Monday, June 30, 2008

Here I Come Yao Ming

I'm on my way to China this morning.  I will be doing my best to blog daily to let you know how China is treating me.

If you did not know there is a team from the NBL that is on a two game tour of China.  It is two games against the Chinese National Team.  
Andrew Gaze is the coach while I will be assisting him.

Players on the team are Greg Vanderjagt, Cam Tragardh, Cam Tovey, Matt Knight, Darren Ng and Peter Crawford to name a few.

Hopefully I will be able to find a good Internet cafe to report back to all.

See you on the other side!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cowboys Shooting Stars and Off To China

Ray Cashmere has the touch of a sledgehammer when it comes to hoops!

Early this week, the Cowboys made their annual pilgrimage to the Crocs Club for a training session. Now I know potential for a good story when I see it, so I made sure to grab my seat early so that I could enjoy the show.

Now, I know I enjoy breaking up the monotony of the daily routine at the stage of the season the Cowboys are at. The body language of the Cowboys seemed to demonstrate that they were happy to have a change of scenery, as well.

Under the tutelage of Croc coaches Trevor Gleeson and Rohan Short, the big boys were put through an array of drills that showed off the best (and worst) of their basketball skills.

One spectacle I thoroughly enjoyed was watching Scott Tronic attempting to dribble two basketballs simultaneously. If I didn’t know any better, I might be inclined to think that someone accidentally slipped him a couple of footballs for the drill. I have never seen two perfectly round balls bounce in so many different directions.

The best cheering and jeering, however, was truly saved for last in the form of a ‘winner takes all’ shooting competition.

My personal winners for the day would be:
Sione Faumuina, for the closest thing I saw to textbook shooting form
Jonathon Thurston, for his uncanny ability to talk (yes, talk) his shots into going into the basket.

However, the final two men left standing to battle it out for the right to be named “Best Shooting Cowboy” were Aaron Payne and Ray Cashmere.

You could tell Payne had gone to fellow local legend Kelvin Robertson for some shooting tips while Cashmere brought all the delicate touch of a sledgehammer to the court.

Big Ray showed he had some brain to go with the braun en route to the finals when he discovered a loop hole in the rules and used it to his advantage in preliminary rounds.

The final could have aptly been named “Rumble in the Jungle”. These guys went shot for shot until fatigue got the better of the front rower.

To the crowd’s delight, Payne won the chocolates and will now be looking for a piece of his mentor Robertson.

After the Cowboys session finished up, Thurston was hanging around like a bad smell and wanted to measure himself up against one of the best shooters in the country, yours truly.

Now some of you may recall a charity sporting challenge JT and I were supposed to have last year that involved me kicking some goals and JT shooting hoops. That head to head match up didn’t eventuate. And maybe I should have taken it easier on him the other day because I don’t see him fronting up for another challenge after our most recent session of hoops and trash talk.

I’m hoping his ego has recovered in time for Wednesday’s clash against the Cockroaches.

Unfortunately, I won’t be around to see whether he has recovered or not. I have been asked to assist Andrew Gaze in coaching a touring team to China.

The team will be made up of some of our younger NBL talent. Some names you might be familiar who will be amongst the team include former Crocs Peter Crawford, Cameron Tragardh and Greg Vanderjadt.

The tour will be a fantastic opportunity for these players, as they will be matching up against the Chinese National team that may feature NBA All Star Yao Ming, provided he has recovered from injury.

The two games played will be broadcast live throughout China and will be shown in various other countries throughout Asia. This is the type of exposure most of these guys dream of.

I am looking forward to an opportunity to work side by side with one of the country’s all time best basketball players in Gaze. I’ll have more to report upon my return.

You can find my article in Saturday's Townsville Bulletin.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Jawai Goes #41 To The Toronto Raptors...Soon

Jawai will be taking his thunder to Canada.

Today is all about Nathan Jawai. The first indigenous player from Australia to be drafted into the NBA.

Quite an achievement for a young man from Bamaga who has only been playing the game for a handful of years.

Jawai was selected by the Indiana Pacers but will be traded to the Toronto Raptors along with Jermaine O'Neal on July 9th. Rules and regulations are why this deal will happen in a little over a week.

I believe this is a good thing for Nate and his NBA aspirations. The Raptors were one of the few teams that took time out to scout Nate during the NBL season. Also he had multiple workouts for the club right before the draft.

Taking an educated guess here, but the Raptors would have asked the Pacers to select Jawai on their behalf. Although there are no guarantees by being a second round pick, the Raptors may be so impressed already that they will have cut a deal with the big Aussie.

With the way this scenario has played out, I'm guessing the Raptors may want Jawai to stay in Canada and join their roster for the upcoming season.

Good luck to Nate. I hope he makes the roster on Opening Night.

Below you will find all articles related to Nate and his draft day success.

National Post, Canada
Melbourne, Herald Sun
Cairns Post
Toronto Sun

Jawai Clip

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Boomers and NBA Draft

The Australian Boomers continued with their build up to the Beijing Olympics tonight. They played the new look New Zealand Tall Blacks over in Auckland. Sleep walking their way to a 75-60 victory the Boomers cannot get to Europe quick enough for some competition.

The game was over by quarter time with the Aussies getting out to a early 26-9 lead at quarter time. Thanks to a fast starting Chris Anstey (8 first quarter points) the Boomers put it on cruise control for the remainder of the game.

For the Aussies, Shawn Redage and Joe Ingles had outings that would have impressed coach Brian Goorjian. Redage was everywhere. Maybe too hyperactive at times but you can see he is giving his all to make it to Beijing. I'm waiting to see how he goes when they go to Europe where he will play against bigger and better opponents.

Ingles played assertive but under control basketball tonight. I love his feel for the game but as we saw against Iran he sometimes goes for the home run play too much. His ability to make the right decision will one day make him a good player at the international level for the Boomers. For now though, the young fella has to learn to play under control on a nightly basis.

Everyone is pumping up Pat Mills' tyres right now. Sure he was solid tonight but my six year old son isn't losing any sleep over a Kiwi point guard rotation of Lindsay Tait and Jeremy Kench. Europe will be a great test for the youngster.

I can't wait for the second game of the series on Saturday in Melbourne. It means we are only one game away from finally seeing the Boomers take on some legitimate Olympic medal competition.

Enough of that. It is only hours now until the fate of three Aussies and their NBA aspirations are decided courtesy of the NBA Draft. (Catch the draft action on ESPN from 9am Friday.)

Nathan Jawai has been State side preparing for this day for about a month. Hopefully he has put his best foot forward during his workouts for about 20 NBA teams.

We will find out if he impressed anyone enough to get rewarded with a first round pick. If he does, this guarantees him three years in the League at a healthy salary.

My Prediction: Early second round (ESPN's Chad Ford has him at 33.)
Aleks Maric is someone that not all Aussies are aware of. He has plied his trade in the tough Big 12 Conference for the past four years for the University of Nebraska. An interesting stat I came across today is Maric holds the All Time record for most double doubles in conference play (26).

This is quite an achievement by anyone's standard but it does not guarantee you an NBA deal.

If Maric slips through the NBA web he will play for big money in Europe. Another local talent that will not play in their home country. Australia has quite a stable of players building in Europe.

My Prediction: Late second round pick

Aaron Bruce is a guy that has given himself the best possible chance of making the NBA.

His career statistically at Baylor actually declined over his four years there. To his credit he has taken it on the chin and found a way to get some workouts with NBA teams.

You have to admire the fighting character the Horsham native has shown in his quest to make the NBA.

My Prediction: Not drafted, but will be on someones Summer League roster.

News From Around The Traps:
Simmons/Ford NBA Draft banter
J O'Neal/TJ Ford swap addresses.
Episode 3 - "The Rookie"

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Vlade Honoured - JR Got Payback

Divac never assisted on an autograph to a young punta.

Vlade Divac was recently honoured by being inducted into the Humanitarian Hall of Fame.

It is quiet obvious that Divac has been very active in helping out in many communities worldwide. Congrats to Vlade and all those other Serbian players that have helped those kids that are less fortunate than most.

When my Serbian friend passed on the article link (above) he reminded me how good a person Vlade is. This happened to open an old wound that had just healed from personal experience with Vlade Divac.

It was back in 1990 when I was on a "Pro Ball" tour of the States. You know the ones, where you play games against high schools, go to Disneyland and the highlight was going to an NBA game.

Well, we finally made it to the NBA game in Los Angles. Now this skinny kid from Toowoomba was dead set pumped to see the Lakers and the Sonics at the Forum.

Our touring party found our "nose bleed" seats right before tipoff. I'm thinking to myself, "this may be on of those once in a life time opportunities." So I start perusing the Forum for a better seat. Bang, I found one in the third row.

I work those stairs like a Jane Fonda workout to get there before some Hollywood celeb decides to join the game at halftime. Any amount of time spent in that seat gave me a chance to see "Big Game" James Worthy finish the fast break like only he could.

Low and behold the punt worked out out for the entire game. Third row for the majority of an NBA game at the Forum, I'll take it. I just had to settle for sitting behind "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler instead of Jack Nicholson.

Wow, my night had reached all my expectations but I thought I would try and hunt down some autographs after the game. Bushing my tour group, I high-tailed it to the back entrance to where the players would exit for home.

It seemed like an eternity before any movement came from the exit. First, the Sonics team bus left. The "Glove" (Gary Payton) seemed to be looking me straight in the eyes as they left for their hotel. I could only dream of him and me one day talking trash on the same court.

The first Laker to come out of the tunnel was my man Vlade Divac. I had my Hoop magazine open to his page ready for him to sign. Once he was in ear shot I said, "excuse me Sir, would you mind signing this please?"

"Not today", he murmured in his European accent as he began to dart up (light a cigarette).

Well, talk about shattering a young punta's dreams.

Fast forward to Belgrade, Yugoslavia 2002. The Boomers are playing the host nation from Yugoslavia.

The Serbs are loaded. All their NBA players (Divac, Stojakovic, Pavlovic, Jaric, Radmanovic and the great Euro player Bodiroga) were on deck in preparation for the World Championships later that month. (side note - They won the Gold at the 2002 World Champs.)

Everyone around the world that had an interest in this game could not have predicted what was going to happen next.

We boat raced the home team out of their own gym in front off 15 000 silent and dumb founded fans.

(Just as well you asked, JR could not be contained. The Serbs had no answer to the step back threes I was raining on them. I finished with a game high 23, I believe.)

The final buzzer went off and both teams went along and did the traditional shake of the hands after the game.

I was shaking all kinds of hands as I was rather excited about beating a team full of NBA and European stars.

But the moment had come. It was Vlade who was next in line and all my mind could do was go back to that night in Los Angles. My mind was working overtime. What should I do? This is the guy that dogged me for an autograph twelve years ago.

I just walked straight by him like he was never there. The puzzled look on his face showed he had no idea as to what just happened. But deep down I had just executed the best possible payback.

Maybe a little childish on my behalf, but I learnt a lesson that night while I was standing in that Los Angles winter night breeze.

Never brush a fan who is seeking an autograph.

Hoops News:
Bogut's tells us how to fix the NBL. Public awareness is a good start.
Perth sign Weigh.
James Harvey cut over being cut.
Lindsay Tait to lead Kiwi's. Somehow I don't think CJ and Mills are losing sleep.
Former Hawks import Doug Overton is named NBA assistant coach.
Andersen to play on Europe tour.
Bogut believes a medal in not out of the question.
Jawai Draft talk. more and more
Miami Heat looking to trade the #2 pick?
Shaq has badge revoked after rap on Kobe.
Blazers make a trade.
A great read on Len Bias.

Who is Len Bias? Watch and learn.

North Carolina vs Maryland 1984 - Bias, Jordan, Adrian Branch and more

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

There Is Only One "Dream Team" & News

The one and only "Dream Team". USA named its Beijing Olympic Team today. (read about it below.)

Today the U.S Olympic basketball team was named. Although it is a stronger outfit than the Bronze Medal 2004 Athens team, I feel they will have their work cut out for them if they are to capture the Gold in Beijing.

The team is very strong on the perimeter with Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Jason Kidd anchoring the guard positions.

They have great depth at the point guard position with Kidd (who has never lost in the red, white and blue colours), 2008 NBA MVP candidate Chris Paul and always improving Utah Jazz PG Deron Williams.

At shooting guard you have options in the way of Bryant, Dwayne Wade and the only pure shooter on the roster, Milwaukee Buck Michael Redd.

The small forward position is loaded with James, Carmelo Anthony and defensive specialist Tayshaun Prince. You have a nice mix here with Anthony being your best international player at this position and maybe on the team.

The "big man" department is where I see the USA team being vulnerable. Dwight Howard, Carlos Boozer and Chris Bosh are your only true interior players. Foul trouble could see the USA forced to play "small ball".

Although Boozer has experienced the Olympics before, I'm not sold on him being a force at the international level yet. Packing the defense in will force Boozer to make some decisions. This is not a strength of his. While both Bosh and Howard are still maturing as players and will be tested for sure against some of the veteran international players.

This lack of depth here will see Anthony log a lot of minutes in the four position. Going with this type of line up should be advantageous for the Stars and Stripes with Anthony having the ability to knock down the perimeter shot.

The point guards on this roster are primarily penetrators so having a big to spread the floor is a necessity for the PG's to be effective. Remember, in the past players like Stephon Marbury have struggled due to the inability to knock down the outside shot.

I was surprised they did not pick another legitimate "lights out" shooter to go with Redd. If he is having an off night or tournament, Kobe and Carmelo better to hitting from the land of plenty.

If they cannot consistently knock down perimeter shots, the USA better get used to facing a lot of zone defense again.

The strength of this team will their pressure defense. The wings will play the lanes like a hawk knowing the Howard or Bosh is back there to help if they get beaten on a backdoor play.

In Athens I saw James have an impact on the game by just playing the lanes and creating easy baskets. I look for more of the same from this team, but with better success as Bryant will be doing the same on the other wing and Prince backing these guys up.

If this team can create a lot of points from their defense they will not have to worry about their half court offense. The only trouble is, to win a medal you will be forced to play in the half court by the European teams.

Carmelo Anthony is the key to success for the US. His ability to play both inside and out will create mismatches against all opponents. He needs to be huge in Beijing if they are to win back the GOLD.

The NBA Draft is fast approaching so ESPN's Chad Ford has put forth his 6.0 Edition Mock Draft. He currently has Aussie Nathan Jawai going to the Minnesota Timberwolves at number 34.

If NBA rumours are for you, check these out.

Carmelo to miss first two games for DUI.

NBL News:

NBL and BA to merge, eventually.

Stephenson to be rubber stamped as Bullets owner. (side note: If this goes ahead and Jeff van Groningen is involved, Joey Wright will not be the coach.)

Latest on Jawai.

Crosswhite could become a Snake.

Former Towel Boy trying to save the Kings.

Shaq rapping and killing anyone who gets in his way.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Weekly ABA Wrap and NBL News

The Brisbane Bullets maybe sticking around after all. Read below to get the latest.

Well today produced some signings around the NBL that I had spoken about way back on May 28 of this year. I don't like to toot my own horn, but can I get a little respect for the breaking news!

South Dragons finally made it official that US import Cortez Groves has re-signed with the club, while former Brisbane Bullet championship winner Adam Gibson makes the move south.

Although the media is talking up Groves/Gibson as the new backcourt for the Dragons, look for US import Ebi Ere to still sign with the club and push Gibson to the bench.

I believe Joe Ingles will be the starting three man for this squad leaving no room for Gibson to be a starter.

The Bullets are still holding on for dear life. Brisbane basketball identity Brian Stephenson may just be the lifeline they need.

Stephenson has until the end of the month to prove that he can financially direct this club into the future, so he better have some fast twitch fibres working if he is going to get this over the line in time.

Also, the player pool is shrinking by the day so the quicker this gets done the quicker he can find players otherwise Paul Rees, Darrin Breeding and Duncan Johnstone may all get a phone call to play.

Last week Sam MacKinnon was officially released from the Brisbane Bullets. Look for MacKinnon to officially become a Melbourne Tiger soon.

With MacKinnon heading home to play for the defending champion Tigers, will we get to see him back in those "Sunny Crust" bread commercials again? (Oops, that was when he could dunk!)

Nathan Jawai worked out for the Memphis Grizzles over the weekend.

The New Zealand Tall Blacks team has been announced for the upcoming series against the Aussies.

There is a two game series this week between the two countries. Game 1 is on Thursday in sheep shagger territory, while Game 2 is in Melbourne on Saturday.

Some late news on the Kiwi team, Brendon Polybank has withdrawn due to injury.

Aleks Maric recently worked out for the New Orleans Hornets. He was kind enough to answer some question afterwards.


Queensland: Steve Broom's visit to Townsville last week left him with no fuel in the tank. Foul trouble hindered the athletic forward so he played limited minutes.

Waratah: Hornsby Spiders gave up 147 points in Wollongong. Message to Bruce Bolden - Get your team to play some defense instead of staring down the refs.

Big V: Darryl Corletto has a lazy triple double for his Melbourne Tigers.

Western Australia: My main man Michael Lay had a slow night at the office for Geraldton but his team still got the win.

South Australia: Pero Vasilijevic's best stat was 7 turnovers. OUCH!

SEABL: Anthony Stewart had 36 for his Hobart Chargers against a strong Geelong Cats outfit. Stewart must want a playing contract when he gets Hobart back into the NBL.

Episode 2 of "The Rookie"

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bits and Pieces

Nathan Jawai is about to find out what continent his next dunk will be performed on. On Friday (Aussie time), Jawai will find out the hand that he has been dealt via the 2008 NBA Draft.

Where Jawai falls right now, know one really knows. Some experts say first round, while others say second round to nothing.

If Jawai becomes a first round pick, well Australia will lay claim to having at least two players (read David Andersen below) in the NBA next season. Being picked in the first round guarantees Jawai a contract for a few years in the NBA. And the money ain't too bad either.

Slipping to the second round will create a cloudy picture for the Bamaga born giant. Depending on what team drafts him will determine where he plays. A team may draft him with the thought of him making their roster while another team may wish to send him overseas to monitor his progress for the future.

Brad Newley is a great example of this. The Houston Rockets drafted him last year and wanted him to continue his development in a tougher European environment. The Rockets touched base with Newley several times during the season, so it not out of sight, out of mind. (If you did not know, Newley had a good year in Greece.)

If Nate does not make an NBA roster this year, Europe would be an ideal situation for him to continue to grow as a player. He will become more NBA ready playing in Europe than he will in the NBL.

Our style of play in the NBL would stagnate his individual progress. He needs to be playing against bigger and stronger athletes on a nightly bases so he can improve. Europe offers this and Jawai would improve immediately in this environment.

David Andersen is the measuring stick for this philosophy. He left our shores as a raw 19 year old, now he has the basketball world at his feet. (read below for more on him.)

More on Jawai and Draft
Could he too go to the Rockets at pick 25?
A Mock Draft has him at 28 to the Grizz.

David Andersen seems to have security with options. What a situation to be in?

Over the weekend Andersen signed a three year deal with Barcelona while still looking at the possibility of playing in the NBA.

Although Andersen is leaving the European Champions CSKA Moscow, he joins another power in Barcelona. His three year deal with the Spanish club would not be for peanuts and Andersen hints at this. His asking price to join the NBA? A cool $5 million per season.

Players these days are prepared to forgo the prestige of the NBA for a lucrative deal in Europe. If $5 million is his NBA asking price, you know that his deal in Europe is going to be worth every cent of that.

Time will tell if the Atlanta Hawks believe that Andersen is worth that type of money. A huge Olympics by Andersen will not hurt his chances of joining the re surging Hawks.

Other News:
Sydney Kings have not given up just yet.
Waikato are your NZNBL Champs.
More dirt on Tim Johnston.
Aaron Bruce on his NBA Dream.
How will these big guys go in the Pros? Draft Rater.
Derrick Rose has a passion for winning.
Ref and NBA are not just talking turkey.
Kobe happy with roster.

Paul Pierce and KG on being Champs.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Bad Year...Sometimes It Happens

Thurston and his Cowboy teammates would be trying everything to get out of their funk.

The million dollar question around town right now is, “What is wrong with the Cowboys?”.

So many of us like to sit around tossing ideas back and forth about what we would do to ‘fix’ the team. But you know what? Sometimes your favourite team just has one of those bad seasons that they would rather forget and you could never predict. I think it is safe to say this is that year for our Cowboys.

Similarly, if you were to cast your mind back a few years to the Crocodiles team of 2005/06, we had arguably the most talented roster ever assembled in Townsville and could only manage a paltry 9-23 season.

What mystery factor is it that can cause such an unforeseen turn around when things just look so right on paper?

When a team is in the middle of one of these types of slumps, you will often see a good portion of dedicated players putting in extra time on the practice field in an attempt at rectifying the situation. Although it is easy for fans who see players once a week to forget, most of us have a lot of pride in what we do and never want to be embarrassed week in and week out.

Players aren’t alone in their search for the answer. If there is any coach who is not putting in extra time when their team is down, whether it be by spending extra time in on video or attempting to tweak the practice schedule, they should find another profession. These guys are usually desperate to find their way back to the winner’s circle.

I remember Coach Ian Stacker exhausting many avenues in his attempt to turn the ship. One example included schedule changes. His practice schedule for years had included two on court sessions a day. He knocked that back to one halfway through that 05/06 mess, hoping his players would respond because we would be fresher for games.

And the list of changes didn’t stop there. His pre-game motivational talks started to venture into previously uncharted waters, like watching Freddie Mercury and his band Queen perform or discussions of the great wars that helped shape our world.

The head coach will try anything to find a motivational technique that works for his troops.

So the point I am trying to make is that right now, individually, I would guess that most people involved in the Cowboys organization are putting in the effort that should be getting results. Unfortunately, when you are stuck in the middle of a season like this, all that effort can seem to compound the problem.

Again looking back to my own experience, our team would meet all too often to discuss how we were going to break out of our funk. It almost seemed that our every moment was spent concentrating on how we would fix the problem. I think this can become detrimental to the cause. There is a fine line between exploring a problem and dwelling on it.

So if I were to put in my two cents to the Cowboys, I would remind them that their skills have not suddenly been lost overnight. They have nothing more to lose, so maybe it is time to just play. There is something to be said for remembering to trust your instincts and for putting a hault to the over-analysis of ‘the problem’. Football is what many of these guys have been doing most of their lives.

And as a last resort, there is always the old saying, “Sometimes you need a bad year to appreciate the good ones”. It may not answer any of our questions about this season, but from a player’s perspective, nothing could be closer to the truth.

You can find my article in the Townsville Bulletin every Saturday.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Shawn Redage did not play tonight.

Tonight the Australian Boomers ended a lack luster series against Iran with a lower scoring game. The end score, 88-65, did not really reflect the length of time the Aussies allowed the visitors to hang around in the game. The series ended up 3-0.
I just hope the Kiwi's offer a little more next week in their two games against the Green and Gold.
Other News:
USA interest in the Kings.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Late ABA Wrap and My All Time Versatile Team

Simon Dwight was more than just a shot blocker.

I took in my first ABA game last weekend when I saw the Mackay Meteors take on the Rockhampton Rockets. Although there was some good skills on display, there is a huge gap in the intensity between this level and the NBL.

Queensland: Gargamel (aka Cameron Tragardh) is talking up his return to Rocky.

Waratah: Will this become the league where BJ Carter fans can be found?

Big V: Simon Conn (37pts, 14rebs) reminded Brian Goorjian he would look good in a Dragons uniform.

Western Australia: For my WA readers I'm now up to date with my boxscores and my main man Michael Lay keeps racking up the stats.

South Australia: Pero Vasilijevic is back home.

SEABL: Spartans drop 64 on the Gunners. Maybe back to the QABL boys!

Back by popular demand I'm naming my All Time Versatile Team. After having a great response to last week's team I thought I would come up with a new team this week. My All Time Versatile Team. Only rule, they must have been a teammate of mine at some stage. Here we go:

PG: Darnell Mee - This guy flew under the radar in Canberra but once he joined the Adelaide 36ers he became one of the most sought after players in Australia.

Teams love him for his all round play and his defensive prowess. This guy just does what his team needs on the night. Whether it is locking up the opposition's best perimeter player or providing offense, Mee can do it all.

He doesn't mind a highlight either. Whether it is a weakside block or a dunk down the pipe, Mee gets his share of oohs and ahhs.

SG: Leroy Loggins - Leapin Leroy is one of the NBL's All Time greats and I was a teammate of his during my rookie year.

Leroy had it all. Post up, pull up J and he developed the three ball as his career progressed. Oh and don't forget this skinny kid from Baltimore shooting the defensive lanes and finishing it with the one hand jam.

The biggest impact Leroy had on me though was "hope". As a junior I was always told I was too skinny to make the team. Lucky for me Leroy was killing the NBL and he was my bulid.

While he lit up the NBL, I had to be content with dropping numbers in the Toowoomba club competition. I never gave up hope though as the skinny import for the Bullets showed that weight was not everything.

Thanks Leroy.

SF: Robert Rose - The current leader in the NBL for total triple doubles. The true definition of versatility.

The "Magician" just found a way to get the job done. Whether it was dropping a clutch three with the shot clock winding down or a defensive rebound to shore up the victory, he did whatever it took to win.

His sheer will to win saw his team win many games that they had no business winning.

Now coaching in the ABA in Queensland, he may just find a way to get his team to win. He always has before.

PF: Sam MacKinnon - Slammin Sam can probably lay claim to the title of the most versatile Australian born player ever. He is the current leader for triple doubles by an Aussie player.

MacKinnon can pull a defensive rebound then turn and lead the fast break, finishing it off with a dunk or a pass. He has the ability to play above the rim and make plays that not all players can.

Sure his perimeter game has been questioned but he now at least makes you think about closing him out at the three.

Some may say play Hack-a-Shaq with him but with Loggins and Rose on the team, MacKinnon would be the ideal inbounds man at the end of the game.

One of a few guys that can have an impact at both the offensive and defensive end of the game.

C: Simon Dwight - The Landlord can anchor any team I'm a part of. Sure he passed up the NBA but the man can block shots in his sleep.

Although we remember him for this defensive skill he also had a nice repoire at the offensive end. He could step out and knock down the three. Close him out and he could put it on the floor for a dribble and be at the rim.

He was a very underrated passer. He hooked me and Derek Rucker up on many occassions. He even helped us out on defensive every now and then.

I remember one game against the Kings at the Superdome. He had the Kings so scared to attack the basket, Frank Drmic dribbled right though the keyway,...out of bounds.

It is time to pay the rent, the Landlord rounds out my team.

I would be happy to stack this team up against any others people can put together. They just had to be teammates at one time.

Side note: Three of my five guys were teammates at the Canberra Cannons (Dwight, Rose, Mee) in 1996. What were Canberra thinking by letting them go?

Aussie News:
Johnston to be arrested?
Eddie has a the power.
NZNBL championship.
Johnston still missing.
Pigs to play Runnin Rebels.
All info from the Boomers Game 2! video and boxscore

State Side:
Bill Simmons never lets you down.
Scoop Jackson on KG.
Pierce's road to greatness.

Mike Beasley - The Rookie

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Celtics Win NBA & Boomers Cruise

2008 NBA Champs....Boston Celtics

Well a little heckling from the cheap seats was just the medicine I needed to remove myself from the porcelain bus I have been driving for the last few days.

Now that my health is better lets get on with the day's play.

Congratulations to the Boston Celtics and their 17th NBA Championship.

The Celtics today killed the Los Angles Lakers 131-92 in Game 6. Nothing more needs to be said about this game than, a clinic was conducted today.

But, while I watched this series I always come back to what a coach once said to me. "All players are role players, you must just perform your role within the team."

During this NBA Championship series all the Celtics players lived up to their role. Whether is was Rajon Rondo delivering the timely assist or steal, or Leon Powe bringing energy in Game 2, the Celts team did their job.

Sure Paul Pierce was the MVP of the Finals but he was allowed to excel because all the team did their job.

On the other hand everyone is all over Kobe Bryant now because he did not deliver. He had a poor playoff performance by his standards but so did all of the Lakers roster.

The likes of Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol would have expected more of themselves, which would have allowed Kobe more room to operate and excel.

At the end of the day though the Celtics were by far the better team in this series.

Already I'm looking forward to the same two teams reaching the NBA Finals next year. Can we say we have an NBA 80's revival on our hands.

NBA Articles:
Daily Dime
Celtics camp to Champs
Lakers questioned
Chad Ford's latest draft info.
Who is suiting up for Team USA this summer?
Good article from ESPN Mag - grass roots hoops.
Cuban-Nellie dispute still going.
Sonics in court - DJ Leon Smith will be very happy.

Now to the Boomers World Challenge and those tough Iranians.

The Australian Boomers continued giving the Iran National Team a fair dinkum touch up in Game 2, 97-53.

It was never a contest. The Boomers jumped on them early with their trapping defense causing the visitors to turn the ball over on what seemed every offensive possessions.

It began to resemble an u/10's junior club game so I'm not going to waste my time on critiquing this one.

The only note worthy thing to come out of this one was Joe Ingles performance. I believe his performance tonight was not a positive one. Some costly turnovers and loose play may have cost him his spot on the Olympic team tonight.

Having played for Brian Goorjian I know how loose plays grind on him.

For those that may have missed it, Darnell Mee and Damien Ryan have been released from the Boomers squad.

NBL Articles:
Sav returns to his original nest.
Jason Crowe wins NZNBL MVP.
Bullets buyer a true mystery.
No room to be a Pig if you're a King.
Casey Frank wins NZ award.
More Kings players on the market.
Aaron Bruce and family talking NBA chances up.
Jawai looking forward to NBA. more on him video footage
Rickert re-signs with Breakers and as reported here days ago Adam Tanner signs.
Draper gets NBA try out with Raptors.
Goorj starting to plant seed, just in case all goes wrong.

For All You Celtic Fans


Not going to flash at the moment. Once I'm back up off my sick bed I'll be right back to it.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tough Decisions Ahead For Goorjian

David Barlow led the Aussies with 19pts last night against Iran.

Last night saw the Australian Boomers take out an easy but scrappy 87-68 victory over the Iran National Team.

With twenty guys still in contention for the Beijing Olympic Team I can see the final team selection process only getting harder for coach Brian Goorjian.

As I have talked about in a previous blog Goorjian would have about 10 guys already earmarked for final section. By still having such a large squad during these games Goorjian is giving someone the opportunity to make his final selection a tough one. One that could have been avoided in my opinion.

Lets take Shawn Redage for example. I'm guessing that on Goorjian's final team list that he has pictured in his mind, Redage would miss out. Redage plays at the four spot, deepest position on the team.

He is not beating out Matt Nielsen, David Andersen or Mark Worthington. Sure, Goorj may rub his melon for a little while over the Worthington/Redage decision but he will take Worthington at the end of the day.

So back to my point, by playing Redage is this series Goorjian maybe creating himself some headaches that could have been avoided.

Redage is the type of player that is going to make the most of the opportunities that come his way. He proved this last night with a solid 13 points which included a perfect 3 from 3 from "down town". One area I think Redage will struggle with is finishing around the basket against the bigger European teams, and he showed a little of this last night.

If Shawn continues to play well over the next few games Goorjian paints himself into a corner as far a team selection goes.

I'd have a squad of 15 guys right now just so you have a few numbers at practice plus you can cover for the absent Andrew Bogut, David Andersen and Nathan Jawai.

Game 2 is on Wednesday in Adelaide. Goorj was suppose to make some more cuts after the game last night. If he hasn't look for someone else to make the most of the opportunity given to them creating more unnecessary headaches.

Side Note: Theses are the players I feel are just waiting for Goorj to tap them on the shoulder: AJ Ogilvy, Damien Ryan, James Harvey, Russell Hinder, Wade Helliwell.
Guys that will be kept to the end but fall short: Darnell Mee, Shawn Redage, Joe Ingles.

Time will tell if I'm close to the mark!

NBL News:
Look for Aussie YAP Adam Tanner (had signed with Brisbane) to sign with the New Zealand Breakers in the upcoming days.
BA's write up on the Boomers game.

NBA News:
Lakers win Game 5 but need to get better if they are to win in Boston.
You can rank the Top 10 NBA MVP's.
Yao close to hitting the court again.
Agents trying to control the draft?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I'm Lovin The Comments

Kings fans can hold their breath. There may be a saviour by the end of the week!

All weekend I have been down in Mackay helping out with junior basketball clinics. I arrive home to blog about the upcoming Australian Boomers/Iran series starting tomorrow night in Perth but I have put that on hold due to the passionate comments I have been receiving over the past few days.

I love that people are taking a keen and passionate interest in the state of the NBL and their team so keep the comments coming.

Below I have posted some of the more opinionated one's and put forth my view, again.

"You're playing the PR game bravely John, but you're only kidding yourself. Sydney is the heart of corporate Australia. It's the proving ground for the advertising dollar. So much of the nation's media is run out of Sydney that if you can't attract attention there, you lack a truly national presence.You talk about `the long run'. Truth is, there likely won't be one. Who will sponsor a competition without a Sydney presence? (And don't give me `what about the Razorbacks?' Most Sydneysiders don't know who they are.)Your obvious delight at the Kings' situation likely comes from being a former Pig ie losing GFs to the Kings, attention etc.Truth is, the league is on its knees. The A-League is about to wipe it out.Kings fan." Spud said.

Do I think the NBL needs a Kings type of team in Sydney and the NBL? Absolutely, but it needs to be a well run organisation otherwise the NBL gets the negative attention we are seeing right now. No business needs this type of attention that tarnishes the overall product.

I have no "obvious delight" about what happened to the Kings. They were the team everybody loved to hate. Every league needs a team like this in their competition. It brings people to the game when the Kings are on the road.

As for losing the Grand Final to the Kings, I have never spent a minute thinking about the Kings winning it. Everyday I just think about how we "choked".

"If you think that the league is going to be better off without the Kings (and fingers crossed the Bullets somehow survive) then you are delusional. There are no positives to come out of Sydney losing its license. The only positive is that Johnston is gone, and the NBL could have done that over a year ago but was too incompetent! If anything, the league will lose more talent because of this. Less teams here means more players going O/S. How is that a good thing for the NBL? Or for Aussie bball as a whole unless O/S comps are once again shown on free to air TV? It's not good. Also, today's rosters are not worse than yesteryears'. The Kings team that just got tossed would've served your '98 sixers without breaking a sweat. Not to mention the Tigers team that beat the Kings. The NBL has shot itself in the foot by kicking out Sydney. The league's propularity will only dwindle further unless they take a break to re-tool. And lets hope they get a decent, independent board one of these days." Brickie said.

I'm not disagreeing about losing the players to overseas leagues. This is where the NBL needs to revise some of the stipulations about a team makeup, quickly.

A few ideas off the top of my head are:
1. Scrap the points system.
2. Allow a roster of 12 players (still play 10) of these twelve must remain a YAP .

What they cannot do is re rate these players so teams that do not have a full roster can sign some of these players. Teams that already have their roster in place will "spit chips" if this happens.

"I feel you guys that are saying the corporate dollar will take a hit. But if you think any team in the league now (with the possible exception of the Tiges) could have run with the Sixers team JR's talkin bout, you are either too young to remember them or a one eyed Sydney-sider. League is in trouble, yes. Kings staying in the comp ever going to help the situation? Hell no. And BTW, a lot of Sydney people couldn't name one Kings playa. This is not a measure of the Rbacks as much as of the league as a whole." This from Anonymous.

Just to touch on that mighty Adelaide 36ers championship team of 1998. The makeup of talent on that squad was unbelievable and not seen in today's competition.

2 imports (Kevin Brooks and Darnell Mee) with NBA experience. 6 Aussies (Brett Maher, Martin Cattilini, Scott Ninnis, Paul Rees, Mark Davis and myself) that represented their country.

The other two were Rupert Sapwell and Dean Brogan.

Sapwell had a Mars commercial at the age of 16 and Brogan is in a league of his own by winning premierships in two different national sporting competitions (NBL, AFL).

All that aside we played a pretty entertaining style of hoops to boot.

I look forward to replying to more passionate comments.

Current NBL News:
Legends Gaze and Loggins back the NBL.
Rob Beveridge knows junior talent and Aussies are up there.
Goorjian to make more cuts to Boomers squad.
Good game in the NT.
Matt Nielsen is back.
Scouting report on Nathan Jawai and here is another.

NBA News:
As the Lakers are on the brink of elimination Phil Jackson has asked me not to comment on this topic as his players spend too much time on my blog site. I respect Phil and what he is about so I have "No Comment" on the NBA today.

NBA Preview:

Saturday, June 14, 2008

It Is Time To Move Forward

Stick a fork in 'em!

This week has seen the Sydney Kings have to hand their license back to the NBL and the Brisbane Bullets still without a keen buyer; it might be time for the NBL to step in and make some bold decisions.

If you are a life long fan of either of these franchises you are holding your breath for a “White Knight” to appear at your doorstep before the magical June 30th deadline.

This all sounds good in theory but this is having an adverse effect on the rest of the league as we wait for both franchises to be pulled from their life support. Time is a ticking here people as we wait.

National sponsorship and television deals have been put on hold until these issues are fully resolved. If I’m Hummer (NBL major sponsor) or Fox Sports (the only way to see NBL live on TV) there is no doubt I would want to know what direction the NBL is heading in before my company signed a new sponsorship agreement.

This is where I feel the NBL must draw a line in the sand so the league can move on and prepare for the upcoming season.

If the NBL was to come out and say we are going with two less teams for this upcoming season, at least the rest of the league could move forward.

I’m not doubting there would be some initial disappointment with the lose of these two storied franchises but why should the rest of the league hang in limbo waiting for a miracle to happen?

Once this June 30th deadline ticks around the NBL has two and a half months before the tip off of the 2008/09 season. I just cannot see how this is enough time for the NBL to have all the above mentioned things in place for the start of the season.

Although I’m hearing that Hummer wishes to remain on board as the major sponsor, a deal of this magnitude is not going to happen over night. I’ll take an educated guess and say Hummer’s monetary involvement will hinge on a television deal as well.

So, to nut out a deal that will see both Hummer and Fox Sports happy and back on board with basketball the NBL needs to allow itself a solid window of time to get these deals over the line.

I my opinion the longer the other eleven franchises of the NBL have to sit around and wait on the fate of the Kings and the Bullets the harder it will be for the NBL to the start the season with any type of impact on the sporting calendar.

The Kings and the Bullets have known their fate for sometime now. It is time for the NBL to take them off their life support so the rest of the league can breath easier.

My weekly article can be found in the Townsville Bulletin every Saturday.
Former Kings coach Bob Turner has his say on the matter.
Nathan Jawai interview after Utah Jazz workout!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

KINGS ARE GOONNEE - League Can Get Stronger

Print this out so you have some Kings memorabilia.

The Sydney Kings have had to turn their license back into the NBL. Unless a "White Knight" rides into town quickly the NBL will lose two, Brisbane Bullets being the other, of its storied franchises by the time June 30th rolls around.

I'm not going to keep harping on about the pros and cons of all of these happens because I feel the product of our game will only strengthen with the lose of these two teams.

Having thirteen teams means that there is a lot of opportunity for guys to find work as a professional basketballer in this country. Approximately 120 Australians get to say they are pro ballers.

If or when we go back to eleven teams this means some guys will miss out on jobs. It is always disappointing to see someone lose their job but by downsizing to eleven teams should only strengthen our oncourt product.

Having been fortunate enough to have played in the "good ole days" of the nineties, I feel today's roster are weaker than yester year.

I just take a look at the 1998 Adelaide 36ers championship team I was part of and think about how that team would go in today's league.? Absolutely blitz it is my reply.

Name a team in today's competition that is as deep as this one. Darnell Mee and Brett Maher in the backcourt. Joining them you have Kevin Brooks, Martin Cattilini and Paul Rees up front.

Off the bench you had Mark Davis, Scott Ninnis, Rupert Sapwell, rookie Dean Brogan and myself.

You would have a problem keeping that team together due to the points system, but I just cannot see that team losing too many games in today's competition.

We legitimately went nine deep. (I was the second most inexperienced on that squad and I was in my 4th year while Dean Brogan was just using us as a warmup to AFL.)

In today's league I feel most teams only go about 8 deep and that is being generous to some.

So, although the NBL is getting this doom and gloom picture painted for it by main stream media, I believe that the level of play will improve due to the strenghtening of rosters.

The NBL needs to do a quick revision of its policies regarding players points, etc before we lose some of these players to overseas leagues.

An example I use here is Greg Vanderjagt. Under the current system Vanderjagt is going to struggle to find a roster spot in the NBL because most teams have filled their spots. By losing Vanderjagt from the NBL only hurt our overall product.

With the axing of these two teams, potentially 8 to 10 solid NBL players will not have jobs. This is why the NBL needs to come up with a revised system so these players are not lost.

It is these guys that make your competition strong. The "superstars" will always find a roster spot and young guys with "potential" are always kept around.

Losing the likes of your Vanderjagt's and Mike Hill's have a negative impact on the league.

Hopefully the NBL can implement some new rules that will allow these players to find roster spots. If they can, you may just be pleasantly surprised with the end result.

All NBL News From The Last Day:

Kings lose license.

Will sponsors stay on board?

Wrublewski rejected.

BJ Carter has his say about the Kings situation.

Bullets under the gun.

Kings owner suing the NBL?

The Violets crumble.

Liquidators move in.

Gold Coast CEO chimes in.

Goorjian says, "it is no time to panic."

BJ Carter again.

There has been an Andre Moore sighting. Good stuff.

Damian Martin cleared to play.

Hawks have new signing.