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Player Bio: Adrian O’Sullivan

O'Sullivan finds his way through for the score.

O’Sullivan finds his way through for the score.

The name O’Sullivan is one of the most prominent in Irish basketball, and nineteen year old Adrian is one of the most impressive basketballers to come from this family.

The Corkman, who has been the front man of many successful seasons for Ballincollig, has crossed over to the States to attend Trinity Pawling Prep school. Previous pupils of this school are fellow Irish players Sean Kilmartin and Ciaran McVeigh.

It is not difficult to see how Adrian became such a talent so quickly, coming from such a basketball crazy family. Both his parents, Francis and Grace, are coaches in Ballincollig Basketball Club and his older brother Ciaran is another of the country’s finest young players.

Always quick to pass off the credit for his success O’Sullivan claims inspiration from  local stars like Ger Noonan, Shane Coughlan and Colin O’Reilly who he grew up watching every week.  But it is clear that without his passion for the sport he would not have developed to the standard he is at today, “Day in day out I bounced a basketball and I haven’t stopped to this day.”

Throughout his underage career O’Sullivan’s Ballincollig team built up an incredible record, suffering only three defeats in seven years, one in a Billy Kelly Cup Final and another in a National Cup under-18 semi-final. Under the coaching supervision of Francis O’Sullivan Ballincollig developed into one of the strongest and most consistent teams in the country and Adrian was the star man all the way.

O'Sullivan has being playing in the States this season.

O’Sullivan has being playing in the States this season.

Following in his brother’s footsteps, Adrian made the decision to move to the States to attend a prep school this year and has described it as the most amazing experience of his life. However, despite this he has had to adjust to the higher standards and levels of intensity involved in playing basketball in America. He described how tough it is training “every single day for two hours, including two games a week and sometimes three.”

O’Sullivan says his tough training regime is essential not only to develop as a player, but merely to keep up with the players around him. Some of the players he trains with and plays against are being scouted for colleges every time he plays. From being the benchmark for high standards to suddenly struggling with the standard must have been a major challenge for O’Sullivan, but he has coped well already notching up a couple of huge performances.

Twice this season O’Sullivan has gone insane from the three-point line with 23 point games. In each game Adrian contributed seven threes and in the second game had five of them in the fourth quarter in a two point win which brought his team to the top spot of their conference. Performances like this are bound to attract the attention of scouts, however O’Sullivan says he is still undecided over whether he wants to attend college in America or return to Ireland.

His decision will be depending on what colleges offer him a place and whether he could get work when he returns home to Ireland. However he put it perfectly himself, “No matter what decision I make I know there’ll be a basketball in my hand, and that’s never a bad thing.”

Check out some highlights from Adrian’s year in the states:

Lakers Season Recapped

Last week the San Antonio Spurs ended what will go down as one of the most disappointing seasons in the Hollywood franchise’s history.

Frustration has been the key word of the season for LA and the manner of their defeat sums it all up, being swept on their own floor.   With 21 turnovers, Dwight Howard getting ejected and a stack of injuries crippling the Lakers starting five, the Lakers lost 103-82.

Could Dwights ejection be his last on court action for the Lakers?

Could Dwights ejection be his last on court action for the Lakers?

Flashback to August 10th, 2012: Los Angeles sign Dwight Howard and the Lakers seemed to be obvious favourites for the championship this year. Dwight was joining teaming up with Kobe, Gasol and Steve Nash and it seemed so straightforward that they would find a system that worked.

The season started poorly, continued poorly and even though they resurrected some form after the All-Star weekend, were still underachieving. Through the will power and individual abilities of Kobe and Dwight, the Lakers hobbled into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season.

In a season where every single starter was injured at some point, there was very little room for success. Steve Nash had an injury-plagued season and never really showed why he is a two-time MVP. Howard battled with his back injury all season and never got to the peak of his game, despite a heroic effort.

Kobe injured

Can Kobe be a force again in the NBA?

Kobe Bryant once again carried the brunt of the load for his franchise, and it proved to be too heavy for the aging star. His season ended abruptly as he tore his Achilles with two remaining games against the Warriors, having barely been benched for the previous couple of games.

From now the speculation will begin over Dwight’s future. He is set to spend the next few weeks deciding whether to stay with LA or move on, and another summer of uncertainty is set to revolve around the big man.

For the Lakers they will be as sad to get eliminated as happy to finally put this season in the rear view mirror. As they look to next season, something will have to change in order for the Yellow and Purple to retake its city, let alone the title they lost in 2011.

Northern Conference Showdown between Templeogue & Elks

Templeogue Azzuri’s 5th straight league victory has put them in position for a Northern Conference showdown this Sunday against Ulster Elks.

Playing out an impressive 97-72 victory in Inchicore on Saturday night, Templeogue guaranteed a second place spot for themselves, with still the possibility of overtaking Elks at the top next week.

With the constant shuffling at the top of the Southern Conference, top spot in the Northern Conference is given an extra value of avoiding the uncertainty of facing three potential opponents. Instead, to move straight into the semi-finals would be far more advantageous.

Check out highlights: Templeogue vs Maree, 2012-2013 Irish National League (Division One)

Templeogue and Elks last met in the season opener, with Elks coming out on top in a thrilling contest, in which Templeogue made a near comeback. However, much has changed since then for Templeogue who are now unbeaten since American Isaac Gordon became eligible. Also their youthful squad, with players like Luke Thompson, Tomas Swiatowy, Baolach Morrison and Stephen James, they have matured and settled into the division very quickly.

 

Azzurri Templeogue

Azzurri Templeogue

Elks have suffered only two losses this year and will be confident of retaining that record on their home floor as the playoffs close in. They overcame Fr Matthews this weekend, with a comfortable 86-62 victory in Cork. Their squad are far more experienced than the Dubliner’s and they will look to utilise this advantage to claim a valuable victory.

The match will take place in UUJ at 2.45 on Sunday, February 24th   and with both teams vying for the top spot expect this to be a heated and entertaining game.

Victory Scholars on Sport Changes Life programme for University of Ulster - Graves (Belmont Abbey) and Jim Mower (Lafayette)

Elks’ Americans: Victory Scholars on Sport Changes Life programme for University of Ulster – Matt Graves (Belmont Abbey) and Jim Mower (Lafayette)

Player Bio: Luke Thompson

Luke Thompson has been the most exciting name at the 1994 age group in Ireland for a while, and his latest performances in the National Cup have backed up the hype.

The young Dubliner, who has been the cornerstone of many successful underage seasons for his club Templeogue, has been of the the top players in the country and has attracted the attention of former NBA star, Calvin Booth.

Coming off a 44 point game in the under-20 National Cup Quarter Finals against UCC Demons, Thompson barely raised any eyebrows with this feat, which has become a regular thing for this exciting prospect.

Thompson first began to play basketball at the age of 8 with Templeogue, initially at the academy, but within a year was already playing in the Under 11s Dublin League. Having spent many years under the guidance of his own father, Mick Thompson as coach, he quickly blossomed into the finest player in Dublin at his age.

For the next number of years Thompson developed a reputation around the country and was selected to represent Dublin and Ireland throughout his underage career. He frequently had high scoring games, his most recent 44 point game actually his 6th for the club, something which has frustrated him as he chases his father’s personal record of 45 points in a single game.

In 2009, former NBA player Calvin Booth came to Ireland to coach at a Basketball Ireland camp, where he spotted the talents of Thompson. After developing a relationship with Luke and his father, Booth invited the youngster to play for his AAU team, Nova Village, in Ohio USA. With that tournament proving to be a success, Booth has had an increased presence in Templeogue Basketball Club, and has helped Thompson to develop his game even further.

Since his initial trip to America, Thompson has been back a number of times, competing in tournaments and participating in showcases in front of many college scouts, including Penn State. However, whether Thompson will cross over to the States for college has yet to be decided.

What is known is that with his natural ability to score on both the underage level and National League stages, expect some more big performances throughout the years. Check out the highlight video below:

 

NBA 2012-2013 Season Preview: Pacific Division

We continue our look ahead to the NBA season with Colm Lakes previewing the Pacific Division. In case you missed it check out Andrew Sanders take on the Southeast Division.

As we look forward to the return of the NBA season, we can expect one of the most exciting years of the decade, with some major player movements throughout the league during the off-season. The fate of the title is unknown with almost nothing to separate the strength of the Thunder, Heat and Lakers on paper. The Pacific division is likely to be one of the most exciting divisions in the league this season and could hold three potential playoff teams.

Paul and Griffin, the best 1-4 combo in the league?

Paul and Griffin, the best 1-4 combo in the league?

LA Clippers – Expect big things this season from the Clippers. The arrival of Chris Paul last season changed the direction of this franchise, which had been accustomed to mediocrity for years. With Paul and the young highflyer Blake Griffin the Clippers have one of the most intimidating big man-little man combinations in the league, and with some valuable reinforcements arriving this summer, the Clippers could take an extra step towards success.

Last season expectations were high, but The Clips could not overtake their neighbours, the Lakers. This summer, they sent a signal of intent around the league with the signings of Grant Hill, Lamar Odom and Matt Barnes. These arrivals can only boost the team’s chances of moving forward towards a conference finals. And with two former Lakers in the ranks, some dramatic fixtures are expected between the two teams this season.

Predicted Finish: Conference Semi- finals.

Golden State Warriors – Before the start of last season Warriors coach, Mark Jackson, predicted a trip to the post season for his team. In the end they did not deliver, but the young team can still take a lot of pride from last season. This season Jackson has kept quiet, however the playoffs look far more achievable this season. While they lack any superstar, they have a solid backbone with Andrew Bogut, Richard Jefferson, David Lee and Stephen Curry.

With the trade for Jefferson and Bogut coming last March the team will be more gelled and prepared this season. Also, the arrival of rookie Harrison Barnes seventh in the overall draft has added to the excitement around the team. The young forward had the third highest points average in the ACC last season.

Predicted Finish: 1st Round of Playoffs

Sacramento Kings – Sacramento look to be a team on the up, definitely in a position to compete for a return to the playoffs. Their young star Tyreke Evans looks set to continue his growth as a player and mature into a great player in this league. Last season the franchise were stifled by the poor relationship between Coach Paul Westphal and DeMarcus Cousins early in the year. Westphal’s sacking disrupted the early season plans, but with the majority of last year gone, they will be a more focused and energised team this year. Also, Aaron Brooks joined the team this summer and should help bolster team with his energy with his pace.

Predicted Finish: Miss Playoffs this season.

Phoenix Suns- The Suns are a team in rebuilding mode at the moment, with star players Steve Nash out the door for Los Angeles. The team looks entirely different this season with Goran Dragic replacing Nash at the point. It is unknown what to expect from the Slovenian, who is among a number f point guards under the microscope this season including Jeremy Lin, Nash, Darren Collison and Jason Kidd.

The Suns will remain competitive this season with Luis Scola and Michael Beasley arriving to add muscle to the squad. As the season progresses it will be apparent whether the reshaping will be successful or not. Players like Jermaine O’Neil could be very effective, but not much can be said until the team takes to the floor regularly.

Predicted Finish: Competing for 8th Playoff spot.

LA Lakers – The team that comes to anyone’s lips when thinking about the Pacific division are the Los Angeles Lakers. The most successful West Coast Franchise ever fell off the pace last season, outgunned by the likes of the Thunder and the Heat. With some excellent management, the Lakers have pulled off another blockbuster summer with two future Hall of Famers arriving in Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. With these two superstars joining Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace, the Lakers look to be the real deal this season, should they find the chemistry. Expectation and pressure is monumentally high though, and anything less than a championship will go down as a failure in Lakerland.

Can Howard help the Lakers win the championship?

Can Howard help the Lakers win the championship?

Despite the expectations, a lot of things will still have to fall into place for this team to win it all. Howard has returned to training after his back surgery, but there is still a lot of speculation about whether he will be as dominant as in previous seasons. Also there is the question of whether he can work with his new post partner Pau Gasol. Howard will no doubt benefit from Gasol’s offensive threat, preventing opponent teams from double-teaming him in the post. However, they both demand a lot of ball, and may be unable to work together as effectively as Gasol and Bynum worked together throughout the previous seasons they were together.

The next question is how Steve Nash will fit into this team. On paper, Steve Nash is the perfect player to penetrate and throw lobs up to Howard and terrorise any and every team in the league. But Nash has spent the last few years without an effective post player in Phoenix. His game became drive and dish to perimeter shooters. Adjusting his game from this may not be immediate, and we could be waiting some time before Nash and Howard click offensively.

What is known about this team though is that if they are to win a championship, it has to happen fast. Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant are past their primes and their careers are winding down. It’s quite possible that one or both of them could retire in the next year or two, but if the team plays to its potential I predict not even Lebron James’ Heat can stop this gathering of the stars.

Predicted finish: Championship.

Templeogue defeat Titans in First Ever National League Win

Templeogue made history with their first ever National League victory last night in Galway with a 70-59 victory over Titans. In a close game in Renmore the youthful Dubliners displayed the heart and determination which brought them so much success at the under-age level.

This season Templeogue National League Team

This seasons Templeogue National League Team

Both clubs came into this game off the back losses, knowing that a victory could be very important to kick start the season. The more experienced Titans started the game on top, quickly building a 6 point lead and looking somewhat comfortable, with star man Paulius Peldzius on the board early. Templeogue looked to their star man Philip Taylor to get themselves rolling, the former Neptune man getting some early drives and rebounds to keep the youngsters in touch. At the end of the first quarter it was Titans who led by a single point, 16- 17.

Baolach Morrison of Templeogue going up against the Elks Marty McDonald

Baolach Morrison of Templeogue going up against the Elks’ Marty McDonald

In the second quarter, it was end to end early on, Alan O’Neill providing some scores from the bench for Templeogue while Sedebkis provided for Titans. However, the Galway side pulled ahead again midway through the quarter. The athletic Taofik Mustapha reeled in offensive board after board, while Peldzius continued to score well. As the quarter wound down the Titans had an eight point lead which looked like it could be growing, when defensive maestro Juan Francisco came on to man-mark Peldzius and keep him inactive for the remainder of the half. Baolach Morrison and Philip Taylor both hit buzzer beater shots to drag their club right back to touching distance, trailing by two at the half.

Despite the morale boosting finish to the first half, the Dublin team once again fell behind quickly in the third quarter. Mustapha strong on the boards, giving Titans chance after chance, while Titans perimeter players stretched Templeogue’s zone defence allowing for easy scores inside the key.  With adjustments made, the game began to shift. Morrison created many turnovers with his quick hands. With a few quick scores the young guns grew in confidence and stepped up their defensive efforts. Suddenly the Titans guards looked shaky, after having been so secure in the first half Seamus Garrity looked shaken by Templeogue’s pressing zone. Offensively the visiting team began to create much easier scores through Irvine Gamede and Taylor on the break and their inside players Tomas Swiatowy and Shane Homan. Some big perimeter shots to close the quarter saw the lead change hands for the first time in the game and the Templeogue crowd making a lot of noise.

The fourth quarter belonged to Templeogue entirely, their defensive intensity the cornerstone of their success. Titans fought hard to stay in the game, Peldzius creating shots for himself and his teammates, but they could only muster eight points in the quarter and no longer dominated the rebounding statistics. The Dublin southsiders smelling blood were determined to grab every loose ball. Offensively, the perimeter threat of Taylor, Morrison and Lakes stretching the Titans defence, creating easy score after easy score inside, with Gamede and Taylor both active on the drive. As the quarter came to a close, the Galway team looked to spark a comeback with some shots, but it was to be Templeogue’s victory as the west coast club could not get on a roll. The game finished 59-70 with the young team vocal in their delight.

For Templeogue this was a monumental win, and confirms their arrival into this division. It should serve to be an important reminder that they are well in their depth at this level. Titans must continue their search for an opening league win with a trip to Donegal Town later this month. Templeogue will gain a lot of confidence from this win, and with Dublin Thunder due to visit them at the Oblates in their next game, they will need to play with the confidence displayed in the fourth quarter to upset the hot favourites.