Paul Dick

TCC Podcast Ep 6: Paul Dick & Puff Summers talk senior men at the Euros with NBA chat from Andy

We sit down with senior men standout Paul Dick and assistant coach Puff Summers to talk about the European Championships for Small Nations which start net week. Are Ireland ready to compete for a gold medal?

We also discuss the current state of Irish basketball, what Colin O’Reilly leaving for BBL means and take a look ahead to NBA free agency in the wake of the NBA finals.

Cairns and Dick in Ireland squad for European Championships

Belfast Star’s Keelan Cairns and his former team-mate Paul Dick, most recently of Killester, both feature in coach Colin O’Reilly’s squad for  the European Small Nations Championship, scheduled for this summer in Moldova.

[VIDEO] Paul Dick Shows Out In China – Secures Pro Contract for 15-16

One of the highlights of the Irish Selects recent trip to China was the standout play of Paul Dick. Although he only managed to play in 2 of the games due to a slight injury P-Dicky put on an impressive display. We caught up with him for a quick chat about the tournament and his plans for next season but first check out his China highlight reel:

Paul Dick : Guttentag

As some already know I am playing my first year of pro ball in Germany. Its been an alright season for our team so far, we are currently 10-7, sitting at 6th place out of 13.

The Gathering Shield: A Premier Select?

This coming Saturday the National Basketball Arena plays host to the Gathering Shield, a game between a Welsh Select side and “Ireland’s Best Premier League Players”.  I know it looks sarcastic to put that in inverted commas but if you go to the Basketball Ireland website, that’s what they use on the image.  See?

I hope they’re not planning on putting that on the jerseys.

The game follows on from the incredible victory of the Irish select side over their English counterparts back in January.  Coach Mark Keenan, who has been among the most successful coaches in the league since taking over at Limerick in 2011, took charge of the side in January and has will reprise his role this weekend.  The team is not identical to that of January and Keenan commented:

The team selection was based on rewarding players that were part of last Januarys great victory over the England Select Team. Several players from that team are not available for selection for this game and therefore several new players have been introduced.

Coach Mark Keenan

The January side was:

Shane Coughlan (UCC Demons), Niall O’Reilly (UCC Demons), Rob Taylor (UL Eagles), Jason Killeen (UL Eagles), Rob Lynch (UL Eagles), Neil Campbell (UL Eagles), Darren Townes (Bord Gais Neptune), Michael McGinn (Bord Gais Neptune), Ger Noonan (Bord Gais Neptune), Mindaugas Tamusauskas (Dublin Inter), Keith Anderson (DCU Saints), Mike Westbrooks (Killester), Cian Nihill [reserve player] (Moycullen)

Notable absentees include the two American players who played in January – Robert Taylor ex-of Limerick and Darren Townes, who returned to Neptune this season – and Jason Killeen of UL, now playing in France.  The current version of the “Best Premier League Players” is:

Shane Coughlan – C&S UCC Demons
Niall O’Reilly – C&S UCC Demons
Colin O’Reilly – C&S UCC Demons
Mike McGinn – Bord Gais Neptune
Ger Noonan – Bord GaisNeptune
Matteusz Rudak – Bord Gais Neptune
Neil Campbell – UL Eagles
Scott Kinnevane – UL Eagles
Keith Anderson – Swords Thunder (Basketball Ireland Men’s Division One)
Isaac Westbrooks – Killester
Mindaugas Tamusauskas – Dublin Inter
Paul O’ Brien – Moycullen

With all due respect to the players involved, it seems a stretch to really claim that this is the strongest squad available to the coaches.

Killeen in action vs England

Firstly, it contains no Americans.  Now, this could be a deliberate move to firstly give more Irish players a shot (Rudak, while Polish, attended school in Ireland) as it is hard to imagine too many American players in the Welsh side.  So, we’ll let that slide.

What is particularly odd about the team is the configuration in terms of the sides represented.

January: UCC 2 / UL 4 / Neptune 3 / Inter, DCU, Killester, Moycullen 1 each

October: UCC 3 / Neptune 3 / UL 2 / Inter, Killester, Moycullen, Thunder 1 each.

If we overlook the DCU-Thunder discrepancy, as it’s the same guy just playing for a different team, that’s the exact same teams represented in more or less exactly the same proportions.  It is hard to imagine that if Killeen and Taylor (if we’re including Americans) were still in Limerick that they wouldn’t have been picked.  It also would have been a stretch to leave Colin O’Reilly off the panel of the best players in the Irish leagues.

BUT….

There are two new teams in the Premier League this season: Belfast Star and Templeogue.  There are also the two university teams in Dublin, UCD and DCU, now both completely unrepresented.

The argument that the best players should be chosen for games like this might counter any arguments against having equal representation of all Premier League clubs in the select team, but, let’s just consider a couple of examples.

Paul Dick has 57 points this season.  That’s better than some imports.  His 18.3 PPG is good enough for ninth in the whole league.  Yet he’s not in the squad?

The fourth top scorer in the league is Conor Meany, of UCD.  The eleventh top scorer is Phil Taylor of Templeogue and his team-mate, Dan James, who had 21 against Dublin Inter, is sixth in the league in assists.

Kieran O’Brien in action for Killester

What about Kieran O’Brien, someone who has been among the leading players in the top league for years now?  He’s fifth in offensive rebounds, ninth in total rebounds and yet still thirteenth in assists.

Of course “it’s all a matter of opinion”…except it’s not really a matter of opinion to say that, for example, Paul Dick is a better player than a significant number of the guys in the squad.  It’s a matter of statistical fact.  Paul Dick is the best player on his own team, which includes an American import.

Paul Dick

This is without even addressing the issue of a “Premier League Select” that includes a player who doesn’t play in the Premier League.

The persistent lack of a senior mens national team has troubled Irish basketball for years.  An entire generation of elite Irish players will go without ever getting to play for their country.  Is this select team designed to try and segue into the return of the national team?  If that is the case, then surely there has to be more scrutiny over its selection.

The fact is that several clubs were surprised to read the announcement of the team: this was the first they had heard of it.

Would it have been too much trouble to hold a trial, perhaps in Dublin?  All clubs could have sent two or three players to allow Coach Keenan to cast his eye over all available players.  One day, that’s all they would have needed.  If people don’t want to attend the trial, then by all means, go ahead with whatever team you want to select.

One of the major, and completely fair, criticisms of Irish basketball is that it is too parochial.  This is an inevitable by-product of having teams that depend on one or two families to help sustain them, but it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t aspire for better.

Paul Dick: ‘There’s never a boring moment’

“It’s a transition being back”

So, the last time you heard from me not too much had happened. The last few weeks have just been practice, practice, and more practice. We have had two scrimmages this past week. Practice has been cool. Our team is deep, so it’s always really competitive and the majority of the practice is live stuff. We’re always getting up and down the floor trying to put ourselves in game situations –

There’s never a boring moment.

Our first scrimmage was against Dartmouth. Although we won by three, we felt like it was a team we should beat by a lot more. Our team performance was solid but there was plenty of room for improvement. Personally, I didn’t show up for the game. I came off the bench as 6th man and contributed just two points. I found it hard to get into the game, but I’m putting that one down to nerves. I was also a little mad about coming off-the-bench but that might be my role this year and I will have to learn to adapt to it – for a while, at least.

The second scrimmage wasn’t as competitive. We played a D3 team from Boston and won comfortably.  As it was a scrimmage we were running everyone in and out every few minutes: I didn’t see that much action. I came off-the-bench again and was a little bit better than the first scrimmage, contributing 11 points with a nice little dunk on the break. I’m happy I’m making progress. After not playing a real game for 2 years, the transition of playing team basketball again is the biggest obstacle at the moment. I think it’ll take a few games to get my mind sharp again, to compete at game standard. However, I’m still very excited for the season.

We open up next Friday at home against another top D2 team. It will be a good game. More importantly than all that though is how dominant my fantasy NBA team is looking. I’m only a few days off my first victory against my old Belfast Star and St Malachy’s teammate, Matthew ‘’Superstar’’ Jackson. I cant’t wait to collect my winnings next summer!

“Jackson’s face when he loses our NBA Fantasy team comp”
(Photo: Sportsfile)

You will hear from me again soon. I hope all is good back home.

Paul was the first player featured on The Courtside Collective; he is currently one of only two players from N.I. playing college basketball in the USA. Paul attends Franklin Pierce, a Division 2 school in New England, and is on a full scholarship. He spent last year as a ‘red-shirt’, missing out on an entire season due to a serious foot injury. This year he is back in action and the sky is the limit for the former St Malachy’s College baller. We are happy to have Paul onboard as a regular contributor.

Read Paul’s bio at Franklin Pierce

Keelan Cairns: ‘Ballin’ for UPenn’

Keelan Cairns, former player of St Malachy’s College Belfast, Lisburn and Belfast Star, is now ballin’ at UPenn.

Hey everyone. I know this has been a long time coming but I’m finally getting onto this blog thing.  I hope you find it interesting.

I got recruited by, and now play for, the University of Pennsylvania (UPENN), NOT PENN STATE, which is located in centre of Philadelphia. UPenn is a Division 1 basketball school and competes in the Ivy League against the likes of Harvard, Princeton etc. As it is an Ivy League school, it is a top 10 academic school in America. But surprisingly, historically, it is also a top 10 basketball program. 

You can find a very detailed run down of Penn’s history through that link, but in short Penn has 1676 NCAA wins over the course of its history – putting it in the top 10 on the All-Time wins’ list. The winner of the Ivy League gets a birth in the NCAA tournament or March Madness. Penn has won the Ivy League 25 times and so has been in the tournament 25 times, with the most success coming in 1979 when Penn reached the Final Four.

Anyway, enough of the history.

My freshman year didn’t exactly go as planned as I suffered an injury during the pre-season, which plagued me all year long and followed me into this year. I went through everything the doctors said without much success. So, this year I’m taking a more drastic approach and I am considering surgery to shave off the bulging disc in my back, releasing the trapped nerve inhibiting me. [Editor: Ouch]

Apart from the unfortunate injury and lack of playing because of it, I loved freshman year! I have been able to see, and be a part of, what D1 college basketball is all about. It’s tough. My body has never been tested the way that it was last year. The basketball season is year round and requires 100% commitment. The pre-season 7am starts every morning for two-months are intense. Normally, it consists of lifts and conditioning, followed by individual workouts or team practice. Of course there is between 2-5 hours of school in between with two hours study hall at night to contend with. Oh yeah, then of course there is the social life!

But, I wouldn’t change any of it!

Last year I was lucky enough to have Zack Rosen on my team, a true NBA prospect on my team, who also studied at Wharton business school (top in world). He showed me what it really menas to work hard. Zack is a 6ft (ginger) white guy with next to no athleticism and wasn’t considered much of a prospect coming out of high school but he was easily the best basketball player I’ve ever played with. He controlled every aspect of the game. His performance throughout the season attracted the likes of Doug Collins (76ers Head Coach) to my practices and eventually got him on the Sixers summer league team. Unfortunately he was not drafted but is  now playing in Israel, which has great basketball leagues.

Zack Rosen – Keelan’s former teammate

As the dynamics of the team have changed with the departure of Zack, this year will be a very interesting one. We have some excellent freshmen coming in this year and I think we are in the position to surprise a few people in the Ivy League this season. Personally, my focus is on getting healthy once and for all and continuing to get my body where it needs to be to play at this level. As a freshman, I weighed 195 pounds (around 14 stone) and I now weigh 230 pounds (16.5 stone) but I’m still not where I need to be. Another freshman on our squad came in weighing 280 pounds (20 stone) and he was 6’11. I’m looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead!

So, there it goes. My first blog post. I hope it was an interesting read. And, unlike Paul Dick, I’m not just in it for the sweet TCC T-Shirt – although an XXL would be nice.

Thanks, TCC followers.

Keelan Cairns is a former Captain of St Malachy’s College Belfast and a product of Queen’s Basketball Club, Lisburn Basketball Club, Belfast Star and Barking Abbey (London). Keelan joined UPenn last year but has been sidelined by injury for the majority of his time in the Ivy League college. TCC are proud to have Keelan involved as a regular blogger where he will be sharing stories of what it is like to be playing at the highest level of NCAA basketball.

Paul Dick: ‘Pre-Season is tough over here!’

I’m back in America after a short visit home, which was great. A big shout-out to Mike Calo and Paddy Junior McGaharan for training with me for the past month.

“I’m excited to see what I can do…”

Pre season is tough over here! We have 7am conditioning every morning, which is consists of us doing the insanity workout. I don’t know if they have it at home but it’s basically involves watching this monster on a screen doing an hour long workout that’s pretty much non-stop. Then we have team lifting with some individual workouts during the day and then pick-up games at night! Pick-up’s great because our coach made a rule defense calls fouls – I haven’t committed one foul in three weeks! I might have to start being a little more generous though because one of the guys on our team knocked out another because he wasn’t calling anything! [Editor: Ouch]

After not playing a full season for two years, I’m really excited to play this year. Now that I’m healthy, I’m ready to give it 100% and really see what I can do. We have 9/11 players returning this season. Last season, our team was ranked number one in our region, won the conference regular season and was ranked 24th in the country. So, there are big expectations on us this year. We’re starting the season off with a scrimmage against the Ivy league team Monmouth. So, that should be interesting to see how many we spank a D1 team by! Haha. I’m joking! It’ll be a nice challenge to have but it’s a pity we weren’t playing a different ivy league team like UPenn. Then I could play against the infamous Keelan Cairns!

I’ll definitely be putting up a lot more posts this year to keep you updated on how the team is doing and maybe I’ll even get the TCC shirt that was ‘posted’ last September! [Editor: Royal Mail have been contacted regarding this misplaced package. Stay strong, Paul]

 –

Paul was the first player featured on The Courtside Collective; he is currently one of only two players from N.I. playing college basketball in the USA. Paul attends Franklin Pierce, a Division 2 school in New England, and is on a full scholarship. He spent last year as a ‘red-shirt’, missing out on an entire season due to a serious foot injury. This year he is back in action and the sky is the limit for the former St Malachy’s College baller. We are happy to have Paul onboard as a regular contributor.

Read Paul’s bio at Franklin Pierce

The end of an era in San Antonio?

Last night, the Oklahoma City Thunder closed out game 6 in San Antonio to knock out a side which had until very recently given the impression of becoming a post-season juggernaut.

Behind 34 points and 14 rebounds from Kevin Durant and a 25/8/5 stat line from Russell Westbrook (few will be surprised that he and Durant ended up with the same number of assists), along with 16 points from James Harden, the Thunder saw off decent performances from Tim Duncan (25 and 14) and Tony Parker (29 and 12 assists) and a transcendent performance from Stephen Jackson who went 6-7 from three point range to finish with 23 points.

 

Yassss!

 

Until they went to Oklahoma City, the Spurs had not lost for twenty games.  Since they arrived there on May 31st, they have lost four in a row and have dropped out of the 2012 playoffs, which many predicted them to win.  The Spurs, often cited as the best coached team in the league, perhaps second-guessed themselves with the decision to start Manu Ginobili in the last two games of the series, a move which rather negated the Argentinian’s impact off the bench.  As all good coaches understand, it’s not who starts so much as who finishes.

The Spurs this season had been playing a brand of basketball which belied their “boring” tag.  There was not much boring about the way Parker sliced through defenses, how Duncan defied age and a 66 games in 120 days season to produce basketball not seen from him in years, how Boris Diaw shook off his miserable time in Charlotte (not to mention his man boobs) to become a serious contributor, how Danny Green overcame  being waived by the Cleveland Cavaliers and some serious time in the D-League to make the Spurs starting rotation this season and how Kawhi Leonard made NBA GM’s across the nation look foolish for drafting, well, pretty much anyone other than Kyrie Irving ahead of him.

 

Big hands...

 

However, now the Spurs season is at an end, we are reminded that Tim Duncan will be blowing out 37 candles at his next birthday and had been dragging his left knee around for a good few seasons.  Manu Ginobili will turn 35 this July and has been playing the role of slasher to great effectiveness in the NBA for a decade.  Tony Parker also has nearly 1,000 NBA games on the clock.

 

For my money, the Spurs reputation as a boring team is more a result of careful management on the part of coach Greg Popvich and the ownership team.  Aside from Parker’s 2010 divorce and alleged affair with the spouse of a certain former team-mate, there is not a great deal which is known about terribly many of the Spurs roster.  Compared with the media circuses that are the Miami Heat, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, etc, etc, the Spurs are in a relatively small market.  Indeed they are the only show in town, so to speak, in San Antonio.  It is therefore surprising that the San Antonio media has not circled their wagons around the team in an effort to reveal more about the squad.

 

 

How many of us knew that Tiago Splitter was actually born in Belfast and was separated from his smaller, but otherwise identical twin, Paul Dick, at a young age?  Tiago got the height, Paul got the jumpshot.

 

Paul Dick?

Splitter?

 

In all seriousness, though, this could well be the end of the current Spurs squad.  Ginobili himself admitted in a recent interview that their window was closing.  While he has struggled with injuries this season, it must be the health of Duncan which causes Spurs fans the most concern.  He cannot go on forever, but we must remember that he and Popovich came very close to achieving titles thirteen years apart.  What an achievement that would have been.  Even Michael Jordan’s last title was a mere seven years after his first.