Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
While I was away the Australian u/19 team (Emus) wrapped up an impressive three days in Melbourne with a sweep of the Four Nations Tournament. This was good preparation for all teams (Greece, Spain, France and Australia) involved as they are getting ready for the World Championships that start in New Zealand later this week.
If you missed the results from these game you can click here and browse through all the results from the tournament.
There were a few things that could my attention from this tournament.
Brock Motum (tourney MVP) will be making his new coach in waiting Ken Bone feel pretty good about his incoming class at Washington St.
Motum led the Australian team in scoring for all three games and hit the "O" glass hard all tourney. Motum will want to carry this form through the WC's before he makes tracks for Pullman, WA and the Pac-10.
Secondly, I have been a little harsh on Cody Ellis and his attitude I felt he displayed at the National u/20 titles, but Ellis may just be a "gamer". Ellis displayed a good all round game over the three games, but like Motum, this will all be forgotten if this form cannot be replicated in New Zealand later this week at the WC's.
St Louis Coach Rick Majerus will be hoping Ellis can continue to play at a high level so he can help the ever improving Billikens of the Atlantic-10 Conference. Ellis will be an incoming true freshman.
All the best to the Emus in the upcoming WC's and I will endeavour to keep you, the reader, up to date with their progress.
The Australian Boomers are currently on a two game tour of China, but the Boomers have gone down by six in Game 1.
84-78 was the end result with Toronto Raptor Nathan Jawai leading the Aussie squad with 14 points and 8 boards.
James Harvey (check out his tour blog ) was the only other Aussie to reach double figures with 12.
Coach Brett Brown praised the defense of Peter Crawford who ended the game with 9 points and 6 steals.
Leading the Chinese attack was veteran Wang Zhizhi with 20.
China was somewhat concerned pregame with how they would contain Jawai without Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian not suiting up for the home team.
Wang a former NBAer showed that he is still more than capable of causing a matchup problem. He is a skillful 7 footer which makes him a tough cover for opposition centres. His perimeter game is his strength but he is efficient enough on the block not to allow you to go with a small on him.
Let's see how the Boomers address this matchup in Game 2.
You can catch a few highlights from Game 1 here.
- Former South Dragon guard Nathan Herbert signs with the Adelaide 36ers.
I'm sure Herbert will be looking to be the recipient of extra minutes in Adelaide.
He will battle Boomer Brad Hill (did I just say that?) and Dr Darren Ng for minutes at the two guard spot.
- What is CJ Bruton doing in Ballina?
- Martin Cattalini returns home.
- Seattle Storm's Lauren Jackson talks about teaming up with Sue Bird year round.
- Hoopfest is the largest 3-on-3 tournament in the world. Thanks Spokane,Wa.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Pat Mills will have to make the Portland Trailblazers roster before he gets to blow by Chris Paul again.
Twenty four hours have passed so I thought I would provide you with as many links as possible (before I head overseas for a few days) regarding Pat Mills being drafted by the Portland Trailblazers.
Before I go though, anyone know of someone that predicted the top five picks in the draft and the team's they would end up with?
Sir Link-A-Lot featuring Pat Mills:
- Mills the fourth Aussie to be linked with Portland.
- Trailblazers press release.
- Backup point guard Sergio Rodriguez was traded by the Trailblazers before the draft. Does this leave the door open for Mills?
- Blazer Blog - live from the draft
- RotoTimes.com believes Mills was one of a few to drop too far in the draft.
- The Australian newspaper's thoughts.
- Boston Celtics were hoping Mills would slide a little lower.
- Hoopsworld hints at Mills heading overseas.
- Not draft related but a great read. Aussie rules and hoops are closer than we think.
Friday, June 26, 2009
"Sneaky" Steve Hoare will be bringing his game to the north.
The Townsville Crocodiles will announce the signing of their eighth player in the near future. It will be former Melbourne Tigers forward Stephen Hoare.
Not sure when this will become official because it is a public holiday on Monday in the north.
Hoare become a target of the Crocs once his former Tiger teammate Tommy Greer backflipped on the Crocs and headed back to the Tigers.
Hoare will join Russell Hinder and Jeff Dowdell in the front court. The question now is, does this mean the end of Rosell Ellis with the Crocs as they have no true centre on their roster at present?
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Less than twenty fours hours until we know whether Australia has once again contributed to the product we know as the NBA.
Pat Mills will be the first Aussie name we hear tomorrow. My gut is telling me if Mills goes in the first round it will be at nineteen to the Atlanta Hawks. If the Hawks roll with someone else, Mills will slip into the second round.
Joe Ingles has been very solid while on his NBA workout tour over the past six weeks. Although Eurocamp was not his best showing, Ingles has done enough to be called in the second round.
I'm trying to find out if there is any truth to the rumour that Mills and Ingles are hosting a joint Draft Party. The menu will be two items deep, vegemite sandwiches and Foster's.
Other Aussies you may hear about on the day are Aron Baynes (WSU) and Luke Nevill (Utah).
Both are interior players who will find themselves on a Summer League roster but have they done enough to sneak into the second round? I'm saying no but I still believe Nevill will find a home in the NBA.
Not since the 1997 draft has Australia had multiple players select in a draft.
- Big news. Shaquille O'Neil has been traded to the Cleveland LeBrons. Will the Cavs regain their old nickname back now with O'Neil relocating?
- Toronto Raptor Nathan Jawai headlines the Australian Boomers team.
As weak as the Boomers team is looking, the Chinese team will be undermanned as well. Both of their NBA players Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian will be missing during these two games against the Aussies.
Los Angles Lakers guard Sun Yue will suit up against the green and gold.
China to win 2-0 thanks to their three little helpers at home.
- The NBL is to remain as the NBL.
- Larry Sengstock hinted about the television deal on "The OT". It seems we are only days away from hearing a formal announcement.
- Hope your sitting down when you read this announcement. Glen Saville signs with the Wollongong Hawks.
- This is past rumour status if you ask me. Dave Thomas to play for the Sheep Shaggers (New Zealand Breakers).
- Ever wondered what happened to former NBA player Sam Vincent? He is coaching the Jamacian national team.
- Rogers, Cattalini and Wagstaff sign with the Perth Wildcats.
- NBA aspirant Joe Ingles is just waiting for his name to be called, now.
- Phill Jones named MVP of the NZNBL.
- Q&A with Marty Clarke.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Let's hope the NBA Commissioner does not forget which Griffin to announce first.
The NBA Draft is less than forty eight hours away so I thought it was time for me to pen my thoughts on the top 5 picks.
Here goes and I'd love to hear your thoughts at the end.
#1 - LA Clippers Everyone will fall over if Oklahoma's Blake Griffin is not selected here. (It would be good value if David Stern let Taylor Griffin's name slip in here.) Griffin is already counting the cash associated with being the top pick but can he turn the unfortunate Clippers around.
He will help but a motivated Baron Davis is the key here. Davis can make Griffin's transition to the pros a little easier if he is on top of his game and can get along with Coach Mike Dunleavy.
No rookie is coming into the Western Conference and leading his team to immediate success. Even a manchild power forward. One night it's Tim Duncan, then A'mare Stoudamire, next is Dirk and the list goes on.
Luckily for the Clippers, they are getting a guy that will help their cause. The cupboard is not completely bare for LA's other team but can they all just get along?
#2 - Memphis Grizzles If in doubt go for a big man, so UConn's Hasheem Thabeet will be called next by David Stern.
Thabeet reminds me a lot of Portland's Greg Oden. His best asset right now is defense and rebounding but needs polish on his offensive game.
I watched Thabeet at the Sweet Sixteen where UConn was defeated by Missouri and too many times he was just muscled off the block. This meant he was taking some unbalanced forced shots.
If he can develop a solid face up game on the block he will become a tough cover in years to come at the offensive end.
#3 - Oklahoma City Thunder Taking a punt here and saying they will draft the Spaniard Ricky Rubio but he will be shipped off to Minnesota in exchange for ASU's James Harden.
So when that happens Harden will become a great fit for what the Thunder are trying to achieve.
Russell Westbrook is adamant that he is a point guard so Harden would slide nicely into the two spot. Although in some circles Harden's athleticism is being questioned, the guy is a player. The Pac-10 tried to stop him all season and had no success in slowing the lefty.
I'm looking for the Thunder to improve greatly this upcoming season as their previous draft picks begin to mature.
#4 - Sacramento Kings They need a point guard to run and control the show. Johnny Flynn is someone they will think about but I believe the Kings have fallen in love with Tyreke Evans.
In a recent workout against many of the guys competing for the same spot, Evans was too big, too strong to handle and contain getting to the rack.
Where I question Evan's game is what will be his best position in the League? It will take some time for the former Memphis Tiger to find his groove in the NBA.
#5 - Minnesota Timberwolves via the Washington Wizards As I mentioned above, James Harden and Ricky Rubio will be part of a draft day trade, which means Rubio is headed to the Great Lakes area.
With Randy Foye heading to Washington I'm guessing the T-Wolves are ready to let the Pistol Pete like point from Spain come in and do his thing. (Providing the T-Wolves can agree to a buyout price with Rubio's Spanish club team.)
The people of Minnesota need to be entertained if they are going to leave their house during winter so a few Rubio to Jefferson highlight plays may just do the trick.
Don't expect the world from Rubio, immediately. Please remember he is only 18yo and is in the Western Conference.
Time will tell if the hype has been all worth it for this young international star.
These are purely just my thoughts, so we will have to wait until Friday to see how on the money my crystal ball was.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
- Basketball Australia - “The players selected displayed a combination of physical grunt and skill on a daily basis during the camp and I’m looking forward to getting on the road with the team and seeing the same effort and intensity in a game situation,” Head Coach Brett Brown said.
The announcement of the Australian Boomers team is still fresh in my mind but I wish to take some time to digest it all before I make a comment on this very diluted national team.
In the meantime here are some audio grabs from the camp in Canberra.
- Head Coach Brett Brown
- Nathan Jawai
- Pat Mills (from USA)
- James Harvey
- wwos.com.au - "I've been given the all clear now from doctors, so I'm thrilled I can continue playing basketball at the highest level with the Tigers," Sam Mackinnon said.
With a healthy Sam MacKinnon lining up for the Melbourne Tigers it really does not matter who they sign at the point guard spot.
I'm not being disrespectful to any incoming point guard (I'll guess Nathan Crosswell and already signed Luke Kendall) but MacKinnon, when healthy, is one of the best creators in the game.
Chris Anstey, Mark Worthington and David Barlow will be hoping that MacKinnon has shaken his much documented health issues so they can be the recipients of his playmaking abilities.
I'm guessing with this signing the Tigers will start the season as title favourites.
- Adelaide Advertiser - "I've got a decent outside shot and I'm a bit more mobile running up and down the floor with my athleticism" said new Adelaide 36ers signing Matt Burston.
The NBL is short on big men but I think Burston is being a little kind to himself talking about his perimeter game and athleticism.
I'm sure Coach Scott Ninnis would have preferred to be hearing about rebounding and a low post prescence from his newly signed big man.
- Illawarra Mercury - "I'm (Glen Saville) not quite ready to make an announcement yet, but we're definitely getting closer. There's still one or two minor things that my agent (Geoff McGuire) is sorting out, but it's nothing that's going to be a deal breaker."
My question to "Sav", if they are not deal breakers, why haven't you signed yet?
- Sacramento Kings taking a long look at Pat Mills?
- NBA FanHouse feels Mills is not getting the hype he deserves leading into this week's NBA Draft.
- Keith Langlois who covers the Detroit Pistons thinks Joe Ingles "could develop into a Hedo Turkoglu type" of player.
I'm sure Joe can live with that considering Hedo will be receiving a contract in the $10mil/year range this offseason.
- Who would have thought Kendall "Tiny" Pinder loved discos. Enjoy a trip down memory lane with the Sydney Supersonics. Also, check out a young John Harker with no Nappy San in sight.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Aussie and now former St Mary's Gael point guard Pat Mills talks about why he left Moraga for the greener pastures of the pro game.
The latest from Joe Ingles.
- Yesterday I posted about James Harvey winning the beep test at the Boomers camp. Many a fan out there contacted me asking about the result/level that Harvey reached.
I can tell you that the event started at level 10 (think of Aaron Trahair at full pace with this level). Coach Brett Brown threw 20 minutes up on the clock and you keep on running until you could not keep pace with the beep test.
Harvey lasted until there was 7min 50sec left on the clock. This would have been a cracking pace by the time he finished. With this test, the pace increases after every minute.
My source tells me that Harvey and Holmes were well in front of the rest of the pack.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
James Harvey leads the way as the Boomers complete the beep test.
- The Australian Boomers have assembled in Canberra for the first time under new Head Coach Brett Brown.
It seems that Day 1 of the camp was dedicated to fitness testing and veteran James Harvey (Gold Coast Blaze) proved that experience does count. He went on to out last Adelaide 36ers Jacob Holmes to take out the beep test.
For those who do not know, the beep test is about endurance but picking up the pace every minute you run.
Having seen Harvey perform in this test before, it does not surprise me that he won this event. Plus I believe James will be on a mission to prove himself at the international level.
What scares me though is where are the young up and coming youth of Australian basketball. Holmes is no slouch in this race either but surely some "rookie" would have seen some value in performing well in this event.
Winning the beep test certainly would have captured Brett Brown's attention early in the camp.
*** This just in from Oscar Forman. Thanks Twitter.
"Boomers camp going well, body is so sore. 5 sessions down, 3 to go. Enjoying the learning and training. The AIS rooms & food, not so much."
- Ever wondered how Boomers Coach Brett Brown arrived in Australia back in the 80's? We have AT&T to thank.
- Dual Olympian Jason Smith retires.
I think this will be the first of a few of these situations to happen before the NBL's 2009/10 season begins.
It is a shame that it has come to this as there is no doubting Smith would have helped out any number of rosters around the league.
All the best at MacQuarie Bank.
- Boomer squad member Nathan Herbert is "optimistic" he will be part of the national competition next season.
- Buzzer beater sees Nelson Giants through to final in the NZNBL.
- Waikato Pistons will join the Giants in the NZNBL Final.
- "I'm just disappointed that I still had a year to go on my contract and that after nine years, nobody called me and I found out from somewhere else."
Former Melbourne Tiger Stephen Hoare's words to Herald Sun's Grantley Bernard.
- Hoare's former teammates in David Barlow and Luke Kendall are signed by the Melbourne Tigers.
- Shane McDonald to the Wollongong Hawks?
- St Louis Billikens bound Cody Ellis "to follow in father's footsteps".
- "I'm still trying to get as many workouts in as I can to try to prove myself to the teams and put myself in the best possible position."
Pat Mills talking to the Herald Sun about his upcoming workouts before the NBA Draft on Friday (USA time).
- AJ Price of UConn has his knockers but his agent Jeff Schwartz puts forward a compelling argument. Who gets drafted first, Price or Mills?
- Toronto Raptor Nathan Jawai returns home to see family.
- Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer has Pat Mills at 28 in his depth chart.
- Ever wondered what your boss got up to on the weekend? Well, thanks to Twitter I can let the Perth Wildcat fans know that their CEO Nick Marvin was laying an egg over his two day break.
" Spent the weekend in the garden building a chook run - here's to some organic eggs"
Good luck with the chicken business Nick. Maybe give the original "chicken farmer" John Dorge a call for some tips.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
While the finishing touches get put on episode 33 of "The OT", I was send this great piece of video footage featuring former Gold Coast Blaze import Luke Whitehead.
The former Louisville Cardinal graduate has shown a flair for his creative side in the music industry but the same cannot be said for former Blaze teammates Scott MacGregor and Tyson Demos.
MacGregor and Demos both have dance cameos (I will use that term loosely) but from my vast knowledge of dancing, I cannot see them breaking into the music/dance video industry any time soon.
I remember talking to Whitehead during the season about his love for music and said I would be more than happy to give him a plug on this website.
Here you go Whitehead, I'm helping spread the word for you from Frisco 2 Da Ville.
I just hope the t-shirt is in the mail now but I heard Rev Run (Run DMC) is looking to get his (rope) chain back.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
There are plenty of NBL updates and lots of movement in the USA regarding the upcoming NBA Draft.
Sit back, click and enjoy!
- New Orleans Hornets Head Coach Byron Scott on Pat Mills, "He's a competitor." "He can flat out put it up. He can score. He's a hell of a player."
- Everyone's favourite basketballing son, Daniel Joyce is happy to be back in Wollongong and looking forward to the Australian Boomers camp.
- "The Man" Anthony Mundine is doing his bit to help out through hoops.
- Australian Boomer squad member Cameron Tragardh is showing he is still "The King" of ABA.
- Former South Dragon Nathan Herbert is looking forward to Boomers camp.
My question is, who isn't because everyone must think they have a shot of making the team?
- Oregon State Beaver bound Angus Brandt returns home to the Blue Mountains before heading into Pac-10 battle.
- Darryl Corletto turns his back on England and re-signs with the Melbourne Tigers along with Nicholls State graduate Ryan Bathie.
- James Harvey is set to re-sign with the Gold Coast Blaze.
- Basketball Australia gets $300k from government.
- Luke Whitehead wants to keep playing on the Gold Coast, but the American import is not getting any love in return right now.
- The Perth Wildcats organisation are offering prizes to their season ticket members if they sign up early.
- Townsville Crocodile Michael Cedar is the latest to be added to the long list of Boomer squad members.
- Townsville Crocodiles re-sign Cameron Tovey and Kelvin Robertson.
- There is talk of Chicago Bull free agent Ben Gordon asking for $11 million per season. Teams are hoping that this does not become true, otherwise it will be an expensive off-season for some teams.
- Thanks to Kevin Love and his Twitter ability, he let the world know that Kevin McHale will not be coaching the Minnesota Timberwolves next season.
You can find me on Twitter @johnrillie.
- Toronto Raptor Nathan Jawai is ready to slip into the "Green and Gold".
- ESPN's Chad Ford has delivered his Mock Draft Edition 5 and there is no sign of Pat Mills in the first round. Does Ford know what he's talking about?
- Alonzo Mourning has school named after him.
- Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy beaten in prison?
- The MVP Nike Puppets are back for maybe the last time this season. This is for all the Kobe haters.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
History. Pat Mills is staying in the NBA Draft so St Mary's will look for other Aussies to carry the load.
Thanks to Andy Katz and ESPN,we hear from St Mary's Coach Randy Bennett and Pat Mills about the decision of Mills to go pro.
"Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett held out hope throughout the weekend that Patty Mills would look at the dearth of point guards in the draft, see that he was a borderline first-round pick and then decide to return to Moraga for his junior season.
Bennett waited until the final minutes of the deadline Monday afternoon when he finally got word that Mills was staying in the June 25 draft.
The one word text Bennett sent, "Gone," symbolized the Gaels' frustrations. Gone is the Australian Olympian, the Gaels' headline name and their link to possibly catching Gonzaga in the WCC or a possible NCAA tournament berth.
Mills went to the Reebok Eurocamp last week in Treviso, Italy where he shined well enough to warrant staying in the draft.
Bennet cited Mills' work ethic and pasion for the game in a statement, saying he will flourish as a professional.
"I respect and support Pat's decision to stay in the draft and we wish him the very best in his pursuit to play in the NBA," Bennett said in the release. "He's been a tremendous ambassador to our basketball program, and we will miss him as a person, a leader, and a basketball player."
Mills played in 26 games for the Gaels, averaging 18.4 points and 3.9 assists. He missed nine games last season with a broken right hand. He returned for the WCC tournament but wasn't well enough to lead the Gaels to the NCAA tournament.
Saint Mary's lost to San Diego State in the postseason NIT quarterfinals.
"I want to thank the coaching staff, and especially my teammates at Saint Mary's, as they have played a major part in helping me get to this point in my career," Mills said a statement released by the school. "I appreciate everything they have done to help me along the way, and they deserve a lot of the credit. Saint Mary's is my home away from home."
Monday, June 15, 2009
I hope my list causes as much of a stir as Phil Jackson's cap did.
While the Los Angles Lakers celebrate the franchise's 15th title and Coach Phil Jackson surpassed the great Boston Celtics Head Coach Red Auerbach with a record 10 titles as a coach, I look back at my All-Time five favourite Lakers not named Kobe.
#1 "Big Game" James Worthy - the only Lakers jersey I have ever owned.
#2 Bob McAdoo- Although somewhat of a journeyman during his career, I remember McAdoo being a key piece in the Lakers championship runs.
#3 Robert Horry - "Big Shot Bob" should be in the Hall of Fame.
#4 Kurt Rambis - Rambis and I relived WCC memories in the mid 90's when he came Down Under, plus he wears #31.
#5 Wilt Chamberlain - Simple. One of the greatest of all time.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
June 15 (USA time) is a date to circle on your calender. This is the day underclassmen who do not have an agent need to notify the NBA if they are returning to college and forgoing the June 25th NBA Draft.
More to the point, Aussie hoop fans will be glued to some media outlet to hear or read Pat Mills' tough decision ahead.
There are pros and cons for both sides of the story for Mills, but what will be his decision?
I have tried to get a feel from some of the people close to Mills and the results are interesting. Some say yes, some say no. I just hope Pat knows.
I guess we will have to wait for June 15 to roll around to get an answer. Good with your decision Pat.
In the meantime, I will provide you with some links for you to make up your own mind.
- The Two Man Game website has an article where they compare Pat Mills to San Antonio Spur Tony Parker.
- ESPN's college guru Andy Katz reports that Pat Mills is not the only underclassman with a tough decision to make.
- Minnesota Timberwolves assistant general manager Fred Hoiberg must read my blog. Just last week I compared Mills to Earl Boykins.
- Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress has shown us just how deep this year's draft is at the point guard position. Could we see a record number of PG's go in the first round?
- NetScouts an international site has thrown their two cents worth in about the point guard depth. They have Mills at nine in their depth chart.
- While a lot of the focus is on Mills, Joe Ingles is quietly going about his business as he tries to secure a solid draft position for himself.
Today Joe worked out for the New Jersey Nets as the session was viewed by 22 other NBA teams. Ingles told me that the workout "went well".
Over the upcoming days Ingles will also showcase his skills for the Portland Trailblazers, Los angles Lakers and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
- nbadraft.net - "(Joe)Ingles started to warm up as the camp (Eurocamp 2009) went on but overall he was a disappointment. Appeared to be going through the motions most of the time lacking the presence to get noticed. Teases you with good length and some skills, but appears to lack any fire."
- The Australian u/19 Men's team is currently playing in the Douai Tournament in France.
Yesterday saw the young Aussies take on host nation France in an epic battle.
The Emu's went down to the French, 68-65.
Rick Majerus and St Louis will be happy to see Cody Ellis leading the scoring with 14 and a team high 5 rebounds, while Valparaiso bound Ryan Broekhoff had 8. Joining Ellis at St Louis next year will be Christian Salecich who dropped in 8 and Colorado bound centre Shane Harris-Tunks had 8.
A few nights earlier the Aussies knocked off the Americans in a thriller, 79-77. Jason Cadee scored the winning basket with a layup on the buzzer.
Washington St bound Brock Motum led the team with 19, while St Louis bound pair of Salecich and Ellis contributed 12 each.
- HoopsWorld delivers "Five Things We Learnt In The NBA This Week".
One of them being that Brandon Jennings feels Ricky Rubio is "all hype".
- Looks like new Gold Coast Blaze Head Coach Joey Wright and former Brisbane Bullets owner Eddie Groves are going to have to put the gloves on.
- Former New Zealand Breakers Phill Jones and Tim Behrendorff are looking for new jobs.
Before I leave you, here is some lighted hearted stuff from Dwayne Wade on the Jimmy Kimmel Show.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Last year's NBL 6th Man of the Year, Phill Jones, will probably lost to the game. Is it good for the NBL to potentially be losing several guys with this type of talent?
Daniel Eade a journalist that contributes to gaze.com.au has written an interesting article that I have posted below.
In Eade's article he makes some comments regarding rules and some changes to the game that may affect the overall product.
I would love to hear your view once you have read the article.
"The still nameless newNBL have slapped basketball fans across the face with the decision to shorten the length of games for the league, slicing off eight minutes as they prepare to unveil a walk in-walk out abridged version of what Australian fans have become accustomed too by only playing 4x10 minute quarters.
The decision made without any fan consultation, is set to be the final straw that breaks the camels back as ticket prices are set to not be lowered, despite the reduction in entertainment of what is on offer.
Teams will also be able to fill their roster with “bit” players, with the league set to lose an abundance of quality bench players as teams look to cut pay-roll, highlighted by the New Zealand Breakers decision in not bringing back reigning 6th man of the year, Phill Jones, without being able to guarantee the sweet shooting lefty any quality minutes.
Townsville have also followed suit by not bringing back John Rillie and the Melbourne Tigers have now let Stephen Hoare go.
Why on Earth the league would agree to such a staggering move and deprive their loyal fans of time to see their favourite stars in action is outrageous.
On the day Larry Sengstock was announced as the new chief, I spoke to Sengstock about the rumour of games being shortened and at the time he claimed to have, “Only heard of it recently.” I begged Sengstock to use any kind of power to make sure this did not happen and I did leave that conversation believing we were on the same page.
I will even go as far as saying that whoever on the board voted for this, should be immediately sacked because they do not have basketball fans best interest at heart and I sure as hell don’t want them making anymore decisions that affect my enjoyment of the game.
It is a ludicrous decision.
Just sit back and watch now as players are overlooked and not rewarded with contracts, their point rankings and minutes available to them, plus money, will enable teams to go the cheaper route.
How is this good for basketball?
Gone are the days of a team filling out a roster that is 10-deep. Why bother when you can spread the minutes around eight players and have a couple of cheap kids fill out your final roster spots.
Nobody ever said that the problem with the NBL was the games are too long!!!! I seriously cannot believe this decision.Are teams going to be able to attract sponsors by saying, “Games will be shortened so fans will see less of your advertising. Now could we please have some money!!”
If Sengstock wants to be on the fans side, he must make sure this does not go through and that it is stopped before it is implemented. Scores will be lower, player averages will be lower and attendances will be lower, I guarantee you.
So how is this good in any way?"
Thursday, June 11, 2009
This week Rod and I were joined by guest host Russell Hinder around the card table.
Our special guest is Aleks Maric, a guy who I truly believe has flown under the radar in Australian basketball circles. We talk college basketball, his dream to be an Olympian and Andrew Bogut picking up the tab.
Besides Maric, we discuss the player signings in the NBL and the NBA Finals.
Downlaod and enjoy.
- Crocs website - "Peter (Crawford) is one of the marquee Australian players in this league", said Townsville Crocodile CEO Ian Smythe.
Clink on the link above to read the Crocs media release about the signing of Crawford and former Perth Wildcat teammate Jeff Dowdell.
It seems the Crocs are loading up at the wing position. With returning players Michael Cedar and Brad Williamson also on the perimeter, it seems hard to believe the rumours that Cameron Tovey and former Melbourne Tiger Tommy Greer will also be added to this lineup in the near future.
Townsville fans will be happy to hear that it seems Kelvin Robertson will be returning.
- GC Blaze - "In my opinion, Anthony Petrie is probably one of the most underrated players in the league," said Gold Coast Blaze Head Coach Joey Wright.
The Blaze have beaten out the Wollongong Hawks and Perth Wildcats for Petrie's autograph.
- GC Blaze - “He (Mika Vukona) is a brilliant rebounder and a great defender. His athletic ability allows him to play above the rim and fans will find him a very exciting player to watch”, said Blaze CEO Dave Claxton.
- While on NBL signings, national squad member Adam Ballinger has returned to Adelaide after having a hard long think about joining to the New Zealand Breakers. Ballinger is currently playing in the New Zealand National League.
- If you can believe Dusty Rychart's Facebook status, he will be joining the Cairns Taipans for season 2009/10.
- Although it has been published that the Melbourne Tigers are chasing Metro State's All-American Jesse Wagstaff, expect the ACT native Wagstaff to be in a Perth Wildcats uniform.
- Matt Campbell stays in Wollongong. No surprise there, but it will cost him $5000 as he pledged for a Hawks membership. That has to be a first in sports history, a player paying the club to play. Here is a one on one interview with Matt.
- Daniel Joyce, Matt Burston, Peter Crawford, Daniel Johnson, Cameron Tragardh and Anthony Drmic have been added to the Australian Boomers squad.
- Check out this interview with legendary NBA baller Robert Horry. He says he should be in the Hall of Fame, and I agree with him largely due to his seven championship rings.
- If you read Andrew Bogut's website/blog, you know the big man has a thing for cars. Well, Orlando Magic centre Marcin Gortat believes he has the fastest car in the NBA.
Jesse Wagstaff #42 - a few college highlights
Peter Crawford has finally decided to return to where it all became for him. Crawford, originally from Mt Isa will return to the Townsville Crocodiles for the upcoming 2009/10 season, the club where he spent his first five years before heading west to Perth.
In other news Melbourne Tigers have released Stephen Hoare while it seems Tommy Greer has told the club he is looking elsewhere.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Ricky Rubio is hungry for the NBA but his Spanish club team is not feeling so charitable.
- It seems that potential top five NBA draft pick Ricky Rubio and his Spanish club DKV Joventut cannot come to an amicable buyout. I'm sure we will hear more about this as the NBA Draft draws closer.
- Expect to see both Chris Anstey and former villain Mark Worthington officially sign with the Melbourne Tigers today.
- Swingman Brad Williamson has re-signed with the Townsville Crocodiles.
- It's official, the Adelaide 36ers have changed ownership.
- Brock Motum in line for award.
1989 @ It's Best
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
While the NBL is trying to recapture it's swagger from the 90's don't think for a minute other basketball leagues around the world have not taken their hits as well.
I happened to stumble across this very intersting article that concerntrates on the Euroleague and how it is trying to shape itself to compete with soccer (football) in Europe.
Have a read (yes, it is rather a long article) and let me know what you think and are there any points that the NBL should take on board.
This article is courtesy of the Sport Business website.
"Kevin McCullagh spoke to Euroleague Basketball about how the competition has become the continent’s top basketball prize, and how it hopes to take the sport in Europe to the next level.
When Ramunas Siskauskas’ three-point shot-to-win on the buzzer bounced clear in this year’s Euroleague basketball final, the scene at the O2 World arena bore testament to the prestige and importance attached to the event.
The several-thousand-strong support for winners Panathinaikos erupted; their subs and management charged onto the court to embrace and dance. CSKA Moscow players stared dejectedly at their Nikes, before trudging off to backslaps from colleagues, losers by two points and the width of a basketball rim. Two girls courtside proudly held aloft their CSKA Moscow banners as a jubilant Panathinaikos team raised the Euroleague trophy. The gleaming new O2 World in Berlin, one of Europe’s finest indoor arenas, provided an altogether fitting stage.
The Euroleague has firmly established itself as the competition all European clubs want to compete in and win, ten years after emerging in an acrimonious birth when the top European clubs split from the international basketball federation, FIBA, to form the tournament.Basketball exists in the shadow of football in most territories in Europe, well behind in terms of media coverage, fan numbers, and sponsorship and TV revenues.
The Euroleague’s strongest territories include only one of Europe’s big five economies - Spain, which has the strongest basketball league in Europe and this season contributed five of the 24 Euroleague teams.
But to say that basketball is a second-tier sport compared to football understates the significance and size of the top European leagues, clubs and players. Europe is home to wealthy, talented, and storied professional leagues and clubs.
Many of the top basketball clubs are part of the continent’s most illustrious sports clubs, although the names are more famous in football - Real Madrid, Barcelona, CSKA Moscow, Panathinaikos, Olympiacos.
And the Euroleague has become a powerful central force in the European game, drawing together clubs operating in very different economies and sporting cultures, from the Iberian peninsula in the West, to Russia and Israel in the East.
Mindful that it exists to serve the clubs - unlike in the NBA, for example, where franchise clubs are created by the league - Euroleague is attempting to steer them collectively upward both on and off the court. It appears to be having quite some success.
The standard of skills and play in the league is considered to be rising; European teams fare well against traditionally dominant US sides in pre-season friendly matches; European clubs are signing some NBA players - although these still tend to be either veterans or young players lured by the lack of a wage cap; and Europe is providing an increasing number of players to the NBA, still the world’s top club competition.
Euroleague is encouraging a minimum level of professionalism in its clubs’ organisations and commercial activities, and, through its own educational programme - the Euroleague Basketball Institute - providing training in marketing, management and the media for the next generation of professionals who want to work in the sport in Europe.And it is not just focused on the elite game - the league is also encouraging youth development by organising pan-European competition for top youth teams, in association with Nike.
A framework for the clubsEuropean basketball has history, professional organisation and a high standard of play. But, says Euroleague CEO Jordi Bertomeu, “Before [Euroleague], no one was co-ordinating the efforts of European clubs, or trying to identify common policies. It was FIBA at the time, but it has other objectives - it has to promote and expand the game everywhere. That’s why the league was created - there was a need to create this dynamic.”
Josep Cubells, chief executive of Regal FC Barcelona, this year’s third-placed team at the Final Four, admits that the clubs are focused on their own day-to-day business, rather than the bigger picture of basketball in Europe. Bertomeu says “Our responsibility is to create a framework where the clubs can develop their own products. The framework is based on good exposure, good sponsorship platforms, and good organisation on the sporting side.”At the heart of the framework at the moment is a 24-team competition, played between October and May, with midweek matches, moving through two group stages, and one direct knockout round, to the ‘Final Four’, a showpiece event featuring two semi-finals, a third-place playoff and a final, broadcast on TV in 173 countries.
Euroleague Basketball is owned 80 per cent by the clubs taking part, and 20 per cent by the national leagues. The top clubs currently have their participation guaranteed for three years, with smaller clubs having one-year contracts. Next season the format changes to secure the places of the top clubs indefinitely, with the hope that this will make them more attractive to investors and sponsors.
The main Euroleague tournament is backed up by a second-tier competition for weaker teams - the Eurocup (formerly the ULEB Cup) - which is designed as a stepping stone to the elite competition.
Euroleague has been trying to foster the talents of clubs from the big five European economies in the Eurocup, although with mixed success. UK teams have fallen by the wayside, dropping out of the competition altogether this year.
However German team Alba Berlin has been a notable success, graduating from the ULEB Cup and this year reaching the second stage of the Euroleague for the first time.
Euroleague also runs the Nike International Junior Tournament, which in 2009 featured eight of the best under-18 teams from the continent, and took place on the same weekend as the Final Four, in the same grand venue. One of many signs of the changed times in Berlin, and Europe, the Anschutz Entertainment Group-owned O2 World is a comfortable, highly-profitable 21st century paradise for the sports fan, music fan and consumer, sitting on the site of an old train yard in East Berlin.
The staging of the Final Four and Nike International Junior Tournament at the O2 World is an endorsement of Euroleague’s strength and an example of the kind of strategic, commercially-informed decision-making that was missing from the European game in the past.
AEG has a six-year contract with Euroleague to jointly organise the Final Four events. They will take place at AEG venues in Europe, and the two parties share the risk and organisational responsibilities, and jointly sell tickets, sponsorship, and marketing.
AEG’s Andrew Messick explains his motivation for entering the partnership: “I thought the combination… had the potential to help arenas, by providing world class events, and the Euroleague, by providing it with the showcase I think it deserves.”
Messick, formerly in charge of international at the NBA, says calling Bertomeu was one of the first things he did when arriving in his post as executive vice-president of marketing and international at AEG Europe. They share the same vision, he says, of what basketball in Europe could be.
AEG is expanding its European footprint at the moment, including by way of the second strand of its relationship with Euroleague - it is currently in talks with fourteen basketball clubs on the continent about “rebuilding, renovating, and managing” their facilities.
“A well-run venue for a team provides a fairly powerful economic platform, which it can use to reinvest back in the sport - in junior teams, in buying better players,” says Messick.
He puts the value to an NBA team of a well-run arena at roughly $50 million per year.
The new frameworkSuch an economic platform would be very welcome for the European clubs, judging by the conversations SportBusiness International had at the Final Four with two of the biggest.
Barcelona admitted to being only able to cover 40 per cent of its professional basketball team’s budget - the rest is subsidised by the Barcelona sports club, particularly by the football business. CSKA Moscow says they covered 20 per cent of their budget.
The philosophy at Barcelona does not see non-profitability as a fatal flaw - rather the club was proud to say that it is a non-profit organisation, which exists for the good of the sport, its fans, and its community. “We are not a company,” says Josep Cubells.Nevertheless, both teams look forward to continued growth of the Euroleague, which provides Barca with 10 per cent, and CSKA with 5 per cent, of their total income.
They are both in favour of the new structure, within which 12 or 13 teams will be secured a place in the competition - except after the first three years, when the lowest ranked of these each season will pass their licence to the team ranked just below.
The secured teams will be able to guarantee commercial partners a place on European basketball’s biggest stage, and exposure on its 170-odd broadcast partners, year after year.
The teams selected for the permanent contracts have been judged on their performances in the last six years of the competition, and also on their ability to generate revenues. However they must maintain a top level of performance in their domestic leagues, or risk having their contract terminated.
Bertomeu says the new format will encourage better competition in the domestic leagues - in Greece, recently, teams only had to finish third to qualify for the Euroleague which, he says, was damaging the competition.
From next season, only the champions will qualify, alongside the permanently-contracted teams. “This model is not a revolution,” says Bertomeu. “We are just going deeper with the principles we had in 2000. Those principles were that, if you want to have people investing in the product, you have to give them stability.”
There will be qualification spots available in the competition each year for the champions of the Eurocup, the national champions of the best leagues, and also to a range of clubs from new countries previously without an entry route, through a qualification round which will select two teams.
“With one hand we are giving stability to the main teams so that we have a good project to deliver to our TV partners, to our sponsors, to our fans - we have these 12 or 13 teams who are the top and who are champions,” Bertomeu explains. “At the same time we are opening out our base, with more countries [from which clubs are able to qualify].”
The new system is not yet set in stone. Spain, the strongest of the ten current member leagues, is opposing it on the grounds that it will have fewer teams in the tournament.
It is the only dissenting voice according to Bertomeu, who is confident that ongoing discussions between the leagues will see the new system “definitely” in place next season.
It is another evolution in an organisation which, to its credit, has not stood still since its formation. A key evolution which took place in 2005 was bringing in-house the sales of sponsorship and TV rights. The rights had previously resided with Spanishpay-television operator Sogecable, which withdrew to focus on its core broadcasting business.
It has not all been plain sailing. The league suffered big cuts in fees for TV rights in the French and Polish markets in 2008 - a result of poor performances by teams from those countries, and a lack of competition.
But TV revenues for the 2008-09 season still reached the Euro 18 million mark, compared to Euro13.5 million back in 2005-06, when it first took the rights in-house.
The upward curve of the fees is steady, if not steep, and the league expects it to continue. “In the last year, all of the TV deals we have agreed have increased the fee 10 to 15 per cent,” Bertomeu says.
TV and sponsorshipEuroleague has a mixture of free-to-air and pay-TV coverage in its top markets, including Greece, Spain and Israel - the latter two are the biggest markets in terms of revenues.
In Italy it is on the Sky Italia pay platform, although it is so happy with the coverage provided that Bertomeu says it hopes to renew its deal in negotiations to be concluded this summer, despite the presence of an interested free-to-air party.
The league is exploring potential broadcast interest beyond Europe in deals with NBA TV and internet broadcaster ESPN360 in the US, and with CCTV in China.
Bertomeu believes the Euroleague offers great value to US broadcasters, with fans looking for the next top NBA players, or watching their favourite veterans continue to play, and that there will soon be increased revenues coming from the US, which currently generates “tens of thousands” of Euros.
Chinese state broadcaster CCTV covered Euroleague for the first time this year, with delayed coverage of the Final Four matches given to it for free in order to gauge the interest in the world’s most populous TV market.
The league, says Bertomeu, would like to achieve better balance in its TV-sponsorship revenue split, which he says is currently around 75:25 in favour of television.
At least one of the world’s biggest sporting sponsors is putting its faith in Euroleague. Nike sponsors the league’s ball, the under-18 tournament, numerous players and teams, and works with the league on numerous other promotions across Europe.
Nike says partnering with Euroleague gives them ‘authenticity’ in the European market. And Nike’s director of global basketball sports marketing George Raveling is quick to point out the league’s dynamism and willingness to change and innovate.
“It is a growing enterprise. The Euroleague is in an innovative stage right now. They haven’t sat on a pat hand. They’re not grinding out a twenty-year-old formula that they use year after year.”
Raveling sees the Euroleague as one of the catalysts in a shift in power in basketball away from the US and towards a more even balance with other parts of the world. “The game is changing now - it’s a global game,” he says.
“The US dominance of basketball… those days are gone forever... There are one in six non-American-born players in the NBA now... I don’t think we are far off that being three in six, over the next 10 or so years.”
There have been plenty of noises in recent years about the NBA’s interest in establishing a permanent presence in Europe, whether a team or a league. For the moment it appears to be content with pre-season friendly tours.
When asked if he thinks the NBA still has designs on the continent, Jordi Bertomeu’s answer is confident, and harks back to what remains the backbone of European basketball, and those whom Euroleague serves - the top clubs.
“If they come, we will be well prepared to face the challenge. They have a great competition, a great brand, but we cannot forget that we have the teams with history, with fans.
“Europe is based on FC Barcelona, Maccabi Tel Aviv, CSKA Moscow. Those are our assets.”