
One Shining Moment (this is how the college season always ends)
Monday, April 7, 2008
When it rains it pours. The NBA regular season is about to end but there is a mad scramble in the Western Conference for playoff positions, the NCAA final is tomorrow and the NBL off season is beginning to heat up.
Lets start with the NBA and the Western Conference. It is by far the stronger conference of the two and the race for playoff positions show that. Teams either have 5 or 6 regular season games left, so lets imagine if the playoffs started today, there would be some mouthwatering 1st round match ups. Ladder here.
The #1 seed, New Orleans Hornets would get the unpredictable 8th seeded Denver Nuggets (who are only half a game ahead of Golden St). Although the Hornets have put together a remarkable year, I'm feeling the Nuggets would like this match up.
The Hornets are young and inexperienced in the playoff arena, while the Nuggets have been there, done that to some degree.
MVP candidate Chris Paul would have his hands full with Allan Iverson and it will be interesting to see how Paul goes over the course of a seven game series. Remember, scouting becomes tougher and you are not catching teams on the back end of back to backs. A series is a whole new ball game.
The Hornets other All Star David West would have his hands full with the Nuggets front line. Kenyon Martin and Eduardo Najera will make West work for everything he gets. An X factor could be how well Nene comes back from injury.
This will be a high scoring series, but I feel Iverson and Carmelo Anthony are too much to handle in this type of scenario.
Great season Hornets. But if you match up with the elusive Nuggets, they have to much firepower for your squad.
A juicy first round match up of the defending champs, San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks is on the cards. Who would have thought this would happen in the 1st round at the start of the season. (Spurs are in a battle with the Lakers for the 2nd seed, but it seems the Mavs will remain the 7th seed.)
We would find out in the first round if the Jason Kidd trade was worth it. The Mavs have a potent trio in Kidd, Dirk Nowitski and Josh Howard, but their X factor could be Erick Dampier. Since the arrival of Kidd he has become much more active around the basket and making it harder to double Dirk.
As for the Spurs, it is the same old same old. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili in the open court, otherwise spread it out, get it to Tim Duncan down low and spread out and spot up.
Although I find the Spurs boring to watch, I'm not prepared to go against their successful philosophy.
A dream NBA match up is brewing here. The Los Angles Lakers vs the Phoenix Suns. Kobe vs Shaq. We all want to see it happen. (This series would be great, but the race is so tight in the west, we will not know until later in the week if this becomes reality, but lets dream for now.)
The factor that could dictate this series is Kobe's approach to playing against Shaq for something that is meaningful. If he comes with the right attitude he might just average a triple double, while he makes Lamar Odem and Pau Gasol look like 10 year All Stars. Don't get me wrong, both those guys are good, but they are better with Kobe by their side.
On the otherside of the fence, we have Shaq. Gone are the days where Shaq can dominate both sides of the ball for the whole game. But this series may just bring his best Bill Russell impersonation. Blocking shots and defensive rebounding is where he will help the Suns most in this series.
This will/would be a cracking series and I haven't even mentioned Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire and Andrew Bynum who is due back from injury.
Too close to call for me. These are two teams I love watching play.
Utah and Houston round out the 1st round match ups.
Although Houston went on a 22 game tear earlier in the season, they still do not have me believing without Yao Ming. Sure Tracey MacGrady can win games by himself, but who else can they rely on to help win a series?
The Jazz on the otherhand have Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer who carry the load on most nights but their supporting cast has a little starch. Their two Europeans in Mehmett Okur and Andrei Kirilenko can be game winners on their night, while the mid season acquisition of Kyle Korver has given them some lethal perimeter shooting.
I can see the Jazz sweeping this series.
Tomorrow you can put the feet up and watch the NCAA championship game between the Memphis Tigers and Kansas Jayhawks.
This game wreeks of NBA talent and should be a ripper game.
Talking of NBA talent you have to start with the Tigers backcourt of Derrick Rose and CDR (Chris Robert-Douglas). These two 1st rounders have driven the Tigers this far, can they continue?
I'm not sure, but it seems as though Rose is trying to do his best Carmelo Anthony impersonation. Staying one year in school, but taking them to a National Championship. We have less than 24 hours to see if this is true.
Along with these two talents, Joey Dorsey showed scouts that it is just not the little guys getting it done. His job on UCLA centre Kevin Love will do his NBA stock no harm. He will need a repeat effort on the glass (15rebs vs UCLA) against the Jayhawks.
As for Kansas, Brandon Rush continues to show why he could become a lethal NBA player. He has all the tools to be a great wing player at the next level. I look for him to match up on Rose at some stage. He has become a lockdown defender and often takes the oppositions best perimeter player.
Mario Chambers will keep Rose honest at the point position. Chambers himself can break out for 30 so he can become a gamebreaker.
Their front court of Darnell Jackson, Darrell Arthur and Sasha Kaun have the speed and athleticism to match the Tigers.
It will be interesting to see how Kansas starts this game as it was an very emotion game for them against North Carolina and all this week the media has been asking questions about their coach. Bill Self has been the center of rumours about the vacant Oklahoma St job.
If the Jayhawks can match the Tigers enthusiasm early, I believe they have the deeper team to win their first title since 1988.
In NBL news, the Gold Coast are looking at their options. The interesting story for me out of all of this is the potential of former Olympians Shane Heal and Sam MacKinnon becoming teammates. Just cast your mind back to two season ago. Both were involved in a little slap and tickle at midcourt during a Dragons/Bullets game. This would make for some interesting practices, plus off the court both have their hands in different food outlets. Could this lead to food fights courtside but see Pero Cameron break into a sprint for the first time in his life trying to play by the five second rule. (If food is on the floor for less than 5secs, you can still eat it!)
Although the Kings are trying to keep Mark Worthington from going to the Dragons, look for another team to have their eye on him. My money is on the Dragons though. Also look for a high profile player (not named Worthington) and coach (not named Goorjian) to move west.
Following the South Aussie couple "coming out" on 60 Minutes last night, I'm looking for Scott Ninnis to call a press conference this week to discuss his recruiting strategy.
I can see it going something like this. "I'm here today to let everyone know that I'm trying my best to get the best local talent back in the family colours that you know as the 6ers. I have placed many calls to my brother, Brad Newley, who is currently playing in Greece. I hope he returns them some time soon. As for my son Joe Ingles, he is contracted to the Dragons. Goorijan is a very good recruiter, but I hope family wins out in this battle."