This weekend the Townsville Crocodiles get a real chance to sink our teeth into some good preseason basketball in Cairns at the annual Queensland Cup.
Preseason has been rolling along for about four weeks now and the timing of these games could not have been better.
Up to this point, we have been working our tails off at practice. There has been a lot of time devoted to acquainting ourselves with new members of the team and developing an understanding of the direction Coach Trevor Gleeson would like us moving through the season. I think now that we have had devoted a reasonable amount of time to these things, this weekend’s games will help us gauge how we are travelling thus far.
Obviously we have had a few disruptions through the course of this pre-season, most notably the loss of Brad Sheridan and Steve Broom for the season through injury. And Queensland Cup action was all but kind to Brad Williamson who rolled his ankle in our first game. However, I have stated many times before in this very column,… injury is part of sport.
How we respond to the changes brought about by injury will be another test we have to face and the pre-season is the perfect time to do it.
Young guys, such as Steve Costanzo, now get an opportunity to be thrown into the fire to see what areas they need to develop to take that next step in their career. A few months ago, Steve was signed as a development player. Right now he is playing solid minutes because of the injuries that have occurred. There is now doubt this experience now can fast track young Steve’s development to an NBL player if he takes advantage of the opportunity.
Meanwhile veteran players like me will often use a weekend like this to get myself back into the mental and physical grind of an NBL season. Playing back to back games lets you know where your body is at physically. Some of veteran players have not played at all for up to 5 months, and nothing retrains the body better than some back to back game time.
The mental preparation for another season is just as important and gets tested as well. We start the routine of travelling, playing and then waking up the next morning with some aches and pains knowing we have to prepare for another game later that day. It is all part of getting ready for the regular season.
So here’s hoping we pass this weekend’s test with flying colours. It would be outstanding to head into the regular season with confidence in ourselves and each other that we have gained through some solid pre-season outings.
I, along with many Croc fans, would like nothing better that to bring some passion and pride into our Swamp this season.
You can read my article in the Townsville Bulletin every Saturday.
Joe Ingles is currently weighing up this season's playing options. I guess a solid European offer has come across his desk. I would love to be a fly on the wall when Joe and his South Dragons coach Brian Goorjian sit down to talk.
boxscore from last nights Crocs vs Taipans game.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
This weekend the Townsville Crocodiles get a real chance to sink our teeth into some good preseason basketball in Cairns at the annual Queensland Cup.
Thanks to teammate Corey "Homicide" Williams, I'm back in business. It must be said this guy is street savvy, he carries his own wireless modem around whereas I just have confidence that a hotel will have Internet access in the room. After all, we are in 2008.
The NBL preseason is in full swing with most teams playing games over this weekend.
Up here in Cairns tonight saw us (Townsville Crocs) take on the host team, Cairns Taipans. The Crocs came away with a hard fought five point win, 96-91.
The star for the Crocs tonight was Russell Hinder. Hinder would have troubled the Taipans for close to thirty points. He was doing it all tonight, 3's, pull up J's and even flirted with a dunk in traffic.
For the rest of us, it was just solid and spread around. Corey did his thing at times, Rosell Ellis was tough on the block, Michael Cedar hit some timely threes and "Man Mountain" rookie Steve Costanzo scored a couple.
It was a rather scrappy, intense game that went down to the wire. We could just not quite shake the Taipans in the last quarter. To their credit they hang around but Williams and Kelvin Robertson closed the game out by nailing their free throws.
For the Taipans Dave Thomas was good. He was a monster on the offensive glass for them. He finished the game with a double double.
Former Croc Larry Abney was active as he usually is, while Ian Crosswhite should be a good addition to their squad. He has become an effective player off the pick and roll.
The Taipans played without Stephen Black (sick?) and Martin Cattalini. Cattilini looked good in warm ups but old age got to him before tip off.
Tomorrow is a rest day for the Queensland Cup and play resumes and ends on Sunday.
We play the Gold Coast Blaze while the Taipans will play the winless Sydney Spirit in the night cap.
Preseason Results - NBL
Gold Coast Blaze defeat Sydney Spirit. Greg Vanderjagt has 22 points in fifteen minutes.
Wollongong Hawks get past the Adelaide 36ers.
Cairns Taipans get past Gold Coast. boxscore
Townsville Crocs take care of Sydney Spirit. boxscore
Perth Wildcats beat the New Zealand Breakers in game 2.
Other NBL News
As reported here days ago, Ben Knight has signed with the Perth Wildcats.
Mark Tyndale cleared to play for 36ers on Saturday.
The city of Brisbane is getting ready to make a new push for an NBL team.
It's all about the money.
Hawk Glen Saville likes Kobe.
Manu Ginobili has ankle surgery.
The Sonics will have a new name September 3.
Memphis sign Iranian Olympian Hamed Haddadi to deal.
New Orleans Hornets sign Kiwi Sean Marks.
ESPN's Ian Whittell writes about NBA stars going to Europe.
Well it's time to go because Homicide has just walked in and needs to watch some more of his You Tube videos. Hopefully he will let me use his facilities again tomorrow.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Sorry about this people, but it seems that I’m more isolated than Rod Benson in North Dakota.
I’m here in sunny Cairns at a tropical resort with no internet access and limited TV. What will I do with myself?
Hopefully tomorrow morning when I wonder down to reception they will be able to help out with at least dial-up in my room.
Don’t they realize I people hanging and waiting on my every word?
We had a solid 110-106 win over the Sydney Spirit tonight. Eight out of our nine guys scored in double figures with Corey Williams our leading scorer with 19.
For the Spirit, Liam Rush had 19.
Hopefully I can get back into the cyber world tomorrow and make life a little more normal.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I hope my coach does not want us to adopt this blocking out technique Chris Bosh is using.
Over the next four days I will be in Cairns for their annual Queensland Cup. This has become a four team event that the Taipans put on during the preseason.
This year Sydney Spirit will join the three Queensland franchises (Gold Coast, Cairns and Townsville) as we battle it out for this prestigious title.
All teams play each other once during the tournament and a winner is crowned at the end. If there are multiple teams on the same amount of wins at the end of it all, Cairns head honcho Juanita O'Brein finds her Casio fx-82 (calculator), punches some numbers in furiously and will then announce that Cairns won due to the formula she was using.
What I'm really looking forward to seeing over the weekend:
- If Pero Cameron has changed his eating habits over the off season. I'm sure I will find out when he sets his first screen on me.
- How new Sydney Spirit import Derrick Lowe is handling playing for a high octane team. Lowe went to Washington State University, a school that takes every ounce of air out of the ball.
- Will anyone have a worse haircut then Corey "Homicide" Williams? I find that hard to believe, but I will take my camera just in case.
- How many times a Cairns fan yells out "nice shot (Brad) Newley", when it is actually Cam Tovey.
- Does Daniel Joyce have any new ink?
- Will Spirit rebounding machine Matt Knight still be rockin a perm this year?
- How confused Corey Williams will be when both Brad and Drew Williamson are on the court at the same time? Corey has had a little problem so far remembering who is who.
Tomorrow night's games are as follows:
Townsville Crocs vs Sydney Spirit (5.30pm)
Cairns Taipans vs Gold Coast Blaze (8.00pm)
I will have daily updates on these games, providing Cairns hotels have Internet service.
News and Views
- Yao Ming's bed from the Beijing Olympics is just one of the many items up for auction.
- Darryl McDonald and Warrick Giddey will lace them up this weekend for the Melbourne Tigers. The Tigers are hurting for numbers for their preseason game due to several of their players (and coach) committed to the ABA finals this weekend. I wonder if Andrew Gaze will dust them off, just so Giddey can get a stat in the form of an assist?
- I know my man over at A Stern Warning will have covered this so go there to find more. But former Portland Trailblazer Kevin Duckworth has died at the age of 44. I once bumped into the "Duck" in a USA airport. My recollection of this moment - the biggest leather jacket I have ever seen to this day. (I have seen 7'6 Shaun Bradley wearing a leather jacket but the "string bean" shopped for his jacket in the belt section.) RIP Kevin Duckworth.
- Perennial ABA juggernaut Cameron Tragardh is trying to flex his muscle. This year's ABA is not over and the Wollongong Hawks centre is already putting demands on Bundaberg if they wish to secure his signature for next season.
- The guys at Sports Count have a few good reads. First one is on NBA players and their tuff stickers, while they also get in on the athletes and blogging debate.
- Cairns Taipan Gary Boodnikoff is getting back to his best.
- Darwin All-Stars lighting it up in the Brunei Cup.
- Adelaide 36ers believe they have a good feeling about this team.
- World Hoops Blog has athlete/blogger Rod Benson signed in France.
- New Zealand Breakers are coming to the mainland for 8 days to see what is new in the world plus play some preseason games.
- Crocs go hard, as always.
- TrueHoop has a nice write up about Kevin Duckworth.
- Not a good day for former NBA players. Wayman Tisdale has part of his leg removed to stop cancer.
- A couple weeks ago I introduced an Aussie kid by the name of Angus Brandt. He has caught the attention of many college coaches in the USA. Here is a little update of what a scouting service is hearing and check out the list of schools already.
- New Zealand Breaker fans, you can now get closer to your favourite player. Check this out.
Check out athlete/blogger Rod Benson on ESPN's E:60
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Yesterday Benson made an honest blog entry about how his blogging may be keeping him out of the NBA. It is well worth a read but I will paraphrase it for you.
All summer Benson has been trying to make an NBA squad for his rebounding ability, but he feels his blog has sent up a "red flag" when franchises are looking at him.
He was honest saying that while on trial with NBA teams he did watch what he was writing so it did not come back to haunt him.
It is a shame that it has come to this. Fans love character and Benson has a whole lot of good character in him. It would be disappointing to find out that a player missed out on a contract due to their creative side.
All the best to Rod Benson and his Movement. I believe he will be turning this into an international thing. Boom Tho!
This brings me to the NBL and this subject.
With the sport of basketball receiving very little good national media coverage I can't see why the league would not want to provide the Australian public with a lighter side of their players.
Go to the NBL website and their is no evidence that any of the league's players get to show their off court abilities and personalities.
We now live in a world where the Internet is a serious media tool. The NBL has 100+ players at their disposal for this. Fans love to log on and see what players have to say. Stranger things have happened, it may even become interactive to some degree. Wow, what an idea!
Now to why I actually began this entry. I have been plugging away at this blogspot for almost a year now (much improved I hope, but still plenty of room for improvement) and no one from the NBL has ever approached me about linking it or using it somehow on their site.
I'm not saying I'm this great writer or anything but I'm sure fans wouldn't mind reading some of my opinions, whether they agree or disagree.
Unlike Benson who may miss out on his dream of the NBA due to blogging, I feel the NBL should be using this tool to get their players and their personalities out there for the fans to see.
Let me know some of your ideas as to how the NBL could improve the use of the cyber world or how I could capture the imagination of the basketball world?
- Thanks to a regular reader (Russell), here is an ESPN article on how international NBA players faired at the Olympics. Aussies on the list include Andrew Bogut, Brad Newley, David Andersen and Pat Mills.
- Former NBA journeyman Rick Brunson gives fellow Temple Owl Mark Tyndale the thumbs up about Adelaide.
- A good article on Darryl McDonald and his life.
- Dusty Rychart has good feeling about his new team.
- Another Italian article - Former King Dontaye Draper signs there.
- "Hungarian Stir Fry" has a sore knee.
- Dream Team vs Redeem Team - read ESPN's Chris Sheridan's article. For what my opinion is worth, Dream Team in a romp due to their interior play.
- Aussie Luke Nevill goes into his senior year at the University of Utah trying to become a NBA 1st round draft pick. Read here for more.
- Sports Illustrated article on The You Tube-ization of Sports.
- Baron Davis wants in for London 2012.
- Check out The Sports Count and their article on Spurs Tony Parker releasing a rap album. I'll let you be the judge.
Monday, August 25, 2008
- Word on Perth's Hay St is that Singapore Slinger Ben Knight is in town. Very interesting. Does this mean former league MVP Paul Rogers' knee injury is worse than first reported?
- Adelaide Advertiser's Boti Nagy reports new import Mark Tyndale is ready to help the 36ers and put his NBA aspirations on hold.
- Gold Coast Blaze run over the Sydney Spirit. "Shane (Heal) is leading us and guys are coming with him." Blaze assistant coach Mark Watkins talking to the Gold Coast Bulletin.
- Former Australian Boomer Damien Ryan has re-signed in Italy. This time around he has joined Division 2 team Aurora Basket Jesi. If you can read Italian here is a link.
- NBL CEO Chuck Harmison believes the Opals and Boomers did their country proud.
- Top Ten Foreign NBA Players according to Bleacher Report. Australia, it's time to get mad, there is no Andrew Bogut.
- If your a blogger who is trying to improve your traffic, check out World Hoops Blog and his article Blogging For Bucks #1.
- We're all Jokers according to blogger A Stern Warning.
- ESPN's Pat Forde takes a look back at all things good and bad from Beijing. Aussie swimmer Grant Hackett took out the bronze medal as "Biggest Dud, Male Division". A good read.
- Rick Reilly takes a lite hearted look at China and the Games.
- The Brunei Cup 2008 is on right now. The former NBL team known as the Singapore Slingers are there as well as a team from Darwin. Click here to view results. (I didn't see Ben Knight's name there.)
Stephen A Smith and Bill Walton on the gold medal game
Sunday, August 24, 2008
This is for you DJ Leon Smith!
The world of basketball is back to normal with the USA winning both the men (boxscore)and the women (boxscore).
Why I say this is, the state of basketball is better off when the rest of the world is trying to hunt down the USA.
All countries can go home now and figure out how they are going to beat the might of the Red, White and Blue in London. Everyone thought playing zone would help but it didn't. Hired gun Michael Redd sat and watched more than he played so that theory went out the door, fast.
What the USA did better in China than in Athens was team selection. They put together a backcourt that could compete with the rest of the world.
First, Jason Kidd replaced Stephon Marbury. A no brainer for even the most loyal Marbury fan. Kidd is team first, second and third, while Marbury, well I'm not sure what is first for this guy! Just a little stat, Kidd has never lost in national team colours.
Lebron James and Kobe Bryant patrolled the wings. KoBron as this pairing is known as now are the best in the world at their positions. Certainly an upgrade from second tier players in Richard Jefferson and Shawn Marion.
To go along with this combo you throw in Chris Paul, Deron Williams and a very healthy Dwayne Wade and the USA have different looks they can throw at any opposition.
Upfront they had Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh. Anthony is the guy that stretched the defense so LeBron and whoever else could penetrate. Howard and Bosh were there to finish around the rim, rebound and block shots. They did that.
So, the Redeem Team did their job and Jerry Colangelo and Coach K ride off into the sunset having done their job.
What will 2012 bring from the USA because they have the rest of the world gunning for them once again?
- Dwayne Wade must have the Miami Heat fans looking forward to this season. Wade was back to his slashing best and looks totally recovered from his numerous injuries.
- Kobe Bryant is clutch.
- Chris Bosh has won my total respect. We do not get many Raptor games Down Under (might change now with Nathan Jawai there) so I only see the monster numbers he puts up. What impressed me most was in the game against Greece he switched onto guards that tried to break him down from the top in an isolation situation. Bosh created two steals that lead to easy baskets for his team. Gotta love a big man that does that.
- I want to be the organizer of a one on one contest between Aussie buzzsaw Pat Mills and Spanish teenage whiz Ricky Rubio. We'll play the game in the Philippines. Their fans are crazy for basketball and it's a neutral site.
- Rudy Fernandez must have Portland Trailblazer fans excited. Can he and Brandon Roy co-exist?
- Argentina's Fabrico Oberto may be the best international role player in the NBA. I believe many international players are heading back to Europe because they are not comfortable with their role. Sure money has to do with it a little, but don't you want to play against the best? These players can always end their careers back home.
- New Jersey Net and Chinese national team player Yi Jianlian is not there yet. Nets fans must be hoping the highly skillful forward might have got a wake up call in Beijing. His oncourt demeanour says "I'm the man", but the Olympics said "grow up young man".
- Greece did not have the same MOJO going as they did at the World Championships in 2006. I feel they missed centre Lazaros Papadopoulos.
- Has Chris Kaman handed back his German passport yet? If he has, will his father talk to him, now.
- Lithuania should get fast tracked to the bronze medal game at Olympic Games. The last five Olympics have seen them play off for the bronze. In 1992,1996 and 2000 they captured the medal. Not so lucky in 2004 and 2008.
NBL 1992 Grand Final - yes basketball was once supported like this.
Cam Tovey's versatility will see him fit in well at the Crocs.
Despite the fact that the Croc’s pre-season record only reads 1-2, I actually think everything is travelling along quite smoothly for our team right now.
I think Croc fans will be able to look forward to seeing a different style from this team compared to that of teams past, with the biggest difference being mobility as a group.
More often than not, any team, even the quick ones, will have one or two big lumbering guys. Not this year’s Croc team. We are built for speed.
New acquisition (and former Sydney King) Russell Hinder gets up and down the floor very quickly and we will look to utilize this quickness against the bigger, slower guys he matches up against on a nightly basis.
Our other starting big man, Rosell Ellis, has made a career out of our-running and out-hustling his opponent. Ellis will never be the biggest of the big guys on the court, but what he lacks in stature, he makes up for with his work rate and pure desire.
These two will be supported by Dan “the Fan Man” Egan who, like Ellis, will out-work his opposition and use his speed to reek havoc on the court.
The mobility of this trio will be unmatched by anyone in the league.
Moving down the line we have a few new faces on the perimeter. Brad Williamson is a sharp shooter with range. There is no doubt he will enjoy playing at the Swamp with the user friendly rims and I’m sure he is looking forward to increased court time.
Joining Williamson will be former Perth Wildcat and Sydney King Cam Tovey. Tovey has been brought just this week to replace the injured Brad Sheridan who succumbed to an Achilles problem.
Tovey will fill the roll of slasher for the team. He has been compared to former Croc Brad Newley on this front, but I think we need to let him develop into his own style of player. He not yet had enough opportunity in his short NBL career to have any labels slapped on him. I’m sure he is looking forward to making the most of the opportunity that has been presented at the Crocs.
As far as the guards go, there have been no changes from last season. Corey Williams, Kelvin Robertson, Michael Cedar and I will share the minutes and none of us have any trouble finding our way to the basket in a hurry!
Obviously Williams, Robertson and I will be looking to have a great season, but I have a feeling Cedar is ready for a breakout season. He has come off a great ABA season which saw some leadership qualities and confidence come through in Mick and I think we will see some of that carry over into the NBL.
Now some people may be quick to point out that we are a little smaller than most basketball teams getting around the courts of the NBL. However, there is no question that we can use our agility to overcome this in each and every position.
Offensively we should be able to beat every team down the floor, while on defense we will be fortunate enough to mix and match up on players throughout the course of a game.
No good competitor likes to lose, so it would be nice to say we hadn’t lost a game yet this pre-season. But, the preseason is about preparing for the actual season.
My assessment is that so far our preseason has gone alright. I expect that we will continue to show the improvement we have shown through our first three preseason games and by the time September roles around, we’ll be on track for a some solid performances.
You can read my article every Saturday in the Townsville Bulletin.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Could Opal Erin Phillips have some teammates follow her lead if they win GOLD? (I really just wanted to use the picture.)
All Australians that are wondering if Penny Taylor will play in the Opals gold medal game against the USA will have to wait until 12.00am (Sunday) Aussie time.
Although the Opals got past the host nation China without Taylor's services, I feel she will have to make some type of appearance for the Opals to claim their first ever Olympic gold medal.
Playing arch rivals, the USA, the Aussies need to be at full strength and pack their "A" game to defeat the ultra deep US team.
When looking through the stats from the USA team the area that caught my eye the most is how the minutes have been shared pretty evenly.
Out of a possible 280 minutes any one player could have accumulated, Diana Taurasi leads the team with 145. All bar two players have played more than 100 with 64 being the lowest. They will be fresh and fired up to take on the Aussies.
As for the Aussies, they have leaned heavily on six players to play the bulk of the minutes with point guard Kristi Harrower logging the most at 208.
I hope that the emotion of this game will be enough to get the Aussie girls over the line but the stats show that the Yanks will have more petrol (gas) in the tank.
Players to Watch
For the Aussies you cannot go past Lauren Jackson. Look for the US to play her physical otherwise her skill level is so good she could single handily win the game for Australia.
Penny Taylor is one of the few international players that athletically can go with the Americans. This is why we need her in uniform. Her slashing ability and nose for the ball could be the difference in a game such as this.
Belinda Snell is coming off a 0/7 shooting performance from three against the Chinese. If she possesses a true shooters mentality she will be thinking 7/7 against the USA is what is going to happen. Snell needs to have an aggressive mindset at the offensive end. If she does, those shots will drop.
If Taylor is restricted in her playing time due to her ankle injury a real "X" factor could be Rohanee Cox. Cox like Taylor has the slashing ability to trouble the US team. If Cox can step up and help out Taylor, gold could be coming the Aussies way.
For the USA it used to be all about Lisa Leslie but I believe the emotional leader is Taurasi now. She is dangerous anytime the ball is in her hands. Known as a shooter Taurasi is more than that. Over the course of the Game she has proven her all round game helps her team win.
Leslie is still tough and needs to be respected. I look forward to her and Jackson "going at it" as they have for the past 6 years.
Tina Thompson has been a handful for opposition teams to handle at the offensive end. The power forward has been "stroking it" from long range too. 45% from long range will stretch the defensive and keep it open for their slashers. Thompson is their leading scorer at 13.5/game.
Sylvia Fowles has made the most of her Olympic Games experience. Leading the team in scoring (13.5) and rebounding (9) containing Fowles will be key for the Aussies slowing down the Red, White and Blue.
The Opals will need to contain the USA front court if they are to win this game but it is Opal Harrower that will need to control the tempo for the Aussies in their quest for Olympic Gold.
My prediction: Aussies by 13.
Spain advances to gold medal game. boxscore
Team USA wants revenge.How serious is Andrew Bogut's ankle injury?
Freakonomics talks about citizenship flexibility.
It seems that Hummer will not be back as the major sponsor of the NBL. General Motors who is the parent company of Hummer are in the middle of a world review of all its divisions. So as of now, Hummer is in no position to enter into any type of sponsorship agreement with the NBL.It is amazing what people will send to you when you have a blog. This piece of info (Hummer) was sent to me. If there is any validity to all this, the NBL better start looking for a new major sponsor. Maybe http://jronfire.blogspot.com/ could be a potential sponsor!
Check out what Phoenix Suns players have been up to in the offseason and who is back in town. I just hope Steve Nash has been working on his free throws."He jumped off the plane and had a 'Barry Crocker', but games two and three were very good," South Dragons assistant coach Guy Molloy said about import Tremmell Darden. - courtesy of Herald Sun.
Darden is on trail to replace Ebi Ere who is trying to make the Memphis Grizzlies squad.36ers looking to gel a little better after hitout with Tigers.
Kobe on his Olympic Experience
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Pat Mills proved that he is the point guard of the future for the Boomers.
The Australian Boomers just got out of the blocks too slow at this year's Olympics.
Losing their first two games put their backs against the wall for the remainder of the tournament. To their credit the Boomers played some very good basketball for three games to get themselves into the medal round. Unfortunately they ran into a very focused USA team.
The rest is history so there is no need to ponder what might have been.
Lets look forward and in particular to the 2012 London Olympic Games.
This will be the best chance the Boomers have of winning their first ever medal at the Olympics.
Why I feel so strongly about this is we will be fielding a team that is made up of guys who should be at their peak.
Let's start with Andrew Bogut. He has made comment how he is committed to the National Team program every other year so this is good news for the program. He is the face of this team when it comes to international ball.
When 2012 rolls around he will be 27 and really hitting his prime. Barring a major injury, this guy will be considered one of the best centres in the world by then.
The name hot on everyones lips is a man named Pat Mills. The St Mary's College point guard has let the world of basketball know he has arrived and how are you going to slow him down.
It will be interesting to see where Mills is at with his career when the next Games roll around, but he has proven he is the country's next point guard.
Brad Newley had a very solid first up Olympic campaign. Whether Newley cracks the NBA will be a topic that gets answered over this period but there is no doubting that he will be a handful for anyone to guard when London arrives. He as well will be entering his most productive years as a player so with him and Mills in the backcourt, the future is looking good.
The three spot is looking good too. David Barlow needs to keep working on and improving his game so he becomes a consistent performer at this level.
Also the Aussies have the developing Joe Ingles at small forward. If Ingles can develop a reliable perimeter game he will become a tough cover for anyone at the international level. Hopefully Ingles has had a few years in the NBA or Europe by this time so his game will just naturally mature.
David Andersen and Matt Neilsen will still be in the mix as far as interior players go, but we have a wealth of potential at this position as well.
Nathan Jawai has found himself with a two year deal with the Toronto Raptors so he will be testing himself against the best. He can do nothing but improve in this environment. (I bumped into Jawai earlier this week in Cairns. The big fella looks like he has slimmed down nicely.) If he stays on track he will be a lock for this team.
AJ Ogilvy will also come into contention. This promising sophomore who is honing his game at Vanderbilt already is rated highly by NBA scouts. With further development on his game he too will keep everyone honest and the team selection process tough for the coach.
One who is flying under the radar right now is Aleks Maric. He will ply his trade in Europe this season. Maric is a wide body who eats up space down low and has the knack of just getting the job done. He will only help ease the load in the big man department, especially when brute force is required.
I'm sure there are a few other names I have forgotten but the future is looking bright for the Boomers as well as their medal possibilities.
There is no reason we cannot start talking about being a medal winner at London. It is time for the Boomers to taste success at the Olympics and this group should be the one.
Bits and Pieces
A Brad Newley look-a-like has been thrown a life line. Cam Tovey has been working as an accountant in Perth until the Townsville Crocs sent out the SOS.
The former Perth Wildcat and Sydney King swingman's opportunity has come at the expense of NBL veteran Brad Sheridan. Sheridan has lost his battle with a achilles injury.
Adelaide 36ers loss preseason battle with Melbourne Tigers.
Pat Mills gets physically and mentally attacked by USA.
It is official - Mark Tyndale is a 36er.
Lauren Jackson is the best says Maher.
What is former Minnesota coach Clem Haskins up to? Not coaching.
Check out A Stern Warning for a good wrap on the Boomers loss to USA.
Want to know how his favourite Aussies went at the Olympics? Best Off Ground looks back at how his guys performed in Beijing.
My American friend at World Hoops Blogs has a crack (I had a laugh) at my word choice. You can find all types of hoops news here and he like Aussies, I think!
Charles Barkley to have televised colonoscopy - JE Skeets of Ball Don't Lie
NBL Buzzer Beaters from 2000 - thanks NBLBBALL
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
BIG WEDNESDAY is back.
Just a quick news break right before I go and witness history, Australia giving the USA a touch up in hoops.
A few weeks ago I told you about the Fox Sport TV deal with the NBL. Well I'm happy to inform you that I have an updated version of the latest developments regarding the TV deal.
It seems that Big Wednesday is back in favour and will be the only time punters can catch NBL action on the tube during the week.
If you remember, the NBL made a statement and said something to the effect of, "at least one game per week will be seen." What this was referring to is Fox Sports is still deciding if they will broadcast the New Zealand Breakers home games that have been traditionally shown on a Thursday night.
A decision has not been made either way on this right now.
Also, the Fox coverage will not start until October. Apparently the first game will be Sydney and Townsville in Round 6 on October 22. (Well, at least my father will be happy he can watch his son on TV for his birthday.)
If you think about this situation/agreement, the WNBL deal with the ABC will show more games during the regular season.
The good news is, Fox will continue to cover all the playoff games as they have previously done over the years.
Last bit of news about this, the team of Steve Carfino/John Casey might be on the scrap heap with the Kings, Slingers and Bullets.
Just when I thought I had experienced everything affiliated with team sport over my fifteen years, something else comes along.
In one day, my team the Townsville Crocs, lose two players to season ending injuries. Unbelievable!
Veteran swingman Brad Sheridan has lost a battle with a troubling achilles problem, while Young Australian Player (YAP) Stephen Broom has an ongoing shoulder problem.
Andrew Bogut interview before the USA game.
Boomers go down with a fight to the USA. boxscore
Video interview of Aaron Bruce in Adelaide.
Mike Beasley, The Rookie
Monday, August 18, 2008
Sure they have to play a hell of a game, but they have the tools to create some problems for the "Redeem Team".
First at the point guard spot CJ Bruton and Jason Kidd match up well. Both like to play bum ball if pressure is applied in the backcourt but neither will trouble the other with this. But if the USA decide to put Kobe Bryant on Bruton this may disrupt the Boomers offensive flow.
When the USA sub at this position (Chris Paul or Deron Williams) and try to take the tempo up a level, Australia can counter with its own superjet in Pat Mills.
Mills showed in the pre Olympic matchup that he can blow by CP3 at any time.
It is important that Mills plays within himself and does not let the occasion get to him as he could be the difference maker in this game. His speed will be crucial to create easy baskets against this team.
At the shooting guard spot Brad Newley has improved greatly as the tournament has progressed. Another good performance against the Americans might just see the Houston Rockets take a closer look at their 2007 second round pick.
Newley will feel confident going against Bryant as he handled himself well in their warm up game. It is key that Newley drains is open looks from the perimeter as he has shown he too can get to the "rack" on anyone. If his perimeter game is "on" he becomes a tough cover.
Is Newley the guy to tame the "Black Mamba"?
The small forward match up between David Barlow and LeBron James is something I have no feel for right now. LeBron has been in everything for the USA, but Barlow is a guy that can come out of nowhere and put together a stellar performance.
If Barlow can get some open looks early LeBron will have to respect his game. This will take away from what he does best, hawking the lanes and blocking shots from the weak side. I would love to know how many easy buckets LeBron has created for his team through his defense.
Matt Neilsen and Carmelo Anthony is a great matchup as Neilsen has the speed and size to match Melo, whether it is down low or on the perimeter. I also feel Neilsen will be confident going at Anthony at the offensive end causing some problems for Melo on "D".
The centre position is the one that could become the difference maker in this game. Andrew Bogut has been playing fantastic for his country during these Games, but early foul trouble is what we do not want to see.
The same goes for the USA and Dwight Howard. No doubting Chris Bosh has been great but Coach K would prefer Howard to bang with Bogut for as long as possible.
If one of these guys have to leave the game early due to foul trouble, it could spell trouble as size and strength become an issue for both teams at the centre position.
The benches will have an impact in this game. Dwayne Wade looks to be moving like he was while winning a championship with Miami Heat a few years ago, so his presences needs to be addressed once he is one the floor.
Australia hasn't had a wing come off the bench and have the consistent impact Wade has had, but the Aussies only need someone to step up with a career game on this one night.
I like the "bigs" rotation for the Boomers. David Andersen comes in and gives the Aussies a low post scorer. Melo does not want to be "bangin" in the post all night. While Chris Anstey can cause problems by spreading the floor with his perimeter game and allowing the guards to slash to the basket.
There is no doubting that the USA team has the superior talent from top to bottom but this is a one off game so the Australian team needs to only put it together for 40 minutes.
If the Aussie starters can get the team off to a flier it is "game on" and some self doubt might start to creep into the Americans game. Remember they have not really been tested at the Olympics as they have jumped out on teams early and maintained a handy buffer the rest of the way.
On the other hand, if the Americans continue with their fast starts, it will become a long night and a disappointing way to end their (Australia) Olympic campaign.
If the Green and Gold handle the pressure defense of the Red, White and Blue, I can see an upset for the ages in the making.
I think I'm going to go and watch Hoosiers, just to get me ready.
Side Note: I believe Patrick Mills' St Mary's College coach will be in the stands watching. Randy Bennett better sit on his hands while watching his second year point guard go to work on his native USA. I would hate for his family to go LeRoy Kaman on him when he returns home.
The Australian Opals take on the Czech Republic tomorrow in their quarter final matchup. The game is at 6.45pm AEST.
While on the women, check out this good read I come across via bleacherreport. It talks about the possibility of this USA basketball star named Candice Parker becoming the next female sports icon.
Ever wondered what happened to former NBL basketballer Neil Mottram (far left). He hangs out at the Heineken House and does interviews from Beijing. Check out D.C. Sports Bog to find out what him and his mates are teaching those Americans at the Olympics.
Former Sydney King BJ Carter has turned into a "tuff guy".
Adelaide 36ers new import Mark Tyndale to practice with the Miami Heat.
Dragons beat the Wildcats in a preseason clash.
The Spirit get by the Hawks.
If you missed some of the Boomers action during the Olympics, click here and catch highlights from all games.
You Tube can make anyone look good. Jason Eversteyn's highlights.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
AK47 has no answer to some Bogey Man treatment.
Iran vs Croatia (11am AEST)
Iran(0-3) was a surprise to make it this far so they are happy that only five games interrupt their two week party in Beijing.
Although they have a long way to go to be a force on the world stage, Iran has a player by the name of Hamed Ehadadi that will make his way onto many NBA scouts notes, eventually.
As for Croatia(2-2) they will want to finish pool play off strong. They have lost their last two games after getting out of the blocks fast.
The extent of Marko Popovic's injury could determine how far this team goes. He sat out the last game.
Winning this game will see them finish third in Group A. The reward for this is a matchup with Spain to make it to the Final Four.
Australia vs Lithuania (1.15pm AEST)
Australia (2-2) have hit form at the right time of the tournament. They need to keep the momentum going against the undefeated Litho's (4-0).
The Aussies form has turned 180 degrees since the Beijing Games tipped off. Coming of a great win over Russia, the Boomers need a victory here if they wish to sneak into the third seed position.
A loss in this game will see them remain in fourth which means a quarter final match up against the "Seppos" (USA).
Lithuania on the other hand has been steady as she goes. They have been rock solid throughout the tournament so far. Behind the solid play of Sarunas Jasikevicius and Linas Kleiza they should find themselves go through group play undefeated.
Finishing first in Group A will see them more than likely play China in a quarter final matchup. A scary game for Lithuania if you ask me. Simply be having Yao in the middle in a one off game spells trouble on the wrong night for any opposition.
Greece vs China (4.30pm AEST)
Could be the game of the day. Before the Olympic Games started I would of said Greece (2-2) in a canter but China (2-2) has some good momentum at present and Yao is improving with his health.
Having watched Greece over the past few games, something is just missing from what they had in 2006 at the World Championships.
I still think Greece will win this game due to their superior depth in the guards but they better contain Yao early. If this doesn't happen they will be forced to trap and scramble on defense which will allow the Chinese shooters to have an impact on the game.
In saying this, it will be China's guards that become its downfall. The Greek guards pride themselves on defense so they will disrupt and make life though for Liu Wei.
A Greece win will see them face Argentina in the quarter finals.
Angola vs Spain (18.45pm AEST)
Angola's (0-4) free flowing style will see them win zero games at this Olympics. Once considered a danger team at world competitions, I think all teams respect their play now, so there is no sneaking up on anyone anymore..
They just do not have the depth or size to play teams when they cannot catch them off guard.
Spain (3-1) will be looking to put this one to bed early so the can get to the quarter finals with players healthy and in rhythm. I'm sure they are already looking for a rematch with the USA team in the Final Four.
USA vs Germany (10.00pm AEST)
A disappointing tournament for the Germans (1-3) but it just goes to show how losing your point guard before the Games can really hurt your team.
Although loaded up front with NBAers Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman they struggled to play consistent ball through the tournament. Losing to China was the final nail in the coffin for this team.
Does this just add to the stigma of Dirk not being able to lead his team to glory?
Meanwhile the USA has slowly been building throughout the tournament. After good wins against Greece and Spain, Coach K will be hoping his troops do not take a step backwards against Germany.
The USA will get a quarter final match up against Australia. I'm looking forward to a little Chris Paul/Pat Mills action in this game. Mills blew by Paul several times in a Pre Olympic game.
Argentina vs Russia (12.15am Tuesday AEST)
Argentina (3-1) have had only the one hiccup. That being against Lithuania. A star studded team lead by San Antonio Spur Manu Ginobili, I'm sure they are not that unhappy that they will end up meeting the USA in the final, if both teams keep winning.
Finishing second in Group A will see them not crossing over with the USA until the Gold Medal game. A promoters dream. "Redeem Team" vs the current Olympic champions.
That is actually how I see it panning out.
Russia have been disappointing. Winning the European Championship last year no one would have thought this would be one of the four teams to not advance after group play.
It just goes to show how close and fickle the competition can be at an Olympic Games. Loss at the wrong time and you are done.
My prediction for how this tournament will end is: Gold - USA, Silver - Argentina, Bronze - Spain.
We will see if I'm on the money in a week.
Brad Newley: "Aussie heart - that's what it was. We really fought" - courtesy of Fiba.com
"When you are 20 (actually 16) points down and suddenly look up there and you see your dream slipping away, something clicks in,” Australian Opal Lauren Jackson said. - courtesy of Fiba.com boxscore vs russia
"A guy that can make plays and can handle the ball -- that takes a lot of pressure off me handling the ball a whole lot," Mo Williams said. "I'm more than comfortable playing off the ball. That's one of my strengths, and I really get to use that strength now." - courtesy of espn.com
Sounds like Mo Williams is trying to say all the right things right now. There is no doubting that Williams is an upgrade from what the Cavs have previously had at the point guard spot. However I will be watching to see how he and LeBron co-exist as they are both used to handling the ball a lot.
Mo may be good "off the ball" but his strength is with the ball. If they can get along together the Cavs might want to add a spot up shooter as they pursue a championship. I happen to know a guy that would fit this role well.
Chicago Bull Ben Gordon believes he has played his last game in his Bulls uniform.
Mike Finley to stay with the San Antonio Spurs.
While Gonzaga's senior point guard Jermey Pargo returned to Spokane to enhance his NBA stock, his brother (Jannero) on the other hand has decided to flea to Europe. Read here to see how 3500000 reasons made his decision easy.
Check out this blog, The Painted Area. It has some good bites and pieces from hoops at the Olympics.
I just put this Channing Frye footage here to keep A Stern Warning happy.
I received an e-mail asking me to post this link. Please go and sign up (no matter where you live) as the basketball community in Australia desperately needs and wants free to air TV. I need J.E. Skeets and his Ball Don't Lie team to flex their muscle to the masses so free to air TV Down Under can once again become a reality.
The Courier Mail's Bernie Pramberg talks with former Brisbane Bullet Andre Moore. Good to see that "Andre the Giant" is helping the kids have fun.
Anthony Stewart and his Hobart Chargers are champs. Is this the same guy that could not help us win a game while he was in Crocs colours?
LeBron interview pre Olympics with Time Magazine
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Josh Childress - the guy that started the trend to Europe. Can we expect to see a 2K9 Eurobasket Game?
As many have spoken about in recent months, the NRL continues to attempt to find a way to halt the exodus of players chasing the pot of gold in Europe. Currently American basketball, specifically the NBA, is beginning to see glimpses of the same situation evolving within their competition.
Once upon a time the NBA was regarded as the pinnacle of the basketball world,…the best money and the best working conditions. This is not necessarily true today thanks largely to the struggling US dollar and a little thing called tax.
This year’s NBA off-season has sent whispers through the basketball circles as it has progressed. It began with the announcement of a handful of mid-level players opting to take up lucrative offers with various European teams. Over there, players like this can come a dime a dozen. There were no All-Stars jumping ship. The basketball talent pool is heavily populated with this caliber player and, as a result, no one really blinked an eye.
That was until last week when NBA superstars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James said they would not sign contract extensions until they heard what Europe has to offer.
Both players have said publicly that they would look at European offers if any matched the $50 million USD they currently receive. And yes, teams in Greece and Russia are interested at this price.
This $50 million would also be taken straight to the bank,…in full. These clubs pay the tax any player incurs, as well as paying for accommodation and transportation.
Meanwhile in the NBA these guys pay their own tax (which by the way is enough for you and I to live on comfortably for quite some time) and the rest of the deal is up to them,…car(s), house(s),…everything. Doesn’t seem like much of a decision, does it?
Europe will undoubtedly put up a formidable fight for some of these high profile NBA players. However, I look for the NBA to quickly act by changing their collective bargaining agreement with the players. If successful in resolving this quickly and keeping their players happy at home, I look for this to be a passing trend and idle threat. At best, the overseas market will continue to poach those mid-rangers, but the big fish will stay in the home pond.
The Americans will do whatever it takes to keep the NBA at the top of the basketball world. If it means moving the goal posts a little, so be it. They will simply find a way to make it happen.
In a way, I liken this battle to parenting a head-strong child. You can enter into a stand-off and flex your muscles, which usually ends with emotional decisions and rebellion. Or you can recognize that maybe some concessions and changes probably need to be made for the good of keeping the family unit strong and in tact. As an authority figure, you just do your best to stay one step ahead in each potential patch of turbulence.
The point I am trying to make is that I think the NRL can learn something from the way this NBA saga pans out, especially if they wish to remain the premier rugby league competition in the world. If they don’t make some type of change soon, their rugby league family will disintegrate before their eyes.
You can read my article every Saturday in the Townsville Bulletin.
Friday, August 15, 2008
First up is a karaoke challenge that new Los Angles Clippers point guard Baron Davis has sent out.
I know my limitations, that's why I went with the Steve Nash free throw challenge and not the Davis challenge. I know some of my regular readers rate themselves in the singing stakes (DJ Rod), so here is your chance to "bring the house down".Ah well this whole idea of not mentioning the Olympics didn't last too long. Blogger Basketbawful lets us know that "Redeem Teamer" Jason Kidd and NBA Commissoner David Stern will not be seeing eye to eye any time soon. Quite an entertaining read when you check out the links as well.
My next stop was by Passion and Pride. It has an article and you tube video of 76ers Andre Miller on World B Free. I'm always interested in seeing what current and former players have to say about each other. It is a great piece of footage showing what Free's game was about. As I watched I could not stop thinking that teammate Michael Cedar is the NBL version of World B Free. Maybe a little stretch but I'm trying to educate the young guys on some basketball history.
Since I'm educating the younger members of my team (Townsville Crocodiles) lets get sidetracked for a minute and come up with some comparisons.
The Crocs Young Australian Player is Steve Broome. This kid from Logan can jump out of the gym. He is a guy that could hurt himself he is so athletic. My NBA comparison is Kenny "Sky" Walker. (enjoy this blast from the past)
Another youngster who has a bright future if he can remain healthy is man mountain Steve Costanzo. The Townsville local is a load down low. When I referred to him as Bryant Reeves the other day, he was perplexed.
While I'm on a roll I better include Russell Hinder and his NBA likeness. (He just needs a duck tail or beard now!)
Last but not least, there is this video footage of DeShawn Stevenson. What is this? Please explain.
Well I have to admit, not one of my better efforts but I'm sure you will find something there that entertains you.
Tomorrow it will be back to the Olympics and the Australian Boomers crucial game against Russia.