Sunday, January 31, 2010

Breakfast With Craig Ehlo

As my quick trip to the USA is nearing an end, the hits just keep on coming.

This morning I meander down to breakfast rather late, as I watched both NBL games via the "live" updates to the wee hours of this morning, only to have the pleasure to meet Craig Ehlo.

The first thing to spring to mind was the "shot" but I could not muster up the testosterone to ask him about one of the most recognisable plays in NBA history. (Think 1989 Playoffs, Bulls vs Cavs)

Instead as we began with some general chit chat, he mentioned how a New Zealand media outlet called him last Saturday to talk about Michael Jordan's game winning free throw line jumper.

Another discussion point (as we ate Vegemite toast) was Mark Price's coaching experience with the South Dragons. Ehlo was well aware that his former backcourt partner had a brief stint in the southern hemisphere.

Well, it time to head to shoot around as the Gonzaga Bulldogs prepare to battle the San Francisco Dons tonight.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Watch Out Dickie V

Sorry I have been a little slack on the blog the last few days but I make a quick trip to the USA to attend the funeral of my college coach Dan Fitzgerald. What a great service and the speakers were fantastic to boot. It was great to see a number of former teammates and catch up and relive the "good ole times".

Since arriving over here I have been asked to do the colour commentating for the Gonzaga Bulldogs vs Santa Clara Broncos tonight.

I will have my head buried in stats and trivia for the next few hours so I can sound somewhat educated on air.

I will get back to you after I have enlightened the American audience with some Aussie slang in commentary. Is it possible to have subtitles on radio?

I cannot wait for this experience but its time for me to find out what Matt Bouldin and Bol Kong get up to at shoot round.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

NBL Boring - Rob Rose

Not to often does former NBL MVP Rob Rose speak about the state of the game.

In yesterday's Townsville Bulletin, the former Crocodiles captain talked about a few of the alterations that have been made to the NBL rules this season.

He feels the game has become "boring" at stages and the need to go back to 48 minutes would be his ideal. Hopefully it would help with the low scoring games he has seen so far this season.

As I said, the "Magician" does not make public comment too often, but when he does, maybe everyone should listen.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Aussies Making News

Remember this name - Anatoly Bose (and I love the jersey number!)
In this edition of news I'm going to have to go against my usual grain and give top billing to a guy that performed unbelievably well although his team lost with a second to go.

Sydneysider Anatoly Bose (a name you may not of heard of but you will) of Nicholls St dropped a career high 46 points and collected 14 rebounds in a double overtime loss to Northwestern St.

Bose is one of these Aussie kids that goes over to the States and goes about his business very quietly but keeps on improving. Some of my sources are saying he will generate some NBA interest and may work himself into the second round of the NBA Draft. There is still plenty of time for the guard/forward to show his abilities as he is only a junior.

AJ Ogilvy helped his Vanderbilt Commodores claim a win over the Auburn Tigers in the tough S. Ogilvy contributed 17pts, 8rebs and 5blks in the 82-74 victory.

The Colorado Buffalo's have two Aussies on their roster, Nate Tomlinson and Shane Harris-Tunks. Tomlinson contributed 6 assists in an otherwise quiet night for the Aussies in a loss to Texas A&M.

Sudanese-Aussie Ater Majok played 31 minutes for UConn as they upset #1 Texas. Majok was solid without being great in helping his team get the win. His 5pts, 6rebs and 4blks helped his team secure the "W".

Victorian sharp shooter Ryan Broekhoff came off the bench to lead all scorers with 20 (6-8 3s) to help Valparaiso get the win.

NSW product Ben Dowdell playing at Santa Clara (and younger brother of Townsville Crocodile Jeff) helped his team avoid a history making 0-5 start in conference play. The hustling forward had 7pts and 6rebs in a one point win over San Francisco.

Pepperdine Wave freshman Tanner Kerry had a career high 11pts to go along with 7rebs his team suffered a loss to the Portland pilots. From Cranbrook to Malibu, quite the scenery change for the better I might add.
Two Queenslanders in Matt Massey and Matt Hodgson had solid games for Southern Utah but it was not enough to get them over the line against Western Illinois.

Now onto some NBL news.

If you were wondering why the Perth Wildcats wore black arm bands against the Melbourne Tigers, they did it in honour of Brad Robbins grandfather who passed away Saturday morning.
New Zealand Breaker CJ Bruton wants "consistency" and it's not from his teammates.

Perth Wildcat captain Shawn Redhage gives us his All Star 5 for the season, with Corey "Homicide" Williams being his MVP.

The Cairns Taipans keep their slim mathematical playoff chances alive with a win over the Townsville Crocodiles.

Former South Dragon Simon Conn has been thrown into a pressure cooker situation as an import in the Asean Basketball League. Former NBL club the Singapore Slingers play in this league.

365 Slurpees This Easy - Thanks 7-Eleven

Wollongong Hawks have been doing a lot of things right on and off the court this year. Without doubt they are leading the NBL in cyber appearances.

Here is their latest edition as this very happy fan has walked away with a year's worth of Slurpees, all thanks to 7-Eleven. All he did was drop a halfcourter.

Check the footage below to see how the punter won. Oh, his son looks pretty happy too!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Perth Wildcat News

I have just returned home for one of the ugliest contests of the year, Townsville Crocodiles over the Wollongong Hawks.

Instead of telling you about that eye sore, check out the latest edition from the Wildcat boys. Potential Rookie of the Year Jesse Wagstaff tells us a little about himself. A self confessed "nerd" who would otherwise be an engineer in Canberra if it was not for hoops.

Worth a look and I look forward to the Perth/Melbourne clash tomorrow night.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

RIP Dan Fitzgerald

Marc Armstead and Marty Wall (both capped spectators) thinking how that used to be them "Fitz" was staring daggers at.
While Australian basketball is today deciding whether this new "High Stakes Hoops" will help or hinder the progress of the sport in the country, I cannot keep my mind off the fact that one of the most colourful human beings I have ever come across has passed away.

Former Gonzaga basketball coach Dan Fitzgerald dies at the age of 67.

Former teammate and Gonzaga alum Jeff Brown (former Adelaide 36ers import) wrapped it up very well in his interview.

"Fitz" did love the underdog, the walk on or anyone that he felt just needed a chance. I was one of those guys Fitz took a chance on.

Like Brown, there are many "Fitz stories" that are etched into my mind, but some more prominent than others. I actually think I have enough to write a book, so here are a couple for now.

He called me into his office once (and did not offer me the use of his phone to call my parents) and threatened to fine me $1000 if he heard I was playing pick up games anywhere around town (Spokane, Wa).

Now, I used to keep all my money tucked away in a sock draw in my Boone Apartment and I knew I did not have a lazy grand to spare so I thought I better sign off on this one.

But, as I looked at Fitz (with a freshly stitched eye due to a head clash suffered at the East Side Rec Centre the night before official practice kicked off), I really wanted to ask him if the boundary was Spokane because I knew North Idaho College had some good runs happening there.

I thought better of it so racquetball become my sport of leisure during this time.

One more before I go to bed because it includes fellow Aussie Paul Rogers.

We were hosting a few recruits on their visit and we go to Fitz's for dinner. We arrive at Fitz's house and he has some Vegemite there that Coach Don Monson had brought back from Australia with him.

In true Fitz fashion he goes, "Rillie and Rogers, how do you kangaroos eat this stuff?"

I reply, "on bread or a cracker, and you spread it on like peanut butter."

Well, out comes a plate full of crackers with Vegemite heaped on each piece. Rogers and I look at each other and laugh as Fitz hands out this Aussie treat to the recruits. There was enough "black paste" on one cracker to do the whole plate.

If you could have seen their (recruits) faces as they tried to eat it just to keep their potential head coach happy. Those poor kids. "Rogie" and I joked that none of those kids would sign after that experience but history shows that two did.

Oh how I have laughed about different Fitz moments throughout the day and one is not basketball related.

That was Fitz, the ultimate teacher in all facets of life and that is why everyone has a spot in their heart for him. He left a huge impression on me and he was never looking for anything in return.

Every time I returned to the States I always talked to him on the phone, trying to find out how he and his family were going but he had this unique ability of deflecting this. He always finished with, "well, you know if you ever need anything just give me a call".

He gave me all I needed, a chance and I will forever be grateful for that.

It saddens me to think was has happened but a smile comes to my face just thinking about the stories he would have been sharing at the restaurant on Tuesday evening. Was he telling his audience how, "(Geoff) Goss was the worst point guard in GU history", or was it, "Marc Armstead is the toughest son of a bitch I've ever coached."

RIP and my thoughts go out to your wonderful family.

High Stakes Basketball Has Arrived

Thanks to The Basketball Professor here is what is coming in the world of Aussie hoops in April.

I will blog about this at a later date, but this story has just broken today.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Round 17 - The Defining Round

I'm watching Fox Sports tomorrow night to see if Perth enforcer Galen Young (left) and Tigers Sam MacKinnon lock horns and flex.
By the end of this round (17) we may have a clearer picture of who the Top 4 are or it could once again become tighter than the Gold Coast rims.

Wednesday night really sets the mood for the week's games. First we have the resurging Melbourne Tigers taking on the top of the table Perth Wildcats on Fox Sports.

The Tigers are winners of 5 of their last 6 and have moved up to sixth on the ladder. Having added import Mike Rose, the Tigers have played their hand in saying the season ain't over yet. This weekend's home and away against the Wildcats will determine if the Tigers have any roar in them as we head towards the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Wildcats are playing for a Top 2 finish and home court advantage during the playoffs. As we know, the Wildcats are tough to beat at the "Jungle" so Rob Beveridge will have his boys amped for this mini series.

I'm saying each team will win on their home floor but look for Sam MacKinnon and Galen Young to conduct a no holds barred wrestle for halftime entertainment.

The Wollongong Hawks and the Townsville Crocodiles also enter a home and away series over the next three days. Wednesday starts down at the "Sandpit", while the return leg at the "Swamp" is Friday night.

The Hawks continue to go about their business despite MVP fav Ty McKee out for the season. The Hawks have dusted the Crocs 2-0 already this season so can their good play continue against the reptiles?

I'm sure now leading MVP candidate Corey "Homicide" Williams will be looking to have a night out on his feathered friends. Coach Gordie McLeod's scout on the playground legend has been spot on to date.

If the Crocs have aspirations of a Top 2 finish, they need to get over this hurdle the Hawks have presented to date. Meanwhile, if the Hawks can get two wins, they will put to rest all the doubters and should secure a playoff birth.

Thursday night's game across the ditch is being pumped up as a grand final for both teams.

Adelaide has had an injury scare this week, but it seems that captain Adam Ballinger boarded the flight and will suit up for the 36ers against my New Zealand Breakers.

As for the Breakers, they/we just need a win for the sake of confidence right now. If the game had been reduced to thirty minutes this year, the title favourites (at the start of the season) would be holding court and making bookies look like they knew what they are doing.

Unlucky for the Breakers the game is forty minutes and they/we have found just about every way possible to cough up a handy fourth quarter lead.

I'm tipping the Breakers, break out, and drop a lazy 100 on the 36ers.

Saturday night will see the Crocodiles play their third game in five days as they travel to Cairns. The folks of the far north will be promoting this one big time and plenty will make the trip north from Townsville.

No matter what is at stake, these two towns will always show up and support their team.

The Taipans have not been playing the best ball of late but they must be due and I'm sure they are holding onto the old mathematical equation scenario regarding making the playoffs.

On the other hand the Crocs mental makeup (from their two games against the Hawks) will determine how they go into this game.

Last but not least, the Gold Coast Blaze host the NZ Breakers.

The Breakers will come into this game with renewed energy and hope after beating the 36ers on Thursday. Having been narrowly defeated on New Year's Eve at the same venue, the Breakers will like their chances.

Joey Wright will have his Blaze team thinking Top 2 so they cannot afford to drop too many more in the fashion they did in Wollongong last round.

Injury is starting to creep into the Blaze camp (Adam Gibson and Ayinde Ubaka) but if they are serious about competing for a championship they need to win this one.

I'm tipping this is going to be the game of the round so people on the Coast need to get a piece of this action come Saturday night.

Highlights of Hawks vs Blaze Round 16

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hawks Hit Neighbours & Other News

As my wife prepares a little dinner (nuggets and salad) for the household I thought I would use my time wisely and update you with the latest news.

Hold on, was that a Wollongong Hawks jersey on Neighbours? First Zac Delaney gets his first NBL point, now he is on the Kylie Minogue-less TV show?

Well done Hawks, I'm impressed.

- Adelaide 36ers will travel to take on the New Zealand Breakers this Thursday with out the services of captain Adam Ballinger. Read this article to see how courageous Capt Ballinger was in the eyes of coach Scott Ninnis.

I'm my opinion, the loser of this game can start recruiting for next season. Without the "Ranga" making the trip across the Tasman, Ninnis can start plotting for next season, early.

- Despite the season ending absence of MVP frontrunner Ty McKee, the Wollongong Hawks keep finding ways to win. After a impressive 21 point victory over the Gold coast Blaze, the Hawks stay well entrenched in the top 4.

- With Pero Cameron out of action with his NBL squad (GC Blaze) he returned home to look at some of the potential that may line up for his Wellington Saints this coming NZNBL season.

I'm sure he may have snuck in a lamb shank or two while home.

- The Melbourne Tigers continue to make a late run for a NBL playoff position, but have they make their late season dash a little late?

- Perth Wildcat "mighty mouse" Brad Robbins will be back in uniform. The top of the table Wildcats are preparing for a couple of games against the inform Melbourne Tigers this week.

- The Townsville Crocodiles have moved up to second on the ladder without playing a game this weekend.

- Just as well Christmas has come and gone. "Bad Santa" is heading out west to deliver presents to the Eastern Suns in the WA State League. Read about the street ball "legend" heading out west.

PTT - Gangsta Episode ft Ty McKee

Zac Delaney Scores

Wollongong Hawk little big man Zac Delaney scores his first NBL point over the weekend against the Gold Coast Blaze.

Teammate Daniel Jackson catches up with the local legend to see what he has to say about a life long goal, scoring big.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chosen 1 Staying On The West Coast

It seems to me that many teams involved at the second tier basketball level in this country are trying to step up their games and the Kalamunda Eastern Suns in Western Australia may just be leading the way.

Tomorrow, they will be holding a press conference at 11am (Sandgroper time) at the Ray Owen Sports Centre.

The club is holding the media event to announce "a major partnership with an internationally recognized sporting company" and the announcement of an import.

I'm all for a team trying to create hype around what they have going on but I think Ryan Rogers (basketball operations manager for the Suns) has taken the hyping a little too far. (I hope he proves me wrong.)

At the press conference the import they will be releasing to the world will be known as the "Chosen 1".

Some of the phrases that are floating around describing this guy is, "hated by many, loved by few, feared by most and respected by all".

As I dig further into my research "Chosen 1" is being promoted as the "#1 point guard on the West Coast not in the NBA".

I'm guessing that comment was referring to the west coast of America. I'll go out on a limb and say if this player is the best guard in that geographical area not in the NBA, he would not be flying into Perth to continue his pro basketball career.

I will be following the WA State closely this season just to see if the "Chosen 1" is even the best PG on the west coast of Australia.

As I'm on the other side of the country, I will cyber side all afternoon just to hear from out west to see if the press conference matched the hype.

Good luck to the Suns for taking a leap of faith as I'm hoping this is a sign of the times and basketball is starting to head in an upward direction.

Maybe I can get a one on one interview with "Chosen 1" to ask some questions?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Zags/Gaels and the Bogie Man

This should be you this afternoon!
If you're an avid hoops fan and you are stuck in the office, you need to fake a sickie right now.

Today on ESPN there is a plethora of college hoops and for me it is the 3pm game that holds the most interest.

It is the clash between the nationally ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs and the Aussie laden St Mary's Gaels. My take on the game is the Zags will win but the 5 Aussies at St Mary's will all have productive games.

After that game is completed, you need to turn over to ESPN HD at 5.30pm and catch a special on Milwaukee Buck Andrew Bogut. It is an up and close look at how the former #1 draft pick lives life in Wisconsin.

Good luck slipping out of the office and enjoying your afternoon on the couch.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Blaze Fan Ejected From Crocs Game

It seems in the recent Townsville Crocodiles and Gold Coast Blaze game, all the action was not reserved for the court.

You have to wait till the last segment of this news piece to see what actions led to a Blaze fan being ejected from the "Swamp" in Townsville.

I will make comment on the "other "matter in the near future.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Little Man Hits The Big Time

The littlest man in NBL history (Zac Delaney) proves that size doesn't matter.
He is yet to become a household name in basketball circles, but little Zac Delaney is showing kids in the Illawarra community, size does not always matter.

The 169cm (and very generous at that) local product of Wollongong basketball is currently a development player with the community based franchise but he's hit the big time.
He is the shortest person to participate in an NBL game over it's 30 year existence and now he has scored an article in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Currently the NBL struggles to get major media coverage in this newspaper but the "little man from the Gong" has caught jurno Michael Cowley's attention.

Check out the read on the little man that can.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

JR Smith Thinks Swish

Sometimes in the sport of basketball things happen that make you say What The?

Just a few days ago, Denver Nugget guard JR Smith thought that Sacramento King rookie Tyreke Evans made a shot. Total misread on Smith's behalf as he inbounded the ball only to be whistled for out of bounds. The disbelief on Smith's face is priceless when he is told the shot was an "air ball".

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Old School Sunday - College Edition

It's that time of the week again when we take a trip down memory lane.

In previous weeks I have focused on the NBA. Well, the week is all about NCAA basketball and first up is a look back at Patrick Ewing at Georgetown vs Hakeem Olajuwon at Houston. One of the great individual battles in college basketball history.

One of the biggest in state rivalries is between Kentucky and Louisville. It will reach new heights now, since John Calipari has joined the Wildcats at Kentucky, while "Traitor" Rick Pitino continues to build on his success with the Cardinals.

One of the biggest battles is between North Carolina and Duke. Here is a background in their history.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

NBL Dunk of the Year?

If you missed Fox Sports coverage of the Wollongong Hawks and New Zealand Breakers NBL game on Wednesday night, you missed a candidate for Dunk of the Year.

But thanks to Sydney photographer Catherine Cranston, Tom Abercrombie's alley-oop dunk has been captured on film (or pixels).

To give a quick recap, Abercrombie went back door and Hoovered (vacuumed) in a pass that looked like it would ricochet off the backboard and kick start a fast break for the Hawks. Abercrombie climbed the stairs and made the pass look like it was meant to be.
Not since James "the Alabama Slammer" Crawford have I witnessed an athlete in the NBL go and get it like that.

If you enjoyed these pictures, maybe you want to drop Catherine a line and see what else she has in her portfolio. (

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Ty McKee Done

Former Coppin State star Tywain McKee is out for the season with a dodgy back.
Wollongong Hawks import Ty McKee is done for the season. The favourite to take out this year's NBL MVP award has been struck down by a back injury he sustained in a game against the Cairns Taipans weeks ago.

Here is the Hawks media release.

In Spain former Sydney King and Melbourne Tiger David Barlow continues to impress. Enjoy the highlights. (Thanks for the tip, Rodman)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pat Mills Is Back

Pat Mills will join the Portland Trailblazers this week.
In case you have not heard, Pat Mills has been called up to the Portland Trailblazers. After dropping 38 last week for the D-League's Idaho Stampede and injury worries to the Trailblazers, Mills will find himself seeing some playing time sometime this week.

To get all the news on Mills, check out these fellow Aussie bloggers.

A Stern Warning is all over this story as he is a huge Trailblazers fan.

NBA Mate has some D-League highlights of Mills.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Vintage NBL

Nice flat top Scott Ninnis.

Yes John Gilchrist, that is your coach throwing it down. Scott Ninnis was a mosquito when he played. Coach Don Monson even drew up alley-oop plays for him, but he had to be running from the left side.

Dribbling was not his forte unless it was in his right hand, but Ninnis could sniff out a bucket in the open court.

Thanks to Newcastle's "Duggo", I while feature some of these old school posters from time to time. (Yes people, you can reminisce when the NBL had magazines with posters in them. Hopefully we can get back there soon.)

Here is some You Tube footage of some great plays during the 1989 NBL season. Look out for an athlete Calvin Bruton Sr, a mullet wearing Larry Sengstock, high fliers and some short shorts. (Beware, there is some choice language during the video.)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Old School Sunday ft Reggie Miller

It's that time of the week again. "Old School Sunday" thanks to You Tube is here again.

This weekly segment is gaining some momentum and requests have been flooding in.

I know this first request may seem a little set up, but teammate Tom Abercrombie asked for a little Reggie Miller package. At first I thought he was joking (Reggie is one of my all time favs) but the young fella was dead serious.

Tom, here is some Reggie for you and if you need more, I have plenty in the archives.

Here are his Madison Square Garden moments!

His Top 10 moments!

And a Reggie Miller mix!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2010 - Year Of the Breaker

2009 is in the rear view mirror. It is full steam ahead and make the most of 2010 for the Breakers.
The New Zealand Breakers have a high expectation amongst the team, and rightly so, but I have to say that 2009 did not live up to the club's expectation.

Riding high on life during the start of the 2008/09 season, most critics were salivating over a Breakers, Melbourne Tigers Grand final series. There was one problem with this equation. The clock struck midnight and 2009 was cast upon us.

The Breakers went 3-8 in 2009 to finish the regular season. They were that red hot at the start of the season, they managed to secure a 3rd seed heading into the playoffs.

The Breakers tasted success on their home floor with a 131-101 quarter final win which earnt them a semi final series against the Melbourne Tigers.

The Tigers swept the Breakers 2-0 which meant the Breakers had gone 4-10 since the New Year.

Fast forward to the 2009/10 NBL season and the Breakers start the season as title favourites.

Sitting at 9-10 to date, I'm sure there are many a expert sitting around talking about how the Breakers have underachieved. There is no hiding the fact and it is hard to argue the facts.

BUT, thanks to the closeness of this NBL season, all will be forgotten if 2010 becomes the Year of the Breaker.

Yet to find our groove to date, I believe everyone around the league is holding their breath just waiting for us to kick into top gear.

We get our chance to kick start the 2010 portion of this season on Wednesday night against the gritty Wollongong Hawks on their home floor.

With nine games remaining, time is running out for us to find our Mojo but I love the fact we are at the fun stage of the season. Big time players love the main stage at this time of the year and the Breakers have big time players.

It is time to make a stand and make 2010, the Year of the Breaker and put 2009 in the rear view mirror.