Saturday, 27 February 2010

Copeland vows to regain Rocks favour

Glasgow Rocks rookie Mike Copeland has vowed to put his bust-up with coach Sterling Davis behind him and prove he deserves to have his starting place back.

The American has been relegated to the bench since a verbal spat with Davis two weeks ago during the Rocks damaging defeat to leaders Sheffield.

However Copeland, who is out of contract in the summer, is looking to show he still has a place in the Kelvin Hall outfit's future plans when they host Milton Keynes Lions on Sunday. And with captain Rob Yanders out for at least 2 weeks with a 'strained pectoral muscle', the rookie plans to step up..

“I have to challenge myself to go out every game and be focused and help the team every game,” he declared. “Because we are a good team. Right now we have to keep pushing. That's a big motivator for me and everyone else in practice every day. If we keep trying to improve, then there are still things we can accomplish."


British Basketball shuffles management roles

British Basketball has quietly announced an internal restructuring that will see a number of senior personnel change roles in the lead-up to 2012.

In a move that is likely to come in for criticism, there is to be a switch in focus to North America with high performance manager Ron Wuotila moving his base from the UK to the United States to build closer ties with players based in the NBA and American colleges.

In his place, Warwick Cann takes on the new role of Performance Pathway Coordinator jointly funded with England Basketball – a task that includes overseeing the GB under-20 squads, as well as chairing British Basketball’s Performance Management Group made up of representatives from the three home nations of England, Scotland and Wales.

Dr Mark Gillett becomes the body’s Head of Sport Science and Medicine while the post of Commercial Director has been advertised.

Chris Spice, British Basketball Performance Director said: “This restructure has come at an important time for our organisation. We are improving year on year on the court and we have just signed a fantastic partner in Standard Life. It is now even more vital to ensure our resources are placed in the correct areas allowing British Basketball every opportunity to improve on-court performance and to grow our external revenues.”

It has also been confirmed that Nick Nurse has been reappointed as Assistant Coach of the senior GB men’s team with Ken Shields continuing as Tom Maher’s number two with the women’s side.


Friday, 26 February 2010

Everton in race for late signing

Everton Tigers are still hoping to acquire a last-minute Stateside signing to boost their BBL play-off hopes, despite seeing a deal for their primary target fall through.

American forward Johnny Dukes was due to arrive on Merseyside last week to fill the void left by Flo Larkai's move to Japan.

However Tigers coach Tony Garbelotto has revealed that the move for the Turkish League star was scuppered at the eleventh hour, leaving him to renew his search ahead of Monday's extended deadline.

“He'd not been paid for two months and he wanted to leave,” the Everton coach confirmed. “However the coach was fired, the GM who recruited him took over, and we got a call to say that he'd received his money, plus a bonus, and was no longer being released.

“We now have someone else lined up who happened to be coming to London this week. So it was a no-brainer. But it won't be 110 per cent certain and a done deal until he's in Liverpool.”

The potential recruit, however, will not be available for Sunday's Trophy semi-final, first leg, against Newcastle.


When a deadline .. isn't a deadline

The BBL's transfer deadline isn't, apparently, as hard and fast this season as it has been in the past.

Firstly, and rather inexplicably, England Basketball's registration office – which handles all player documentation – was closed on Friday. It's understood that clubs now have until Monday to complete any paperwork on potential signings.

Intriguingly, it's been revealed that the BBL passed a new signing exemption rule at a board meeting last summer. The get-out clause has not been widely publicised, even among coaches themselves, but teams will be able to replace one player – on a like-for-like basis (i.e. Non-national for non-national), until March 31.

The rule is intended primarily for use in the case of injuries. However, like most aspects of British Basketball, flexibility is ever-present.


Thursday, 25 February 2010

Essex to stand by homegrown plan

Essex Pirates head coach Tim Lewis has pledged to stick by his British-first policy next season, even if the BBL newcomers remain in the bottom two.

With two months of the campaign remaining, the Southend-based outfit have won more plaudits than games but have produced enough regular flourishes to suggest Lewis' dream of building a nursery for UK talent could paid long-term dividends.

Pablo Rodrigo and Randy George remain the sum total of Essex's imported guns and although new faces may be sought in the summer, there are no plans to rip up their blueprint.

“I don’t think we need to change anything,” Lewis confirmed. “We need to find more leadership, in terms of guys who can take on the game at crucial times for us and allow other guys to do the things they do really well.

“I don’t intend to make a huge change. We still want to give opportunities to the younger guys. Jamell Anderson’s just coming back from another heart scare so we’re taking him slowly. And Colin Sing has shown he can cope with this league, as have the rest.”

The Pirates have been propelled by the impressive play of guard Taner Adu, who could be the subject of interest from elsewhere. However Lewis believes the rookie still has room to improve, if the right personnel are placed around him.

“We’re not really playing him where we should be playing him,” he added. “He’s a two-guard rather than a point. He can score. That’s his strength. Having a point who could let him go loose would help him more.

“He’s a classic guy who has played in EBL1 but no-one has taken a risk on him before. And there are other kids out there who can do it.”


Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Hanke looks for GB boost with Spanish move

Randall Hanke has completed his move from Glasgow Rocks to Spanish league club Socas Canarias Tenerife with the Great Britain international claiming the decision to quit the BBL was a no-brainer.

The 6'11" centre, who has signed a three-month deal with the LEB Oro side, has revealed that his switch has the backing of GB coach Chris Finch.

And Hanke is now hoping his stint in Spain will solidify his place in the national squad for this summer's European qualifiers.

"I wanted to go there because my goal is to test myself at the highest level in Europe and this is a step closer," the New York-born rookie said.

"I had a one-week trial with Burgos earlier this season but this is a chance for me to have a proper chunk of time there. But it will be a challenge and I have to step up."

Hanke averaged 8.2 points and 3.7 rebounds in his brief stay in Glasgow.

"It's hard to leave a great situation but I couldn't pass this up," he added.


Monday, 22 February 2010

Hanke set for Spanish switch

Glasgow Rocks BBL title hopes suffered a huge blow after Great Britain international Randall Hanke landed a lucrative offer to move to Spanish side Tenerife.
The 6’11” centre, who only joined the Kelvin Hall outfit last month, is ready to invoke an escape clause in his contract and complete the switch to the LEB club later this week.
However with just five days until the transfer deadline, Hanke’s exit leaves Rocks coach Sterling Davis in an awkward spot.
The American said: “Something always seems to happen around the deadline so I’ll have to see what I can do. I understand that it would be a good move for Randall. He’s still waiting on the contract but it looks pretty likely that he’ll be leaving.”


Friday, 19 February 2010

Stronach opts against Plymouth signing move

Plymouth Raiders coach Gary Stronach has ruled out making any additions to his squad before the transfer window closes on February 28.

The Devon outfit have been hampered by injuries all season but even though they remain in a battle to steal a play-off spot, Stronach will stand put.

He told the Plymouth Herald: "I'm not making any changes – we'll go with what we have."


Garbelotto claims Larkai exit is bad move

Flo Larkai's move to Japan will damage his hopes of getting back into the Great Britain squad, according to Tony Garbelotto.

The Everton Tigers coach is incensed at the manner of the Londoner's abrupt departure last week after he exercised a contract clause that allowed him to join Hamamatsu Phoenix.

Garbelotto, who is waiting work-permit approval to bring in an American replacement, claims Larkai's wish to move had been an unsettling presence and he believes it is a decision the forward will regret.

"I don’t think he’s helping himself in terms of the future. Moving out of Europe is not good for his GB hopes," Garbelotto told the Liverpool Echo.

“He’s gone somewhere he doesn’t know and they don’t know him. He might not play many minutes but here he was guaranteed 30 minutes every game. If he kept on coming up with big performances he would have been pushing to get back in the GB squad.”

Larkai, however, is excited about his new opportunity.

"They're the number 1 team in the BJ League," he said. "They needed an inside presence to finish off the regular season and progress into the playoffs. This should be very interesting."


The award-winning best of NBA writing from the past year

The Professional Basketball Writers Association had its annual awards this week. No, I didn't win but if you want to read the best of the best of NBA journalism from the past 12 months, then grab yourself a coffee and a comfy chair and enjoy.

Contest winners

Feature stories
First: Marc Stein, on Vlade Divac

Second: Chris Tomasson, on Marvin Barnes

Third: Rick Bonnell, Charlotte Observer on Larry Brown

Game stories
First: Brian Windhorst, Cleveland Plain Dealer on LeBron

Second: Marc Stein, on Dallas

Third: Steve Adamek, Bergen Record on LeBron visiting New York

First: Scott Howard-Cooper, on Ron Artest

Second: Fran Blinebury, on Dikembe Mutumbo

Third: Shaun Powell, on Dave Bing


Thursday, 18 February 2010

Freestyle gets release date

The much hyped British basketball movie, Freestyle, is to get its release later this month.

Diected by Kolton Lee, it follows the tale of a young student Ondene Ondene (Lucy Konadu), who is charmed by a charismatic, good-looking
freestyle basketball player, Leon (Arinze Kene). The pair decide to enter a
competition – but tough decisions lie in store.

The film, which features cameos from several well-known British basketballers, has a limited cinema outing on February 26 before appearing on DVD and for rental on March 1.

Here’s a trailer.


Sullivan can spur Eagles title charge

Newcastle Eagles coach Fabulous Flournoy believes the return of Drew Sullivan to Tyneside can provide the missing line in his team’s silverware chase.
The reigning league champions have lured the Great Britain captain back for a third stint after he cut his short stint in Cyprus due to personal reasons.
With fellow GB star Flinder Boyd exiting to play for Spanish club Palencia, the revolving door has left the Eagles strengthened as they chase a potential treble.
And Flournoy, whose side has begun to hit top form, is relishing his additional weapon.
“It’s good to have Sulli back and we all know what he is capable of,” the New Yorker said. “He sets high standards and knows what is required to win trophies. He is the final piece of our jigsaw and he can deliver at both ends of the floor and will now bring even more experience, maturity and leadership to our team.
“While we all know he has talent, third time around we can expect him to have even more smarts than before and to be another leader in this team.
“We have to make sure that we maintain the chemistry that we have but that shouldn’t be a problem because Sulli works as hard as anybody and is a winner.”


Hanke has learning curve, says Rocks boss

Great Britain centre Randall Hanke can use his half-season in the BBL to propel himself to a long professional career, according to Glasgow Rocks player-coach Sterling Davis.
Hanke, who arrived last month after unsuccessful trials overseas, is still coming off the bench for the Kelvin Hall outfit but has shown glimpses of the potential that saw him win five caps for GB last summer coming out of Providence.
The rookie still has his eyes on a lucrative switch into mainland Europe next season but Davis thinks he must make the adjustments needed to cope with the paid ranks.
“I’ve been impressed with him so far but he’s still trying to get acclimated,” the Texan said. “Once he doesn’t have to think too much about what we’re doing offensively and defensively, he’ll be even better,
“He has to get used to the style of the game in this country, where you have more forwards than centres and things like that. But he’s a real asset.”
Davis also confirmed he will make no further moves ahead of the BBL trade deadline on February 28.


Kobe Doin' Work is laborious stuff

Finally got round to watching "Kobe Doin' Work" this week, the Spike Lee documentary on the Los Angeles Lakers star made last season for ESPN.

It follows Kobe through his daily routine of practice, rest and recuperation before the famed director employs 30 games and countless microphones to pursue the plot lines within the Lakers playoff game against the San Antonio Spurs.

Based on the outline of a similar project featuring Zinedine Zidane, "A 21st Century Portrait", it features a running commentary from the All-Star guard that is designed to be revelatory.

"Kobe said it best in that the reason he wanted to do this was to really try to explain as best as possible, to the fans and people who follow basketball, what it entails to be a player," Lee told ESPN. "The preparation, the mental work, the communication skills, all of that stuff. An insight on what you have to do to be a successful athlete."

The only problem? We know what players do already: the practice, they work out, they train, they get some downtime, and they play. It's like one of those school-era educational documentaries that are all fact and no evaluation. There's no real insight, just the blandishments of a basketballer who knows what to say without saying too much.

Bryant, with his off-court legal issues and his on-court drive, remains one of the most enigmatic athletes of our era. I wanted to know more about him and his work. Instead, sitting through to the very end was a labour without love.


Archibald targetting Euroleague Finals

Great Britain star Robert Archibald believes he has returned to top form after putting his injury nightmare behind him.

The Malaga centre has seen his club side failed to make their expected challenge for the Spanish title amid his frequent spells on the sideline this term. Yet the ex-NBA draftee remains hopeful of reaching the Euroleague finals and claiming a respectable domestic placing.

“This season has been difficult for all of us,” Archibald told Malaga Hoy. “But this team is my life. Apart from my family, it is the most important thing to me and I’m trying to do well every time I step on the court. The results matter a lot to me. We have an opportunity to finish the season strongly and I intend to play my part.”


Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Finch and Nurse earn All Star nods

Great Britain coach Chris Finch, and his lead assistant, Nick Nurse, are to go head to head in Dallas later this month after the duo were chosen to take charge of the East and West teams at the NBA D-League All Star Game.

Iowa Energy boss Nurse makes a second appearance as coach of the West following a trip to Phoenix for 2009 NBA D-League All-Star festivities. While Finch, in his first season at the helm of Rio Grande Vipers, will coach the East. Both coaching staffs were selected based on their teams having the highest winning percentage by Jan. 26. Prior to the game Finch and Nurse will choose starting lineups for their respective teams.

“The NBA D-League All-Star game is not only a fantastic opportunity for the fans in Dallas to see an exceptionally talented group of NBA prospects compete in person," said Chris Alpert, Vice President of Basketball Operations and Player Personnel for the NBA D-League. “It is also a great chance for our players to showcase their skills for NBA team personnel who will gather for the All-Star festivities."