Tonight the Cleveland Cavaliers will travel to Oakland to take on the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the 2016 NBA Finals. This is why these guys play, nothing is more important right now. But these finals more than any other in recent memory, have substantially more meaning. Win or lose these 2016 NBA Finals mean everything and more to both teams involved.
About Daryl Harkin
Getting tired of the standing all the waiting around on the football pitch, Daryl turned to basketball around the age of 15 and hasn't looked back since. A former student of St. Columb's College, he later moved on to the University of Ulster (Magee) while he also played basketball in the NAIA in the U.S. during his time as an exchange student at King College, Tennessee. He has remained faithful to his local club, North Star, throughout his time playing basketball in Northern Ireland and has coached and refereed in both the Senior and Junior leagues. Daryl is currently living and working in China.
The Courtside Collective caught up with Séamus Hickey (LYIT) who is currently playing Prep ball in the states for an update on how things are going. The 6”4 guard from Letterkenny is playing in the NEPSAC AA for The Master’s School in Connecticut.
TCC: Tell us about the school you are attending and the level of basketball you are playing ?
Séamus: I am attending The Master’s School, in Connecticut, we play in NEPSAC AA which is a really competitive league, it’s the second best prep league in America. Every team we played against had their fair share of D1 recruits, schools like Tilton, Putnam Science and Wilbraham and Munson Academy had rosters full of future D1 players. So the level of basketball was great.
The Master’s School is a small mixed Christian school in West Simsbury CT. It’s got a really nice campus and even though it’s a small enough place we have some great facilities. We have basketball courts, a weight-room, trainer’s room, meeting rooms where we review tape, and then we have two soccer pitches, a baseball field, and a lacrosse field. It is not a boarding school, so the school organised a host family for me to stay with who have been great.
TCC: How did the opportunity to play Prep Ball arise for you?
Séamus: Two summers ago, I was doing a busboy programme at HoopGroup for four weeks basketball Camp in Pensylvania, and went to an Academic All American showcase in Chicago run by JoyOfTheGame for a week. I competed really well at both, but the coaches at both advised me to try and go to prep school so college coaches get a better opportunity to see me play more against American competition. So I was given a list of schools to contact, and the coach at Masters really liked me and we started working straight away on me coming to his school.
TCC: What was your first impression of the level of ball stateside?
Séamus: When I first got here I was excited, I seen it as a chance to compete at a really high level. Our school would hold open runs and alumni of the school would come down to play and they were usually all ex D1 or D2 players. Our team this year was made up of six new recruits and a couple of returning players.
Preseason at Masters was good, it was a mix between lifting and running, but it ends with what is known as “Hell Week.” So we’re in the gym ready to play and our workouts for that week of training was definitely the hardest I’ve ever done. We basically just did a mix of “Insanity” and thirty court sprints for a week, with some defensive slides thrown in there too. It was tough but it definitely helped us get ready for the season. We had practice every day for around two hours and by mid-season we were playing two games a week which kept our schedule busy for the season.
TCC: Speaking to your family, I understand you’re also playing football (soccer). How did this come about? How has it been going for you?
Séamus: Yeah that was part of my deal, to play a second sport in the fall season because basketball is a winter sport, and they wanted me to play soccer. A lot of prep schools who bring in international recruits make them play two sports, we had a recruit from London and one from Nigeria this year that both had the same deal as me and played soccer. Soccer was actually a great way to meet people out here and a way to keep your cardio up before preseason. I ended up starting and played as a stopper, so I basically just had to clear the ball and hit people, which was pretty fun. It’s definitely a good way to integrate to the school as well.
TCC: How did the season end up?
Séamus: We had a lot of hype for the season a bunch of new recruits on top of the returning starters, we definitely felt like we could compete with anybody. But it was always going to be a tough start with so many new players learning a new system was going to be tough and a lot of people got injured at the start of the season which didn’t help. But even still, we knew we were going to be able to compete with everyone in our league. We ended up 12-16, it was tough because we lost a couple games on the buzzer and came out the wrong side of a couple close games. It was great though to be able to play against that kind of competition a couple times a week.
Séamu iss hoping that more players from the North West and Ulster can get the opportunity to come out to the States. He feels there is a lot of undiscovered talent there. Séamus feels the regions don’t always get the recognition they deserve for being such competitive leagues to play in from underage to men’s leagues. Séamus believes Clubs all over the North West and Ulster are producing some quality players that definitely have the potential to play at a very high level and he’d love to see more players make the trip stateside.
The Courtside Collective would like to thank Séamus for taking the time to talk to us and wish him all the best in the future.
Brian Scalabrine (“The White Mamba”) spoke with The Courtside Collective on playing under Coach Doc Rivers and Coach Tom Thibodeau and about playing both alongside and against Kevin Garnett. Scal offered to speak to the press on a conference call regarding the upcoming games this Sunday, and of course TCC where there.
We put Scal on the spot and tried to find out which one of his former coaches was his favourite. Although he could not give an answer he did however speak on what makes the two so great. Scal said that Doc “has a pulse on his team” and spoke on Doc’s ability to manage ego’s saying “he manages egos, gets guys to buy into a role better than any coach I’ve ever played with.” He also talked about Doc’s offensive prowess and creativity as a coach calling him “an offensive mastermind”. He seemed in awe of Doc rivers ability to draw up plays for game winners and spoke specifically on the game winning play versus the Pacers on Wednesday night saying “These plays are out of nowhere, how does he come up with these things?”
Moving on, he spared no time in calling Coach Thibs “a defensive mastermind”, crediting Thibodeau’s success to the amount of work that he puts in. He continued speaking highly of Thibs talking about his ability to get players to work as a team, saying “to get everyone on the same page is unbelievable in the NBA, especially defensively.”.
Both coaches worked together on the 2008 Championship Celtic team before Thibodeau was offered the Bull’s job. Scalabrine is quick in giving praise to the combination of the two, and even goes as far as saying if it weren’t for injuries, that team would’ve won more than one championship.
“The combination of those two is no mystery why we won in 2008, and we feel… that if guys didn’t get hurt we would’ve won a few more championships besides the just the one in 2008”
We then asked Scal about playing with and against Kevin Garnett. KG is considered a player that you love to have on your team but hate to play against. Scal had nothing but love for him saying “i’ve never had a problem with KG, even when he played for Minnesota and I had to go against him.”
Continuing on Scal offered his insight on how the the NBA works in his eyes “To me, it’s like this, you separate the NBA into two types of people. People who like compete and don’t like to compete”. Scalabrine believes that “all is fair when playing sport”, and that the referee’s are there for a reason “to judge if something is right or wrong”. He finished talking to TCC on this note:
“With the rules set in place, with the officials, the way they are… if you don’t love KG by the way he plays, when he’s doing everything… to get a W, that day , that month, that year, that season, that champioship. Then you just don’t like the game of basketball!”
Live #NBAonSky on Sunday sees Boston Celtics @ Oklahoma City Thunder at 5pm and Chicago Bulls @ Los Angeles Lakers at 7.30pm on Sky Sports 3HD
What are your thoughts ? Comment below.
Before I start it should be noted that I’m a huge Heat fan and have been since I turned to basketball. So, early Saturday morning I sat up to watch the Jazz game. I knew it would be a close one given Utah’s front court depth and the fact that Bosh was away from the team (due to a death in the family). I also vividly remember last season’s game were Paul Milsap uncharacteristically buried us from deep (not my favourite memory).
Anyone who follows the NBA will know the outcome of the game at the weekend. The Heat picked up a tough loss despite a stellar game by LeBron James (35 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists 3 blocks, 0 turnovers). The talk after the game wasn’t focused around the end of the Heat’s win streak of 9 games at the time; it wasn’t the fact that Dwyane Wade missed a free throw late in the game and fouled Devin Harris twice in the act of shooting; and, it definitely wasn’t about Lebron’s great performance, which helped bring the Heat back from a 15-point defecit. No – the talk was all about the last 4.5 seconds of the game: Heat down by one. Ball on the sideline. Here’s what happened…
Personally, I thought it was the right basketball play. Superstars are paid to win games- Yes, but I don’t necessarily believe that they have to shoot the ball in order to do so. LeBron’s a different beast than Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant (who would’ve shot the ball no doubt) , he gets people involved and he trusts his teammates. I’ve seen Udonis Haslem knock down that shot consistently. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say it’s his shot. But, it seems the basketball world don’t share my perspective. Matt Harpring, who was calling the game, said what everyone else was thinking, “He passed it again!”. Haslem had only 4 points up until that point and LeBron had made 8 of his 9 attempts in the quarter including two huge three-pointers…. but I stand by his decision. I’d like to think I would’ve taken the same option (not that it matters).
“He passed it again!”
But he is LeBron James: the best basketball player in the world, by popular opinion. And, because he is what he is, he is signed up to be scrutinised on his every move. Despite everything that LeBron gives on court, people want more. It isn’t enough that LeBron posted that ridiculous statline or put the Heat on his back and made it a game. In order to avoid the scrutiny he has to shoot and make that shot, or better still, win a title. NBA/TNT Insider David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) tweeted it best:
“It was the right play. But that doesn’t matter. It will never matter until he wins a title. That’s what LeBron has put on himself.”
The Courtside Collective wants to know your thoughts.
Was it the right play? Should LeBron shoot in the clutch, regardless of the circumstances?
I love watching basketball almost as much as I love playing it. So, on Thursday I travelled down from Derry to see the Belfast Star and University of Ulster Elks’ game in Jordanstown. I decided to film the game in the hope of picking up some good highlights and maybe, just maybe, a TCC top 10 candidate or two. I got a little more than I was hoping for – as some of you may have already heard from Facebook, Twitter or even the leaked video of the excitable Connor O’Dornan and his bold prediction that alley-oop could potentially be the TCC number 1 play of this season. It comes from Matt McColgan and Darryl Shazier of the UU Elks. I could keep typing but I’ll just let the video do the talking…
What’s your thoughts? Got something better? Remember, The Courtside Collective are interested in all games across both the Senior and Junior leagues. Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like us to feature your team.