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.


Eric said...

This is some pretty cool data:

C'Mon JR, how can you talk about great SEABL players and not talk about David Johnson of Bendigo? The man was an offensive machine the likes of which this country has not seen before. He had 73 points in a game once! He averaged over 50 for two straight years.

The SEABL is a GREAT league. Some good former SEABL imports come to mind that I saw play in person:
John Suva - Great point guard
Steve DeLavega
Jeff Hart
Willie Jennette (although he blew in the '89 final against Bendigo)
Reg Biddings
Kevin Thomas
Cecil Exum
Eric Bailey
Allen McCowan

John Rillie said...

Eric you are spot on. I know very litle about DJ so I would not serve him justice.

Your list is a good one but I only know most of those guys by stats, not game as I was a little kid in Toowoomba when Victoria was at its SEABL peak.

Cheers for the comments. Appreciate them.

DJ Dudd said...

Willie Jennette was a great player, along will Carlos Kelly.

I have footage from the SEABL Finals in 1989 that features Willie Jennette, Carlos Kelly, DJ, Eric Cooks, Eric Hayes, Gary Gaspard and Al Westover (not dj rod he was not born yet as his lovechild) Coaching 1 team. I will upload it soon.

Eric said...

Actually I had that game on Video too. WIN TV broadcast it in prime time, but like most of my 80's tapes they wore out from overwatching.

Willie Jennette standing on the odd angle from the stripe was interesting.

DJ Dudd said...

It was the whole weekend they broadcast on TV, i got that. Over 2 or 3 days.

Eric said...

Nice man, Would love to see that uploaded on youtube, although it would be a bugger of a job....I think those Aussie basketball memories should be preserved somewhere at least.