Tuesday, March 31, 2009

News & Links

Where will Mike Dunlap end when this offseason's coaching movements are complete?

I've just moved camp today from cactus country (Phoenix) to beachside (San Diego).

I'm taking the easy way out today with links everywhere. The six hour drive (which included three border patrol stops, Mexico is very close) has me a little weary but there is plenty happening in Australian basketball right now.

Enjoy all this good stuff.

- First, we have a change of head coach with the National Team. Out goes Brian Goorjian who has held the job for the past six years, and in comes energetic NBA assistant Brett Brown. Brown has been given the job until after the London Games (2012).

Goorjian had two Olympic campaigns during his time at the helm with 9th and 7th place finishes.

Will Brown be able to improve on this? We can all judge his after the London Games.

- It seems the Wollongong Hawks have done everything asked of them to qualify them for the New NBL and all with a touch of Bollywood. Click here for an audio interview with Mat Campbell as well.

- Kerry Williams is helping out the young hoopers of the Northern Territory. Well done to Kerry.

- One of the NBL's worst kept secrets has finally become public knowledge. Brendon Joyce will not coach the Gold Coast Blaze next season.

- Joe Ingles goes home to play for the Tigers. I'm beginning to sense the 36ers will fullcourt press Ingles about playing for his home team next season.

Only trouble is 36ers coach Scott Ninnis has never dribbled let alone shot a basketball with his left hand. How could he help develop left handed Ingles?

- In the NZNBL, there is a father/son combo.

- Memphis give Kentucky permission to speak to John Calipari. Is Dunlap a chance at the Memphis job?

- Click here to see who was named to the All-American 1st team in college.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Influx Of Aussies To Southern Utah

Damon Heuir is heading to Southern Utah.

While Villanova and Connecticut have punched their ticket to the Final Four other Division 1 teams are trying to look under every rock to find another kid that can improve their program and reach the same heights.

Southern Utah has decided (like a few other schools) that Australia may be the place to help propel their program to the next level.

Queenslander Matt Massey has spent the past year red-shirting with the Thunderbirds due to him transferring in from Nova Southeastern.

Another Aussie joining Massey in the Mormon state is Matthew Hodgson. The 6-10 power forward/centre has a huge upside and will be a player in years to come. I saw Hodgson at the recent National U/20's and my feeling is if he keeps developing over the next few years he is the guy with the best chance to crack the NBA out of this age group.

He has only been playing the sport for four years so he is untapped potential.

More on him at a later date though.

I'm here to talk about Townsville junior Damon Heuir.

Heuir has supposedly committed to the Southern Utah program over the past few days.

What the Thunderbirds will get in Heuir is a combo guard that does a little of everything. First and for most he is a penetrater looking to score but has the ability to create for others.

He is not a super athlete but he will more than hold his own when matched up against guys at his position.

If Damon is to command minutes from the start he will need to find consistency in his jumper. He will launch and has the ability to knock down the three but it can become very inconsistent. If this gets rectified in the near future he will become a tough match up in this conference.

He is a guy without a true position but a player. His ballhandling will allow him to help out with the ball carrying duties but is not a game in game out point guard yet.

Why I say yet is Damon needs to figure out if he is to become a point guard or a undersized scoring guard.

Hopefully the Thunderbird coaching staff can help Damon develop into a guy with a true position. Southern Utah are getting a great kid that can develop into someone that can help their program.

All the best Damon.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Fan's Response

This is what you need just in case you do not like Grantley Bernard's music choice.

The other day I linked an article from Melbourne journo Grantley Bernard. The article is somewhat serious, has a few jokes and lets everyone know the Basketball Australia CEO job is open.

Now a avid fan of our sport has taken some time out of his daily schedule to respond with some of his own ideas. I asked the scribe if it was alright if I went ahead and published his thoughts.

Here they are. Enjoy and please respond with your own ideas. (It is lengthy but has some great ideas.)

"I'm tired of watching people who "like" basketball or use the NBL as a stepping stone to or something their own personal glories that lie elsewhere. I want an individual running the league who is passionate about basketball and wants nothing more in life than to see it succeed. In addition they need to possess true business nous when it comes to making a product work. If that person is Grantley Bernard so be it, but his suggestions range from reasonable to ridiculous stupidity to communism. True, Bernard has been a front runner criticizing the NBL over the past few years and he couldn't possibly do a worse job than Rick Burton presided over, but anyone purporting seriously to throw their hat in the ring for the NBL’s chief position needs to come to the table with at least a bag full of sensible ideas. Please allow me the opportunity to partially dissect some of the “weaker” suggestions:

Rule 10: Imports do not start on the bench or play fewer than 35 minutes. They're supposed to be stars, not role players.

My take: This would be a monumentally stupid rule on so many levels. Firstly it does not acknowledge the role of the aging import who may still have an incredible 25 minutes left in him, which will be valuable considering the league is about to chop 8 minutes off the game time anyway down to 40 minutes. Matter of fact, as any basketball watcher knows, it's far more important who finishes a game than starts.

Secondly, Bernard is are proposing to put American guys up front that are the “stars” when he also wants to cut tickets to 25 bucks (Rule 5) and give away 10% of the ticket revenues by offering charity seats (Rule 9). Which stars are you proposing are going to come and play here for the money you’d be offering? And which of those stars would we really want on the court for 35 minutes at the expense of some of our Aussie players? I see shades of Dave Lindstrom in the belief that only Americans can play.

Thirdly, What a great way to stymie the development of Australian basketball, Mr Bernard, as well as setting our cultural attitude back 20 years that Americans in general are better ballplayers than Aussies. How can a guy who purports to want the head honcho job of the league honestly believe that a league can be marketed effectively to an Australian public when you are putting imports out front as the "stars", many of whom are short term players or using the league as a stepping stone to the NBA or Europe, and then expect the NBL to be embraced by the average fan? Then at the same time turn around and criticize an organization for not being team oriented on the floor with a straight face (or is it pen)? Wake up, people support the name on the front of the jersey, not the back, unless we are talking about Aussies who playing in the NBA. The playing time quota of an American import is only relevant if it is hurting his team.

Rule 8: Only one assistant coach is allowed on the road. It's a matter of economics. He will also be responsible for making sure players are home from nightclubs. This will be called the Al Westover Rule.

My take: Well of course it’s a matter of economics, because after you wisely slice 10 percent of their ticket revenue for charity purposes in rule 9, you've just wiped over 130K off the operating budget of a team each year anyway (assumes a full house and calculated on the basis of 350 seats at $25 for 15 home games). Why would someone with the best interests of the league at heart financially penalize already strapped teams just to get the community into basketball? If you really want to enfranchise the community, make the players go to schools instead and donate time, using their profiles to raise awareness and promote basketball? This seems a sufficient and logical "grass roots" step if you ask me? Chopping ticket revenues by 10%, nice sentiment, wrong idea.

Rule 19: The average age of the three-man referee crew should not exceed 42.3 years in any game.

My take: Grant, Are you going to restrict players playing over 42 years of age also? How about commissioners? I hear sports-writers tend to lose it after 40 as well. Have you heard of Earl Strom? Dick Bavetta? Guys who were/are OLD and the NBA deemed fine to officiate at the highest level. Quality refs are hard enough to come by as it is, why be completely ageist and throw the baby out with the bathwater? Have you monitored the quality of refereeing according to age demographics? Do you know exactly who makes the better calls, the younger guys or the older guys? My hunch is a resounding no. If the ref is good enough, they should be allowed to run the game, period. Before we know it you’ll be tossing women refs out once they get too old, heaven help the league with a discrimination lawsuit directly as a result of your genius referee employment program.

Rule 7: Games are not to be played with a ball that looks as if it's been left in the back yard for three weeks.

My take: Is this a criticism of the FIBA ball? It seems good enough for the rest of the world....Go get an NBL deal done with Spalding or Wilson (or even Buffalo Sports) if you think the Molten version is not good enough Mr Commish to be. If the balls look too old, making sure they have a game ball endorsement deal should fix this up quick smart.

Rule 15: No black socks, shoes or ankle braces. And Rule 16: No undershirts, especially of different colour to the uniform. It looks cheap.

My take: What if the uniform is black and the socks match? This is stupid and nitpicky. It reminds me of the old mother hen's that used to fuss over our uniforms when we were playing rep ball as kids. Your dislike of unattractive multi colored sprawls can be simply solved; just make the teams submit uniform dress codes at the start of the year and then enforce it with fines if they stray. Simple. If you really wanted to make uniforms look less like clown outfits, take the advertising off them. Except that’d pose a financial problems so you can’t go down that path….

Rule 20: The national anthem to be sung only at the grand final, but with no twists, turns or electric guitar solos.

My take: What’s wrong with patriotism? I like the suggestion about not massacring the anthem with electric guitar. The rest of the suggestion is, dare I say, un-Australian. What country is it? I'd rather hear Advance Australia Fair than see all the b-grade dance teams combined at NBL games 100 times out of 100. Better still, how about we not get any of the miserable singers who continually butcher our anthem? It stays.

Rule 1: Court announcers will just announce.

My take: Like it or hate it. This has evolved to become part of the home crowd advantage. Look at basketball all over the world. Same deal.

Rule 2: If the game-night music is not in my iPod, it doesn't get played.

My take: Wow, are you serious? This is more than just a bit of a scary proposition. How old are you? What music are you into dude? Do we get Emo rock or are we pelvic thrusting to Britney Spears? (If I hear Cold Chisel, Icehouse, Kulcha, Guy Sebastian or any other nonsense at an NBL game I'm heading for the exits along with everyone else). I guess at least you will be entertained at the games. Even NBA Commissioner Stern doesn’t get this deep in the weeds.

Rule 24: All referees must have their natural hair colour. This will be called the Bill Mildenhall Rule.

My take: Funny joke. Are you really in the running for this job?

Rule 12: If the margin is 10 or less with three minutes left, there will be no entertainment during time-outs.

My take: I don’t follow the logic of this decision, especially if there, say, a double timeout in a 10 point game with 30 seconds left. You won’t even give us one of the golden oldies from your ipod playlist?

Rule 22: Any coach who sits on the floor during a time-out will be given a technical foul. This will be known as the Goorjian Rule.

My take: I'm worried about a commish with a vindictive streak a mile wide, personally. It already seems like Grantley has Goorj in the crosshairs for some of his tendencies (Rules 22 and 33). So what if he sits on the floor?? He can sit on his head for all I care. Besides, what antics is the crowd going to be entertained by during a double timeout in the waning stages of a 10 point game now that you wiped out all the entertainment?

Rule 23: Fox Sports commentator Steve Carfino's microphone will be muted for 60 seconds every time he uses the terms, "One-bounce dribble" and "No kidding" and refers to his college days or the Sydney Kings.

My take: Carfino is nowhere near as bad as John Casey and his “All cotton”, “User Friendly Rolls” and not to forget his excruciating radio-specific commentary minutia that never allowed the screen to do the talking: (ie; “Dribbles the ball, one bounce, two bounce, thinking about a pass, looking for someone, decides on the shot fake, shakes to the right…..). If Carfino picked up those habits from anyone, it was sitting alongside Casey listening to that drivel. Use your wisdom and power to develop the next generation of “Voices for the NBL”, more on this below)

Some initial suggestions for a chief to improve the NBL:
1. Do whatever you can to make the on court product as strong as it can be. To do this, financial strength is a must. The NBL chief needs to oversee a league towards becoming as close to competitive in terms of financial attraction to the European leagues as possible. While value of the dollar to the Euro is always going to be difficult to overcome, the NBL should at least be seen a viable first option for non-NBA Australians. While losing Aussies in their prime to Europe benefits Australia at the Olympic level, it hurts the NBL from a fan’s perspective and a business perspective. Retaining the Ingles and David Andersens of the world is a must. In order to do this you have to maximize profit and revenue then reinvest it back into the on court product to strengthen it. You can start by instilling rules that impose fiscal responsibility on the clubs, starting with re-engineering the salary cap and points system (ie getting rid of it).

2. Restructure the NBL web pages. NBL.com.au is a painful site, both from a content perspective and functionality (the RSS feeds are a mess). There is no reason for an NBL fan to use this website regularly. It contains a scant nod to history with some records that have no context. It has no video footage that is globally accessible, no merchandise, really weak statistical wraps of games and is a fairly worthless medium aside from the standings. It needs a significant revamp because it's not fan friendly.

3. Develop a historical online statistical database. Start collecting stats in a meaningful way and compiling a database so stat geeks can start filtering through them and making some intelligent analyses rather than looking at who scored the most points in a game. People want to be able to compare best fives on a floor or historical performance of Joe Ingles to a young Shane Heal on a 40 minutes basis. Any keen basketball fan knows that the US followers of the NBA are setting a standard with number crunching and young kids from all over are getting into it. Many sports are heading in this direction, don’t be left behind. (Here’s an idea, get some basketball loving engineering/computer software geeks from RMIT, Melbourne Uni etc to put it together as a school project.)

4. Put the NBL players into primary and secondary schools in a heavy way, especially important in regional Australia. Basketball has massive junior participation all over the country. How do you think the AFL got back into the good graces of the public after they admitted their worry regarding basketball's popularity in the early 90s? They started programs like Ozkick and worked on the grassroots, that's how. Pair state championship/rep/elite juniors games as tipoff double headers with NBL games. Get the grass roots thinking about going to NBL games again, and then get them to the games. I also think there is huge room for high school basketball to be realized in a more organized fashion than it currently is in Australia. Support this with NBL partnerships. This gets kids talking about it in schools and playing in the playground.

5. Get a merchandising deal going with an Australian retailer (even if it is K-Mart again) that puts logos on chests and minimizes the dent in the average Joe's wallet. NBL merchandise has typically looked cheap, felt cheap and been overpriced. Australia doesn't have an economy of scale like the US, so keep item options limited and universally appealing so you don’t blow your budgets. Quite simply, putting a non-cheesy team logo on quality fabric shirts is not difficult. Why should anyone have to pay 100 bucks for a 5 dollar made in China Melbourne Tigers hoodie? Or 50 bucks for a t-shirt? No wonder people prefer NBA gear, they can get it for half the price and mailed directly to their house AND it's better quality fabrics.

6. Create a library of NBL archive footage. You have already stated history is important, but history doesn’t start and end with a Hall Of Fame (Rule 11). Plenty of people WANT to see clips of old Andrew Gaze bandaged up going deep from three while concussed, Arne Duncan playing for Nunawading, Jim Havrilla pulling shards of glass out of his shoulders simply to check out which ex-NBAer and college stars made their way through our league. Channel 7, 10 and ABC all had these games and must have some degree of footage stored away. Get as much of it as you can and create an NBL archive that is proprietary. Select releases of NBL footage is a must. Fans should be able to buy Grand Final DVD’s every year, or at the very least, a well compiled year in review.

7. Prime Time TV on FTA locked in as a regular event. You know why cable TV is no good for the NBL, because it has low penetration into Australian households as it is expensive and largely perceived as not good value for money. If FOX footy channel had a 0.6% audience share at its peak, how are you going to make NBL a household sport in this capacity going forward? Here’s what you need: One game per week (say a Tuesday night) and make them marquee matchups. Find a station that wants to do for basketball what SBS has done for soccer. Find talent that can CALL games and wants to serve as the media face of basketball. The game has really only seen one great Australian play-by-play caller and it was Steve Quatermain. Why can't we get back to making the voice of the game an important vehicle for the sport?

8. Capitalize on free promotion opportunities. Not to criticize JR and DJ Rod, (because I think they do a brilliant thing and I want to see them continue) but why has the NBL gotten to the point where these guys and bloggers are almost the voice of the NBL? It points to a massive failure in marketing and strategy that could have easily been at least partially addressed with a used laptop, skype and a free version of audible. Surely the NBL can address this? Where is the embracing of the web as a vehicle for promotion? These efforts can yield a big bang for a small buck. My mental vision of the NBL IT department looks something like a dust covered Atari under the stands of the old Albert Park stadium.

9. Be thorough in evaluating who owns a team. Complete transparency for team ownership before expansion licences are handed out is essential. Include a thorough financial analysis and firm contingency plans so when over leveraged businesses go belly up (like ABC childcare and Firepower) the fans, who are emotionally invested in their teams, don't get royally screwed. I'd like to see if the Hawks NFP model works because it could be another future model for clubs if proven successful.

10. Place the Boomers at the center of the national league. Playing for your country is the pinnacle for all Australians in almost every sport. They should have a short triangular series (held in revolving capital cities) every year versus quality international sides over two weeks during a midseason break. Why are the Boomers not doing Weetbix commercials like the Cricketers? Because nobody knows who the hell they are that’s why.

11. Make the All-Star weekend a centerpiece event. Not only have one, make it count for something so the players play hard. One suggestion, make it Australia vs. world and put prize money on the line for winner takes all. Perhaps the answer is splitting the league into conferences and having the winner of the all-star game decides home court advantage for the finals (irrespective of record). Either way, provide an incentive so it’s not considered a joke.

12. Celebrate and acknowledge Australian players in the NBA. This needs to happen, even if they are not past NBL players. Find a way to involve them in the promotion of the league. What about the Bret Browns, Mike Dunlaps and so on who go to the NBA? Why is nobody retaining connections with these guys and putting it out there so people can understand just how valuable the NBL is to the global basketball community?
Finally, JR and DJ Rod, PLEASE keep calling the NBL out for the dumb shit that they do. Only by turning the flame of scrutiny on them is improvement going to come. If the new comp fails, dark days for basketball are ahead in Australia. "

Thursday, March 26, 2009

This Is Not A Paid NBA Advertisement

Tom Chambers has gone from flying through the air to being "On Air".

Recently my family and I took in an NBA game, Phoenix vs Denver. It is not too often I get to take in a basketball game and just be a fan. But this game was my chance and it become quite an enjoyable evening.

When we arrived at the US Airways Arena there was a carnival like atmosphere and my kids took in some of the activities on offer outside.

While the kids shot hoops I was checking out the work of one of my all time favourites, Tom Chambers. Mr Chambers now works for the local Fox Sports Network who cover the Suns.

It was half hour before tip off and we moved inside to our seats. Although we were not courtside with Suns owner Robert Sarver, they were well positioned for us to take in all the action uninterrupted. If I had these seats all the time I would be very happy.

As the teams began their warm up I noticed the Shaq was missing for the Suns layup line. I was a little disappointed not to see the "Big Cactus" there as I was looking forward to seeing him in action.

True to form he did not let me done. Shaq only needs a ten minute warm up.

The game got underway and what an entertaining game it was. It was a traditional Suns/Nuggets matchup as it ended 118-115 according to my four year old son.

Things that I remember most about the game:

- Shaq only missing one free throw for the game (7/8). He made a crucial 3 point play down the stretch as the Suns recaptured the lead. If only I could read lips to understand what he was telling Carmelo Anthony after the play.

- Grant Hill was the "old" version. His double double (23/10/5) was full of slashing moves to the hoop, an alley oop from Steve Nash and a clutch 15 footer.

- Melo taking over the game in the second half. Although he came up short in his quest, he was tough in the last 24 minutes.

- Chauncey Billups controlling the game and picking his moments to exert himself on offense.

- Nene schooling Shaq in the third on continuous "iso" plays but then losing control and getting ejected. Very costly for the Nuggets.

- Last but not least Steve Nash. It's fun to watch Shaq grab a defensive board, outlet it to Nash and watch Hill, Jason Richardson and Matt Barnes try and out run each other in anticipation of being on the end of another Nash assist.

- On a side note from my kids, the Phoenix Gorilla injured himself as he performed one of his mini tramp dunks. The Gorilla went unsighted for the remainder of the game after this incident.

The game ended and I was lucky enough to have some visitor section back stage passes.

What an experience this became for everyone. I will include myself because I got a happy snap with Chris "Birdman" Andersen. Is he the original "Birdman"?

I'm going to give the Denver Nugget players a wrap here because they were nothing but friendly and accessible to the fans waiting for them.

From Billups to Anthony and all in between they gave up their time to spend with the fans.

For those NBL fans wondering what has happened to former Victoria Titans import Jahmal Mosley, he is an assistant coach of the Nuggets.
The Suns provided a fun filled night of entertainment for my family so if anyone is having second thoughts about ever attending an NBA game at least in Phoenix, grab a ticket ASAP as I will not hesitate to attend again.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

News & Notes

"Hold me back boys. I'm pissed JR has not called me yet." - Andrew Bogut

While I've been entrenched in the NCAA Tournament over the past four days, I have now had some time to catch up on some news from back home.

- First, the Townsville Crocodiles have re-signed Head Coach Trevor Gleeson for another three years.

This is a good move by the Crocs as Gleeson has started to really put his blue print on the franchise. He has been here for three years now, so the players are really beginning to understand what he is about and expecting from them.

Gleeson has coached his team to the playoffs in each of his first three years in the far north. This is good enough to be a franchise best as far as streaks go for playoff appearances for the Crocs.

I look forward to having another year under Trevor.

- I have noticed NBA superstar Andrew Bogut had a crack at me about not calling him since I have been in the States.

As he mentioned we did Twitter during his Utah Utes loss to Arizona.

My excuse for not calling him is, I know he is rehabbing his back (that is more important than talking to an old frail has been) and licking his wounds as his Utes are done and my Zags are still alive.

I certainly have his number on speed dial, don't worry about that. Let's just see if he wants to talk to me at the crack of dawn, right after my three young kids have woken me early in the morning.

- "This month alone the Wildcats will conduct 100 school clinics across WA." This quote comes from Perth Wildcats CEO Nick Marvin, and is courtesy of The West Australian.

I'm sure the Wildcats have a good presences in the community but I do believe that this figure (100 clinics) is a little inflated.

That is an average of three a day and I know (I have school age kids) school only goes for five days per week.

I would love to hear from Nick Marvin to see how he goes about conducting 100 clinics in such a short time. That is some great time management.

- The big news story in the States at the moment is not on the court, but off. The Shaq vs LeBron pregame show is dominating sport talk shows.

Shaq believes he has LeBron covered in the pre game hype game. Let's watch this one carefully. I can tell you the Shaq had nothing tonight before the Nuggets game but maybe he is just waiting for LeBron to return serve.

You decide who is the current winner!

My boy DJ Rod is trying to help out Shaq with some ideas via Twitter, and Shaq responded.

This is how their correspondence went.

"DJ Rod@THE_REAL_SHAQ you put your fingers up like horns and charge at your team mates who have towels - like bullfighting."

Then Shaq replied with this!

"@DJ_Rod ok ok I like I like"

I'm sure Rod will not sleep tonight thinking of other things to get Shaq to try.

- A couple of older articles that talk about the new NBL league.

First, Andrew Bogut shares his thoughts and then Melbourne journo Grantley Bernard talks about taking the top job.

- Time is ticking again for the Wollongong Hawks.

Zona Prove Their Worth

Chase Budinger and the Arizona Wildcats prove they deserved to be in the NCAA Tourney.

One of the big stories before the NCAA Tournament kicked off was the Arizona Wildcats sneaking in as one of the last "Bubble Teams" selected by the committee.

Making it ahead of such teams as West Coast Conference's St Mary's, the Wildcats answered their critics with two solid wins over Utah and Cleveland St to advance to next weekend's Sweet Sixteen round.

Their next opponent is Rick Pitino's Louisville Cardinals.

With non conference wins over Gonzaga and Kansas, while suffering a one point loss to Texas A&M at College Station, their resume looked solid without being eye catching.

On the other hand, St Mary's went 2-2 against top 50 opponents and a question mark hung over Pat Mills and his health leading into the tourney. (Trust me, playing Eastern Washington days before Selection Sunday did not help.)

There is no doubt I would have loved to see the Gaels make the tourney because I'm a WCC guy, and I want to see the conference prosper as much as possible.

But this time round the Selection Committee has got it right. You must reward teams that have played a tougher schedule throughout the year. That is what the Wildcats did.

Hopefully we can see St Mary's play a tougher non conference schedule in the future and there will be no question they deserve their spot in the NCAA Tourney and not have to settle for the N(ot) I(nvited) T(ournement).

- Here is a interesting piece on former Adelaide 36ers Head Coach Mike Dunlap.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Nevill & The Utes Done

Will Luke Nevill be the next Aussie in the NBA?

Talk about a tough decision. Since landing in the USA on Thursday, I have had the ability to watch basketball for every waking minute but my blogging time has been effected.

Thanks to the NCAA Tourney and NBA TV I've been getting my fill of both forms of the game.

One minute I'm seeing Jeremy Pargo (Gonzaga) dunk on a skinny red head kid probably from the Mid West (Akron), then with the push of a button I'm checking out silky smooth Ray Allen drop some threes on a porous Memphis Grizzles defense.

But the story of the weekend for me was Luke Nevill's college career is over.

His Utah Utes were defeated in the first round of the NCAA Tourney by the Arizona Wildcats.

I have been following Nevill all season as he is one Aussie that was truly flying under the radar with Pat Mills and AJ Ogilvy dominating the headlines. Nevill responded with being named Defensive and Player of the Year of the Mountain West Conference, while setting a school record in block.

On Friday when the Utes and Wildcats tipped off, you could tell that Arizona's game plan was to shut down Nevill.

Early foul trouble did not help out the Perth native but every time he got a low post touch, Nevill was looking at four Wildcat jerseys the minute he faced the basketball. The Wildcats gave him no breathing room what so ever.

This is one aspect that always sparks the "what's better" to watch debate, NBA or college.

Nevill clearly has an offensive skill set (when he saw single coverage he scored on most occasions) that will allow him to score at will if played straight up, but due to the rules in college he can face a double team way before he has touched the ball.

This is style of defense is not allowed in the NBA.

But give credit to Arizona for their game plan as it was clear the Utes would struggle to score enough points if Nevill was restricted at the offensive end.

Nevill can be proud of what he has achieved in his college career but it is time for him to move onto his next phase in his basketball career.

I mentioned on "The OT" the other day that Nevill could really boost his NBA stock with a couple of solid NCAA tourney games. This was not to happen but Nevill will still get the opportunity to perform at the highest level in the game.

In the upcoming months look for Nevill to workout for many NBA teams and decide where his stock value rates.

In my opinion I believe we will see this Aussie in the NBA for many years to come.

The time has come, I have more live NCAA games to watch, Arizona St and Syracuse is calling me.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

We're Coming After You TBJ

(Click to enlarge, slightly!)

Sometimes you have to gloat just a little, even if it only lasts for a day.

This website's podcast has slowly but surely been building in its popularity and DJ Rod loves hyping up the stats, especially in comparison to The Basketball Jones (TBJ). Yes guys, you are our measuring stick for some reason.

If you can read the above iTune stats, "The OT" has just snuck ahead of TBJ at the last poll. (Sportal covers many sports so they fudge the stats a little so we ignore them.)

I'm sure JE Skeets and his cast will have some great response to this graph, but as I said, DJ Rod and I will live it up while we can.

Enough of the this banter, time to slip a DVD on for the kids and crack open a bag of chips and a 3 litre Tampico (Aussies don't know what they are missing out on with this fine drop) juice.

The evening session of the NCAA Touney is about to begin.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

It's always fun traveling and using different modes of transport.

My family and I have finally made it to Phoenix, AZ (we used all the above mentioned modes of transport) and I just had to strap on one (toothpicks in eyes) as the NCAA Tourney was just getting interesting as I nestled into my new couch of the next couple of weeks.

I am rather delirious right now so I will make it short in fear of saying something stupid.

My toughest decision of the day was deciding which game to watch. A barn burner in the tourney, VCU/UCLA or a ripper in the NBA. The Cleveland Cavs and the young Portland Trailblazers.

I love these types of decisions and I cannot wait to wake up in the morning refreshed ready to do it all again.

Look for a more detailed post tomorrow. I will be daisy fresh.

For all you NCAA scores click here.

Oh, check out my boy Pargo(Zags) against Akron.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Emery Atkinson & Episode 26, What's The Link?

The latest installment of "The OT" is ready for your ears.

In this edition we catch up with championship winning guard Joe Ingles of the South Dragons. He talks about where he thinks he will be next year.

Also we talk to Wollongong Hawks captain Matt Campbell. Mr Everything in the "Steel City" at the moment, Campbell explains how you can help him save the Hawks.

DJ Rod and I talk a little NCAA and the Player Points System within the NBL.

Take a listen and tell us what you think.

Next time you hear from me I will be in the Valley of the Sun stalking Shaq and taking in the NCAA tourney live.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Selection Sunday - Part 2

It's 30 years ago this whole Larry/Magic thing started.

Part 2 was always coming but thanks for the great comments from Part 1.

Let's get straight into it!


Pittsburgh - Ontario Lett fouled his way out of Perth, but was quite impressive for the Panthers at tourney time.

East Tennessee St - #24 for your Hobart Devils, Calvin Talford.

Oklahoma St - Randy Rutherford launched bombs for OK St before Canberra and Brisbane, now he is back on the coaching staff of the Cowboys.

Tennessee - Townsville tennis player JP Smith (current NCAA ranking of 10) can be seen at Crocs games when he is not hitting balls.

Florida St - Assistant coach Corey Williams (not Homicide) was at Oral Roberts before here. He helped Cam Tradgardh work on his passing skills during CT's brief college career.

Wisconsin - Kirk Penney introduced the UGG BOOT to Wisconsin. The Badgers offered the Kiwi colder weather.

Xavier - David West of the New Orleans Hornets is one of the Musketeers all-time greats. He is currently a teammate of Sean Marks. (I need to claim him for this, please.)

Portland St - Coach Ken Bone offered me a scholarship to Seattle Pacific. Townsville Sun Glen Stump went to school there.

UCLA - One time Perth import Joe Shipp has a brother, Josh, on the Bruins roster.

Virginia Commonwealth - Head Coach Anthony Grant was a teammate of Dave Colbert's at Dayton.

Villanova - Dwayne McClain won a title at Nova in '85 but could not do the same for the Kings.

American - Melvin Thomas mastered his low post game here.

Texas - Joey Wright was as big as Texas when he was a Longhorn. Look for him to be back in the NBL next season.

Minnesota - Dusty Rychart was a walk-on, will Rick Rickett thought he was NBA after two seasons with the Gophers.

Duke - Billy McCaffery (Vanderbilt) and Mike Chappell (Michigan St) both started here but moved on to greener pastures.

Binghamton - Assistant Coach Mark Macon is a native of Saginaw, Michigan. Home of former Hawk and Croc Damon Lowery.


North Carolina - Cecil Exum got to mix it with Michael Jordan and the rest of the Tar Heels.

Radford - This school is in the Big south Conference. you will also find Coastal Carolina there as well. Clint Reed and Anthony Susnjara both attend Coastal.

LSU - One of Australia's all time greats went here. Ed Palubinskas lead the 1976 Olympics in scoring.

Butler - The Bulldogs home gym was where the movie Hoosiers was shot. In 1996 the Adelaide 36ers toured the States and played in this very gym. Quite a memory.

Illinois - Two blasts from the past, Audie Matthews and Tom Gerhardt

Western Kentucky - Darnell Mee and the Hilltoppers went to a sweet sixteen.

Gonzaga - Paul Rogers, Axel Dench, Casey Calvary, Bakari Hendrix, Jeff Brown, and Mike Champion..oh and me!

Akron - Somebody help me out here, please.

Arizona St - Tony Ronaldson managed a year with a talented Sun Devils squad back in the early 90's.

Temple - Rick Brunson teamed with Eddie Jones and Aaron McKie for the Owls. Then he teamed with Brett Maher and yours truly for the 36ers.

Syracuse - Dave Patrick started his college career here. Now he recruits many Aussies to St Mary's.

Stephen F Austin - Coming out of the Southland Conference where Aussie Ryan Bathie made All Conference 1st team for Nicholls St.

Clemson - Sydney King waterbug Ed Scott was one of the Tigers best.

Michigan - Home of the Fab 5 and Chris Webber's great time out call. I guess because DJ Rod has Twitted Jalen Rose, this counts in some type of way.

Oklahoma - Ebi Ere pulled on the Sooner jersey for two years.

Morgan St - The Bears are coached by Todd Bozeman who at one time coached the Cal Bears and Jelani Gardner. That relationship turned bitter in a hurry. Who sold who out?

Please leave your comments again. The tourney will begin Friday, Aussie time.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Selection Sunday

Today is all about the college game. Selection Sunday (no Pat Mills and St Mary's) is huge in the USA as people sit around their television waiting to see if their team is one of 65 to make it to the "Big Dance".

So in honour of this day, I will run a two part series on how each school is connected to Aussie hoops history, somehow. (Maybe some will become a stretch, but work with me people.)



Louisville - Gold Coast Blaze Luke Whitehead honed his rebounding skills here.

Ohio St - One time West Sydney Razorback Jason Singleton went to a Final Four with the Buckeyes. Chris Jent attended school here as well.

Siena - I once got free NBA tickets from former Washington Bullets player Jeff Ruland. He went to Iona that is in the same conference (MAAC) as Siena. (1st stretch story)

Utah - Conference player of the year Luke Nevill is an Aussie. I think this is where Andrew Bogut went.

Arizona - NBL champion Daniel Dillon was a Wildcat for four years. Mike Dunlap is an assistant coach there.

Wake Forest - Randolph Childress of the Sydney Kings variety teamed up with Tim Duncan.

Cleveland St - Valparasio is in the Horizon Conference with the Vikings. Aussie gunner Ryan Broekhoff will be at Valpo next season.

West Virginia - The Mountaineers are coached by Bob Huggins. Huggins coached Bobby "Baywatch" Brannen at Cincinnati.

Dayton - Prolific scoring forward Dave Colbert is a Flyer and in their Hall of Fame.

Kansas - Scooter Barry and Adonis Jordan pulled on a Magic jersey, while Steve Woodberry played for Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sydney.

North Dakota St - The Bison beat Oakland to advance to the tourney. Oakland could have used Mike Helms' scoring punch.

Boston College - Townsville Croc and Razorback import Dave Hinton call this place home for a while.

Alabama St - A name on this roster breaks all rules. Chief Kickingstallionsims

Morehead St - Aussie Ben Congiusta of Tennessee-Martin lost in the championship game to the Eagles to advance.

USC - One time Brisbane Bullet strongman Chris Munk went here.

Michigan St - Adam Ballinger, Mike Chappell and Dave Thomas all won a championship for the Spartans.

Robert Morris - Help please.


Connecticut - Andre LaFleur is an assistant coach for his college coach, Jim Calhoun.

UT-Chattanooga - They beat out Dontaye Draper's College of Charleston to advance to the dance.

BYU - 7'0 Brisbane boy Corey Reader played for the Mormons for two years.

Texas A&M - The Aggies are coached by Mark Turgeon. Last year he was at Wichita St where Sydney Spirit assistant coach Brett Coxedge was under him.

Purdue - Newcastle Falcons leaper Everett Stephens was a Boilermaker.

Northern Iowa - Dave Gruber (Spirit) is a true mid west boy.

Washington - Mark Sanford was a Husky for two years.

Mississippi St - AJ Ogilvy and Vanderbilt could not mix it with the Bulldogs.

Marquette - My brother-in-law went to school here.

Utah St - Dominique Cooks (Eric's son) redshirted this season for the Aggies.

Missouri - Nate Tomlinson (son of Coach Billy T) and his Colorado team will be hoping that next year they can turn it around like Missouri did this year.

Cornell - The Big Red are an Ivy League school. Paul Maley was and Ivy League boy at Yale.

California - NBL MVP Brian Wethers graced the court for this Pac-10 school.

Maryland - Former King Rodney Elliot defeated my Gonzaga Bulldogs in this very tourney in 1995.

Memphis - I met the Tigers coach, John Calipari, at the Athens Olympics.

Cal St Northridge - Former Gold Coast Roller, Bullet and Giant Mike Mitchell was an assistant coach here before he moved onto the WNBA.

Let me know if you have your own story about a particular school.
Part 2 will be tomorrow.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

SEABL Kicks Off & News

The Townsville Crocs had their end of season Ball last night. MVP...Corey Williams, Players Player....Russell Hinder, Club Person of the Year...Rohan Short

Australia’s off season league, the SEABL commenced over this weekend so I thought for my readers I would prepare a summary of how the league and the teams are shaping up for 2009.

Recently the SEABL touted itself as the strongest it has ever been with the announcement of two large association teams (Sandringham and Dandenong) switching across from the Victorian State League (Big V). Whilst the league has made giant strides in repositioning itself on the basketball landscape it still is not where it was in the early 90’s when teams such as Newcastle, Adelaide, NE Melbourne and the West Sydney Slammers were tearing up the ABA competition.

The usual suspects with NBL experience still float around the league with the likes of Cam Rigby (Knox), Andrew Rice (Mt Gambier), Mark (don't call me Steve)Nash (Hobart), Matt Smith (Hobart) and Mick Hill (Knox) pulling the boots on again in 09’.

They are of course supported by a group of imports like CJ Massingale (Knox), David Gruber (Frankston) and Jamal Brown (Ballarat) who have all shown longevity in the league.

But for me it just doesn’t stack up to the times when guys like Eric Cooks (Ballarat), Andre Le Fleur (Mt Gambier), Matthew Neilsen (Sydney), Grant Keys (West Syd) and Mike Kelly (NE/Nunawading) were floating around the ABA. These guys were a cut above the rest, whereas at the moment the SEABL consists of a host of past fringe NBL players whose window into the top league shut swiftly with the demise of the competition in recent times.

Though the SEABL has made significant steps forward this year, 2009 will see the inclusion of a new ‘D League’ hopefully underpinning the semi professional competition and providing a breeding ground for young Australians. It provides junior associations with an incentive to provide a seamless pathway through to the elite level. A step in the right direction.

The future of the SEABL lies in promoting potential NBL rookies and returning college prospects from the USA.

This year there is no shortage of talent on the AIS roster with the likes of Brock Motum and Jason Cadee already catching my eye. But look for rookies Zane Reeves (Bendigo), Zac Carter (Ballarat), Oretsi Nitsios (Dandenong) and Sedalle Threat Jr (Sandringham) to fight it out for rookie of the year honors.

A host of new imports come into the league in 09'. Geelong Coach Mark Leader appears to have recruited well again. Saudi Arabia’s finest Ismail Muhammad and Clifton Lee, who played with the Chiba Badgers in Japan will suit up for the always strong Supercats.

I am keen to see how Pittsburgh University’s Keith Benjamin adjusts to the Australian game playing for Mt Gambier. But don’t overlook Matt Trannon from Bendigo as the surprise import for the year, with Coach Wayne Larkins always finding the right guy to fit his system.

Anthony Stewart taking over the reins of Conference Champions and National ABA finalists Hobart was the headline story in coaching circles during the off season. No doubt Stewie will soon learn that there is more to coaching than simply challenging his players to a shootout for a steak and chips meal at the local pub. (Stewie, you still owe me two.) I am not a believer in the playing coach situation, so the sooner he hangs up the boots and pulls on the suit the better chance his team has of back to back titles.

Finally there are a whole host of players looking to score a contract in the NBL next season with exposure in the SEABL competition. Former team mates Drew Williamson and Greg Vanderjagt will suit up for the Brisbane Spartans. I just can’t wait to see 213cm Vanderjagt and 221cm Sam Harris (NW Tassie) banging in the paint like two Giraffe’s mating on ice skates. Daniel Dillon (Sandringham), Nathan Herbert (Geelong), Shane McDonald (Nunawading) and Chris Goulding (Spartans) will all have something to prove as they try to hold onto an NBL deal. But for me it will be Ash Cannon (Spartans) and Hugh Greenwood (AIS) that all NBL coaches will be keeping their eye on.

My mail has the Knox Raiders to win the Championship. As long as the Spartans players stop playing dress up and get on the court, them and Bendigo may just give it a nudge as well.

Boxscore from Round 1

Hoops News

- I'm still on his bandwagon and maybe never getting off. Aussie centre Luke Nevill owned the Mountain West Conference tournament. Now if he has a breakout NCAA tournament, watch the Aussies flock and claim this guy as he prepares himself for a life in the NBA.

- South Dragons Coach Brian Goorjian thinks it is his best yet.

- We are all waiting now that it is over.

- What now for Joe Ingles?

- New Zealand's NBL kicked off this weekend. boxscores

- The Internet turned 20 the other day and blogger ASternWarning takes a look at what we may have seen on the web back then. I had a chuckle to myself over the Bill Cartright elbowing comments.

- Detroit Pistons owner dies at age 86.

- Don't forget Monday (Aussie time) is Selection Sunday for the NCAA Tournament. I'm waiting to see what type of seed my Gonzaga Bulldogs get. I'm guessing a #4 seed, but I'm hoping they stay out west so I will have a chance to see them in action.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

New Larry Abney Celebration

Has Larry "the Birdman" Abney changed his post game celebration? Check out the video below and let me know what you think.

Larry Abney loves to celebrate a dunk. The former Fresno St, Townsville Croc, Cairns Taipan now plies his trade with Eiffel Towers in Holland and has found a new magical way to celebrate a throw down during the game.

Here in Australia we were used to my former teammate going with the tradition "Birdman" hand gesture. All of my taunting about him not being the original "Birdman" must have got him thinking of new material once he left our shores.

Check out the video footage below. Abney has keep it all in the bird family (not Larry), but he has gone from phalange flapper to an old favourite of mine, " The Chicken Dance".

Once again not to original but when you witness his David Copperfield like abilities and the way it instantly stops the game, you can do nothing but appreciate his new found creativity.

Kids, do not be alarmed, Larry did find his way out of the box and back on court.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Petrie Gives Me A History Lesson

Anthony Petrie made my All-Surprise Team, then he surprised me with a classic e-mail.

I was surprised today when I opened my e-mail and had a current player drop me a line about something I had written a few weeks back. Wollongong Hawk Anthony Petrie left me this little gem of a letter. He is either really bored to have looked up so much stuff on Toowoomba, or a very proud member of the Tenterfield community?

Here is what he said.

"now john i first must admit i am not one for reading up about the game that often. i have other hobbies like boggle and connect four to keep me interested but i have been informed by a close friend that i have made your all surprise team. Thank you very much for this honour i appreciate it. I must however move on to more pressing issues surrounding this selection. I must use one of your quotes "anyone from Tenterfield has done well to get this far." This was hugely crippling for my close friend to read and he struggled at large to tell me what had been said about a town which is widely known as the "Bithplace of our nation." he then moved on and said well where is rillie from? i was nearly too embarrassed to tell him but i finally gave in a said he was from the town that was home of the mountaineers. He said "wasnt that who old POP (Dickerson) used to play for in the tenterfield basketball carnival." i said " poor old POP was the only good thing in the town at that time and felt he needed to come and play in the tenterfield basketball carnival to prove his worth as a ball player." He then said "wasnt that rillie playing in stanthorpe when we were about 6 or 7 years old and everyone said if he played for the tenterfiled rollers he would make it for sure but would struggle to get out of all the pitfalls in toowoomba if he kept going." i replied "thats him." So i also must extend my congratulations to you john for achieveing everything you have in the game. I think you and steven price are the only people ever to make it out of the garden city. When i think about toowoomba i think about the cobb & co museum. i think about the farmers markets the first sunday of every month. i think about abbots antiques and second hand furniture. also who could ever forget there first visit to the danish flower art complex. Also it was hugely disappointing to find out that your slot car centre had finally closed down. Anyway i am sure you are aware of all the great things toowoomba has to offer so i dont need to go any further. But john please take your time to read up about tenterfields rich and proud history and i am sure it will even change your opinion. If nothing else it will educate you further on the history of australia. you are even more than welcome to come and stay a night in tenterfield. But i do suggest that you dont stay at the peter allen inn as you will surely get a bad name for yourself. Anyway John all the best with finally digesting the fact that tenterfield is clearly a more interesting place than toowoomba and anytime the mountaineers want to roll down the highway for a game against the mighty tenterfield rollers it would be a pleasure to show you how a real carnival zone is played during a game and how to best use the amount of fouls you get given at the start of the game."

Yours in tenterfield
Anthony Petrie

I just felt this was too good to let go through to the keeper. I love it, especially when a current player is reading what I'm writing about them.


- Melbourne Tigers have to cough up 10K.

- South Dragons captain Mark Worthington believes his team is going to win it all. I hope he feels that way!

- So many options in Melbourne on Friday night. What would you go and watch live?

- The Sydney Spirit team going to the Philippines just gets better. You need to read to believe. Rob Beveridge will not be the coach of this team as he cannot be in two places at once. He will be coaching the Nike Hoop Summit game.

- One last useless stat about Game 5 of the NBL Finals. Can Sam MacKinnon break his duck as an assistant coach/injured player in a Championship series? MacKinnon had to watch from the bench in 2001 as Townsville lost to Wollongong. Fast forward to 2002 and he did the same for the West Sydney Razorbacks as they lost 2-1 to the adelaide 36ers. Chris Anstey should request for "The Hulk" to stay home.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"The OT" & Some Random News

I could not let this picture go unnoticed. It is none other than Greg Vanderjagt and Chris Goulding. WOW is all I can say, but click on your favourite Spartan to get the latest podcast from "The OT"..

Episode 25 (or episode Dave Simmons, he beat out Matt Earp) of "The OT" was a little late off the production line but it is still full of whole hearted hoop news. Plus you will get to hear who predicted the NBL Finals will go the distance of five games.

Also in this episode DJ Rod, introduces a new section which allows punters to ask questions. This could become interesting.

We touch on the Chris Anstey/Melbourne Tigers situation after Game 3, the NBL awards that have already been decided and the last chance to get your banner noticed. You have a chance to win a 22' monitor thanks to http://www.itstore.com.au/


- Are the Melbourne Tigers bad sports? Yes, says Scott Derwin.

- In case you have been hiding out, the Tigers squared the NBL Finals series at 2-2 tonight.

recap boxscore

- Could this be the beginning of State of Origin basketball? Sign me up.

- Former teammate Aaron Trahair is a basketball development officer over in the west.

- If you are tall and want to play basketball, Albury Bandits are the team for you.

- Drew Williamson to suit up for the Southern District Spartans.

- Kareem is not impressed with Shaq.

- I guess the SEABL conference is about to begin play. They have a tipping comp with prizes up for grabs.

- NBA D-League announces an unusual playoff format. Let me know what you think of the idea. While on the D-League, read about their Top 10 proud moments this year.

- Little known Aussie Matt Schmechtig was announced as Player of the Week in the American Midwest Conference.

- Is Jesse Wagstaff the next great Aussie to come out of Metro St? Check out his stats to date.

- Another name to remember may just be Tim Coenraad. Coenraad has just been named to his third All Conference Team in four years.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

You Tube & News

First I will start with a few YouTube clips because there were some plays worth looking at that come out of the NBA today.

First, Trevor Ariza of the Los Angles Lakers chases down Portland Trailblazer Rudy Fernandez. This incident was awarded a flagrant foul but the interesting thing for me was to see who Spaniard Pau Gasol suck up for? He countryman Fernandez or teammate Ariza.

Next is this great play that D-Wade came up with to win the game for his Miami Heat. Funny stuff what he said about not calling a timeout.


- I will not harp on how my Gonzaga Bulldogs manhandled the St Mary's Gaels today. Here is a link to get all the news and video highlights of the game. It was going to be a long night for the Gaels the minute they received a tech foul for dunking in the warm ups.

- Melbourne Tigers owner Seamus McPeake has deep pockets and rookie Daniel Johnson loves it.

- Chris Anstey to play in Game 4. Avoids suspension.

- Something new. Teams trying to use the media to get their way.

- Wollongong Hawks yet to hear of their fate.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Australia's PG Dilemma

Will we ever see another pass first PG like Phil Symthe?

From my last post somehow the comments section become a venue for people to discuss the point guard situation of Australia, so I'll discuss a few of the points that have been raised.

First, Eric wanted to know why our leading PG CJ Bruton can only register five and a half assists per game.

Well Eric the days of a traditional pass first PG's are few and far between which will have a drastic effect on assist numbers from this position.

There is no doubting the CJ is still Australia's best answer at this position but I'm not sure where he stands as far as the national team goes.

Is he a pass first point guard?

This is a tough one to answer because he has the ability to score the ball so well. This is proven on an almost nightly basis in the NBL when he takes over the fourth quarter. There is no doubting CJ is thinking score first but he does have the feel and understanding of the game to create opportunities for others. Hell, he was only on of four players to average better than 5 assists per game this year, so he wasn't too bad.

Here is what I feel has had the biggest impact on this stat within the league. The average basketball players skill level in the NBL from the 1980's and early 90's has lifted remarkably.

You think back to the days of Phil Smythe and Gordie McLeod at the point guard spot. These guys were as rare as hen's teeth. The point guard role was dominated (and still is to a point) by imports. Of the top of your head, name another ten Aussie players of that era that dazzled you with their ballhandling. (Scott Ninnis' right hand coast to coast does not count!)

As for today's player, some teams can have three or four guys that can grab a rebound and start the fastbreak.

With better ballhandlers per team, this allows more creativity amongst the team, and your assist leader's total will be a little lower.

An example here is the West Sydney team I played on back in 2004. Both Sam MacKinnon and myself averaged over 5/game, while we had Aaron Trahair, Simon Dwight and Scott MacGregor all having the ability to create for others.

We did not need a dominate ballhandler as we had a squad that had versatility in this area. It was this trait that made us a tough outfit to defend.

I honestly believe the days of seeing someone average 10 assists (it has been done by only three guys; Darryl McDonald (3), Derek Rucker (1) and Gordie McLeod (1) in a NBL season is long gone.

Here is a little evidence to support my statement.

I recently had a very good discussion with AIS coach Marty Clarke. In the discussion we talked about the type of player that gets recruited these days at the junior level.

First, coaches are looking for length and athleticism. Skills that cannot be coached are priority. My argument to this is, we have no specialist players these days and everyone plays with the same skill set. Talk about Groundhog Day and no ability for a team to change their style on the fly.

This leads me to my last rant of the night and in line with what readers were commenting on.

When we go to play at an international competition (WC's or Olympics) we certainly do not have the depth at the PG spot like some power teams do.

I tend to look at it a little differently, though.

I never doubt the skill of these players who fill these positions, they are just not the norm when comparing to other international PG's.

Who's to blame or how do we fix that can be debated until the cows come home.

Where I feel we let ourselves down is we worry way too much about what we don't have instead of maximizing what we have. You can only go with what you have once you get to a tourney, so make the most of it.

As one reader wrote, we play run and gun in the NBL, then we try and play a different style when we play against the rest of the world.

Why don't we run and gun I say? For any team to win a medal you need to find a style that suits your team makeup and you need a little luck along the way. Remember, there is very little that separates most of these great teams from around the world

As the saying goes, a leopard never changes his spots so why do we continue to change our style once we leave our shores?

We need to dare to be different. That is what the Europeans did. They figured out if they wanted to compete with the USA, they needed to create a style of their own. Low and behold, they ended up beating them and making the USA rethink their team structure.

If Australia is to ever become a power on the international stage, we need to step outside the box instead of travelling down the same road.