Tag Archives: nbl

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 – 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!

‘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

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!

The Professor’s Thursday rant – AFL player wages & the grass roots

meWestern Bulldog’s President, Peter Gordon has it right when he suggests that more money should be invested in ‘grass roots’ football by the AFL. He said he feared (his word not mine) for the game’s future if significant (again his word) investment is not made at the grass roots level. He cited pressure on developing the next era of players due to inroads being made at junior level by soccer. He should know as he has recently chaired an AFL working group looking at junior participation rates in the west and north west of Melbourne.

Without those junior players and consequent supporters, the slice of the consumer market for the AFL will shrink and its ability to attract big dollars in media rights will be hampered.

Compare Gordon’s thoughts with those of AFLPA CEO Paul Marsh. Marsh thinks it is amazing that only one AFL player, Gary Ablett, made the top 50 of Business Review Weekly top sports earners. He has called for urgent attention to AFL player remuneration to remedy that situation.

Of course, an increase to player wages will reduce any ability for the AFL to invest in grass roots football.

Sportzfan Radio has long argued that professional sports people are well remunerated and gain an equitable portion of the pie already. Consider that the average AFL player receives at least $250,000 per year. In 2014, the average wage in Australia was almost $79,000.00 meaning AFL players, as a rule, are very well remunerated compared to the average Australian. That average wage increased by 2.3% from 2013. I have no argument in sporting people achieving parity with the rest of the Australian full time workforce and receiving the agreed Australian Bureau of Statistics annual increase. However, I perceive that Paul Marsh has a much higher increase in mind.

From where I sit, grass roots football is considerably under resourced and this state of affairs doesn’t look like it will be addressed anytime in the near future. The AFL and the AFLPA would do well to heed the words of Peter Gordon. Failure to do so will invariably lead to a reduction in participation (and supporter) rates and a consequent inability to demand the big figures in future media rights deals. One only needs to look at the NBL as a shining example of a sport that failed to invest at grass roots level and suffered a huge fall from grace with the media.

Perhaps Paul Marsh should should add his voice to those calling for greater investment in the grass roots. That would seem to be the best way for him to ensure he achieves his goal of increased wages for AFL players.

Has cricket reached its nadir?

imageThe much vaunted ‘international’ cricket season has commenced and if Friday night’s crowd of around 21,000 at the MCG is anything to go by, the bells are tolling for the health of the game as a spectator sport. The bash and crash form of the game usually draws big crowds, especially at Melbourne’s sports Mecca, but not this time!

I have read a number of excuses including that Melbourne sports mad public are tired of the non-stop grind of the annual sports calendar. This may be part of the cause but fails to acknowledge the gradual fall off in interest in the grass roots form of the game. I include Sheffield Shield in this.

Showing my age here, I can recollect watching a Sheffield Shield final involving Victoria at the MCG against Western Australia in 1980 where there were at least 50,000 people in attendance. What would the cricketing hierarchy give for crowds like that in today’s four day domestic fixtures? Regrettably, the last time I was at the MCG to see a shield game circa 2007, there were 15 people present on a Saturday afternoon.

The fortunes of the Australian side haven’t assisted as their recent history in Test matches and the limited form of the game haven’t set the world on fire. Spectators like winners and they fall off very quickly when the form line heads south.

By failing to capture the imagination of the sporting public in the domestic form of the game, Cricket Australia hasn’t generated sufficient interest in the game itself and it would appear only a matter of time until cricket becomes even more marginalised and follows the NBL onto the sporting scrap heap!

Sportzfan Radio show #267.2

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!14 October 2012 267.2 – The Professor and Daniel talk about their production meeting at the Great Western Hotel on Friday. Daniel assesses the opening round of the NBL season. He thinks Melbourne Tigers could finish last on the ladder. Mark Fiorenti looks at the Socceroos upcoming World Cup tie against Iraq. He says if the Socceroos lose this game, qualification for the World Cup will be very hard. Whilst he is worried about the result, he thinks Australia can squeeze out a one goal victory. He also reviews the A-League and says Melbourne Victory and coach Ange Postecolglou are in trouble after a record loss to Brisbane Roar. Paul Dalligan comes on the show to talk NRL and last night’s test win by Australia over New Zealand. He also says the race is on for getting Craig Bellamy’s signature on a contract for the 2014 season with three clubs in the running.

Sportzfan Radio show #266.2

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!07 October 2012 266.2 – Daniel continues with his preview of the NBL season. He thinks Sydney Kings will finish on the bottom and Perth Wildcats will win the title with the Adelaide 36ers being the big improvers. Mark Fiorenti previews the A League season. He sees a wide open season with Brisbane Roar winning the minor premiership and Western Sydney Wanderers being wooden spooners. He also briefly looks at the Premier League with WBA being the surprise packets so far. The Panel have no real interest in the Bathurst 1000. Paul Dalligan wraps up the NRL season with some comments on last week’s Grand Final between Melbourne Storm and Canterbury-Bankstown. Gelding queries the biting incident involving James Graham and Billy Slater.

Sportzfan Radio show #266.1

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!7 October 2012 266.1 – The show is back after a week off and the Panel lament the passing of Sportzfan Stan. Behind the mic this week are the Gelding, Daniel Eade, Mark Fiorenti, Mordiboy (aka Fatman) and the Professor. The Panel share some stories about Sportzfan Stan.  Mordiboy talks Ryder Cup and the US team choking on the last day to blow a huge lead. He also talks AFL and the trade period. The Gelding talks racing and the start of the Spring Carnival at Flemington. He also gives an update on Danish Rock. Daniel looks at the start of the NBL season and wonders why the Townsville Crocodiles and Cairns Taipans are tweeting about Beauty and the Geek.

Sportzfan Radio show #260.1

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!19 August 2012 260.1 – An outside broadcast from the Great Western Hotel with the Professor, the Gelding, Paul Gamble and Daniel Eade talking SEABL basketball finals with special guest, Nunawading Spectres guard J Shep. Daniel discusses Olympic basketball and looks at the performances of the Boomers and the Opals. He also wonders about the Adelaide 36ers and their home court lease. The Gelding looks at Caulfield races and gives a few tips for the punters at the hotel. Paul Dalligan, David Coutts and John O’Callaghan join the panel to discuss the Olympics and Nathan Tinkler’s problems with his horse racing/breeding venture