Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Patrick Mills off to the D League

Thanks to the guys at NBA Mate for bringing this one to my attention. It seems it will be a little while before we see Patty Mills in the NBA (I'm not giving up yet). He's off to the D League as per the story below. I did laugh at the last paragraph ... I don't think it will be Trail Blazers fans following his progress, it will basically just be his Aussie fans.

NBA Development League: Patrick Mills Assigned To Idaho Stampede

NEW YORK, Dec. 29, 2009 – PPortland Trail Blazers guard Patrick Mills was assigned to the Idaho Stampede, Portland’s NBA D-League affiliate, it was announced today. Mills is the 10th NBA player and the 12th assignment to an NBA D-League affiliate this season.

Originally selected by the Trail Blazers with the 55th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, Mills has yet to see action this season having suffered a fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot during an NBA Summer League practice session July 9. He underwent surgery on July 13 and recently completed a successful rehabilitation.

A two-year contributor at St. Mary’s (CA), Mills twice earned First Team All-West Coast Conference. Named West Coast Conference Newcomer of the Year as a freshman, Mills was also selected to the Naismith Trophy Award Mid-Season Top-30 list during his sophomore season.

Mills averaged a team-high 14.2 points to go with 2.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.7 steals in 23 minutes for his native Australia at the Beijing Olympics becoming the youngest player in Australian history to compete in the Olympic Games in basketball.

Trail Blazers fans can stay in step with Mills, who will join the Stampede Wednesday and be available when the team travels to face the Reno Bighorns on Jan. 1, by logging onto to watch all of the Stampede's games live, online, for free.

Houston vs New Orleans

I was looking forward to the NBA game on OneHD today between the Rockets and the Hornets and it certainly didn't disappoint.

From my point of view it had just about everything you could hope to see:
  • A back and forth, close game
  • Chris Paul triple double
  • Great shooting from both teams
  • An offensive explosion from David West
  • Great shooting from both Aaron Brooks (pictured below) and Shane Battier for the Rockets (both had 5 triples)
  • A nice 12 minute cameo from David Andersen off the bench (6 points, 4 boards)
The only thing missing today was Rockets rookie Chase Budinger who I think could be a handy player for the team in the near future. With Scola, Brooks, Landry and co there is a lot to like for the Houston Rockets, even without their superstars in Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady.

Despite 44 points from David West, the Houston Rockets won the game 108 - 100 behind 27 from Aaron Brooks, 20 from Battier and 18 from Landry off the bench.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Basketball shooting display - J.R. Smith

I'm about to head up the coast to spend Christmas at my brother's place but it would be remiss of me not to make mention of the basketball shooting display put on by J.R. Smith from the Denver Nuggets.

J.R. Smith's season got off to a slow start as he was suspended for the first 7 games of the year. He's had some good performances, scoring more than 20 points on 3 occasions but nothing compared to today:

Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
J.R. Smith
30:15 15-25 10-17 1-6 +6 0 2 3 0 0 0 0 1 41

That's right, 41 points off the bench in just 30 minutes, including TEN triples!!

And yes, despite shooting 60% from the field and from down-town, he could make just 1 of 6 from the free-throw line. Clearly J.R. feels at home beyond the arc and the free-throw line is way too close for his liking.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Gold Coast Blaze vs Wollongong Hawks

It had been a few weeks since I'd seen a Gold Coast Blaze game live and with the Wollongong Hawks in town, the top of the table clash seemed like the perfect opportunity.

With their Brisbane Bullets and Northside Wizards connections, a number of my friends were also at the game and thankfully we weren't the only ones and there was a decent crowd in attendance. They still have a long way to go before the stadium is full but it was probably the best crowd I've seen so far this season.

Here are my thoughts from the game:
  • I'm not sure why Ayinde Ubaka (pictured right) came off the bench and didn't enter the game until a minute left in the first quarter. Check news articles in the next day or so as I'm sure the real story will come out.
  • There were again times early in the game when the Blaze defence looked awful
  • Erron Maxey has noticably cooled off from his hot start in the NBL
  • Tywain McKee is very similar to Corey Williams in that when they want they really want to score, its extremely tough to stop them
  • Cameron Tragardh is an offensive machine
  • The game came down to a battle between Ubaka (28 points including 6 triples, 5 assists) and McKee (24 points, 5 assists)
The 88 - 84 win now moves the Blaze to top of the NBL ladder which is great considering they still have so much upside/room for improvement.

Friday, December 18, 2009

MVPuppets - Mystery of the missing VII

The MVPuppets are back in a new series of Nike commercials. Thanks to the crew at Dime for bringing them to the attention of those not in the US.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

David Andersen delivers

Its been a fairly unexciting last few weeks in the NBA if you're following the hopes and dreams of David Andersen and Nathan Jawai. If you've checked out a Portland Trailblazers game lately you've no doubt seen Patty Mills in plain clothes sitting behind the bench watching the action.

Thankfully tho there is some good news ... Andrew Bogut has returned from his most recent injury and is putting up good numbers for the Milwaukee Bucks. The team itself is doing well considering they've been without star Michael Redd and they've surprised all but DJ Rod (who said they would have a good season) and are sitting just under 500, good enough for 6th spot in the Eastern Conference.

A week or two back when Kevin Love returned from injury for the Minnesota Timberwolves it looked like it might be the end for Nathan Jawai's minutes. He's had a number of DNP-CD's since then but the good news for Nathan is that his team is the worst in the league which means they get beaten regularly and by quite a margin. This means there is plenty of garbage minutes and today Nathan got to enjoy a few of them. In just 18 minutes of court-time, Jawai notched up 9 points, 7 boards, 1 block and a steal. Don't expect these numbers out of him regularly, but every now and again he'll get time when the result of the games have been decided. At this stage of his development, the more time the youngster can spend on the court during the game can only be beneficial.

Its been a similar story for David Andersen in Houston who had only seen 15 minutes of game time once this month before tonight. David finds himself backing up an under-rated Rockets front-court including Luis Scola and Carl Landry who are both having career years. Andersen saw just over 20 minutes today and scored 17 points, 9 boards on a very tidy 6 of 8 from the field. The 17 points was just 2 short of his NBA career high that he had mid-November against the Lakers.

David Andersen isn't usually the focus of the photographers, unfortunately for him they didn't miss this awkward incident.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gold Coast Blaze sign Craig Bradshaw

Clearly I have been out of the loop for too long as I was stunned to receive this press release today.

The Gold Coast Blaze are sitting in 2nd spot on the NBL ladder, on the back of a 5 game winning streak, and now sign ex-Brisbane Bullet Craig Bradshaw to replace Pero Cameron. If this was fantasy basketball that deal would certainly be vetoed by the commish as being unfair.

If you didn't already have the Blaze as title contenders, adding Kiwi big-man Bradshaw to their squad definitely makes them legit. He may take a little time to get back to NBL speed but this is a huge addition for the Gold Coast and he will add further depth to their frontcourt of Maxey, Vukona and Petrie.

PS. Yes, you can now rename the Blaze the Gold Coast Tall Blacks ...


16 December 2009


New Gold Coast signing Craig Bradshaw has received the all-clear to join the Blaze for their road game against the Adelaide 36ers this evening after his international clearance papers came through overnight.

Bradshaw and the Blaze had been sweating on the arrival of his transfer documents from the Korean Basketball Association and faced the prospect of missing his team’s big clash with Adelaide if they didn’t arrive in time. The papers were faxed through late on Tuesday night however freeing Bradshaw to join his new teammates on the floor in Adelaide.

The 210cm New Zealand Olympian should provide a significant boost to the Blaze, who will be looking to score their second win over the Sixers in seven days after notching an 80-72 victory over Adelaide at the Gold Coast Convention Centre last Wednesday.

The former Winthrop University (NCAA) standout was signed by the Blaze as a mid-season replacement for the injured Pero Cameron, who was ironically a teammate of Bradshaw’s on the New Zealand Tall Blacks national team at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

Bradshaw is no stranger to the NBL, having played the 2006/07 season with the Brisbane Bullets, appearing in 30 games and averaging 13.5 points and 5.7 rebounds.

In another ironic twist, Bradshaw made his NBL career debut for the Bullets on 19 September 2007 against the Blaze, scoring 13 points and grabbing four rebounds.

The athletic forward/centre holds an NBL career-high of 30 points, scored for the Bullets against the Sydney Kings on 17 October 2007. He also had 10-rebound games on four occasions whilst playing for Brisbane and came third in voting for the 2007 NBL Rookie of the Year behind current NBA player Nathan Jawai of Cairns and Australian international Alex Loughton of Perth.

Bradshaw has been honing his game overseas since leaving the Bullets after the 2006/07 season, and played for Efes Pilsen S.K. in Turkey before shifting to the Korean Basketball League where he joined the LG Sakers.

The Blaze’s game against Adelaide tips-off at 7:30pm local time at the Brett Maher Court at The Dome, and will be shown live on FOX SPORTS 3 from 8:00PM AEDT. Live stats for the game can be followed by clicking on the link below.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fantasy basketball update

I'm going to ease back in to blogging this week as things have slowed down at work and I'm getting things tidied up. Sure, its the silly season so there is plenty going on but I'll have a bit more time on my hands and will get back in to the swing of things.

Fantasy basketball has been going pretty well, for most of the last few weeks my team has either led or been top two in our league. I'd pulled off a couple of trades, firstly bringing in Kevin Garnett to improve my field goal percentage and decrease my turnovers but losing Jason Kidd in the deal. With the loss of Kidd's assists and steals I needed another point guard so over-paid a little for Mario Chalmers. Most people in the league were hanging on to their point guards so to get him I gave up Luis Scola and Lamar Odom. Scola was a great source of points and boards but with KG onboard he wasn't as valuable to me as he would be another team. I also wasn't playing Odom since Pau Gasol had returned and he had returned to the Lakers' bench.

All was going smoothly until ... I lost my superstar Danny Granger to injury. Danny had been great fantasy-wise, despite not shooting as strong a clip as he did last season. He was raining triples, scoring plenty and was a top ten ranked player with upside. He had been playing hurt since pre-season so hopefully the 4 weeks on the sideline will get him rested and back to 100%. In the meantime, I just have to hang on and hopefully stay at the top of the leaderboard.

Since my last updated, Tim Duncan and Nene have been my stars. OJ Mayo and LaMarcus Aldridge have lifted their game while Brendan Haywood and Anthony Morrow continue to over-produce. I'm still waiting for Russell Westbrook to find some consistency because he can be good but can be truly awful at times. I'm hoping someone from my bench can elevate their game a little and make the starting rotation ... players such as Ronnie Brewer, Larry Hughes, Mickael Pietrus.

Tim Duncan, my new fantasy team leader

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Gold Coast Blaze update

I'll get back to my normal blogging frequency within the next few days when corporate travel season slows down. This is the last week of madness before things die down for the Christmas holidays and then I can get back in to the world of basketball.

For now tho, here's a quick summary of the Gold Coast Blaze over the last weeks. The team is really starting to come together and heading in to round 12 they find themselves now in 3rd place on the NBL ladder thanks to a 4 game win-streak. Not just that, they're just one win behind the Hawks and Wildcats who are tied at the top of the table.

I mentioned in my last post about the team that they had one of their biggest challenges ahead of them when they had to go to Perth to take on the Wildcats. In what was likely the biggest win for them at this early stage of the season, they got the job done 82 - 78. Former Wildcats James Harvey and Chris Goulding took the chance to salute the crowd after the win which not surprisingly wasn't received well by the hometown fans.

The Blaze returned home and scraped over the line 69 - 68 against the Cairns Taipans. The low scoreline wasn't a huge surprise when you see that team captain James Harvey had an off night shooting 0 of 8 from the field. The fact that they were still able to win despite their star having an off night is the positive to take away from this game. I'm sure the game plan for the Taipans was to make it a slow, knock-down drag out affair. Not great for the fans tho as one of my friends who was there described it on Facebook as: has witnessed a lot of ugly games of hoops in his time, but Gold Coast vs Cairns last night is the winner. 69-68 win to Gold Coast. Wow

The bad news for the team is that they have lost big man Pero Cameron who will be out for at least the next month with a recurring knee injury. Its not a huge (pardon the pun) on-court loss for the team but with Greg Vanderjagt still out their depth will be tested.

Next up for the Blaze is a home game tomorrow night against the Sixers and then they have a week and a half before the Hawks come to the coast. I haven't been to a game for a while so I'm thinking the top of the table clash with the Hawks will be a good one to get along to. If they can get wins in both of these games it should see them take the top spot on the ladder.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ray Allen - season high

Our boy Ray Allen hasn't set the world on fire this season so far, scoring more than 20 points on just one occasion through the first five weeks. Now, don't get me wrong ... Ray is certainly no Jacques Vaughn (notorious for slow shooting starts to the season), he's been solid but it wasn't until yesterday that he really put on a show.

Against the Charlotte Bobcats Allen led the way for the Boston Celtics with a season-high 27 points. Since we're all about basketball shooting, it wasn't the points that really stood out for us, it was the rest of his line from the boxscore. Ray got his 27 on an outstanding 6 of 9 from the field, including 5 of 6 from downtown and a perfect 10 of 10 from the free-throw line. The 5 triples and 10 attempts from the line were also both season highs so far.

He wasn't just putting on a shooting display, although he definitely did that ... but he also pulled down 5 boards, dished out 5 assists, had a steal, a block and just one turnover.

Sometimes the numbers don't always tell the full story but Ray's line from last night was sensational as was his game.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hawks starting to falter

Don't look now but the Cinderella-Wollongong Hawks are starting to falter. Despite being tipped to finish last in the comp by many experts the Hawks jumped out of the gates early and have led the NBL over the opening rounds.

After their hot start tho, Wollongong are starting to come back to the field and tonight they crashed back to earth losing at home to the 36'ers, 59 - 82. They got thumped in 3 of the quarters and only won the 3rd term by 2 points. A convincing loss considering how strong the home-court advantage has been this season.

Hopefully it was just one of those nights that the team can put behind them and move on from. Other than Tywain McKee the rest of the team struggled to hit the broadside of a barn. Larry Davidson was 1 of 10 from the field, Tim Coenraad was 0 of 8 and Cameron Tragardh was just 1 of 6 from the free-throw line.

This is the team's 3rd loss in their last 4 games. Can they rebound or was their hot-start just an abberation? Things dont get much easier as they fly to New Zealand to take on a Breakers outfit that should have their superstar Kirk Penney back in action.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fantasy basketball update

Firstly, I need to apologise for my lack of blog updates of late, once every couple of days just isn't good enough and I know that. I've been flat out at work for the last two and a half weeks straight so I'm not getting a chance to read other blogs and stories like I used to when we're quiet. Saying that tho, I'm not really complaining as I'm back making good money again so I'm enjoying the busy period while it lasts!

Anyway, we're now almost one month in to the fantasy basketball season and so far my squad is performing quite well. I'm actually sitting in 2nd place in our league so I'm pleased with that but I've used more games than anyone else so I know that is playing a factor in my current ranking.

Danny Granger was my #1 pick and he's lived up to the billing so far. He's currently ranked 5th which is just higher than I drafted him. I think he's still got a bit of improvement to come as his fg% is lower than I would've expected. My second pick Tim Duncan is having his minutes limited by the coaching staff at the Spurs but is still getting it done from a fantasy perspective. He'll sit out occasionally to keep him fresh for the playoffs and to quickly treat any small injuries so he's a sell-high candidate right now.

My worst categories are field goal and free-throw percentage as well as turnovers. I don't have an outstanding free-throw shooter like Ray Allen, Steve Nash or Chauncey Billups and Jason Kidd has been awful from the field so far. My second year players OJ Mayo and Russell Westbrook have been erratic so far but have shown good signs and I expect them to improve as the season goes on.

My nice surprises so far are Anthony Morrow who was my last pick in the draft and is intermittently starting in Golden State. He has his off-games but he's currently ranked 45th which is a great result at this stage. Another over-performer so far is Brendan Haywood who has been really solid in Washington. I picked him up in the 12th round, he's currently ranked 78th and is averaging 11 points, 11 boards and over 2 blocks per game.

Over the next month I need to pull a trade to get better in my weak categories. A Ray Allen or Steve Nash would be a fantastic fit so I'll need to start working the phones and see what I can do.

Danny Granger, my #1 pick and superstar so far

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gold Coast Blaze heating up

Its great to see the Gold Coast Blaze starting to find some form and stringing some wins together.

My last post regarding them was heading in to their two game road-trip and how they needed to get at least one win. They upset the shaky Breakers in NZ and almost knocked off the 36'ers in Adelaide but fell just short.

Since then, they've defended their home court against the Townsville Crocodiles and last night against the Perth Wildcats. It was good to see them knock off the Crocs who won on the Gold Coast in round 1. Last night would also give the team confidence after they came from more than 20 points down to get the win against the #1 ranked Perth. The win set up by a defensive effort in the 3rd quarter that held the Wildcats to just FIVE points.

The Blaze started the season slowly but now find themselves in the top 4. I mentioned from day 1 that the Gold Coast would take time to gel and this has obviously been the case. Coach Joey Wright will be pleased with their development but will no doubt still expect more from them.

The keys to winning for the Blaze seem to be:
  • So goes Adam Gibson, so goes the Blaze. When Gibbo has a good night, this usually leads to a win for the Blaze
  • Gold Coast need offensive production from one or two players outside of their 3 main weapons (Harvey, Maxey & Ubaka). This tends to be from Gibbo, Petrie, Vukona or Goulding.
  • Their defence is the catalyst for their offence.

Ahead for the Blaze will be a tough return encounter against the Wildcats but this time the two teams meet in Perth ...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Brisbane NBL update

I just received this e-mail update about the progress of a Brisbane team re-entering the NBL next season.

INFORMATION Update - Brisbane NBL Back on Board

The Brisbane NBL Back On Board Initiative today confirmed that a private ownership group continues to work with Basketball Australia on the goal of bringing an NBL licence back to Brisbane.

Chief Executive Officer of Basketball Australia, Larry Sengstock said “ We have had a promising meeting with the Minster for Child Safety and Sport, Phil Reeves and are currently negotiating with Stadiums Queensland.”

“The group continues to work with Basketball Australia, a number of interested business people and other stakeholders within the sport as we aim toward a sustainable licence in Brisbane.”

“We are working closely with the private ownership group to secure appropriate financial support to take the proposal forward and we hope to provide further updates in the near future.”

“In the meantime it is important for our supporters to know that progress is being made.”

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Brandon Jennings - Coming out party

I was over at the parents place this weekend so wasn't online watching the NBA scoreboard but I got a text from Tux to give me the heads up and then saw all the posts on Twitter about Brandon Jennings' performance today.

The Milwaukee Bucks rookie exploded for 55 points on 21 of 34 from the field including 7 of 8 from downtown and 6 of 8 from the free-throw line. He also added 5 boards and 5 assists to his stat-line. In scoring 55 points, Brandon broke Kareem Abdul Jabbar's Bucks rookie scoring record.

With # 1 pick in the draft Blake Griffin still on the injured list, Jennings is definitely the front-runner for rookie of the year ... even before this outstanding performance.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Breakers vs Wildcats

Its been an extremely busy week at work so today was the first chance I've had to duck down to the gym. As well as the physical benefits of getting some cardio in, the other bonus was that I got to catch the end of the New Zealand Breakers vs Perth Wildcats game on Fox.

The game was notable for a number of reasons. First it was the debut this season of John Rillie (pictured right in his new strip) after his axing from the Crocs, secondly the Breakers have been struggling of late and needed a win and finally, the two teams had matched up in the previous round in Perth that had resulted in an easy win for the home-team.

Rillie was eased back in to things with just 13 minutes of court-time and while he knocked down 1 of 2 from deep his biggest impact was felt on the boards with 5 rebounds. Youngster Thomas Abercrombie led the Breakers in scoring with 23 points but the most influential player was Dillon Boucher. Boucher was at his menacing best frustrating Shawn Redhage and finishing the game with 8 boards, 7 assists, 4 points, 3 blocks & 2 steals.

The Breakers scored a much needed win 83 - 74 but it never actually seemed as close as the score would indicate.

Hawks clean up monthly awards

Congratulations to the Wollongong Hawks for taking home both the NBL Player on the Month and NBL Coach of the Month for October.

Hawks' import Tywain McKee (pictured below) won the Player of the Month for averaging 21 points, 4.6 boards, 4 assists and over 2 steals per game. Gordie McLeod won Coach of the Month for guiding his team to 5 wins 2 losses to star the season.

Its great to see the Hawks getting recognised in this way ... especially considering that they were originally tipped to finish bottom of the league by a fair margin. After they won the pre-season tournament I had higher expectations for them but there aren't too many people outside of the 'Gong that would have picked them to get off to such a good start.

Hawks swoop on monthly honours

Wollongong’s surprising fast start to the2009/10 National Basketball League season has seen them scoop the pool in the NBL monthly awards, with Hawks’ star Tywain McKee named Player of the Month for September/October and Gordie McLeod honoured as Coach of the Month.

During the Hawks’ seven games in September and October, McKee averaged 21.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 2.1 steals. The Hawks’ import shot 52% (47-91) from the field and knocked down 17-of-33 shots (52%) from behind the three-point arc.

The exciting new American import had two 23-point contests against Gold Coast (Round 2) and New Zealand (Round 4) and his lowest score in the first six rounds was 19 points. McKee received 36 overall votes for Player of the Month, just edging out another star import in Corey ‘Homicide’ Williams from Townsville, who received 33 votes. Melbourne Tigers’ forward Mark Worthington came in third with 14 votes.

Hawks coach McLeod took home the Coach of the Month award after guiding his team to an undefeated 5-0 home record and an overall 5-2 record in seven contests. McLeod’s team averaged 82.1 points per game while holding opponents to 75.9. During September/October, his squad posted a points differential of +44 points over their opponents and was on top of the NBL ladder virtually the entire time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

John Rillie - back in the NBL

Welcome back to the NBL, John Rillie!!

The news officially broke today that John Rillie has been signed by the New Zealand Breakers to replace import Awvee Storey. Rumours of this signing have been floating around on Twitter between the people in the know for the last two weeks or so but I was waiting for John or the NBL to make it official.

JR himself has kept it very much under wraps with no hint of the signing on his blog or on FaceBook until putting a note on the latter today.

New Zealand are now stacked with shooters as Rillie joins fellow gunners CJ Bruton, Oscar Forman and the currently injured Kirk Penney. Look for it to rain triples when the Breakers play!

Rillie in, Storey out

The Burger King NZ Breakers are flying in an NBL veteran to supplement their playing stocks ahead of Thursday night’s home game against the Perth Wildcats with John Rillie jetting into the club late last night. And as the club considers the ideal playing mix for the remainder of the season, the decision has also been made today to release American import Awvee Storey.

The call to release Storey was not one taken lightly by the club, with Head Coach Andrej Lemanis wishing the American well in the future.

“Awvee has acted like the true professional he is throughout his time with us, working hard on and off court. But from time to time you are faced with making tough calls and this was one of them, things simply weren’t working out and we needed to make a change. All of us on the team and at the club wish Awvee and his family all the best for the future.”

Meanwhile former Boomer Rillie has arrived at the club, a decision that was taken prior to that of letting Storey go. With Kirk Penney still out injured and back up centre Alex Pledger out for at least a further 3 weeks with a knee injury, Breakers General Manager Richard Clarke said the club simply needed another body on the floor at training and on stand by for Thursday night and the 38 year old Rillie has answered the call.

Welcome to the NBA - Nathan Jawai

Since being traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, big Aussie Nathan Jawai had seen limited minutes to say the least. The three games he had seen action, the longest had been 4:59 against the Clippers ... that was until yesterday.

Verses Portland, Nathan came out all guns blazing (pun fully intended), getting up 3 shots in less than 3 minutes ... probably just in case he didn't get back on court. Thankfully for Nathan two of them went down and he did indeed see more time.

By the end of the night, Nathan top-scored for the T'Wolves with 16 points (7 of 11 from the field, 2 of 3 from the line) and 6 boards in 22 minutes of playing time. Well done big fella, welcome to the NBA!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Julius Hodge back in the NBL

Thanks to Mookie from A Stern Warning for posting it on Twitter ... it seems the most hated man in Adelaide is returning to the NBL to "save" the Melbourne Tigers. I heard a rumour about it earlier in the week but was waiting to see if it was true or not.

Considering the way Julius Hodge left the NBL last season, it'll be interesting to see how he's received by fans around the league, especially against the 36ers. Melbourne are certainly not trying to win any popularity contests with some of the most hated players in the league. The controversial Hodge joins Anstey, Worthington and Kendall ... expect them to cop plenty of "heat" on the road.

Hodge returns to NBL with Tigers

By: Melbourne Tigers

In a major coup the Melbourne Tigers have secured the signature of 25 year old exciting import Julius Hodge.

With injuries to key players Chris Anstey, Ben Knight and Nathan Crosswell, the Tigers have been forced to find a player to bolster the squad and have been lucky enough to acquire the services of Julius.

After a promising college career with North Carolina State, Hodge was selected at pick 20 in the 2005 NBA draft. Hodge went on to play the second half of the 2007/08 NBL season with the Adelaide 36ers picking up 3 consecutive NBL player of the week awards. He re-joined the 36ers for 8 games during the 2008/09 NBL season before leaving on the advice of his manager due to a pay dispute.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The importance of free-throw shooting

I just watched the end of the Milwaukee Bucks vs Chicago Bulls game on One HD. Not a great spectacle but a hard-fought close game down the stretch. Essentially the Bucks jumped the Bulls early, Bulls eventually find some form and overtake the Bucks in the final quarter.

What got me about this game was what I also saw in the closing minutes of the Denver Nuggets vs Portland Trailblazers last week. In today's game, the Bulls got momentum on their side, got in front of the Bulls but failed to put them away due to some errant free-throw shooting in the final minutes.

The Bucks were struggling to score down the stretch and finding themselves behind on the scoreboard they put the Bulls on the line to make them earn the points and stop the clock. First it was Brad Miller who is normally a good free-throw shooter (80% over his career), 20 seconds to go and he misses his first, makes his second to give his team just a two point lead leaving the door open for the Bucks. Then Andrew Bogut used his last foul to ensure it was Joakim Noah a very average free-throw shooter (68% and horrible technique) that was sent to the line. Again, Bulls up by two so Noah could've basically ended it by hitting them both, instead he missed them both and keep the Bucks right in the game. Unfortunately they couldn't take advantage of it, but if the Bulls had made their free-throws this game would have been over much sooner. Milwaukee could've made their job a lot easier too shooting just 5 of 10 from the free-throw line themselves.

I meant to blog about the Denver Portland game the other day with the same theme in mind. Again, thanks to One HD I got to actually watch it and this was a much more entertaining game than todays. It was essentially a battle between Carmelo Anthony (pictured right) and Chauncey Billups vs Brandon Roy and Rudy Fernandez.

In the final four minutes of the game, both teams were in the penalty meaning that any defensive foul would send the other team to the line to shoot two. In a close game, this foul count meant it was always going to come down to free-throw shooting. For Denver, Carmelo cooly stepped to the line on four occasions during this time and made all eight free-throws. For Portland tho, the usually reliable Brandon Roy missed 1 of 2, Andre Miller missed 1 of 2, LaMarcus Aldridge missed 1 of 2 and with just 4 seconds to play and his team down by 1, Greg Oden missed 2 of 2.

In such a close game between two top teams, free-throw shooting down the stretch was the difference between winning and losing. Its because of this, when the game is in the balance, coaches try to have their best free-throw shooters on the court. Its not a glamourous part of the game but if you want to be a great player who can be relied on in the final minutes of the game, you have to spend time practicing your free-throws.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Gold Coast Blaze - Testing week

I thought to myself today that I haven't seen or heard anything about the Gold Coast Blaze for a while. I checked the schedule and found out why ... the team only had one game last week and that was last Wednesday.

The schedule this week sees them on the road with two game, the first is Thursday against the New Zealand Breakers and the second is on Saturday night against the Adelaide 36ers.

The Blaze currently sit tied second last with the Melbourne Tigers but with the competition being so close still they're just 1.5 games out of 3rd. With two games on the road this is a defining week for the team. Their 3 wins have all come at home so they really need to get their first win on the road this round.

To win, the team needs to get out, run and get some strong offensive production from outside the big 3 of Harvey, Ubaka and Maxey. The Blaze need Gibson running the show at both ends of the court. Most importantly tho they need scoring from the second unit of Goulding, Vanderjagt, Petrie & Vukona.

Its going to be tough for the Blaze to go to NZ and knock off the Breakers but its not impossible. If they do lose tho, they need to regroup quickly and be ready for the 36ers just two days later. They should match up well with Adelaide as they have the defensive players to "contain" reigning Player of the Week John Gilchrist and bigman Adam Ballinger.

With 7 days off, the team should be well rested and focused. Let's hope that translates to their first road win and some momentum and confidence.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Danilo Gallinari - NBA shooter to watch

From my previous post about a great NBA shooter of the past, its time to highlight one just starting out but quickly gaining attention.

Most people wouldn't have heard of Danilo Gallinari yet, but that could all change soon as he's playing on the biggest stage, in the biggest market, New York. Drafted by the Knicks with the 6th pick in the 2008 draft, Danilo missed most of the year due to a back injury but is looking to make up for that lost time.

In game 1 of this season, the young Italian exploded off the bench with 22 points including 7 of 13 from downtown. Game 2 was a little quieter with 16 points and 3 triples but inserted in to the starting line-up tonight, Gallinari exploded for 30 points including 8 of 16 from downtown and a perfect 4 of 4 from the line.

Its early days for Danilo but he's definitely a shooter to keep an eye on.

Nick Van Exel

Its been a good month or so of stories for "my boys". First there was the "where are they now" story of Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, then Tim Hardaway gets his number retired by the Miami Heat and now there is a story about Nick Van Exel.

Dime has it in the "where are they now" section but its more just a story about him and the player he was. He never really disappeared but click on the story below and you'll see that he's now coaching. There's also a good highlight package but Nick was in the days before YouTube so the quality of it isn't great.

I fell in love with Nick's game from his days in college at Cincinnati when the NCAA used to be shown late at night on the ABC. Even tho I'm a Celtics fan and Nick played for the Lakers, I just loved his swagger, ball handling and his clutch, no-conscience shooting.

Where Are They Now: Nick Van Exel | Dime Magazine ( : Daily NBA News, NBA Trades, NBA Rumors, Basketball Videos, Sneakers:

“Soprano the rock, handle like Van Exel” – Jay-Z

There was a reason why Hova would name drop Nick Van Exel’s name in a verse. Nick the Quick was everything you wanted out of a small guard: a smooth south paw stroke, crafty dribble moves, great court vision and money in the clutch. And best of all, everything he did, he did it with style.

Van Exel had swagger, played with flash and loved to talk trash on the court. You either loved him or hated him. Like Tim Hardaway and Isiah Thomas, he could fill out highlight tapes without going above the rim.

A second round pick out of Cincinnati in 1993, it wasn’t long until Van Exel was a starting guard in the NBA. In his first five seasons with the Lakers, Van Exel and Eddie Jones brought back “Showtime” to the L.A. by forming one of the most exciting young backcourts in the NBA at the time. Van Exel was also on the Lakers during the early part of the Shaq and Kobe era. He made the All-Star team in 1998.

So instead of a highlight package, here's a good story about Nick I hadn't seen before:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Gold Coast Blaze lose to Melbourne Tigers

After coming from behind at home to beat the Melbourne Tigers earlier in the month, unfortunately the Gold Coast Blaze couldn't do the same thing on the road last night.

I was out at trivia last night (which we won for the first time ever!) and since I don't have Fox, I didn't get to see the game.

Checking out the boxscore, here are my thoughts:
  • The big 3 (Harvey, Ubaka & Maxey) all delivered, scoring more than 75% of the team's points
  • They got virtually nothing from Goulding and Vanderjagt
  • Mika Vukona had 6 turnovers but only 2 points 2 boards. The Tigers had just 6 turnovers for the entire game.
  • Tigers dominated the paint outscoring the Blaze inside 52 - 30
  • Tigers were led by youngster Daniel Johnson with 20 points, 6 boards
  • Tigers had a balanced scoring attack with 4 players scoring 15 points or more
  • Melbourne hit a very tidy 16 of 18 from the line
The Gold Coast Blaze really need to start getting some wins on the road if they're going to work their way up the NBL ladder.

Tim Hardaway honoured by the Heat

It may have been the second night of the new NBA season but for me the night was about one thing only ... Tim Hardaway getting his jersey retired by the Miami Heat. He may have got in trouble over recent years for "those comments" but he has been and always will be one of my favourite players.

I was heart broken when I was first in the US (almost 15 years ago) and saw a couple of Golden State Warriors' games and Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin were coming off the bench under Rick Adelman. When he was traded to Miami I hoped it would give his career a second win and indeed it. Timmy was back to his best and teaming up with Alonzo Mourning they wreaked havoc in the east, especially the New York Knicks. Fittingly his jersey was retired tonight before the Heat played the Knicks.

Here's the official report about the ceremony from Click on the title to read the whole story and see an interview with Tim himself from after the event (for some reason it wouldn't embed on the blog). Hardaway's No. 10 retired by Heat
MIAMI (AP) -- Saying he was 'overwhelmed,' Tim Hardaway beamed Wednesday night as he watched his No. 10 jersey raised to the rafters by the Miami Heat, never to be worn again. With about 50 family and friends looking on, including the other two parts of the famed 'Run TMC' trio -- Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin -- that he first captured NBA acclaim with, Hardaway's oversized jersey was hoisted skyward before Miami opened its season against the New York Knicks. 'Tonight, I stand before you truly humble and grateful,' Hardaway said. Hardaway had hugs for everybody -- players, coaches, even referee Joe Crawford, no small feat considering how much the player loved to clash with officials during his playing days. Before he came to Miami, only three other players had worn No. 10: Kelvin Upshaw, Clinton Wheeler and Manute Bol. No one had since Hardaway left the Heat in 2001.

Here's a good story about Tim from the Miami Herald. Click on the title below to read the full story.

Former Miami Heat guard Tim Hardaway's honor arrives - Miami Heat -

Tim Hardaway's career wasn't defined here, but it was completed here. His signature move wasn't developed here, but it was shown off a few times here. His courage wasn't discovered here, but he was at his most courageous here. The legacy of Tim Hardaway was a cross-country creation that started on the South Side of Chicago, continued south in Texas, moved west to California and settled here in Miami. This wasn't Hardaway's last stop, just his most significant. So it's here that the legacy was fortunate enough to be celebrated with Wednesday's jersey retirement ceremony. Fortunate because Hardaway is simply one of the most unique, special players in the history of basketball.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

John Rillie update

Came across this article on Twitter earlier today. If you haven't heard what John Rillie is up to since he's not in the NBL this season, check it out below (click on the title to read the full story). I heard about this business earlier in the year and wish JR all the best with it.

While the article says that John is focussing on the future, he hasn't officially retired ... so I don't think he's completely ruled out playing again, should the right opportunity present itself. Stay tuned

Rillie focused on future

Former National Basketball League star and consecutive games record holder, John Rillie, has returned to the sport but in a new capacity. The 2004 Olympian is a part owner of BrevAlto Management, a new company specialising in sports and player management.

Apart from his NBL and Olympic experience, John also played ball for Gonzaga in the US college system and for powerhouse club AEK Athens BC. Rillie intends to use his broad experience and extensive contacts to assist both junior and senior players in maximising their potential nationally and internationally, including at NBA and WNBA levels.

Whilst basketball is clearly his area of expertise, Rillie and his fellow directors will also be utilising their broad expertise to assist athletes in sports other than basketball.

The transition from player to ‘manager’ is a natural progression for the self confessed basketball junkie.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Green with envy

Its now less than two days until the NBA season kicks off and I for one can't wait.

However, I'm green with envy as a couple of my friends (JVG, Nick & Keith) are at the season opener between the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers. That's right, live at Quickens Loan Arena ... KG, Ray Allen & Paul Pierce vs Shaq & LeBron!

I've been a Boston Celtics fan since the late 80's and despite being "only" the first game of the season, this is truly a marquee matchup. I saw the Celtics play back in their dark years in the late 90's and its been way too many years since I've been to the US. Hence my (Celtic) green with envy comment ...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Basketball shooting legend - Oscar Schmidt

I came across this article on Bounce Magazine and had to give it love by sharing it here.

Oscar Schmidt made our list of the top ten all-time greatest shooters but wouldn't be known by that many people, especially the younger readers. Read (click on the title below to read the full story), learn and make sure to watch the video clips. The man was a legend ...

The Semi-Automatic: Oscar Schmidt | Streetball, Sneakers, Bobbito, Nike Air Force, Jordans

Basketball, broken down to its simplest compound, is about scoring more buckets than the team you’re playing against. The Semi-Automatic refers to players who leave bodies in their wake with their innate ability to get buckets. And few players can truly say that they are, or ever were, on the same level as the man known as “Mao Santa”, aka “The Holy Hand.”

Who is the greatest player to never wear an NBA uniform? Valid arguments could be made for asphalt legends like Joe Hammond aka “The Destroyer” aka “Dirty Hand Joe”, Oakland’s Hook Mitchell, Pee Wee Kirkland, Earl Manigault aka “The Goat” and others of similar stature. But don’t forget about Oscar.

“Who is that?”, you might be asking yourself. Oscar Schmidt is simply a legend among legends from Brazil. Outside of America, along with those enligtened souls within the USA who understand the man’s place in the game’s pantheon, he’s considered one of the greatest basketball players to ever grace God’s green earth.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Gold Coast Blaze vs Cairns Taipans

I didn't make the trip down the coast last night. Traffic would have been rough not to mention that its the what used to be Indy, then SuperGP, now V8 weekend in Surfers. For this reason (V8's), I'm not surprised to see that it was another disappointing crowd of roughly 2400 which is less than 1/2 the stadium's capacity.

From reading the game recap on the NBL website, this is the most pleasing part:
"but it was the defense of the Coast that was most impressive in a sign that the bottom placed team had turned the corner"
In the two games I've seen so far this season the Blaze have struggled on the defensive end getting killed on the boards and general allowing easy buckets. As the team gels and learns Coach Joey Wright's system, this was something that I knew would improve eventually.

Here's the other highlights from the game/boxscore:
  • Ayinda Ubake (Chewbacca) top scored with 25 points (9 of 12 from the field) including 4 triples
  • Anthony Petrie was a beast defensively with 10 points, 4 boards, 5 blocks and 2 steals
  • Dusty Rychart was well and truly shut-down scoring just 2 points and 5 turnovers
  • Erron Maxey was again solid with 15 points, 7 boards
The Blaze convincingly won the game 80 - 63 despite not getting much on the offensive end from young-guns Adam Gibson, Chris Goulding or Greg Vanderjagt. The win takes the Gold Coast Blaze off the bottom of the ladder and when they get all cylinders firing look for them to make a move up the leaderboard.

Ayinde Ubaka (Chewbacca) led the Blaze in scoring

Friday, October 23, 2009

Anna Bligh and the Gold Coast Blaze

I mentioned a few weeks ago that one of my friends had essentially put together the relationship to have Queensland Premier Anna Bligh as the Gold Coast Blaze's # 1 ticket holder this season. It was this friend that hooked me up with the corporate seats for the last game and why we were treated like VIP's by the Blaze. Yes, I'm people who knows people! LOL

Anyway, when we were at the game last week my friend started to organise a time for Anna to meet the team, the front office and officially receive her #1 jersey. This all took place earlier today while the team were shooting around before their game tonight with the Cairns Taipans. Here are a couple of photos from the event:

Premier Bligh with Blaze captain James Harvey

Premier Bligh with Blaze team and GM Dave Claxton

Thursday, October 22, 2009

NBL'ers in the NBA continued

Its been a very busy couple of days in the office so I'm just catching up on the blog now. Its already late tonight so this will be a quick one and I'll catch up more on the weekend.

After my last post about past NBL players doing there thing in the NBA, there's been some big news for two of them over the last few days. One good one bad.

First the good news. Most Australians have heard the news that Nathan Jawai has been traded from the Dallas Mavericks to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Here's the Australian's take on it and how he'll be following in the footsteps of Luc Longley and Shane Heal.

This should be a good move for Jawai as he wasn't exactly welcomed in Dallas and seemed like an afterthought that they didn't know what to do with and likely would've been sent back to the D League or waived. In Minnesota, he has the opportunity to make the roster and hopefully see some substantial court-time. The T'Wolves have suffered some injuries to a few of their star bigmen and are talking about developing Nathan which is what he needs.

Secondly is the bad news today that Carlos Powell has been cut by the Phoenix Suns. Powell got so close to making the squad but has just missed out. Look for him to again star in the D League or maybe head to Europe and get paid.

Another Aussie will be suiting up for the T'Wolves

Monday, October 19, 2009

Carlos Powell: Working Hard to Reach the NBA

I stumbled across the following article about former NBL'er Carlos Powell and his quest to make it in to the NBA.

I remember Carlos from the one season he played in the NBL with the New Zealand Breakers. I was working with the Brisbane Bullets at the time and we were one of the few teams that did a decent job of containing him. That season he was a scoring machine and everyone knew he wouldn't be back in our league the next year. His eyes were always on the NBA and after spending some time in the D-Leagues he's getting close to a roster spot for the Phoenix Suns.

Click on the title below to read the full story.

Carlos Powell: Working Hard to Reach the NBA - Bright Side Of The Sun

Phoenix Suns preseason roster addition Carlos Powell was undrafted coming out of South Carolina in 2005 where he played all four years. Since then he's played overseas in both Europe and Asia and spent the 2007/08 season with the NBA D-league's Dakota Wizards where he averaged 22 ppg, 6.4 rpg and 4.8 apg. Powell's known as a physical small forward (6'7', 225lbs) who can shoot the three, has good vision and can still bang a little bit.

Carlos is a prototypical guy 'on the bubble' and is trying to make it to the NBA the hard way just as former Suns Matt Barnes and Raja Bell did. From the look of things, this summer has brought Powell much closer to reaching his dream.

In July the Phoenix Suns added Carlos to their Vegas Summer League roster where he played well putting up 9 points in 16 minutes of play and shot 60% from three. That apparently was enough to earn Carlos an invitation to join the Suns training camp and preseason squad where he continues to impress.

Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said this about Powell, 'He's played well at camp. He's a good guy. Real aggressive guy and a real physical guy. He's done some good things. Shot the ball real well.'

Friday, October 16, 2009

NBL'ers in the NBA

Still no good news regarding Patty Mills and his attempt to play in the NBA but there are Aussies or NBL-related players seeing some action in the NBA pre-season.

Firstly, David Andersen has been putting in work with the Houston Rockets. He knows he can't replace Yao Ming but in his last 3 games has average 25 minutes per game and has started 2 of them. He had 8 points 4 boards, 17 points 4 boards and 12 points 7 boards. Respective production, let's hope it continues in the regular season.

Secondly, former New Zealand Breakers import Carlos Powell is getting a run for the Phoenix Suns. Carlos was a scoring machine for the Breakers and had high hopes of stepping from the NBL to the NBA. He's spent some time in the D League but with Shaq in Cleveland and Robin Lopez injured, the Suns could using another scoring bigman. He came off the bench in his first game for 6 points 3 boards but started yesterday and had 12 points 3 boards.

Finally, Nathan Jawai has FINALLY stepped on court for the Dallas Mavericks. This article would tend to suggest he's unlikely to make their roster but it was nice all the same to see him get 2 points and 2 assists in 7 minutes of court-time (not surprisingly, a blowout Dallas win).

Thanks to the guys at NBA Mate for pointing out an article from about our two main Aussies in the NBA.

Mate vs mate, Anderson shooting over Bogut in a pre-season game

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Gold Coast Blaze recap

If you're following me on Twitter you may have read parts of this story already, if not, here's the trip report from the Gold Coast Blaze vs Melbourne Tigers game last night.

I've been going to basketball games for the last 20+ years and including my 5 years with the Brisbane Bullets have had some great game night experiences. Firstly, when I was 17 one of my friend's dad had a corporate box at Boondall that he gave to us for a couple of games. We were of course underage at the time but that didn't stop us enjoying the corporate drinks and generally having a great night out. Then a few years ago, there was the time that Eddy Groves chartered a plane to take all the Bullets support crew down to Melbourne to cheer on the team in game 2 of the grand final series. As well as the trip, I was lucky enough to sit at the end of the player's bench to watch the game. But last night's Blaze game was definitely right up there ...

One of my friends organised some tickets for us and mentioned they would likely be corporate seats. I was keen to get to the game so the corporate part was really just a bonus. She received confirmation from Blaze GM Dave Claxton about the tickets as well as an invite for us to the pre-game cocktail party.

We arrived at the service counter at the stadium and were advised that Katie had just taken our tickets to which my friend and I looked at each other and jokingly questioned who Katie was. One of the staff walked us to the function room and introduced us to Katie who then introduced us to a few people in the room. We grabbed a drink, something to eat and then went over to say hi to Dave Claxton who informed us we were in the owner's box tonight with Owen & Katie Tomlinson as well as Basketball Australia CEO Larry Sengstock. Katie then came back and chatted to us and it was then it dawned on me that Katie was in fact one of the Blaze owners.

After speeches from Dave & Larry we chatted to the CEO for a few minutes prior to the game and then headed to our box. As we were walking with Owen & Larry we of course walked around the edge of the court and got the chance to say hi to Joey, Ronny, Big Joe and Gibbo before taking our seats. The box was of course centre court and it was great to watch the game with the league's CEO and have the owner's passing me beers all night!

Now, my observations from the actual game:
  • Another poor crowd in attendance
  • Ben Knight will not be back anytime soon from the knee injury he suffered in the first quarter
  • The Gold Coast Blaze's defence and rebounding needs work and quick
  • Blaze look terrible when they go to the "no-motion offence"
  • Mark Worthington was a one-man wrecking crew, killing the Blaze for most of the game (31 points, 9 boards)
  • Erron Maxey can play and will put up some large numbers this season (29 points, 7 boards)
  • Blaze look good when they get offensive contributions outside of their stars
  • Chris Goulding is a big chance for this year's Most Improved Player award
  • Sam Mackinnon is still average from the free-throw line
It was great to see the Blaze come good in the second half and get a much needed home win. They looked dangerous for periods of the game and will be a contendor in this league if they can do that for the entire game.

It was a fantastic night and I owe a big thank you to my friend for hooking me up in VIP fashion. A massive thank you also to Owen, Katie & Dave for their warm welcome and generous hospitality throughout the night.

The view from the corporate box ... and yes, that's the back of Basketball Australia's CEO Larry Sengstock's head sitting in front of me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gold Coast Blaze vs Melbourne Tigers

One of my friends has hooked me up with a corporate ticket to the Gold Coast Blaze game tomorrow night against the Melbourne Tigers.

This is my second game of this new NBL season and I'm hoping that firstly the Blaze can get the win and secondly that the crowd is better than it was for game 1 against the Crocs. Like the first game, I'll be tweeting updates so if you're not already follow me on Twitter.

The Blaze are currently last on the ladder but I said it before the season started, it will take time for them to gel. They've got a new coaching staff, new imports and a number of other new players in key roles. I saw it first hand when the Brisbane Bullets over-hauled their roster, we had a star team on paper but it took time for them to come together and

I found two good articles talking about the Blaze and their start to the season. Click on the titles below to read the full stories.

Time is Wright for side to fire Blaze | | Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

WHEN Joey Wright was appointed coach of the Gold Coast Blaze, he asked supporters for some time.

With an almost completely new playing group, he was only too aware it would take a few matches for his side to gel.

His prediction was correct -- the Coast are sitting bottom with one win and three losses.

But Wright says his squad is 'starting to look like a basketball team'.

There is a renewed confidence in the group after returning home on Saturday from a tough away trip to Cairns and Perth for two matches in three days.

They lost both games but pushed the Wildcats all the way on Friday night.

Wright -- an NBL championship-winning coach with the Brisbane Bullets -- saw enough to predict his side is on the brink of turning their form around.

The View from Downunder – Local Edition #4

Adam Gibson is an impressive young basketballer. When you watch the disciplined way he plays defence, and the uncompromising way he takes the ball to the hole, it is easy to forget that he is only 22 years of age.

But watching the Gold Coast Blaze put up just 66 points last Wednesday against the Cairns Taipans, it was clear that Gibson is still a developing playmaker. Just as the Blaze are a developing team at this point in time.

The way the Blaze played in Cairns was very un-Joey Wright, for want of a better description.

Wright has put together a small, quick, versatile team on the Coast, just as he did at Brisbane. When I asked him why he said: “In this league, as much as we want to say ‘big’ wins, I think the versatile teams win more games, and that’s what we have tried to put together.”

Yet to start this season, the Blaze have been a half court team, with Gibson walking the ball up the floor repeatedly. The half court offence consisted mostly of pick and rolls and clear outs. That won’t get the Blaze far, with no real low post threats and very few people who can create shots off the dribble.

Gibson isn’t a playmaker, he is more of a place-setter at this stage of his career. He is absolutely reliable when it comes to playing defence, pushing the ball in transition, hitting the open shot and scoring in the lane.

NBA Fantasy Draft recap

After discussions on Friday night, its official ... the NBA Fantasy Draft is the BEST night of the year. Sorry Christmas and birthday, you lose.

As mentioned in my last post, I did some research and thought about my strategy for about 2.5 hours on Thursday night and a bit during the day on Friday. My plan was not to draft the best available player but instead look to build a team. A number of fantasy articles talk about grabbing as many point guards and power forwards as you can and then filling out your line-up with small forwards and shooting guards that can provide you with threes or give you forward or guard type stats (assists, boards, blocks, etc). This would be taken in to consideration when building my team as well.

The night started with me picking up a few of the boys in town where they had been having after-work drinks. Considering it was just before 8 when I picked them up, not surprisingly a couple were well on their way to drunk. We then met up with the others at a Mexican restaurant at Bulimba and enjoyed some beers and dinner before having drinks back here. A few photos from the night are on my Twitter profile.

When the draft positions were announced I was pleased to get the 6th pick having had the last pick last year. With this in mind I hoped someone like Dirk Nowitzki might slip in to my hands but he went in 5th so I instead went for Danny Granger who I owned for most of last season and I think is more dependable than Kevin Durant. Disappointing not to get a top level point guard or bigman with my top pick but Granger does it all so I'm pleased with that pick. Second round I wanted a quality bigman and the best available was Tim Duncan. Sure, he had some injury issues last season and he's getting old but he's consistent and the Spurs are doing their best to manage his health. By round 3 I wanted a quality point guard so it was between Kidd, Baron Davis, Rondo or Rose and I went with Kidd because of his ability to help with steals, boards, triples and assists. His average field goal percentage would be nullified by Granger and Duncan as my first picks.

From there, my later picks were:
  • LaMarcus Aldridge
  • Nene Hilario
  • OJ Mayo
  • Russell Westbrook
  • Luis Scola
  • Nate Robinson
  • Lamar Odom
  • Mike Dunleavy
  • Brendan Haywood
  • Anthony Parker
  • Anthony Morrow

In review, I'm relying on Mayo and Westbrook to really step up from their rookie years. I hope Nene is at least close to the excellent fantasy season he had last year and Scola to step up even further in the absence of Yao Ming. My weaknesses seem to be fg% and ft% and I could use some more assists and triples. Hopefully my side can stay healthy and we'll see how the opening weeks play out.

Danny Granger, my #1 pick

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fantasy basketball

Its that time of year again and our league's fantasy basketball draft is tomorrow night. Its come around so fast and I've yet to do any work ... no pre-rankings done, no team or player research. Its time to get to work!

There can be a little east coast-west coast rivalry (can you tell I just finished watching Notrious on DVD?) in our league as most of the GM's are in Brisbane but a couple of the players (including the dominant force in the league) reside in Perth.

Last year saw the start of a cash prize for the top 3 teams and I didn't finish in the money. I struggled with injuries, made some bad trades and finished 7th out of 12. This year, its time to get paid.

The draft is the best part of the fantasy season. The plans for tomorrow night are six of us are catching up for Mexican and drinks down at Bulimba and then they're descending upon my place. As we have Perth GM's in the league, our draft is a late kick-off at around midnight our time so there will likely be more drinks here before things get underway.

Note to self: stop drinking before the draft starts so I don't make the same mistake as last year in thinking it ends in round 10 (it actually ends round 14).

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bounce Magazine

I often mention and read Dime Magazine every day but I sometimes forget or only check their offshoot Bounce Magazine weekly, if that.

Catching up on their stuff today tho they had some true GOLD.

First they preview an underground, low-budget basketball movie Streetballers.

Next they had what looks to be a European, almost artistic basketball commercial.

And last but not least they have an in depth look at Cheryl & Reggie Miller. Reggie is one of my favourite shooters and I thoroughly enjoyed his book "I love being the enemy" (until my mum threw out a box of my stuff). If you've never heard the catch-cry "Its Miller time!!" or if you never saw Reggie play ... watch and learn from the below. He was much more than this game but it encapsulates all he was as a player.

Monday, October 5, 2009

One HD ... I love you

Aussie NBA fans were in heaven on Friday night when One HD showed the first of its NBA: Hall of Fame Tribute games. They started with Chicago Bulls vs Utah Jazz in game 5 of the '97 NBA Finals Series ... better known as "the flu" game. FaceBook was full of comments from my basketball friends who were loving Michael Jordan's heroics.

Having been starved of NBA action over the last couple of years I am so looking forward to One HD showing at least three NBA games per week. The classic NBA games are a great way to get fans warmed up for the upcoming season.

If you don't know or somehow don't remember this game, check the footage below.

On a side note, I stumbled across a fashion article earlier. Could this be the only time the phrase "Jordan-esque" has ever been used in derogatory way?

"There were some truly hideous fashion faux pas. Silver sequinned 'pasties', for example, belong in a lap dancing club unless you subscribe to a Jordan-esque dress code."

Thankfully I know they are referring to the British model Jordan (Katie Price), rather than the G.O.A.T, otherwise it would be sacrilegious!

Gold Coast Blaze update

I didn't get a chance to post this on the weekend but it was great to see the Gold Coast Blaze get their first win of the NBL season on Friday night at home against the Wollongong Hawks. I'm sure it was dedicated to team manager Big Joe's birthday the next day!

I didn't make the trip down the freeway this week but the game looked fairly close for most of the night according to the FIBA live stats. It was pleasing to see a more balanced scoring attack from the Blaze this week, not solely relying on James Harvey to get it done. Four players in double figures this week led by import Michael Joiner with 18 and Ayinde Ubaka with 15. Mika Vukona was also active with 10 points, 13 boards.

Now it was good to see Joiner put some numbers on the board after a terrible opener, but I got the news on Twitter last night that he was the first import cut. So it seems his performance on Friday night was too little too late. I put up a story last week about how NBA players get in shape during the off-season and Joiner's lack of fitness was likely the reason for his axing. Click on the title below to read about his replacement.

Blaze make import switch

The Gold Coast Blaze have signed a new US import for season 2009-2010.

Former college and California Pro League player Erron Maxey has arrived on the Coast to replace the departing Michael Joiner.

At 100kg and 6’6”, Maxey is a strong rebounder with a handy outside shot who uses ‘outstanding leaping ability’ to beat taller and heavier players to the hoop.

'We put our team together this year from scratch and, quite simply, the eventual line up left no place for Michael,” said Blaze Coach Joey Wright.

'We've brought Erron in knowing that he is a strong forward and someone who has the leap and reach to block shots all over the court.

“He’s a hard working small forward who can knock down the open perimeter jump shot.

'With our team still developing our own playing style, we knew the sooner we could get him out here, the better,” he said.

Maxey comes to the Gold Coast with a solid reputation as an exceptional athlete, able to dominate bigger players at the post when needed.