Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Sarunas Jasikevicius Retires

Sarunas Jasikevicius (1994-98) has retired at age 38, after a long career in the NBA and Europe. He will now continue his career as a coach in his native Lithuania.

Fansided: Sarunas Jasikevicius Retires
Sarunas Jasikevicius, an international basketball legend and former Pacer, is retiring from playing at 38 years old, according to @LithuaniaBasket. He will continue to be around basketball, however, joining the coaching staff for Zalgiris, a professional team in his home nation, Lithuania, that has won the past four league titles. [...]

He won three straight Euroleague championships from 2003 to 2005, the first two with Spain’s FC Barcelona and the third with Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv.

This came just a few years after he led the Lithuania national team to a bronze medal in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.[...]

Though he couldn’t make anything of himself in the NBA, he further proved that his early-career success wasn’t a fluke when he led Greece’s Panathinaikos to another Euroleauge championship and three Greek league titles. He is the only player in history to win a title with three different teams, and Jasikevicius seems like he may be headed to the Hall of Fame in Springfield.

Jasikevicius was always one of my favorite players to cover on this blog, and because of covering him here, I have the special skill of being able to spell his name without looking it up. Good luck coaching, Sarunas!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Blake, Vasquez, and Len Updates

Clearly, I lost steam and I'm not posting much on this blog anymore. But I am still occasionally posting news on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook. Click the links (or the big buttons on the right) to follow there.

If you like reading Where Are They Now stories, you can help! You can also use those social media sites to send me stories about former Terps to repost.

I do want to mention three big news updates from the past week though:

Trail Blazers sign Steve Blake (ESPN)
Steve Blake is coming back to the Trail Blazers, as the free-agent point guard has signed a two-year deal with Portland, a person with knowledge of the deal confirmed to The Associated Press on Thursday.[...]

The contract is worth a reported $4.2 million with a player option for the second year.

Blake has had two previous stints with the Blazers, most recently from 2007-09, becoming a fan favorite before going on to play for the Lakers, Clippers and Golden State Warriors.

Raptors, Greivis Vasquez agree to 2-year, $13 million deal (CBS Sports)
Restricted free agent Greivis Vasquez has agreed to a two-year, $13 million contract to stay with the Toronto Raptors, as first reported by Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski and confirmed to CBSSports.com's Ken Berger.

It was reported late last week by Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun that the two sides were close to a deal. The Milwaukee Bucks were also reportedly interested in going after Vasquez, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.

Vasquez had a strong finish to the season in Toronto. As well as the creative passing and playmaking you'd expect from him, he made 45 percent of his 3-point attempts after the All-Star break and played a major role in the playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets.

Acquired from the Sacramento Kings along with Patrick Patterson, Chuck Hayes and John Salmons in the December trade that sent away Rudy Gay, Vasquez provided solid backup point guard production behind Kyle Lowry.

Phoenix Suns have big plans for Alex Len, starting with durable and available (SB Nation: Bright Side of the Sun)
is is a big summer for Alex Len, the former #5 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. The Phoenix Suns say he was at the top of their Draft Board, and were lucky that he fell to #5 due to injury concerns and lack of production in college. [...]

Len is ready to participate in his first Summer League, beginning Saturday in Las Vegas, after missing last year due to the ankle surgeries. [...]

Could Alex Len and Miles Plumlee form a twin towers lineup for the Phoenix Suns? In this scenario, Len would be the "mini-stretch" power forward because he's got a very smooth 18-foot shooting stroke.

Playing with Miles Plumlee? Ugh. Oh well. You gotta do what you gotta do.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tom McMillen Inducted into National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame

Last weekend, former Terp Tom McMillen (1970-74) was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

The Baltimore Sun reported:
On Sunday, McMillen — a Rhodes Scholar who went on to play in the NBA and serve in the U.S. House of Representatives — will be among the new inductees into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City, Mo.

"I'm really proud of him," said Driesell. "Tom said he wanted to be a Rhodes scholar and an All-American basketball player. I said, ‘Tom, you can't do both.' And he did. He should have been there [in the Hall of Fame] a long time ago."

McMillen, now 61, helped lead Maryland to a 73-17 record. He was a member of the 1972 U.S. Olympic team that lost to the Soviet Union in the gold-medal game with a memorably controversial finish.

At the Washington Post, Lefty Driesell called up to talk about the Hall Of Fame Induction and pointed out that another former Terrapin assistant coach, George Raveling, will be inducted too:
“I’ve been trying to get him in there for years,” Driesell said. “Hey, how many Rhodes Scholars they got here?”

Before McMillen? Just one: three-time all-American, NBA star and U.S. Senator Bill Bradley.

Driesell has another connection in the class of 2013, too. George Raveling, the first assistant coach hire he made upon arriving in College Park, will also be inducted as a “contributor,” for his work as Nike’s director of international basketball.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Juan Dixon Hired as Maryland Assistant Coach

The University of Maryland has hired former Terp Juan Dixon (1998-2002) as a special assistant for the men's basketball team, coinciding with the resignation of assistant coach Dalonte Hill. Current Director of Basketball Operations, Dustin Clark, will formally assume Hill's assistant coach position (Clark has been doing that job since October anyway). Here's the school's press release, though I haven't been able to read it since the news seems to have swamped their server this afternoon.

Instead, here's the Washington Post story with details about the hiring:
And in a semi-related move, legendary Terrapins guard Juan Dixon has been hired as a special assistant to Coach Mark Turgeon. The program’s all-time leading scorer will primarily serve as a mentor to the team’s players, advising current players on athletics and academics, breaking down film and scouting future opponents, and other administrative duties. He cannot recruit on the road, but can meet recruits who visit campus. [...]

Dixon also returned to school at Maryland to obtain his undergraduate degree in family sciences and, according to another individual with knowledge of the situation, his hiring was conditional on its completion. He is currently on course to graduate, and this move marks the first step in Dixon pursuing a coaching career, with the hopes of eventually advancing up the ranks.

Also, here's the Baltimore Sun's story, where Dixon talks about his goal of becoming a coach:
In a subsequent teleconference, Dixon said he has been talking to Turgeon for "a couple months" about joining the staff, and he has thought about coaching for a long time.

"As far as coaching, this process began many years ago while playing," Dixon said. "When I was even here at the University of Maryland with coach [Gary] Williams and moving on to the NBA, I realized that after my basketball career I wanted to be a coach someday. Today, Coach Turgeon has given me an opportunity to be part of his staff, and I am grateful for the opportunity.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Alex Len Prepares for his Rookie Season

Bright Side of the Sun, a Phoenix Suns blog, has a two part interview this week with rookie Alex Len (2011-13): Part 1; Part 2.


Q: Are you back to 100% and totally cleared to play?
A: Not 100% yet. When I play pick-up games, I start every game but they pull me off to the side after a couple minutes because they don't want me to overdo it before the season, you know? I haven't played for about 5 months so I'm out of shape. Training camp is going to be a lot of running just to get in shape, get my wind back.

Q: A lot of people don't know exactly what to expect from you this year. [...] So what can you tell fans to expect to see from you in your rookie campaign?
A: Rookie year will be a bit different for me because I'm coming off two surgeries on my ankles. It's going to be really tough for me but I'm just going to play as hard as I can and bring a positive energy to do whatever I can for the team. [...]


Q: I know you started playing again recently but has the coaching staff been telling you what to work on in terms of any specific skills?

A: Right now, I've been working a lot on defense, like team defense. Just trying to learn little things to help the team overall. I've been working a little bit with coaches on my post moves and stuff like that but I think for me, it's going to be about just helping the team on defense and being a presence at the rim - block shots, rebound, run the floor. Things like that are going to be big.

(Thanks Testudo Times!)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Braxton Dupree and Dino Gregory in Germany This Season

Braxton Dupree (2007-09) is headed to Germany this season to play for the German ProA league Heidelberg Academics (a frightening mascot if there ever was one. Translating (and editing for clarity) from the team's press release:

Braxton Dupree completes the roster of MLP Academics. The center comes from the Bulgarian Association team Rilski Sportist Samokov to Heidelberg.

Although putting the finishing touches on the squad took some time, the last piece puzzle fits perfectly in the squad. The 24-year-old American is a good choice; while his 2.03 meter height is not the greatest, he comes with excellent physical abilities and has all the skills to compete in the ProA league.

After his college transfer from Maryland to Towson, he was required to sit out a year according to NCAA transfer rules. However, the following year he was in the starting five. He paid back his coach's confidence with an average of 12 points and 8 rebounds per game. He was one of the best rebounders of his conference. The attention of European scouts was secured. In Israel in 2011, Dupree signed a three-year contract with Maccabi Ashdod. However, his time in the Israeli Premier League was not satisfactory, so he moved to Canada in January 2012. There he won the championship with the London Lightning.

For the 2012-13 season, Dupree's journey took him to Bulgaria. He had a successful season playing center in the Bulgaria-NBL - semi-finals in the league, cup and Balkan League title - one of the top players in the categories of rebounds and blocks. In the national championship he grabbed 8 rebounds per game. In the Balkan League, he was named to the "All Imports Team." His new home will be on the court in Heidelberg OSP.

He will have Terrapin company in the German League: Dino Gregory (2007-11) had his contract with Phoenix Hagen renewed at the end of the last season.