Tuesday, September 30, 2008

No such thing as bad publicity

With no TV coverage of the NBL on free-to-air or even Foxtel at the moment, any publicity is good for the league right?

I was reading John Rillie's blog this morning about "ruffling some feathers" and there are a number of stories that are hot in the league at the moment. Firstly, Brendan Joyce's blow up in the Perth press conference on the weekend and more recently JR with the city of Cairns as he discusses the possibilities for the new league.

I also caught a little of The Morning Show on Channel 7 this morning and they were talking about brands as they compare to the NRL and AFL. The discussion basically talked about how teams need a bit of controversy to make them more appealing to the public. "Brand expert" Simon Hammond says you need a combination of a hard-working team, a good coach, personalities and even some bad-boy behaviour to make for a good footy brand. He pointed to two teams that have had their share of bad press over the last season, Carlton and Collingwood as having strong brands and being better for it (the bad press).

So it got me thinking about the two hot topics in the NBL right now. Sure, Brendan Joyce's outburst was out of line and he has since been told off (a little) by the league ... but it certainly has got plenty of media coverage. What's a little surprising was that Shane Heal, who the original story centred around, sat quietly in the press conference saying very little. Shane is used to playing the role of the villain in the NBL, you either love him or you hate him ... and most people choose the latter. He's not afraid to say what he thinks and he realises he's not just a sportsman but an entertainer, on and off the court. Anything wrong with that? No, its good for the game and for the league. The non-basketball following public know who Shane Heal is ... unfortunately they couldn't name too many other players in the league now.

As for JR and his current fued with the city of Cairns ... that's also good for the league. Sure, it may get a little personal (Cat called him an "idiot" and referred to Townsville as "Clownsville") but the discussions about what's going to happen after this interim season is positive for the league. The rivalry between Cairns and Townsville is healthy. The two teams met on the weekend, Townsville came from behind to win a close game which will only add fuel to the Taipans fire. There should be more of it!

I remember my time at the Bullets (who I've been a fan of for more than 20 years) and how the new crop of Brisbane players got on way too well with the Sydney Kings. Now, back in the day these two teams hated each other, the games were fierce and the fans circled the date on their calendars and came along too give the Kings heaps. The new players weren't around back in those days but they should know how much the Bullets fans hate the Kings. In my opinion, there's not enough of that in the NBL. In the AFL, the current stand-out sporting code in Australia, there are plenty of those rivalries ... Carlton vs Collingwood, Adelaide vs Port Adelaide, Sydney vs West Coast (before this season), Collingwood vs anyone, Essendon vs almost anyone.

We certainly don't need our basketball players carrying on off the court like some of the football players do but it doesn't hurt to have some villains to hate on and some fierce team rivalries. Sure, a lot of opposition fans don't like Chris Anstey and he sometimes shows he doesn't like opposition fans (with his one finger salutes) ... but really, are there any players currently in the league that you love to hate? Is there an NBL team that you can't wait for them to come to town so you can hate on them? Discuss ...

Monday, September 29, 2008

NBL coverage

If you're missing the Foxtel coverage of the NBL that you're used to or worse, like me your favourite team is no longer in the league ... there are still plenty of ways to keep up to date with the action in this "in-between" season.

The guys down in Adelaide have their own internet show "Hoops TV" (their username is: TheAdelaide36ers) and they're now up to about episode 5. Not to be outdone, Andrew Gaze and Mark Bradtke are doing similar with "Gaze TV" (their username is: 50hoges). I've watched their first two episodes so far and they're both funny guys so it makes for some light-hearted, entertaining coverage of the NBL. You can check out both shows on youtube.

Also keeping up news on the NBL are John Rillie and DJ Rod with their weekly podcasts including special guests. You can find them on JR's blog ... I've only got through two of them so far, but again interesting stuff and should take care of your NBL fix.

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf

I got a text from one of my mates on Saturday morning to check out a story (linked below) on Dime about one of my all-time favourite NBA players, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (formerly Chris Jackson). There are a number of factors that my favourite players have in common ... short (like me), usually a point guard, underdog and a great shooter. Mahmoud encompasses all of these and so much more. He is one of the best/hottest shooters you'll ever see and one of the NBA's greatest ever free-throw shooters. When he got on a roll, there was NO ONE that could stop him (see below). His Denver Nuggets jersey that I own is still one of my favourites and is worn all the time.

NBA Rumors - Trades - Free Agents - Basketball Olympics - Dime Magazine
Feb. 4, 1996. MJ, Scottie, Rodman and the Bulls rode into Denver on an 18-game win streak during the season in which they’d win an NBA-record 72 and claim the Chicago’s fourth championship. But on this night, Jordan and Co. were torn to shreds by Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, whose Lottery-bound squad handed the Bulls their fourth loss of that season. Abdul-Rauf’s 32-point, 9-assist stat line wasn’t historic, but just watch how he plays a near-perfect game from the point guard spot.

If you've never heard of him, then kids its time to learn. Here's a really interesting story about the person more so than the player and what happened after "that" moment in his life:

5280.com - October 2007 - The Conversion of Chris Jackson
Years later, at Gulfport High School, the basketball coach offered his players an incentive: They could shave minutes off practice by hitting consecutive free throws. Every successful consecutive shot meant less running and fewer drills. One day Chris was the shooter. He made 283 shots in a row. Practice was cancelled that day.

And if you're not yet convinced about what a special player/person he was, check out him in full flow dropping 51 on the Utah Jazz:

NBL wrap

There were 3 games over the weekend in the NBL:
  • Wildcats 94 Blaze 80
  • Spirit 112 Sixers 105
  • Crocodiles 100 Taipans 96

The "highlight" of the first game was the explosion by Blaze coach Brendan Joyce at one of the WA reporters in the press conference. Having run the press conference for the Bullets for the last 5 years I've seen plenty ... but thankfully nothing that fiery. On the court, a balanced Perth team took care of business while Shane Heal was the stand-out for the Blaze with 28 points including 5 triples.

Game 2, and its good to see the Sydney Spirit get their first win under the new name. Derrick Low and Julian Kazzouh led the way with 26 points, 7 assists and 16 points, 11 boards respectively. Jacob Holmes had one of those nights for the Sixers with 27 points on 9 of 13 shooting (including 4 triples) and 10 boards. Jacob is one of the uglier (read: flattest) shooters in the league in my opinion but when its on, its on. Luke Schencher also chipped in with 19 points (8 of 11 shooting), 6 boards and Adam Ballinger and 18 points, 9 boards.

In the highly-anticipated clash of the far north Queensland teams, the Crocs came from behind to knock off the previously undefeated Taipans. Homicide Williams (pictured below) again led the Crocs with 31 points on 10 of 15 "shooting" (we all know he got those buckets going to the hole), 9 boards and 3 steals. For the Taipans, Blacky was red hot with 30 points on 10 of 13 shooting (including 6 triples). Cattalini had 18 points, 16 board and 7 turnovers with 0 assists, 0 assists, 0 steals (who is he, Eddy Curry? Zach Randolph?). Looking at the boxscore, the Taipans shot well but committed too many fouls and turnovers.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ray Allen's shot gets more love

The guys in our Top Ten Shooters List are getting plenty of love on the net today. We definitely weren't alone saying that Ray has one of the sweetest basketball shots you'll ever see.

NBA Rumors - Trades - Free Agents - Basketball Olympics - Dime Magazine » Blog Archive » Allow Me To Reintroduce Myself: After interning at Dime HQ back in Fall ’05, I’ve finally made the move to NYC and taken the job full-time writing for the mag. Back in April, the Dime crew was inspired to roll out their individual lists of their five favorite ballplayers – giving readers a chance to get to know us a bit more. I thought I’d follow suit:

Aron Phillips, aka “Go Get ‘Em”

1. Ray Allen – Of all the players in the League, Jesus Shuttlesworth has the nicest stroke and would be the guy I’d give the ball to for the last play (see Celtics vs. Bobcats November 24, 2007). Growing up, UConn was always my favorite team, but after Rick Fox’s recruiting pitch, I just don’t see how he didn’t end up at Tech University.

To see who else made Aron's list, click on the headline above. If you want to see people fire off on a rookie writer, read the comments section (harsh)!

Night of upsets in the NBL

It was a night of upsets in the NBL ... and I'm not just talking about basketball fans that didn't get to see either of the games! Firstly, the Crocs bounce back from their slow start in Adelaide to knock off the Dragons in Melbourne but the major upset for the night was the NZ Breakers beating the much-talked about Melbourne Tigers.

Firstly the Crocs - Dragons game (91 - 89). Looking at the numbers, its unfortunate my boy JR failed to bounce back (from an ordinary night in Adelaide) and finished with just 5 points on 2 of 10 shooting. Trying too hard John, need some home cooking? Homicide Williams top scored with 28 points (as well as 12 boards) and ex-Bullet Brad Williamson (holder of the worst nickname in the NBL, B-Rad ... I hate it) came good after a shaky start in his first game for the Crocs with 16 points (including 4 triples).

It looks like the Crocs caught the Dragons on a bad night with star import Cortez Groves fouling out with just 2 points and Joe Ingles (nickname I heard last night, Jingles ... don't mind it) shooting just 2 of 13 from the field. Mark Worthington was good with 20 points and 12 boards while another ex-Bullet Adam Gibson had 13 points, 8 boards, 3 assists and 0 turnovers. Can the Dragons 36% shooting be credited to pressure defence from the Crocs? We'll have to wait till we hear more ...

Now ... to the big upset, Breakers - Tigers (120 - 111). In a much higher scoring and free-flowing game, the Breakers are the first to claim the scalp of the NBL defending champs. In a balanced performance from the Kiwis, CJ Bruton (6 of 12 from downtown), Ronaldson (4 of 4 from downtown) and Forman (7 of 10 from downtown) all had 23 points while player of the week Kirk Penney chipped in with 20. The Breakers shot an outstanding 54% from deep compared to just 26% by the Tigers.

It wasn't that the Tigers played badly ... Anstey had 32 points and 9 boards, Ebi had 21 and Barlow had 17. They just couldn't stop the outside shooting of the Breakers and maybe had the tempo and style of play dicated to them, which you don't want NZ to do when they're hitting their shots and on their home floor.

From a personal point of view, with strong games from CJ, Gibbo and Williamson, its great to see the (ex) Bullets back-court doing so well.

Atlanta Hawks learn to shoot

I saw this story on Dime this morning and had to post it. Firstly its about one of my oldest favourite teams, the Atlanta Hawks and secondly its about learning to shoot a basketball. Finally, it also involves Mark Price who we listed as one of our Top Ten Shooters of all time. When I was doing the research for the list, I saw that he (Price) now runs the Mark Price Shooting Lab in Atlanta where they work with top level players (college, NBA, etc). It goes to show, its never too late and you're never too good to work on your basketball shooting.

NBA Rumors - Trades - Free Agents - Basketball Olympics - Dime Magazine » Blog Archive » The Hawks learn how to shoot, Hedo is hitting the market, and Baron Davis wants disciplin: Atlanta is building around two wings and a big — Johnson, Josh Smith (not a traditional three, but not a traditional four; and perhaps not the best dunker in Atlanta) and Al Horford — but the X-factors reside in getting solid play at point guard (Mike Bibby) and from the other bigs (namely Zaza Pachulia, who should be waking up from that KG blind pick any day now) … An area in which the Hawks should be better is shooting the ball. The team has hired Mark Price as its “shooting consultant,” which could do wonders for Smith’s game …

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Shooter's mentality

I stumbled across the blog entry below this morning and I cracked up laughing, so I had to share it. From a fantasy point of view, Stoudamire is always on the radar but never saw consistent enough time in Atlanta to really merit a roster spot. I haven`t seen enough tape of him to really know too much about his game but from the numbers, he can shoot and can score quickly. To be a great shooter you have to believe you can (just about) hit any shot ...

the Blowtorch: Salim Stoudamire's First Press Conference:

Salim Stoudamire's First Press Conference

Hi, guys. As you probably already know, I've been acquired by the Spurs. I just wanted to take my time to introduce myself to the people of San Antonio and my teammates.

The first thing I want to say is, I'm open. All the time. I'm open right now, in fact. Even though sometimes it might look like I'm guarded, trust me -- I'm open.

I don't know how it always happens, but for whatever reason, I'm always open. I wake up in the morning -- open. I get up in the middle of the night to pee -- open. I'm driving down the block with my Low End Theory tape in -- open. So basically, just get me the rock."

This brings me to my second point. My shooting range is unfathomable. Whenever I touch the ball, the shot is something I'm comfortable with. For instance, one time at Atlanta last year, I was on the bench, but we were shooting at the other basket. A ball got tipped out of bounds and I caught it. Even though I was on the bench, on the other side of the floor, I could have hit that shot. Of course, I was open.

Remember those shirts in the Eastbay catalogs from like 10 years ago? The ones that said something like "my range starts when I enter the gym" or something like that? I bought every single one of those shirts in both colors. You know why? Because it's true. Kind of. My range starts when I see a basketball hoop anywhere. That's my shot. No worries.

In closing, I'd like to thank the people of San Antonio for welcoming me to your fine state. I'd also like to remind you that I'm open.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Best shooting performance - NBL round 1

After the first round of the NBL season (not that anyone got to see it ... thanks Fox), by far the stand-out performance, especially shooting-wise, was from NZ Breaker's Kirk Penney.

Penney is one of only two NZ players to have played (albeit not very much) in the NBA. One of my friends mentioned him when we were working on the Top Ten Shooters list but there is very little footage of him on YouTube.

I got to see him in action last season in the NBL in games against the Bullets and occasionally on Fox. Whenever we played them I remember JVG (the ex-GM of the Bullets) worrying any time Kirk had an open look or even just had the ball. In his first season in the NBL he averaged 24.2ppg and with a deeper team around him this season including Boomers point guard CJ Bruton, look for him to do even better.

Anyway, showing the damage he can do to a game, his actual stat line from round 1 was:
41 points
16 of 22
from the field
6 of 10
from downtown
7 boards
3 assists
and just 1 turnover

Not just outstanding personal stats but his team had a convincing win.

Kirk has a very sweet stroke and you could do far worse than study his form to improve your own basketball shooting.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How the US got their groove (and the gold medal) back

Here's the start of an article I just wrote for my website, to read the rest of it simply click on the link below.

How the US got their groove (and the gold medal) back:

The US Olympic basketball team came in to Beijing calling themselves the 'Redeem Team'. After losses at the last Olympics and World Championships a line had been drawn and they wanted redemption, they wanted their title as 'Best in the world' back!

No longer could they just take a handful of players from the NBA, give them a few weeks training together and then dominate against the rest of the world. They learnt the hard way that this was no longer possible ...

Steve Nash - the early years

I found this note when I was doing a little research on my boy Steve Nash ... couldn't help but laugh at the bolded sections:

Steve Nash - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Although Nash's high school coach, Ian Hyde-Lay, sent letters of inquiry and highlight reels on Nash's behalf to over 30 American universities, Nash was not recruited by any university, until Santa Clara University head coach Dick Davey requested video footage of the young guard. After watching Nash in person, Davey said he 'was nervous as hell just hoping that no one else would see him. It didn't take a Nobel Prize winner to figure out this guy's pretty good. It was just a case of hoping that none of the big names came around.' However, Davey told Nash that Nash was 'the worst defensive player' he had ever seen.

Along the same lines as "worst defensive player ever" ... I remember when Kobe was first working out for the Lakers before they traded for him and Michael Cooper said he (Kobe) "couldn't defend a mannequin" ... classic!

Follow the player or the team??

JR, On Fire: "Since Reggie has given it away (He teased me last offseason.) I still watch just as much NBA as ever, just ask my wife, but I have not attached myself to anyone like I did with Moses and Reggie.

Kobe is probably the closest I have come to replacing these legends but I'm certainly not on the same level with him as a fan. I have no Kobe merchandise to speak of.

Is there any other fans out there that follow players more so then teams?"

I was reading the above on John Rillie's blog this morning and couldn't agree more. Originally I was a "team" follower ... first the Celtics (with Larry Bird, McHale, Parish, etcc) but like JR said in his article, I like to be different so became a fan of the Atlanta Hawks. Why? Because of players they had ... not how the team itself was doing. This was back in the days of Dominique Wilkins and Spudd Webb ... but I stayed with the team as they brought on Mookie Blaylock and Stacey Augmon. I probably stopped following the team when they traded 'Nique and made Kevin Willis their focal point ... uggghhh

None of the aforementioned were really my favourite players ... that honour went to Tim Hardaway. Back in his Golden State early years he was a FORCE ... long before injuries slowed him down and his short-lived commentating gig (we won't speak about that). In the days of TMC, the Warriors were the 90's version of the recent Phoenix Suns teams ... run'n gun, no defence required. I loved his game because he was the under-dog, the little man in a big man's sport. He did what I wished I could ... kill players off the dribble and had no fear in putting up shots (over and over again). I went to the US in '96 and unfortunately Rick Adelman was then in charge of the Warriors and had benched Hardaway (and Mullins) ... in favour of BJ Armstrong?!! I remember sitting in the crowd begging for them to sub Timmy in. Thankfully he was later traded to Miami and after more injuries he fought back to show the sort of player he was and how much heart he had. I enjoyed nothing more than seeing him KILL the Knicks in the playoffs time and time again.

When Timmy's career was ending (think of his time in Denver, Indiana and Dallas) it was time to find a new favourite player ... that came in the form of Steve Nash. No, not when he got to Dallas ... before that ... even before he was sitting on the bench behind KJ and Kidd at the Suns in his early years. I was on the Nash bandwagon from his days at Santa Clara and when he met his idol Magic Johnson and was nicknamed "Little Magic".

Back to JR's article tho and the question about following a team or a player. With so many trades in the NBA, its hard to stay loyal to a team unless you actually live in that city. Also ... being a fantasy NBA player, the game teaches you to follow a player's numbers and has nothing to do with their team's wins and losses.

Who's your favourite player? Let me know

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The best three-point shooter of the last 20 years

As I was working on my Top Ten List of all-time shooters, it seems Dime Mag was working on their top 3 point shooter of the last 20 years. I stumbled across the contest today but here's who their readers voted as the best:

NBA Rumors - Trades - Free Agents - Basketball Olympics - Dime Magazine » Blog Archive » The Best Three-Point Shooter of the Last 20 Years: "The Best Three-Point Shooter of the Last 20 Years

By Dime Magazine

Ray Allen fell 49-45 to Reggie

We’ve played through the top 16 shooters of this generation, and today we can crown a champion. According to your votes, Reggie Miller is the best three-point shooter of the last 20 years, edging Ray Allen by the slimmest of margins, 49-45."

Follow the links in the article to see who they started with in their top 16 and how they got down to the top 2.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Just two days to go

Only 2 days left now until the NBL (Australian basketball league) season gets underway. After 5 years working with the Brisbane Bullets its going to be a very strange season without them in the league ... or the Sydney Kings.

Without a home team to support, I'll likely jump on-board the Townsville Crocodiles band wagon. After all, they have my favourite NBL player (John Rillie) not to mention 5 or 6 others that have played for the Bullets.

The favourites going in to the season are definitely the defending champion Melbourne Tigers. They lost a couple of players but recruited/bought extremely well and could be even better than the squad they had on the floor last year. Its hard to go past a team with Anstey, Ere, Mackinnon, Barlow, Gizzard and Hoare.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Top Ten Shooters list

If you've read the Top Ten Shooters report, its now time to let me know what you think.

Would you have a different # 1?
Did you enjoy the YouTube videos of each player?
Is there a glaring omission from the list?
Should your favourite shooter have been higher?
Can't believe Jordan isn't on there?

Click on the comment (below) and let me know what you think, lets get the discussion started ...

Reggie Miller Break Away & Fade Away

When I was searching the net yesterday for photos of Reggie to go on my Top Ten Shooters list, I came across this post. Its a good tip to improve your shot by getting yourself more open. As mentioned in my list of what Reggie is famous for, # 7 should be: kick out towards the defender, try and draw contact to make it look like you've been fouled in the air. Veteran play and no one did it better than Reggie (except maybe my friend Tux)!

Reggie Miller Break Away & Fade Away: "Reggie Miller Break Away & Fade Away

See that leg right there in the bottom right hand corner? That's Reggie's opposing defender. Was his D being lousy in defense. No, he has been running all over the court. Was he not giving Reggie any respect? No, everybody gives Reggie respect, even the ref. Then why? It is because of Reggie's signature basketball move. Reggie uses a pick, pushes the defender into the pick, and run beyond the arc to shoot a fade away three. What unblockable? That's unblockable.

Here is a step-by-step guide of using Reggie's signature

1. Walk slowly towards the baseline of the court on one side. Walk to conserve energy for continuous burst

2. initiate a quick eye contact with a teammate for a pick at a blind spot of your defense. Set the pick 6 steps away from the defense

3. Look away from the pick and suddenly sprint towards the pick

4. At the moment you run past the pick, use your shoulder (or your arm if no refs are paying attention) to push your d into the pick

5. Run towards the three point arc, receive a pass, and turn around

6. If the defense is still far away, just do a regular shot, otherwise, fade-away"

John Rillie - Gonzaga Days

This is from my boy JR's blog (one of the players on my Top Ten Shooters list). Considering how little information there is about his days at Gonzaga, I might have to get my hands on a copy of this book.

JR, On Fire: "Author Dave Boling put together a book titled Tales from the Gonzaga Hardwood.

I was quite surprised to see that he dedicated a whole chapter to me. I'll take it as the book is a good but lighthearted read about some of the characters and moments in Zag basketball history.

Following is an excerpt from my chapter:

Rillie Raining Threes

John Rillie was so hot, so dialed in, that his teammates were leery about even speaking to him, fearful they might disrupt the delicate calibration of his shooting mechanism. It was in Santa Clara, at the West Coast Conference Tournament in the spring of 1995, and Rillie’s uncanny jump shooting had led the Zags into the title game of the tournament against Portland. A berth in the NCAA tournament went to the winner.

Portland was aligned to defend Rillie, to double him every time he got the ball, to bump him, to jostle him, to beat him to his favored shooting spots. But Rillie just backed up a step or two and continued to shoot over the Pilots.

In the title game, he made eight of twelve shots and all 12 of his free throws for 34 points, setting a tournament record for scoring with 96 points in three games. In that three-game state of unconsciousness, Rillie sank 20 of 28 3-point attempts.

“When you get so involved in so many games and practice so hard, it eventually pays off," Rillie explained. “And for me, that was a great time for it all to come together. You’ve heard people say that when you’re going really well, it seems like the game is being played in slow motion. That really was what it was like. Everything felt like I had so much time.

”At the time, he was appropriately delighted with the tournament MVP honor and the NCAA berth. But he didn’t fully comprehend the historical significance, the way his shooting lifted the Zags to their first ever NCAA tournament appearance.

“In all honesty, I was just so happy to be playing Division I basketball in the U.S., that I was pretty oblivious to a lot of the stuff that was going on,” he said. “I watch the NCAAs now and see all of Gonzaga’s success and I’m far more emotionally attached to it now than I was when I was playing. I was so wet behind the ears I didn’t know what was going on. I was like that puppy in the window just waiting for somebody to pick me up and take me somewhere.”

Well, somebody took him to the NCAA tournament, a destination to which previous Zags had never ventured."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Basketball Shooting Tips

Welcome to my first post on this blog. Some people may recognise my name or have seen me before on the Brisbane Bullets Blog (R.I.P ... hopefully the team will be back very soon).

I'm just finishing work on my Top Ten Shooters Report which is the bonus for signing up to my newsletter. I've thoroughly enjoyed doing the research on Youtube about these great basketball shooters. I won't ruin any surprises by mentioning any of the players at this time but to get your copy, sign up to my newsletter on the top left hand side of the web page basketball shooting tips

Wishing you nothing but net,