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: