Saturday, August 29, 2009

Joe Smith Signing is Official

The Atlanta Hawks made it official this week: Joe Smith (1993-95) will wear #32 for them this winter. This was rumored and reported as a done deal by ESPN last week, but now it's official. The Hawks' official blog lays out all the positives that Joe Smith brings to the team, but there is one negative:
If there is any downside to this signing, it’s that the similarity of names (Joe Johnson, Joe Smith, Josh Smith) on the Hawks roster will potentially make discussing them very confusing.

The Hawks also have an interview with Joe Smith available in their podcast section.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Nik Caner-Medley Has a New Team in Spain

Nik Caner-Medley (2002-06) has signed with a new team, MMT Estudiantes Madrid. This is Nik's third season playing in Spain's top league, the ACB: last season, he played for Cajasol Seville, and two years ago he was with Kalise Gran Canaria.

Those of you who studied Spanish in high school may have already translated the team's nickname for yourselves: "The Students". You know with a nickname that sounds so weak, they must be an ironically tough team.

Spanish sports news site (translation) talks about the signing:
Caner-Medley, playing for Cajasol, was one of the players who awoke from the lethargy that had sunk the bench in Seville after spending a long time as the bottom club in the ACB. He played in 20 games for Seville, averaging 10.7 points and nearly 8 rebounds per game.

"He's a player who is very familiar with the ACB. I'm sure he will create a strong connection with the fans of the 'Stu' because he gives it all on the court: maximum intensity and pure heart," said sports director Nacho Azofra.

Three more news sites with pretty much the exact same story, but with different pictures of Nik Caner-Medley: here, here, and here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Obinna Ekezie Runs a Travel Business in Nigeria posted this link to a CNBC Video of an interview with Zeep Travel founder Obinna Ekezie (1995-99). Obinna, with his pro basketball days behind him, now lives back in his home country of Nigeria, where he started his new business. Zeep Travel is an on-line travel company specializing in travel between the United States and Africa, which he says is an important, under-served market.

People who were around campus back in the late 90's might remember that Ekezie was known as a stellar student who chose Maryland primarily to attend its School of Business.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Shay Doron to Play in Romania Next Year

Shay Doron (2003-07) isn't playing in the WNBA this summer, but she says she will be playing in Romania for MCM Targoviste next winter. In an aside in a story about the WNBA New York Liberty loss to the Washington Mystics last month, caught up with Doron in the audience and asked her about her plans for the year. An excerpt:
Doron will be playing in Romania this winter, with a club called Targoviste. As for why she is not returning to the WNBA, she said, "I'm enjoying my summer too much. I'm fortunate to have my European passport. I love playing overseas. You get to travel the world, and getting to live in another country is pretty cool. Plus, I get to see all these girls year round. We play against each other all the time."

Also, I don't have enough material to make this its own story, but I found a player transaction list showing that Shay's former Maryland teammate Aurelie Noirez (2003-07) is now playing for France's ASA Sceaux, in the French amateur NF2 league.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Keith Gatlin Coaching High School in NC

I don't usually go back beyond the Gary Williams era of Maryland basketball players, because Gary was hired at around the same time that I started paying attention to Maryland basketball, and I don't really remember the players before then. But I did happen upon this Fox Sports story this week: Keith Gatlin (1984-88) has been hired to coach Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point, North Carolina. The story provides interesting details on what Gatlin has been up to recently:
Gatlin takes over the Trojans program after a short stint at Veritas, the sports academy that opened in Kernersville last year and quickly ran out of money.

Gatlin was an assistant coach at Greensboro Day before taking the Veritas job. He also works as a personal trainer - among his pupils is 7-foot-9, 370-pound Chinese star Sun Ming Ming - but that business has changed.

"Most of the kids I train now are college kids and guys that play professionally in Europe," Gatlin said. "I stopped training a lot of the younger kids because I didn't want parents to think I was training kids to try to get them to come to Veritas or (Wesleyan). I would train my own kids that already played for me, but ... I stopped doing a lot of high school training when I took the job at Veritas because that's a conflict of interest."

Another story from fills in some more details of Gatlin's career:

Keith came to Greensboro and was set to play for the Greensboro City Gaters of the short-lived Global Basketball Association(GBA), but he suffered a knee injury and never got to suit up for the City Gaters. [...]

Gatlin recovered enough from that knee injury to get in some quality time playing professional basketball in Europe and did well enough finacially to return to Greensboro after his playing days in Europe were complete.

Gatlin became a youth basketball coach and helped run camps here locally and he also served as the assistant to Greensboro Day School head coach Freddy Johnson. Gatlin later coached the girl’s at GDS for a brief time, before Josh Shoemaker took over the Lady Bengals. Keith and his wife also opened up an over-the-road trucking company that put them in the transport business.
Keith became the head boy’s basketball coach at the now-defunct Veritas Academy in Kernersville and maintained that team and job for one season.(2008/2009)

Here's the YouTube clip of Gatlin's famous inbounds play against UNC in 1986 that is mentioned in the story. I might not remember Gatlin, but I do clearly remember seeing this game on TV way back when:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Joe Smith Signs with Atlanta Hawks

It's not officially announced yet, but ESPN is reporting that Joe Smith (1993-95) has signed a 1 year deal with the Atlanta Hawks. Since the free agent signing period started, the Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Orlando Magic had all been rumored to be interested in him.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

John Gilchrist in Australia

John Gilchrist (2002-05) has signed to play with the Adelaide 36ers of Australia's NBL. Here's an excerpt from the story from Adelaide Now:
The American playmaker, who in 2004 led University of Maryland to its first Atlantic Coast Conference championship in 20 years, has impressed strongly during a two-week trial and has agreed to terms. The MVP of the ACC tournament, Gilchrist, 25 and 191cm, has big shoes to fill here following the retirement of superstar guard Brett Maher.

But coach Scott Ninnis always was confident he had found the right man.

"He's going to terrorise a lot of NBL players this season," Ninnis said.

The 36ers should formally announce securing Gilchrist's signature within a few days and he is likely to make their up-tempo game a treat to watch.

Access Athletes' Real Athlete Blog has a three part interview with John Gilchrst that started last month and concluded this week:
Part I - "The Journey", about John's rise to stardom in Southeastern Virginia.
Part II - "The Lessons", about John's departure from Maryland and life lessons as a young professional overseas.
Part III - "Alert and Prepared", about John's new outlook and goals for his career.

(Thanks to Testudo Times for finding the first part of this interview last week.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dave Neal: School and Hoops in Ireland

The Washington Times D1SCOURSE blog has news about recent grad Dave Neal (2005-09). Dave will be going to grad school and playing professional basketball in the Irish Superleague in Northern Ireland this fall:
Neal will attend the University of Ulster in Belfast this year, where he will work on a master's degree in sports management while playing in Basketball Ireland's SuperLeague. [...]

"People always say I fit more of an international game," Neal said. "I'm not the most athletic guy, but I'm very fundamentally sound. That's what international ball is all about. You're going to have some athletes, but the majority of it is fundamentals, knowing the game and playing hard. I have a chance to do well, and if I have a good season, you never know what next year will bring."

Update 8/17/09: In the comments section of his blog, Patrick Stevens answered my question about what team Dave will play for: the University of Ulster Team, which appears to be called the Ulster Elks.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Kristi Toliver Talks About Being a WNBA Rookie

Last week on, former All-American Terp Kristi Toliver (2005-09) talked about her rookie season playing for the WNBA's Chicago Sky, where she is currently averaging 6.7 points and 2.4 rebounds per game.
Q: What were your feelings coming back to DC to face former teammates, Crystal and Marissa, in front of many Terp fans this summer?
A: It was awesome coming to DC! It was great to see all the red in the stands and to hear the cheers when I came into the game for the first time. It was even better hearing them silent when I started making some shots towards the end.

Updated 8/12/09: The Baltimore Sun is also running a story about Kristi Toliver this week.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Osby in Germany

Bambale Osby (2006-08) has signed to play in Germany (translation) with Phoenix Hagen. This will be Hagen's first season in Germany's top league, the Bundesliga, having been recently promoted after finishing last season #2 in the lower ProA league.

Here is the relevant excerpt from the team's press release:
Osby is 23 years old, 2.03 m tall, 118 kg in weight and plays power forward and center. The man with Congolese roots played last year at Mobitelco Cluj in Romania. There, he reached an average of 10.7 points and 7.6 rebounds. "Boom", as he is nicknamed, previously played in college at the University of Maryland. In his senior season, he scored 11.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots.

"Bambale Osby is exactly the player we wanted. He gives us what we need under the basket. He is strong on defense and rebounding, and he brings the necessary mass to dagegenzuhalten," said new Phoenix coach Ingo Freyer. Freyer was particularly impressed by Osby's appearance in a European Cup game against German champion Oldenburg, where he scored 18 points and 6 rebounds.

Last season, I felt that Maryland was definately lacking in dagegenzuhalten after Osby's departure. (Google translation doesn't know what dagegenzuhalten means; other free translation sites say it means, "on the other hand to hold," but that doesn't help in this context. Could mean defense under the basket? Could be offensive putbacks? Any German speakers out there?).

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Steve Blake Saves Lives

OK, so maybe the title of this post is a little bit of an exaggeration, but Steve Blake (1999-2003) did rescue two young boys who had become separated from their parents while hiking in an Oregon State Park.

(Found via Gary Williams's Twitter feed.)

Monday, August 03, 2009

Baxter and Ibekwe sign in Turkey

Lonny Baxter (1998-2002) has signed a new deal (translation) with Besiktas of Turkey's top league, the TBL. Several years ago, Rodney Elliott used to play for Besiktas, and Laura Harper and Shay Doron both played for Besiktas's womens team last year.

Staying in the Turkish Basketball League for another year, Ekene Ibekwe (2003-07) has signed with Kepez Bld Anatalya (translation). Ekene played in the TBL last season with Mutlu Aku Selcuk Universitesi Konya, but that team finished near the bottom of the league and was relegated to the TBL2 minor league. By signing with Kepez, Ibekwe will get to continue playing in the top pro league.