Basketball Ireland

Belfast Star hold Moycullen off in Men’s U18 National Cup

Belfast Star, for the first time in over two decades, has won the U18 National Cup. The team was led by stellar performance from both Quinn brothers, with much of the interior defensive controlled by arguably the best post-player duo in Irish Schools basketball, Kelrin & Pettigrew. Moycullen was spurred by on throughout by tremendous performances from their captain, Paddy Lyons, and high-arching shooter, Stephen O’Brien.

U18 Men's National Cup headed to Belfast for the first time in over two decades

U18 Men’s National Cup headed to Belfast for the first time in over two decades

Quinn had a lot to smile about, picking up his second MVP award

Quinn had a lot to smile about, picking up his second MVP award

Moycullen just couldn't get past Belfast Star

Moycullen just couldn’t get past Belfast Star

Lyons maintained the composure for Moycullen throughout

Lyons maintained the composure for Moycullen throughout

 

Photos courtesy of SportShots.eu (be sure to ‘like’ their Facebook page)

 

Brunell win U18 women’s National Cup

Singleton’s SuperValu Brunell were in fine form this morning against Glanmire Basketball Club in the U18 Women’s National Cup. Coach Kieran O’Leary concentrated his team’s efforts on forcing turnovers and running the fast-break. Co-captains, Amy Waters and Megan O’Leary, were aided by the tremendous performance from Edel Thornton, who was awarded the Most Valuable Player award.

Thornton MVP Brunell U18 Cup 2013

Brunell lead most of the game with a strong running game

Glanmire U18 team

Glanmire U18 team

 

Brunell Slider

Emotions were high for the young Brunell team, with so many fans in the stands coming to cheer them to victory

 

Photos courtesy of SportShots.eu (be sure to ‘like’ their Facebook page)

St Malachy’s College Belfast win U16A & U18A National Cup

St Malachy’s College Belfast has done it again, led by coaches Adrian Fulton and Phil Molloy, winning both the U16A & U18A Cup in Dublin’s National Basketball Arena. The Belfast side showed great resilence throughout the game and Coach Fulton is excited for what the future holds for his U18 boys.

Adrian took a moment to speak with TCC on Friday night before another appearance as an expert commentator on Setanta Sports live coverage of the Men’s National Cup Finals.

Quinn Twins help guide Belfast School to U19A glory

St Malachy's U19A Cup Champions 2013

St Malachy’s U19A Cup Champions 2013

St Malachy´s 70(40) (C Quinn 15,A Quinn 13,O Kerlin 11)

Templeogue 61(25) (A McDonnell 15,B Morrision 11,C McKeon 7)

MVP Conor Quinn

St Malachy´s of Belfast clinched the U-19 All Ireland Boys title after a hugely entertaining tussle with Templogue of Dublin.Having trailed at one point by twenty points, Templogue fought back in the second half and almost upset the odds.Ultimately though, their first half performance left them with too much to do, and Malachy´s were deserved 70-61 winners of a hugely impressive encounter.

Some terrific shooting from St Malachy´s in the first quarter saw them race into a 17-8 lead.Aidan Quinn and Oisin Kerlin were the sparks behind the Malachy´s onslaught.Quinn was in devastating form from outside, helping Malachy´s to a ten point lead with three minutes remaining.20-10.Templeogue were struggling to contend with the physicality of Malachy´s inside, and with Quinn a danger from outside, the Dublin team were somewhat at sea.

Conor Quinn attacking the rack in the U18A finals

Conor Quinn attacking the rack in the U18A finals

Malachy´s were looking to build on a 24-12 lead at the beginning of the second quarter, and Liam Pettigrew duly obliged with a powerful lay-up.Templogue just could not find their range and with the Malachy´s offence in such devastating form, it was difficult to see a way back into the game for Phillip Rigney´s side.Kerlin and Pettigrew were just too powerful for Templogue, who looked to be in real trouble, trailing at half time.40-25.

Templeogue found a renewed sense of purpose at the begining of the third, and cut the deficit down to 12 thanks to some excellent wok from captain Anton McDonnell.They were a completely differnet proposition now, Baolach Morrisson´s steal and subsequent lay-up bringing his side to within seven.The huge Templeogue support finally had something to shout about,and sensing that an impossible comeback might be in the offing,the atmosphere in the arena reached fever pitch.Templogue,inspired by Sean Flood, were amazingly just one behind heading into the final quarter.54-53.

Malachy´s composed themselves at the beginning of the final quarter, Quinn brothers Conor and Aidan again proving instrumental as the Belfast side took a seven point lead with just over three minutes remaining. Templeogue had been superb in getting back into the game, but were unable to continue their momentum, Malachy´s eventually closing the game out for a 70-61 victory.

Odhran Eastwood Leads St Malachy’s to U16A Cup

St Malachy´s 50 (26) (O Eastwood 11, S Quinn 9, A Ryan 9)

Ard Scoil Rathangan 45 (23) (J Byrne 19, C Maher 11, S Maughan 6)

MVP James Byrne (Rathangan)

Paul Morrison got St Malachy´s off the mark with a straightforward lay-up from underneath the basket. Rathangan brought a sizeable crowd along for the occasion but struggled to find their rhythm in the opening exchanges, allowing their opponents into a 6-3. St Malachy´s managed to fashion a 10-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Rathangan took the lead early in the second thanks to some fine work from James Byrne. Shane Maughan increased the lead to three from the line.Byrne was beginning to exert control over proceedings, and extended the Rathangan lead. Rathangan´s support were treated to a terrific second quarter display.21-14.Sean Quinn hit a three pointer which suddenly sparked a Malachy´s fightback.In a blistering minute of play, Quinn hit nine points while teammate Odhran Eastwood pitched in with four as Malachy´s wiped out the Rathangan lead.It was a scorching response from the Belfast side, who took an unlikely 26-23 lead into the half time interval.

Odhran Eastwood tallied 11 points for the game

Odhran Eastwood tallied 11 points for the game

The quality on display in this final was superb, and the third quarter was a high-octane affair which saw Malachy´s hold a six point lead with three minutes remaining. Rathangan were right in contention however,and Conor Jamieson reduced the deficit to three with a superb shot from outside.Ciaran Maher refused to be denied moments later, doggedly retrieving an errant shot and piercing the Malachy´s defense to make it a one point game.

Malachy´s managed to fashion a four point lead heading into the final quarter.Ciaran Maher was having a dynamic impact under the boards for Rathangan and kept his side in touch.James Byrne had the Kildare outfit within a point with four minutes on the clock.Malachy´s just managed to cling on in the end, after a final that was the highlight of the week at the National Basketball Arena.  Final score 50-45

 Game reports courtesy of Basketball Ireland

 

National Cup Finals Weekend – TCC Diary

TCC were on site at the National Basketball Arena, Dublin, and we are excited to bring you our favourite interviews and photos from Basketball Ireland’s biggest event of the year.

Special thanks must go to our photographer, Nerijus Kundrotas (Sportshots.eu) for his tremendous talent.

TCC would also like to congratulate Basketball Ireland on a top class basketball event. It was great to see the Arena jam-packed with enthusiastic basketball fans.

Also, to all those who took part in our interviews – we appreciate you taking time to speak with us.

See below for interviews with Clare Rockall (TM Hotel Cork), Cathy Grant & Rachel Vanderwal (UL Huskies), Robert Taylor (UL Huskies), Michael McGinn (Bord Gais Neptune), and Coach Mark Scannell (Bord Gais Neptune).

Make sure to ‘like’ us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (@CourtsideCo)!

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Check out LIVE stats/commentary from our friends at “What’s the Score?

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Neptune take home the National Cup for the first time in over 20 years

Neptune take home the National Cup for the first time in over 20 years

Bord Gais Neptune knew that Taylor was the man to stop

Bord Gais Neptune knew that Taylor was the man to stop

Townes throws down a nasty dunk on UL

Townes throws down a nasty dunk on UL

Noonan was over every play and played a significant role in the victory

Noonan was over every play and played a significant role in the victory

Scott Kinevane running the break for UL

Scott Kinevane running the break for UL

Coach Mark Keenan, UL, trying to spur his team on

Coach Mark Keenan, UL, trying to spur his team on

 

TMH Cork fought the whole way to come back

TMH Cork fought the whole way to come back

Clancy on the ball

Rachel Clancy was continuously effective throughout the contest

Fahy passing out

Coach James Weldon referred to Fahy as “the best passing women’s post player” to set foot in the Arena

UL Huskies Champs Slider

National Cup Champions 2013

 

 

 

 

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:

 

Jermaine Turner vs Basketball Ireland

The name Jermaine Turner will be familiar to most TCC readers.  There’s a decent chance if you’ve ever played in the Superleague that he’s dunked on you, or sent your layup into the stands (or the wall, we are talking about the Superleague after all!).  Well into his fourth decade, Turner seems to have lost none of the electric athleticism which has been a hallmark of his game since he arrived on these shores whilst developing a strong and consistent jump shot.  He offers a triple-threat offensively, able to find a man out of a double team just as easily as he can blow by a defender or nail a jumper.  Jermaine Turner has been a nightmare for defenders in the Superleague for a number of seasons.

Turner grew up in Queens, New York and attended NCAA Division II Dowling College where he averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds a game before embarking on a professional career which, while taking in stops in Switzerland and Spain, has been punctuated with several stints in the Superleague where he has starred for teams up and down the country.

In his own words:

    I ended up there just by chance. After college where in my senior season I averaged 20 and 10, I was invited to a free agent camp in Utah. This was a camp where college seniors who are under the radar go and try to continue their careers. I was befriended by a gentleman named Bob Wood, who was a former owner of a BBL team. He told me that he would keep me in mind if a team contacted him about players. Later that summer I received a call from Robbie Peers, coach from the Chester Jets at the time. He told me that he would sign me if his first choice falls through, Loren Meyer, a former NBA player. Loren did sign with them, Robbie called to tell that if he hears of any team who needs a player he would recommend me. On Septemter 10th 2000, I got a call from Frankie O’Loane. He asked if I had a passport, and that when I do get one, get on the first plane. I landed here on September 18th 2000. Best decision ever.

Jermaine Turner has been arguably the greatest modern Superleague player.  Perhaps one could make a case for any number of temporary imports – Belfast fans will eulogise about the skills of RaMell Ross or Kevin Ratzsch for example – but for consistent excellence over a number of seasons, there are few who can touch Jermaine Turner.  He features prominently in Rus Bradburd’s “Paddy on the Hardwood” as the one guy that the Tralee Tigers wanted back in Bradburd’s first season with the club…almost a decade ago…and he was still good enough to win the EuroBasket MVP in 2011 as well as player of the month awards last season.

Not bad for a guy who is the same age as Steve Nash; and let’s not forget that Nash has played all of his games on NBA hardwood which is practically a memory-foam mattress when compared with some of the floors you see in the Superleague.  Jordanstown’s concrete tiles?  The Queen’s PEC and its rubber on concrete?  UCD’s floor?  A handful of games on these floors and your knees will feel like they’ve had a fifteen year NBA career, too.

Turner fondly remembers his battle with Bradburd and points out:

    if you read the book, Paddy on The Hardwood, he did not want to bring me back for my second season in Tralee, thus prompting me to plot my revenge, which I got by defeating them twice that season. That was a crossroad in my life, from almost being out of basketball to meeting my future wife. Yeah definitely my most enjoyable time here in Ireland.

As Jermaine points out, this was the season when he met his wife, Leesa, part of the Grennell clan who have been integral to basketball in Dublin for a number of years.  From this point on, he had very real ties to Ireland.  I think the first time I saw Jermaine Turner play was for St Vincent’s (now DCU Saints) against Star of the Sea.  Over the years, he has been the topic of many conversations I have had with friends about the Superleague.  Usually, a version of the following phrase is uttered: “why would any team not just sign Jermaine Turner? I mean he’s already here and he’s a known quantity.”

It is baffling that a player of his quality has been allowed to leave any Superleague team.  Of course, as Turner points out, had he not departed Irish shores, temporarily as it happened, he would never have enjoyed what he describes as his most enjoyable experience away from Ireland: winning the Swiss title with Vacallo in 2004-2005.

Twelve years after he first landed in Ireland, it is deeply troubling for anyone with the well-being of Irish basketball at heart to note that the 2012-2013 season has begun with Jermaine Turner watching from the stands.

Turner looks on during a time-out

Turner’s most recent stop was in his adopted home of Dublin, where he lives with his wife Leesa and two children, all of whom are Irish, with northside powerhouse Killester, now coached by Belfast’s own Darren O’Neill (who is surely enjoying the drive to Dublin a lot more than he did when coach of UCD back in the days when a drive to Dublin took one through the charming town of Newry).  Killester had lost a number of leading players prior to O’Neill taking charge, but Turner was instrumental in maintaining the club’s challenge in both cup and league competitions last season.

The reason that Killester have begun this season without their talisman is because Turner has decided to take on Basketball Ireland’s Superleague and its regulation which dictates that he must compete as a foreign player.

Killester

Jermaine Turner and Darren O’Neil look in the Arena

Cards on the table: Just over a year ago, I began a job at University College Dublin and tried to join the Superleague team there.  Unfortunately for me, a couple of seasons ago, Basketball Ireland and the management board which oversees the Superleague decided that people could not play in the league unless they had been living in Ireland for a year, with the exception of the Americans (like Jermaine) who almost always end up being the import on Superleague teams.  UCD Marian were unable to get my paperwork in before the first game of the season.  Consequently, I spent the year training with the side and attending games, occasionally assisting coach Fran Ryan when needed.  Now one could argue that perhaps that is the fault of UCD; an equally valid viewpoint would be that the reality of basketball in Ireland does not necessitate such a regulation.

I’m not one to blow my own trumpet, it’s been four full years since my career peaked with my stint at the Scottish Rocks in the BBL (and the grand total of an hour’s playing time I had that season…), but I’d like to think that I still have sufficient skills to at least help a team in the Superleague.  Marian’s import, Donnie Stith, started the season strongly but was really a three man forced to play the five because he was the tallest player on the team; a fate which befalls many imports to both Ireland and the UK.

My path was, however, obstructed by this preposterous implication that my being in Dublin was somehow a deliberate ploy on the part of UCD Marian to boost their challenge for the 2011-2012 season and that I had to produce paperwork which would only suggest, not prove, otherwise.  Among the paperwork I supplied was a rental agreement; a document which actually has no legal standing under British law.

There is some logic lurking in the shadows behind this regulation – there was a fear that teams with the financial means could simply ship in a top quality import for one or two games and win a trophy on the back of said mercenary.  Okay, be that as it may, what good reason was there that I, a former Superleague player who was so obviously in Dublin for work, had to produce anything justifying my residency when I was both in Dublin and ready to be registered at the start of the season?  Would it not be obvious to the ruling body what this hypothetical team was doing?

What this regulation, and by extension Basketball Ireland, fails to account for is the harsh reality of the economic of modern Irish basketball: namely that no team, with the possible exception of the Cork sides, has anything like enough money to bring in a temporary player, or what one might term a “ringer”.  Clubs often stick with utterly mediocre Americans because they can’t afford to replace them.  They are not about to bring in someone for three games at the end of the season to win a prize which would be ultimately meaningless when put alongside the miniscule prize fund that it offered and the cost of air travel, accommodation, and wages for said ringer.

The most obvious solution to me would be to simply prevent clubs from signing any new players, other than in the case of an emergency or highly irregular circumstances, after the start of the season.  Clubs could still replace their import/American if he didn’t work out, but all other players would be set with their club from the first round of games.  Or even, at a stretch, simply allow players to prove their credentials as legitimate economic migrants – and let’s face it, there aren’t a ton of those coming into Ireland at the moment.

The problems facing Jermaine Turner, a guy who has served Irish basketball with far more style than I could ever hope to, are rather different and certainly longer-standing.  Belfast fans may recall the lamentations of local hero, but English-born, Scott Summersgill, who ran into the perception that a guy who had never been paid a penny to play basketball in Belfast was somehow denying opportunities to locally-reared players and was therefore prohibited from playing in the national basketball league as a domestic player.

Despite being the proud owner of an Irish passport, Turner is still considered as an American under Basketball Ireland and Superleague regulations.  This prompts another, perhaps more troubling question: Why on earth would Basketball Ireland prevent the best players in Ireland from playing in the top league?

[Check out one of TCC’s first ever highlight videos featuring a dominant performance from Turner (No. 31) including a nice dunk on Star’s Michael McKillop at the 2.20 mark]

By anyone’s reckoning, Jermaine Turner and Scott Summersgill would rank among the top players to have played in the Superleague over the past fifteen years, yet both have found themselves on the wrong end of another less-than-logical Basketball Ireland Men’s Superleague decree.  Despite the two of them having accumulated over a decade each living in Ireland (or Northern Ireland in Scott’s case) each, neither is allowed to compete in Basketball Ireland competitions as an Irishman.  Both men are married to Irish women and both have Irish children.  Both men spend the vast majority of their time in Ireland, although Turner’s professional career has taken him further afield.

Let me explain this further.  If such a thing as the Irish national basketball team still existed (another subject for another article, but let me just say here – COME ON!), Jermaine Turner could play for it.  Just as Justen Naughton did the season after he had played for Star of the Sea as an import.  For an organisation to say “okay, you’re Irish enough for our government to grant you a passport, and therefore Irish enough for FIBA – you know FIBA?  The guys who, like, yanno, run basketball across the entire planet? – therefore Irish enough to play for our national team, but no, you’re not Irish enough to play in our domestic league as an Irishman” betrays hopelessly contorted logic.

If the plan for the Superleague was to bring up a new generation of outstanding Irish players who all played domestically, then why on earth were they blocking off spots in the national side which were being taken by (increasingly aged) Americans?  Would it not have been better to give national team caps to guys like the Westbrooks brothers, Phil Taylor, Kieran O’Brien, Kevin Foley, Paul Cummins, or our own Stephen Dawson (although I know Dawsy is secretly a proud Brit) than to continue to contest European competitions with guys like Naughton, Marty Conlon or even Jay Larranaga, who it must be emphasised served the team with great honour over a number of years?

Scottie Summersgill suffered from the same restrictions his entire career

The problem is that, regarding the Superleague, Basketball Ireland seem to find themselves caught between their visions of a top professional league and that of a high-standard developmental league where Irish players can flourish.  They have ended up with neither.

What has happened, however, is that the general standard of the Superleague has plummeted.  Even when I first arrived in Belfast in 2004, Star of the Sea could attract crowds of a couple of hundred people to see their three imports (although Scott Summersgill often assumed the role of the third import) perform.  Granted Star also had Irish players of the highest quality around in Adrian Fulton and Gareth Maguire, but one could scarcely argue that the relative quality of the current crop is significantly worse.  Now teams have one import, a player who is now required to carry his team each and every week, and, in the main, four Irish players on the floor.  These four Irish players perform in front of crowds which frequently fail to exceed (occasionally the correct word here is “reach”) double figures.  Consequently what happens is the import arrives, realises what he has gotten himself into within the space of about three weeks, and eventually lowers his performances from “as hard as he can” to “as hard as he has to”.

A well-travelled professional, Jermaine Turner himself notes:

    I’ll say the league has been sliding since the 03/04 season. The league had 18 teams when I landed here in 2000, now there are 8. People forget how tough this league was, going to Waterford was a pain in the you know what, Sligo was a difficult trip, Killarney was no picnic, these places are the epitome of Irish basketball. Tough, hardnosed, not willing to back down and sometimes not pretty to watch but always willing to compete. I mean to see the likes of these teams along with Tralee, Ballina, Hoops, and Star not in the league is sad. Basketball is on life support.

Turner questions the logic behind the decision to take away the Bosman player and the second non-European import, or “American”.  In doing so, he makes the very reasonable point that:

    If they wanted to improve the Irish players then they should be fighting for time against the best available talent. They should not be GIVEN court time, they should EARN it. Let’s look at the Olympics, in ’92 when the US sent the dream team to compete, they destroyed everyone, people were saying “it’s not fair” and that the states would never lose.  Fast forward eight years later and the States won bronze: the gap closed in eight years. Now that’s not because countries decided to exclude Americans from their domestic leagues, they encouraged it. That made their homegrown players better, now we have Spain pushing the Americans everytime they meet, Lithuania the same. If you look in these countries the amount of foreign players is not limited.

The drop in standard has not gone un-noticed elsewhere.  Having Ireland on your resume does not necessarily impress coaches in other international leagues.  It is no coincidence that very few professionals manage an additional professional contract after their season in Ireland is complete.  Of last season’s professionals, a quick internet search suggests that the following are still plying their trade professionally:

Shawn Atupem (UCC): Finland; Ron Thompson (Neptune): Germany; Owen McNally (UCD, 3 games): UK; Robert Taylor (Limerick): Limerick.

So four guys who played as imports in the Superleague are listed as having jobs for this season.  Granted, I didn’t do a whole lot of research into this, so would happily stand corrected, but given that Thompson was cut before the end of the season (and indeed already had an impressive resume of European experience before arriving in Ireland) and McNally is really a Bosman who impressed when filling in for Donnie Stith at UCD, we only really see Shawn Atupem advancing his career based on a season in Ireland.  Even in the years I’ve been part of Irish basketball, the Superleague has been a credible place to start one’s career; Kevin Ratzsch proves as much, now starring for the Sydney Kings in the Australian National League – for what it’s worth Syracuse star Jonny Flynn just landed with the Melbourne Tigers.  There is of course the fact that where Ratzsch clearly had a strong work ethic and the will to succeed, others simply just have not, but it does not help that they are playing in a league where they are not pushed.  Indeed, who among us would not take it easy if we only had to work six hours a week (with a generous estimate of 2 hour training sessions twice a week, plus a two hour game)?

Legendary trash-talker Mike Calo is another who has fallen victim to these “foreign player” regulations.  Say what you will about Calo (never forgetting that two players under his tutelage now appear for NCAA teams – Keelan Cairns and Paul Dick and neither of them played in the Superleague), but you would struggle to convince many that his skills would not have been welcome on one of the Belfast Superleague sides of the last seven years, particularly as a rotational player who did not take up an import slot because he was (a) working in Ireland and (b) married to an Irish lass.

Calo pictured here during TCC’s inaugural ESPN All-Star Event (April, 2012)

Now Calo has no such problems appearing for Belfast Star in the Basketball Northern Ireland league.  Why is it that the northern body should see no problems allowing Calo, who does not hold an Irish or British passport, to play in its league – where he is clearly, at worst, an above average player who raises the standard of play – and yet the national body won’t allow his countryman Jermaine Turner, who has been in Ireland for much longer and has almost identical ties to the country in addition to owning a passport, to play in its top league, the league which Star had to vacate this past summer?  Calo himself considers:

    Basketball would be better in Ireland if the best players are allowed to play regardless of where they are from.  If you live there, you should be allowed.

I would just like to make it very clear that I don’t believe there is any deliberate malevolence on the part of Basketball Ireland here.  I honestly believe that what regulations there are in place were set with entirely good intentions in mind.  My major problem is that the governing body has been too content with the status quo and has failed to preempt the changing dynamics of Irish basketball, not to mention the changing dynamics of Ireland as a country.  It seems to have done away with the “Irish educated” rule, where teams had to ensure that at all times it played three players who had gone through the Irish education system, otherwise it does not seem possible to me that the Dublin Inter team (otherwise known as Ballon) would have been able to compete in the Superleague this season.

The Ballon side of last season, which played in the National League was composed almost entirely of Lithuanians, all economic migrants to Ireland in recent years.  This fact betrays another interesting discrepancy: why have the top level so extensively restricted and not the lower tiers where local players are far more likely to be found?  This regulation seems almost geared towards the ultimate usurping of the Superleague by the National League.

An argument could be made that these regulations are in place to save clubs from themselves.  We should not be ignorant of the troubles endured by the more professional British Basketball League across the Irish Sea.  The storied Chester Jets franchise seems likely to fold; the Everton, now Mersey, Tigers are in utter disarray; a consistent London side has eluded the league for going on a decade.  Basketball may be a popular sport in both Ireland and the UK, but the reality is that professional leagues in either country need effective and ruthlessly efficient management.

I personally see two potential solutions to these problems.

One could argue that there is no good reason why Basketball Ireland should not just let everyone who wants to play in the Superleague play.  If clubs like UCC Demons (who have already replaced their American this season) want to bring in five professionals, then great.  Basketball in Cork will thrive.  Young Cork players will reap the benefits of playing with far better players.  Okay UCC or Neptune might win everything for a couple of seasons, but if monied parties involved in other clubs across the island want to compete with them, they’ll have to put their money where their mouths are (and let’s not pretend that clubs lack at least a couple of very wealthy and well connected individuals involved at organisational level).  What do sponsors want to see: forty people in a high school gym watching a bunch of short Irish guys miss layups (okay, I exaggerate), or the very best Irish players alongside the best available imports playing the highest level of basketball it is reasonable to expect on an island of 7 million people?

Furthermore, reinvigorating the Superleague would improve the National League, a highly credible competition when I played with Queens in 2004 and 2005, as well as local league basketball.  I say this from experience: players only get better by playing against better players.  If you can improve, you will.  If you can’t, well, at least you tried.

Alternatively, have no professional players and make the league open to anyone who wants to play, like the Scottish national league.  That way clubs are entirely dependent on local and locally-based talent.  Clubs could still, of course, bring in Americans, but they would need to be employed – possibly as coaches – on a significantly part-time or full-time basis.  Of course this will benefit the city clubs and the clubs connected with universities who have access to a larger pool of players, but given the strong ties between the GAA and basketball (personified in Kerry and former Tralee Tiger Kieran Donaghy), would there not be room, or at least the potential, for a reasonable-sized basketball club in every county?

Under this model, Jermaine Turner could play for Killester, just as could Puff Summers, another American with familial ties to Ireland.  Of course, Summers might have preferred to stay in Connacht to play for one of the sides there where he has excelled in recent seasons.

What currently exists is effectively austerity professional basketball and no-one is winning.

It’s not like the league has been particularly competitive in recent years anyway.  Anyone care to recall how many games the University of Ulster franchise won in its brief Superleague tenure, despite having both American and top Irish players on its roster?  The DCU Saints were among the strongest sides in the league last season with precisely no American imports.  Instead they played with a crop of Irish talent alongside Latvian Martins Provizors (with his unmistakeable tattoo down his arm) and Mike Trimmer, the veteran American who has been a fixture in the various versions of the club for a number of years.

Turner offers a similar solution, extending beyond the elimination of the rule which precludes him from competing as a domestic player:

    [Eliminate] the other rule where you have to have 3 Irish players on the floor at anytime. Look, the best players should play, if he is Irish, so be it. I just don’t agree with having 3 Irish players being given court time when it is not earned. Look at the level of play in this league, you have guys on the court now that wouldn’t even play D1 had the rules not changed. Hurts the game, any game when you have rules restricting good play. If you want to develop Irish talent why not make D1 Irish only, like a minor league system, where they can hone their skills by practising with Superleague teams or in some cases playing both.

These are not the words of a guy who is looking for an easy ride.  These are the words of a guy who so clearly has thought about how basketball in Ireland could be improved using the resources which are currently available.  These exact principles could also be applied if clubs became better off and therefore able to bring in additional imports.

 

In the interests of fairness, we approached Basketball Ireland and offered them the opportunity to put across their side of the story in this article.  At the time of publication, they have yet to respond.  Our offer remains open to them, should they wish to do so.

I would like to take this opportunity to hitch my wagon firmly to Jermaine Turner’s case and wish him every success.  I’m sure many reading this post have, at one time or another, felt in some way aggrieved by something that the governing body has done or decided.  Well, nobody ever changed anything bumping their gums at a training session, or excising their demons on a messageboard (incidentally, what happened to the streetballireland messageboard?  That used to be great) or, dare I say it, a blog.  Sometimes, real change is only made possible when someone makes a stand.

If Basketball Ireland can move beyond what legislation that potentially ranges from the simply counter-intuitive and counter-productive to the potentially self-destructive, it might yet be able to save the Superleague and with it, Irish basketball.  If, however, it decides to continue to cut off its nose to spite its face…well at least we’ll always have the GAA…

We’ll leave the last word to Jermaine:

    Ah my favorite opponent is not a person but a city. Cork. I mean playing in Cork against Blue Demons and Neptune is what I live for. Going into a hostile environment with the fans yelling all sort of obscenities at you is what brings out the best in me. I love playing there, as the enemy of course!! And I will not be foolish and say just one teammate is my favourite so I will give a roll call. John Tehan, Pat Glover, Paddy Kelly, Peder Madsen, Dave Donnelly, Emmet Donnelly, Damien Sealy just to name a few.

Thanks to Puff Summers for his help on this piece.

McDonald propels the Elks to victory over TG St Mary’s

All-Star Event TCC

L-R: Marty McDonald (Blackstone & UU Elks), Paul McKee (Blackstone & NI All-Star Head Coach 2012), and Ryan Hayes (TCC Contributor)
Photo taken at the ESPN NI All-Star Event in association with Ulster Elks 2012

There was a great atmosphere at the University of Ulster, Jordanstown, ahead of the Elks first home game of the season. This was in part due to the large group of young ballers who gathered before the tip-off for a session with Victory Scholars, and former US College players, Matt Graves and Jim Mower. Basketball NI have announced an exciting new Academy initiative, headed up by Adrian Fulton, Deirdre Brennan, Paul McCrory and Clare Callaghan Hegarty.  Parents and participants from the U13/14 and U15 girls’ select teams met for the first time to hear about the exciting new player development programme and stayed on to support the local men’s National League team.

Team Garvey, St Mary’s, who made the long trip from Co. Kerry brought with them a host of experienced players, including the talented Andrew Fitzgerald. With great strength and footwork, “Fitzy” dominated the paint throughout the entire game, finishing with a game-high 24-points. For the home-side, a stellar performance from Marty McDonald, a product of Blackstone Ballymena, off-the-bench gave the Elks a serious boost of energy, knocking down an array of deep, and contested, three-point shots.

The game was a classic David vs Goliath story (except Goliath could shoot the three-ball).

Check out the highlight reel and see for yourself:

Towards the end of regulation, TG appeared fatigued, missing crucial freethrows down the stretch, and the Elks’ ran away with the 3-point win in OT.

The biggest concern for Coach O’Neil going forward is likely to be the team’s current lack of post-play and committed rebounders. Conor “CJ” Johnson, a small-forward, is having to carry the load in the paint while the Elks wait on the arrival of big-man, Matt Graves, who is sidelined due to 90-day residency rule.

Ulster Elks 93 (39)                              (M. McDonald 20; C. Johnson 18; G. Celms 18)
Team Garveys St Marys 90 (43)       (A. Fitzgerald 24; D. Wall 23; D. Griffin 18)

 

FIBA Rules Changes For 2012 Season

I am sure that you have all downloaded and read the new rule book cover to cover?  What else would a basketball player or coach do in the offseason?  Well there are new rules, and as of Oct 1st 2012 these will be implemented at all levels.

TCC will help out those that haven’t had the time *cough*, and point out the three main changes for this season;

 

 

 Change 1 – Coaches standing and addressing referees

7.5           Either the coach or the assistant coach, but only one of them at any given time, is permitted to remain standing during the game.  They may address the players verbally during the game provided they remain within their team bench area.  The assistant coach shall not address the officials.

What does this change mean?  This is just far clearer for coach/assistant now what will be acceptable within their bench area and communications with the referee.

 

Change 2 – Possession with 2:00mins or 4th period or extra periods

17.2.4       When the game clock shows 2:00 minutes or less of the fourth period and of each extra period, following a time-out taken by the team that is entitled to possession of the ball from its backcourt, the subsequent throw-in shall be administered at the throw-in line opposite the scorer’s table in the team’s frontcourt.

What does this change mean? The previous rule was “During last 2 minutes”, causing ambiguity at the 2:00 mark.  This is now simply cleared up and administered the same as last season.

 

Change 3 –  Shot clock update for 14seconds reset

29.2.1       If the game is stopped by an official:

  • For a foul or violation (not for the ball having gone out-of-bounds) by the team not in control of the ball,
  • For any valid reason by the team not in control of the ball,
  • For any valid reason not connected with either team,

Possession  of  the  ball  shall  be  awarded  to  the  same  team  that  previously  had control of the ball.

If the throw-in is administered in the backcourt, the twenty-four (24) second clock shall be reset to twenty-four (24) seconds.

If the throw-in is administered in the frontcourt, the twenty-four (24) second clock shall be reset as follows:

  • If  fourteen  (14)  seconds  or  more  is  displayed  on  the  twenty-four  (24)  second clock  at  the  time  when  the  game  was  stopped,  the  twenty-four  (24)  second clock shall not be reset, but shall continue from the time it was stopped.
  • If thirteen (13) seconds or less is displayed on the twenty-four (24) second clock at the time when the game was stopped, the twenty-four (24) second clock shall be reset to fourteen (14) seconds.

However,  if  in  the  judgement  of  an  official,  the  opponents  would  be  placed  at  a disadvantage, the twenty-four (24) second clock shall continue from the time it was stopped.

What does this change mean? Whereas in previous years, a foul in the frontcourt would have bought you a new shot clock (24secs), this change will impact on the reset depending on time left when the foul occurred.

  • If your team is fouled with more than 14seconds on the shot clock, 24second clock continues.
  • If your team is fouled with less than 14second on shot clock, its reset to 14seconds.

If the stoppage is for a reason connected with teams, or not in some cases, (Eg; blood substitution, wet floor, injury etc) the referees shall use fair judgement on the reset of the shot clock.

Note – This rule also applies to all violations other than out of bounds, Eg; Foot ball, by the team not in control of the ball.

The first 30sec of this video shows an example of this reset after a foul with explanation.

 

If you have any questions about the changes above, please let us know via the comments section below or on Facebook.

 

Referee Pre Season Seminar

The BNIOC will be hosting a one day seminar for officials in Belfast for the start of the new season.  The day will consist of classroom and practical work, with a Mens Premier game at 16.30 that will be refereed by the seminar officials.

 

 Basketball Northern Ireland Referees Pre-Season Seminar

Sat 15th September 2012

12.00 – 18.00

De La Salle College, Belfast, BT11 8LT

The seminar is aimed specifically at those who cannot attend the National Conference, but still want to improve their refereeing.  There will be updates on the new rules and their implementation, a presentation of the points of emphasis for basketball referees in NI, and also work on mechanics and court positioning.

During the Mens Premier game – 8 referees (2 per qtr) will referee and receive instant feedback on their mechanics and interpretation of referee criteria.

Please remember that this day is being run for the benefit of basketball as a whole and your attendance will not only improve your refereeing, but hopefully the experience of players, coaches and spectators through your enhanced knowledge.

There is no cost to this seminar and the more people that attend the more benefit that is returned.

If you have any questions, or you will be attending, please contact referee.bni@gmail.com

Join the facebook event for updates and attendance…https://www.facebook.com/events/276261969156614/

Schedule – Sat 15th September

12:00 – 12.30 :  Introductions / Registration / New Rules 2012

12.30 – 13.00 :  Points of Emphasis

13:00 – 13.15 :  –BREAK–

13.15 – 14.00 :  Mechanics / Positioning / Off Ball coverage

14.00 – 15.00 :  Open topics, please email suggestions

15.00 – 16.00 :  Rules Test (30mins) / Answers (30mins)

16.00 – 16.30 :  –BREAK–

 16.30 – 18.00 :  Game, Senior Mens