About Author


Chris Schumerth recently moved to Northern Ireland from the U.S. He is a native of the basketball-crazy state of Indiana. He's also a freelance writer who's been published by numerous publications, including the Miami Herald, Florida Times-Union, Relevant Magazine, and Comment Magazine.

Big Ten-ACC Challenge Highlighted by UNC’s Upset Over Michigan State

Ask a fan of American men’s college basketball who the best conference in the land is, and you’re likely to hear one of two answers: the Big Ten (consisting of schools mostly in the Midwest) or the Atlantic Coast Conference (consisting of schools mostly along the East Coast).

The two conferences have been doing battle for the past fifteen seasons by matching up one school from each conference early on in the season. The ACC holds a significant advantage over the years, and in addition to their regular powerhouses of Duke and North Carolina, the conference has recently picked up Big East defectors Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Notre Dame. Last year’s national champion, Louisville, is on its way.

Still, this year the two conferences tied at six wins apiece. This year’s highlight was unranked North Carolina’s upset over top-ranked Michigan State in Chapel Hill, 79-65. The match-up brought together arguably two of the best  college basketball coaches in Tom Izzo and Roy Williams. Williams’ big win calls into question just how good this UNC team is, as they also have inexplicable losses against Belmont and the University of Alabama-Birmingham to date. Michigan State hadn’t lost before falling to the Tar Heels.

It didn’t matter. The two teams battled to a 32-32 halftime tie, but from there it was all the home team. Kennedy Meeks came off the bench to lead a very balanced attack with 15 points and seven rebounds.

Other big match-ups included Michigan at Duke, Indiana at Syracuse, and Notre Dame at Iowa. The ACC’s Duke and Syracuse won their games, while the Big Ten’s Iowa also won.

Latest D-Rose Knee Injury Raises Questions

When Chicago Bulls’ star player Derrick Rose injured his right knee a couple days ago, I grimaced. But then I saw that it was a meniscus tear, and I thought, no big deal. He’ll be back on the court in a month. Until ESPN dropped this bombshell: Rose is done for the year, again.

Now anyone who knows me knows I bring a lot of baggage to knee injuries, surgeries, and rehabs. So let’s just get that history out of the way. When I was a young high-school basketball player, I tore my left ACL, while also partially tearing my MCL, my LCL, and the meniscus on the lateral side of my knee. The ACL tear is the injury Rose suffered two seasons ago in the playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers. I had the surgery about a month after my injury and played a baseball season three months after the injury. Then, I played American football in the fall, and a half of a basketball season before tearing more of my meniscus. So I had another surgery and was playing again in a month. Then, I played a season of baseball, a season of soccer, and a season of basketball before injuring the meniscus again in the same knee. Another surgery, played again in a month. Then three straight injury-free seasons of soccer, basketball, and baseball. Then, I played college baseball for about a year-and-a-half before injuring the meniscus again, having a final surgery, and calling it quits on my athletic career.

So at the very least, I do know something about knee injuries and it invokes a little personal passion in me. Some would say my model of consecutive injuries isn’t exactly a model to follow, and that’s a valid point, but it should also be pointed out that I never reinjured my knee immediately after returning. So it’s hard to make the argument that they occurred because I “went back to soon.” It should also be pointed out that the route Rose went with surgery is a little different (and newer) than the route I chose. He is getting his meniscus repaired, whereas I just had mine sort of shaved. In other words, I have less meniscus in my knee now because of it. Rose’s route may pay off in the long-term. Think Russell Westbrook in terms of a previous model to consider. I also realize that Rose’s knee is worth a lot more than mine, but I still think this sequence of events raises several questions, and most of them aren’t good. Keep in mind, too, that even though I was skeptical about his decision not to play in the playoffs last year, I defended him when others criticized him. Here are my concerns this time around:

1. Is Rose simply content earning a high salary without producing all that much on the floor? He chose to sit out longer than necessary last year, and he’s doing it again this year. Can you imagine, for example, Michael Jordan making those same decisions? I think we all know the answer to that question. Rose’s youth cannot be used as an excuse forever. It’s not like he’s going to play into his mid-forties because he sat out two years during his twenties. Our bodies limit us even when we’re careful.

2. Are the Bulls hiding something about the injury? Is there something about it that is more serious than is being advertised?

3. Is this simply a symptom of this generation of athletes? Generation Coddle, we might call them? Maybe it’s not even Rose’s fault, really. There are probably all kinds of people feeding ideas into his head about what he should be doing in situations like these. Dare we mention Stephen Strasburg here, the star pitcher that the Washington Nationals held out of the 2012 playoffs, not so much because he was injured but because he had passed some arbitrary pitch count?

4. Is Rose injury-prone? Does such a thing even exist? Are some athletes, Greg Oden and Rose included, just a bit more brittle than others? Is this latest injury simply the second of many more that we’ll have to painfully witness throughout this gifted player’s career?

I fully admit, these questions are all speculative. I have no inside sources here. But I do think they’re valid considerations. I suppose the rest of Rose’s career will provide the answers, one way or another.

Will Michael Jordan Ever be Able to Improve one of the NBA’s Worst Franchises?

Hear the words “greatness” and “athlete” and who do you think of? For me, it is Michael Jordan, the former star of the Chicago Bulls. These days, he is a majority owner and head of basketball operations for the lowly Charlotte Bobcats, winners of 21 games during the 2012-2013 season. He has been with the organization since 2006.

Who could forget Jordan’s Hall-of-Fame-speech pronouncement that maybe someday he would decide to play the game again at 50 years old. If anyone would be crazy and competitive enough to do something like that, it would be Jordan. Well, last year it happened. Turning 50, that is. And of course, it sparked rumors, as crazy as they may have seemed, about a potential comeback. ESPN ran this fascinating piece, which claimed that Jordan can still hold his own in one-on-one match-ups against Bobcat players, but that the problem is recovering from it the next day. Ultimately, the comeback never happened.

Jordan still hooping at 50

So how easily transferable is greatness on the court to greatness in other areas, specifically, the front office? Well, it’s certainly not unprecedented. Larry Bird had some success with it in the Indiana Pacers‘ organization. Or how about Jerry West with the Los Angeles Lakers? But for whatever reasons, having Jordan around definitely hasn’t meant automatic (or even long-term) success for the Bobcats. Is there still hope?

The Bobcats have shown a little more fight in jumping out to a 5-6 start with wins against bigger-market teams like Boston and New York. The jury is still out on Indiana product and off-season lottery pick Cody Zeller, controversial decision in its own way, who is averaging just over five points and just under four rebounds in 17 minutes of work per contest.

Cody Zeller

In the early-going of the 2013-2014 season, the Bobcats have scored the basketball in a very balanced way, but they don’t seem to have much in the way of a single star who might be able to carry them to something as dreamlike as a playoff birth. Al Jefferson, Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Ramon Sessions, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Jeff Taylor are all averaging double figures in scoring, with Josh McRoberts right under. Jefferson has played sparingly due to an ankle injury.

If you’re looking for a model for what the organization seems to be trying to do — create a deep nucleus of young talent — you might look to the Pacers rather than the Heat. Which is interesting, considering the magnitude of Jordan’s own talent and stardom during his heyday. It is probably too early in the rebuilding process to expect the playoffs, but being consistently more competitive would be a good goal. It is fair to take the “long view” here, but Jordan isn’t exactly new to his role, so patience is surely waning in Charlotte.

NBA 2013-2014: A Chicago Bulls’ Season Preview

What did they do last year?

Last year’s Chicago Bulls were a playoff team after a 45-37 regular season, good enough for second place (behind the Indiana Pacers) in the Central Division. They went on to win an exciting seven-game playoff series with the Brooklyn Nets before falling to the Miami Heat, 4-1, in the second round. Interestingly, the Bulls did take the first game from the Heat in that series.

What looks different about the team this year?

Most importantly, Rose is in uniform and on the floor. In order for this team to become a serious contender, the Bulls will need Rose to be no less than his old self. Nate Robinson, who played well as basically a one-year rental at point guard, departed for the Denver Nuggets.

The Rose Update

Much has been said about Rose’s decision — a year after tearing his ACL — not to play in last years’ playoffs. Regardless, Rose is back and averaging just under 15 points and 5 assists per game. Expect those numbers to go up throughout the season as he regains form. One concern is that Rose sustained a minor hamstring injury in a recent win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, so that’s definitely something to keep on an eye on.

A rough start

The Bulls have only won half of their first six contests, with losses coming at the hands of the Heat, Philadelphia 76ers, and Pacers. They have struggled to put up points in the early going. This is not the kind of start they wanted, but it’s definitely not time to panic, as they spent a whole season trying to figure out how to play without Rose, but now they have to adjust back to his style of play. Head Coach Tom Thibodeau usually has the Bulls playing their basketball by playoff time, so I wouldn’t expect anything different this year.


As they proved last year, the Bulls are not a one-man show. Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Luol Deng, and Joakim Noah add a flavor of toughness to Rose’s finesse. Assuming Rose stays healthy, expect the Bulls to challenge the Pacers for the division and finish no lower than second place with a playoff birth to boot. We’ll have to wait and see whether or not they can seriously challenge the Pacers or the Heat in the playoffs.

NBA 2013-2014: an Indiana Pacers Season Preview

What did they do last year?

Last year, the Frank Vogel’s Indiana Pacers’ played without star shooter Danny Granger and still won 49 games, good enough to win the Central Division of the Eastern Conference. Paul George (17.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 4.1 apg, 1.8 spg)  proved to be one of, if not the, premier young star in the game. In the Playoffs, the Pacers beat the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks before giving the Miami Heat everything they could handle in the Eastern Conference Finals.

What looks different about the team this year? 

The Pacers did not sit around in the off-season and twiddle their thumbs. They knew they had to get better, and they did, at least on paper. Like every team, they lost a few guys, most notably Tyler Hansborough and Gerald Green. But in their and other players’ places, they have added much-needed depth on the bench. Most notably, Luis Scola (12.8 ppg and 6.6 rpg last season for the Phoenix Suns), Chris Copeland (8.7 ppg last year for the New York Knicks), and C.J. Watson (6.8 ppg and 2 apg last season for the Brooklyn Nets) should improve the Pacers competitiveness when starters need a breather.

The Pacers bigs

The Danny Granger update

Unfortunately, the Pacers will have to wait just a little while longer to have their sharpshooter on the floor again. He will miss the first three weeks or so of the season with a minor calf-injury. During the 2011-2012 season, the 6-9 small forward averaged 18.7 points per game on 38% shooting from 3-point range, to go along with five rebounds a contest. He will not need to return to that much production, but even a version of his former self could help the Pacers in 2013-2014.

So far, so good 

The Pacers have jumped out to a 5-0 start with wins over the Orlando Magic, the New Orleans Pelicans, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls. For most of those games, the Pacers have played without Granger and starting point guard, George Hill. George is averaging 27 points and almost 9 rebounds during those games.


The Miami Heat have eliminated the Pacers from the Playoffs in each of the last two seasons, including last year’s seven-game thriller. Call me crazy or optimistic, but this is the year the Pacers do it. Not win it all, necessarily, but win a playoff series against the Miami Heat and get to the NBA Finals. Of course, before all that, they will have to fend off a very good divisional team in the Chicago Bulls, who will have Derrick Rose back on the floor.

Ireland U16 Squad Teaches Local Hoopers a Lesson (or Two)

When Tony McGaharan asked me to play in a pick-up game against the Ireland U-16 team, I said sure. It would be a nice practice for TCC’s Wingfoot Summer League, and we’d probably beat up on some kids in the process, no big deal.

Ireland U16 2013

Kelleher’s team were well drilled

Except, not so much. First of all, the players were plenty big. When I showed up to St. Malachy’s College on Saturday, July 6, with Tony and his brother, I knew I had gotten myself into something more serious than I had anticipated. The youngsters sported their flashy green uniforms and warmed up seriously with their coach, Paul Kelleher, barking instructions. A pile of blue jerseys awaited my team, a last-minute, pieced-together group of out-of-shape, Belfast-adult hoopers.

The green jerseys played with great organisation. For the forty minutes, the U-16s proceeded to teach us lesson after lesson, executing with great precision all the different aspects of the game: screening, moving, passing, aggressive defence, fast-breaking, and shooting. Boy, did they shoot. It seems like at any given time, they had three or four guys on the floor who were capable of knocking the three-point shot down with consistency. I came away impressed with the degree to which each player seemed to understand his role on the floor.

Ireland U16 Challenge Team Belfast 2013

Not sure why we were smiling with the final score in the backdrop….
(L-R- Back Row: Ben Horner, Conor McQuillan, Mark Galway, Paddy McGaharan, Chris Schumerth… Front: Tony McGaharan, Gerard Ryan, Stephen Fox)

My team, on the other hand, tried desperately to come up with any sort of offensive or defensive strategy. With the game being played at a much quicker pace than our summer league, we were peeling over and sucking air by the time the first quarter ended. Our opponents were in potentially the peak physical condition of their lives, after all. After an unnecessary buzzer-beating layup, the Ireland team went on to win the game 97-67. By then, we were just glad for the workout and that the beat-down was over.

“When they work hard, everything else becomes easier,” Kelleher said after the exhibition win.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Ireland U-16s, they pull from both Ireland and Northern Ireland, and they’ve been playing together since October of 2011. They split their practices between the places — Cork, Dublin, Belfast — from which they draw players. Right now, they’re training three times a week, but those days can include as much as six hours on the court.

Over the course of the next month, the team will travel to places like Luxembourg and Portugal, as well as play in a tournament in Cork and even take on an American Athletic Union (AAU) team from the United States. The build-up is toward the European Championships in Bosnia, where the Ireland group will play eight games in the B Division starting on August 18.

NBA Playoffs 2013: The Haters Should Leave Derrick Rose Alone

By now, you probably know the Miami Heat defeated the Chicago Bulls 4-1 in the Eastern Conference semifinals. You probably also know that the Bulls lauded point guard Derrick Rose did not play, which means he’s gone more than a year without playing after tearing his ACL in the 2012 NBA Playoffs.


Rose goes down


He was medically-cleared in February, and it has been his decision not to play even after participating in a mini-documentary called “The Return.” Bulls fans understandably want answers, especially after the Rose-less squad put forth such a gutsy first-round win over the Brooklyn Nets in seven games with players playing through injury.

Wouldn’t any player of Rose’s caliber want to play on such a stage?  As many have pointed out, in this same 2013 season the New York Knicks Iman Shumpert came back from the same injury and played well (at times) after less than a year.

Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports wonders if Rose’s reputation can recover at all. “He lost a lot of us, that’s for sure,” he wrote. He went on to compare Rose’s playoff inaction to Scottie Pippen’s refusal to enter at the end of a game in 1994 because his coach, Phil Jackson, called for the game-winning shot to be taken by Toni Kukoc. (Kukoc went on to bury the shot.)

Rose’s teammate, center Joakim Noah, defended Rose before the series with the Heat was even over, telling ESPN, “If you tore your ACL and you have to be the starting point guard and have the expectations that Derrick has, then maybe you can judge, but everybody who hasn’t been in that situation before should really shut up because I feel like it’s just so unfair to him and to this team.”

I have torn my own ACL, so I do know that it’s a serious injury for anyone who plays high-impact sports with lots of cutting. But I also know it doesn’t take more than a year to rehab it properly.

When I tore mine toward the end of 1999, I fancied myself a basketball prospect (youth tells us all sorts of lies), so I sought out a reputable surgeon who worked with both Purdue University and the Indianapolis Colts. After surgery, it took me three months to play baseball, six months to play basketball competitively, and about nine months to play in another game. Properly-rehabbed ACL’s are rarely reinjured, and time doesn’t seem to be that big of a factor, but then again I didn’t play in the NBA where millions of dollars are at stake either.

Do I think Rose could have played and played well? Sure. His conditioning probably would have been a bigger problem than his knee. To make things even more difficult on Rose is to make the obvious comparison between the “old guard,” Michael Jordan, and the “new,” Rose. Any of us willing to bet would probably put our money down that Jordan would have bulldozed his way back on the court, probably three or four months ago. But I’m not so sure that doesn’t tell us more about Jordan than it does Rose.

The two came from different generations. With increased medical research and technology, Rose’s generation is the more caudled one. In instances like pre-cautionary rule changes in American football in order to prevent concussions and eliminate the possibility of playing for those who are concussed, that’s probably a good thing. In instances like sitting out more than a year after an ACL injury, it may be a little extreme.

It’s hardly Rose’s fault either way. He simply followed the conservative approach of Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. And why shouldn’t Rose and the Bulls take a long-term approach? At 24, Rose is their best player and hopefully has a lot of basketball left in him.


Robinson stepped up in Rose’s absence.


His teammates learned how to play without over-relying on Rose this season, which should only benefit the franchise in the long-term. I suspect Rose will be back to form next season, and the Bulls will contend much more seriously than they did this year. Maybe we’ll even get to see that playoff series with the Heat again, and this time Rose will be on center-stage, where he belongs.

Coaching Clinic at Queen’s PEC with DePauw Men’s Basketball Coach Bill Fenlon

During the first week of June, PeacePlayers – Northern Ireland will be hosting Bill Fenlon, a supporter of the program and the head men’s basketball coach for the DePauw University Tigers. PeacePlayers uses sport, and especially basketball, to do cross-community work with youth.

Coach Fenlon is coming to Belfast

According to DePauw’s website, Coach Fenlon has coached the Tigers for 21 seasons and is the winningest coach in program’s history. Following his team’s most recent 16-10 season, Fenlon possesses an impressive .638 career winning percentage.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to partner with PeacePlayers,” Fenlon said.  “Being a career basketball guy I’m especially proud of the chance to make a difference in young lives through my sport.”

DePauw competes at the NCAA Division III level in the North Coast Atlantic Conference, which also includes DePauw’s biggest in-state rival, the all-men’s Wabash College.

DePauw alum and current Butler head coach Brad Stevens

Before coaching at DePauw, Fenlon also coached at the University of the South, Southwestern University, and the Rose Hulman Institute of Technology.

One of his more noteworthy anecdotal accomplishments involves coaching Brad Stevens – now the head coach of the small basketball powerhouse, Butler University, – from 1995 to 1999. Stevens’ teams defied the odds by playing for the NCAA Division I championships in 2010 and 2011.

DePauw, Wabash, and Butler are all located in the basketball-crazy state of Indiana, which is the setting of the popular 1986 film, Hoosiers. The state has produced many great players, including but not limited to Larry Bird, Shawn Kemp, and Oscar Robertson, and more recently, the trio of Zeller brothers, who played at Notre Dame, North Carolina, and Indiana University, respectively.

One of the highlights of Fenlon’s visit to Belfast will be a coaching clinic on Tuesday, June 4, from 7:30-9:00 p.m. in Queen’s PEC. Participation will cost £3 to help cover the price of the space.

The Queen’s PEC will host Coach Fenlon

The clinic will also include, during the first half-hour, instruction on warm-ups, conditioning, and injury prevention from Pablo Huertos. Huertos comes from Spain, where he studied sport science and physical activity. He has worked as a fitness coach for a women’s National-League team in Cordoba and the men’s Liga Espanola De Baloncesto team in Plasencia.

For more information about the clinic, or if you would like to attend, please contact Tony McGaharan at tmcgaharan@peaceplayersintl.org or Chris Schumerth at cschumerth@peaceplayersintl.org.

Louisville vs. Connecticut: Women’s NCAA Championship Preview

The women’s college basketball championship won’t include either of the game’s best players. It also won’t include the top-ranked teams. The Louisville Cardinals eliminated Brittney Griner’s top-ranked Baylor squad in the Sweet 16, while Connecticut Huskies knocked out Skylar Diggins’ second-ranked Notre Dame team in the Final Four.

Two of the biggest stars in the womens game won't be playing tonight!

Two of the biggest stars in the womens game won’t be playing tonight!

That leaves an all-Big-East final and rematch of the 2009 national championship game. Notre Dame alone beat these two teams a total of five times during the regular season and Big East Tournament. It doesn’t matter, though, because the Huskies got the Irish when it mattered. The Cardinals join the men from their school, who won their own final last night against Michigan. It is the first time a school has played in both the men’s and women’s national championship since Connecticut did it in 2004. Both the women and men won that year, so we’ll see if Louisville can follow suit. A #5 seed, Louisville is the highest seed to ever reach the women’s national championship.

How They Match Up

Connecticut’s hottest player right now is freshman forward Breanna Stewart. All she did against Notre Dame was score 29 points and block four shots. She’s supported quite nicely by a whole host of characters, starting with sophomore guard Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who averages more than 17 points a game and shoots almost 50% from three-point range. Stewart and Mosqueda-Lewis will have to contend with Louisville’s junior guards Shoni Schimmel (14.3 ppg) and Antonia Slaughter (10.2 ppg, 36% from three), and sophomore forward Sara Hammond (10.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg). The two teams did play each other one time in the regular season, with Connecticut winning, 72-58.

The Coaches

Gene Auriemma - One of the best in the business

Gene Auriemma – One of the best in the business

If you know women’s basketball, you know Connecticut’s Gene Auriemma. He’s the seventh (it surprises me that it’s even that low) winningest coach in women’s college basketball. His teams have won seven national titles. Jeff Walz, on the other hand, has certainly upstarted Louisville’s program and has a bright future ahead of him, maybe even a dominant one. But whether or not he is ready to win the big one or not remains to be seen.


Both teams have made incredible runs in the tournament, but I trust Connecticut’s longevity as a women’s basketball power. The kind of success they’ve had is not an accident. The Huskies’ four losses this year came against Notre Dame and Baylor, and now that they’ve climbed that latter, I’d be surprised to see a let-down against the Cardinals. While Louisville certainly shouldn’t be overlooked, you have to wonder how many more emotional wins they could possibly have in them.

Prediction: Connecticut 76, Louisville 68