Tag Archives: basketball

The first of the Sportzfan Interviews – Axel Dench


In this first of a series of Sportzfan Interviews, the Professor talks with former College and NBL player, Axel Dench about his career in basketball and as Merumeru in Star Wars 3, Revenge of the Sith. In a career that included a March Madness trip to the Elite Eight with
Gonzaga, a Championship in his first year with Wollongong Hawks plus the 2001 NBL Rookie of the Year award, he believes he peaked early. A shoulder injury hampered his development and he eventually bounced around Europe until returning to Australia to play with the Melbourne Tigers in 2007.

Whilst he enjoyed playing at elite level in basketball, it wasn’t until his taste of Hollywood in Revenge of the Sith that he discovered he had a love for acting and movies. His one regret is that he declined another movie role to accept a three year contract with the Melbourne Tigers only to be released after one year to free up player points.

You can hear the full interview at https://soundcloud.com/sportzprofessor/the-sportzfan-interviews-axel-dench

Weekend musing – 3rd test wrap up, AFL rookie draft, Melbourne City take the FFA Cup……

Sfan OB6The 3rd test against South Africa was a dead rubber, but it was good to see the revitalised Australian team turn around their fortunes and get a win on the board. There were three debutantes playing in the game and I was impressed with Renshaw & Hanscombe. Unfortunately, Maddinson got a very good ball early in his only hanscombinnings, so it was impossible to say if he will be any good. Renshaw resisted very well on the first night and while he only made 10 in the first innings, he showed similar application in the second innings. In the second innings the commentators were criticising his slow play which was somewhat in contrast with their lamenting in the first and second tests the lack of players that could stick around. He was in his first test, they had plenty of time, so I could not see the issue. He did seem to play and miss a lot, but I think on some of those “misses” he actually deliberately played inside the line. Hanscombe got a 50 in his first dig and then hit the winning run so a very promising debut.

The cricket now moves to a one day series against New Zealand, which seems to be a puzzling piece of scheduling .

Sticking with cricket it was great to see the Bushrangers get up against South Australia after conceding a first innings lead. Just reminding the Australian selectors that there is some quality south of the border.

Monday saw the AFL Rookie Draft and there seemed to be a clear pattern of recruiters getting in ruckmen and taller players. There filipovicwas 27 players (ound half of the draft) over 190cm and ten of those were ruckmen. It does seem clear that clubs are not willing to waste a pick on a ruckman who may take 3-5 years to develop. This is a wise strategy, but does it jeopardise the future of ruckmen picking the AFL over basketball? I really think this is something which could cause long term problems with participation and needs to be monitored by the AFL.

Great to see Melbourne City win the FFA Cup on Wednesday night in a clash of the current top two teams in the A-League. I have been a little concerned about the City defence, but holding Sydney FC to atim cahill clean sheet perhaps indicates that my concerns were misplaced. On present form these two teams will be in contention at the end of the season and a win to City does provide some psychological advantage. Also great to see Tim Cahill amongst the goals….an inspired signing for Melbourne City.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – Spring Carnival, Kieran McEvoy, Chicago Cubs, First Test…….

Sfan OB6While I did not back the winner of the Victoria Derby, Prized Ikon, it was a great story for the Cummings family. Four generations of the one family training a winner of such a prestigious race would beprized-icon unparalleled not only in racing, but probably in sport generally. There has been a number of father/son combinations and even grandfather/father/son’s in various sports, but I cannot think of any to equal this effort. Three generations of the Aitken family played for Carlton and three generations of the Hird family played for Essendon. Perhaps one of James Hird’s sons could make it a fourth generation for the Bombers.

Keeping with the family theme Kieran McEvoy won the Melbourne Cup on Almandin and he is the brother-in-law of last years winning almandinjockey, Michelle Payne. Almandin is the third son of Monson to win the Cup in the last four years. The other two being Fiorente and Protectionist. When you think about it, racing produces probably just as many family associations as AFL football. A lot of jockeys had fathers that were jockeys and a lot of trainers had fathers that were trainers.

The biggest story in sport this week was the Chicago Cubs breaking a 108 year drought in the World Series. Even if the Cleveland cubsIndians had of won they would have broken a 68 year drought. This continues a wonderful year for drought breaking title wins. The Cubs also did it by winning the last three games, with the last two away to Cleveland. This was somewhat reminiscent of the NBA when the Cleveland Cavaliers took the title in an away game to Golden State.

A good start in the Test cricket yesterday and it further proves the testvalue of good bowlers. Australia struggled in the recent one-day series in South Africa with a second string attack, now with more like their front line attack in place they were a lot more effective. If we can get James Pattinson and Pat Cummins back playing consistent cricket with Mitchell Starc, the Australian attack will be formidable. Bowlers win matches.

Have a great weekend

Weekend musing – Journalists, Lindsay Thomas, LeBron James….

Chris Barwin HillsThe biggest story this week in sport again had nothing really to do with sport and those that play it. I passed comment a few weeks ago about journalists creating stories around themselves and this week maguireit has gone to a whole new level. I am not going to give a view on the rights and wrongs of the whole debate, but it is time we moved on and concentrated on the sport. Richmond’s decision to ban Triple M seems somewhat hypocritical given the Dustin Martin situation earlier this year. Their response would be that the allegations were unfounded but let’s have some consistency in the way these matters are treated.

It was not really a surprise to see Lindsay Thomas not paid free kicks in last Friday nights game against Hawthorn. While Brad Scott’s thomascomments about the umpires was proved to be factually incorrect and he and North paid a hefty price, I have no doubt that the umpires saw the vision and heard the ongoing commentary of and about Thomas in the game against Sydney and were always going to react. No one likes being made a fool of. I harken back to 1999/2000 when Matthew Lloyd was highlighted for diving in a game against Richmond where he received three free kicks. Lloyd got a reputation for diving on the back of that game and while he did take it out of his repertoire, he very rarely received a free kick for being pushed in the back in a marking contest after that game. James Sicily could be next on the list!

An amazing performance by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA and I think it does emphasise that LeBron James is one of the greatest Unknown-1players of all time and probably the best since Michael Jordan. What has been missed in this is that in culminates in a hat trick of NBA wins by Australian players. Mills & Baynes in 2014, Bogut in 2015 and Dellavedova this year. It is great to see Australians playing on the big stage and hopefully they can all be fit for the Olympics because they have a genuine medal chance.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – UFC & Ronda Rousey hit Melbourne

Chris Barwin HillsNot much has grabbed my imagination this week.  It’s been business as usual on the Aussie sports scene

The Australian cricket team won as expected and the Socceroos also won as expected. Melbourne United in the NBL had been winning unitedbefore last night with one of their wins with a bit of help from the match officials. Melbourne Victory won the FFA cup as expected. Nothing in horse racing was as near as interesting as the Melbourne Cup, save for the racing being a bit more interesting due to a less biased track.

One thing which has created a bit of discussion around the traps is the UFC event featuring Ronda Rousey at Etihad Stadium this weekend. I am not a big fan of UFC, but I don’t mind it and it is certainly more interesting than main stream boxing these days. I rouseydo not subscribe to the view that it is too brutal as I think the sport is well governed and there are probably less injuries in the UFC than there are in boxing. I think one of the reasons why the UFC has somewhat supplanted boxing as the preferred “blood sport” is that it does not appear to be controlled by the likes of Don King and other entrepreneurs and it doesn’t have the multiple factions and associations that have split world boxing. If boxing wants to reclaim lost ground they need to win back the public and have one unified governing body to control the sport world wide.

Have a great weekend!

Australia’s McCarron has NBA trial

Feb 27 2011 054He might just be the best Australian basketball player that you haven’t heard of yet, but Australian guard Mitch McCarron has a very bright future ahead for himself after completing his first NBA workouts with the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors.

As the basketball public get over the 2015 NBA Finals that featured two Australians, Andrew Bogut and Matthew Dellavedova, competing against each other for the first time in a championship series, the teams around the league have already well kickstarted their campaigns for next season with waves of player workouts.

“I think it went really well,” explained McCarron after his first experience on court with the Nuggets. “I’m not going into these workouts expecting anything to come from them, rather I just want to go in and give it everything I have and hopefully I get another opportunity to impress. I got some great feedback from the coachesmitch-mccarron about how to make the most out of my future workouts and my future playing career.”McCarron, a 6’3″ guard, just finished his college career at Metro State University and was the 2015 Division II National Player of The Year after an outstanding season in which he averaged 20.2 points, 6 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game as a Senior.

On top of his outstanding year on the basketball court, McCarron had a very impressive 3.8 grade point average in the classroom.

Playing college basketball in Denver, McCarron did not have to venture far for his first pro-workout with an NBA team and the young kid from Brisbane believes he didn’t disappoint in front of the Nuggets hierarchy. “I did pretty well,” noted McCarron of his time on the floor with the Nuggets coaching staff, “I could have been a lot more vocal, and I still need to work on some aspects of my game but overall I thought I did a good job.”

The Nuggets have the 7th and 57th pick in the upcoming NBA Draft and McCarron will be a candidate for the Nuggets with their second round selection, although the Nuggets kept their cards close to their chest.”I didn’t get any indication from them about future plans, they just gave some immediate feedback on what to work on and asked questions about my future plans,” said McCarron.”I would love the opportunity to play with any NBA team, that’s been a dream since I was a child. I don’t know what a lot of the other cities are like but having lived here for the past four years, I know Denver would be a very enjoyable place to stay long-term.”

By Daniel Eade

Friday musing – State of Origin, NBA, Women’s World Cup, AFL

Chris Barwin HillsOn Wednesday night I ventured along to the MCG with 91,500 others to watch Game 2 of the State of Origin series between NSW & Queensland. It was certainly a much better game than Game 1 with an early try to both teams. However, the most exhilarating part of the night, the Greg Inglis near length of the field try, was disallowed by the video referee. I don’t claim to be an expert on Rugby League, but to the letter of the law it would seem the decisionUnknown was correct, but what an anti-climax! In the end the game was essentially decided on two very marginal video referee calls. The Josh Morris try where he appeared to only get a thumbnail worth of downward pressure on the ball and Myles knock-on which cost Inglis his try. Both decisions looked correct on review. I enjoyed the game, but I think rugby league is probably a better game to watch on television, particularly for the uninitiated. That observation may also explain why their club games do not draw big crowds.

The NBA final series came to a close earlier in the week and it was good to see Andrew Bogut celebrate his win with the Golden State Warriors, however, given he had no game time in the last two games and only a couple of minutes in game 4, it may be a slightly hollow feeling for him. He obviously deserved the accolades but it would have been good to see the coach put him on for the last couple of Unknownminutes given they had a reasonable lead at that stage. I hark back to the old days with football when you had the 19th & 20th men and the coach would bring them on for the last couple of minutes of a grand final just so they felt part of it. Continuing with the NBA it is hard to see how LeBron James could not be considered the MVP for the final series given his herculean performance, however, I understand that in American sport that the MVP would never go to a player in the losing team.

Great to see the Australian women’s soccer team, the Matildas, get through to the round of 16. I know the team from the United States is always strong in women’s soccer, but Australia was in the ‘GroupUnknown of Death’ together with the Nigerian and Swedish teams. To get through that group was a very good effort. They now come up against Brazil who are one of the tournament favourites so fingers crossed for the Matildas.

The “3rd man up” in ruck contests in the AFL is generating a bit of discussion at the moment and I think the way Geelong are using it with Mark Blicavs & Rhys Stanley has probably narrowed the discussion. It seemed to me that last week against Port Adelaide, imagesone of them was blocking Matthew Lobbe while the other one took the hit out. That would appear to be contrary to the rules, but not only that, what happens if each side sends another man up, then you have 4 players competing for the throw in and it begins to get farcical. I am starting to agree with Leigh Matthews that the “3rd man up” should be banned.

Have a great weekend!

‘Homicide’ Williams has unfinished business in Townsville

Feb 6 2011 019Corey ‘Homicide’ Williams believes he has unfinished business in Townsville and in the NBL, opening up the possibility the 2010 MVP might one day return to The Swamp.

“Like LeBron coming back home to Cleveland,” said Williams, who added he would “one hundred percent” return in a quest to bring theUnknown Townsville Crocodiles a long overdue first championship.

Williams, who averaged 19.1 points per game over four seasons, arrived in Townsville early in the 2007/08 season and played three years in Townsville, leading the Crocs to back-to-back semi-finals in 2009 and 2010, before joining the Melbourne Tigers in 2010/11.

“My body feels great,” added Williams, 37, who just recently finished the season in Lebanon with Tadamon Zouk where he averaged 23 points per game and 6.1 assists per game.

UnknownStill holding onto great memories from his time in the NBL, Williams reminisced about his greatest achievements Down Under.

“Last two years (in Townsville) lost game three on the road, in the semi to Wollongong (2010) and South Dragons (2009) … but that Perth upset (victory),” recalls Williams.

That upset Williams recollects over the favoured Wildcats in the Wild Wild West during the 2009 post-season is etched in NBL folklore as one of the most entertaining playoff games of all-time.

Williams finished that night with 28 points in the Crocodiles 103-96 triumph as his backcourt partner, John Rillie, stole the show on hisUnknown-1 way to 34 points including 10 three-pointers in front of a hostile Perth crowd.

Williams remembers his time in Townsville fondly. “The fans. The town showed unbelievable love, ’til this day bring back Homicide hashtags still get posted,” said Williams. “That’s love.”

In his 17 years as a professional, Williams has played in Australia, Brazil, China, Croatia, France, Germany, Lebanon, Puerto Rico, Sweden, USA and Venezuela.

By Daniel Eade

Friday musing – AFL, Malthouse, NRL, State of Origin, FIFA, Sepp Blatter & more

Chris Barwin HillsWell the Carlton/Malthouse issue was finally brought to a close this week with Mick challenging the board to make a decision which they duly did. While I have not been a supporter of Malthouse, it is sad that the coaching games record holder should go out in such an inglorious fashion. I also have an antipathy towards Carlton built up over many years, but watching them play Geelong last Friday nightUnknown was quite painful and I must say I felt sorry for them (a first). I didn’t think Geelong played all that well, but Carlton did not punish them for their plentiful mistakes. Something had to give and it is always the coach in that situation, but not usually so early in the season. With Carlton playing again tonight I think I might watch a movie as you would anticipate that the Swans will show no mercy.

I also watched the rugby league State of Origin game during the Dalligan & Gordieweek and while the game was close, I must say I found it rather boring. It did not have any real highlights and Queensland’s
experience in the end got them over line.

The FIFA situation with a number of delegates being arrested was probably the biggest issue in world sport and if every country was honest, Sepp Blatter should not be re-elected president. The problem will be that the delegates, who have been involved in the untoward activities, will probably feel safer with the existing regime that has propagated the issues that are under scrutiny now.

Well we have the dream final in the NBA with Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, so we should have an Australian on the Unknownwinning team again. As stated last week I would like to see Andrew Bogut salute. He has been around for a long time and suffered a number of injuries, and not only that, he is an Essendon supporter!

Speaking of Essendon I cannot let the week go by without congratulating Dustin Fletcher on his 400th game. In his 23rd season at the age of 40 he has missed over 100 games through injury and suspension which makes his milestone all the more remarkable.

Have a great weekend!

Soccer and basketball making inroads on Aussie footy at junior level

100_4274Tucked quietly away on page 19 of the Herald Sun today is a small story that could quite easily be overlooked but its ramifications should resonate very loudly in the halls of power at the AFL.

Eastern Lions Junior Football Club, a club in excess of forty years old, has had to resort to offering fee free football in order to attract young players. In addition, should a player sign up prior to the start of the season, they will be entered in a draw for an iPad or sports voucher.

The Club has needed to take these steps due to the ‘intense’ (their word not mine) competition from soccer and basketball.

Several weeks ago, this column looked at Western Bulldogs President, Peter Gordon’s plea for the AFL to spend more money on grass roots football. As the person leading an AFL working group on junior participation rates, he reasoned that this investment was necessary due to inroads being made by soccer at the junior level.

It would seem that the plight of the Eastern Lions, and no doubt other junior Clubs, bears out exactly what Mr Gordon was saying.

One wonders how long it will take the AFL to react…….hopefully not as long as the NBL!