Return of the Mike. . .

In the Lay of the Land feature I wrote about the Down Tropics;

“However the Tropics have suffered a massive blow for the second half of the season as Will Maloney has returned to the States. Maloney was a key player on both ends of the floor for Tropics and it remains to be seen how they will cope with his departure. “

As usual, coach Dave Cullen was thinking ahead of the game, signing Mike Calo for the remainder of the season. The American is well-known among basketball circles in NI and is a big addition for the Tropics.

I “discovered” Mike Calo in the Queens PEC at a rec session one Sunday morning a number of years back. He had just moved to Ireland and although a little rusty you could tell that there was some potential there so I persuaded him to speak to Mary Matthews and sign up with Queens for his first year of competitive basketball in Northern Ireland. He would go on to play for Queen’s and Lisburn in the National league and also had a stint as assistant coach to the Belfast Star superleague squad.

Mike (right) is set to make a comeback

Mike was player/coach on the Lisburn side that won the BNI title in 2008 after an epic championship game with LYIT where he went basket-for-basket with Donegal side’s Lithuanian star player in the fourth quarter. There is no doubt that Tropics have signed a player that has the ability and experience that will help them in their Championship quest. On most teams in the Premier League Mike would be the primary scorer, but this isn’t the case on the Tropics as they already have Dejuan Flowers carrying the offensive load and giving teams all sorts of match up problems with his size and guard skills. It remains to be seen how the Tropics will run their offense in the second half of the season but with Girt Celms having both Flowers and Calo to defer to the Tropics should have no problem scoring the ball.

Mike has been dogged by injury problems the past two seasons and hasn’t played consistent competitive basketball. He has played at various tournaments and exhibitions games and displayed that he still has the game, but does he have the fitness? Will his ankles hold up for the remaining nine league games and playoffs? If they do then the Tropics now have to be considered potential favourites for the championship.


TCC caught up with Mike in a recent phone interview and asked about his signing for Tropics and questioned whether or not his ankles will hold up for the remainder of the season. Calo highlights some (but not all) of the skills and qualities he knows he will bring to the team. Listen below:

[audio:|titles=Mike Calo speaks with TCC about signing with Down Tropics]


Niall is the Co-Founder of the Courtside Collective and . He was one of the founding members of North Star in 2002. He has coached at a variety of levels from kids to senior men's teams. He is currently coach of the LYIT National League team and women's college team.


  1. Phil Jackson

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    This guys confidnce is an Inspiration! I would love to have him on my team, if only i still coached! Imagine a three man back court Calo, Jordan and Bryant! I can only dream….

  2. Dolly

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    What an increible talent – it may only have been Calo’s lack of self-belief that held him back from the NBA. Still my favourite to lead the league in the FGA category at the end of the season – lets hope the ankles hold out!

  3. Thad Matta

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    We recruited him heavily out of high school but I wasn’t at Ohio State then and he blew us off at Butler because he was only interested in Duke and Carolina. Such a shame about his ankles because he was one of the great scorers in the HISTORY of American high school basketball. What I would give to have him out there with Sullinger and Craft this year. Oh well I guess the Tropics will be the bearer of good fortune! Great to see Mike still playing

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  5. Niall McDermott Post author

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    Wow – Great to see Thad Matta using our site!!

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