Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Blazers Celebrate Buck Williams

The Portland Blazers are celebrating their heritage this season, honoring the great players from their team's history. Earlier this month, they honored former Terp and Blazer Buck Williams (1986-89). (Williams is also currently an assistant coach for the Blazers.) Here's a story about Williams and his history with the Blazers from their website.

The spring of 1990 for Trail Blazer fans came out of the blue -- or. more aptly, out of the gray, given the hue of normal Oregon winters.

Nobody expected greatness from this team entering the season. Coming off a disappointing 39-43 record the year before, the Blazers caught fire in late February and finished the regular season winning 21 of their final 26 games. They exploded with pizzazz into the playoffs and all the way to the NBA championship Finals.

Entering those playoffs, the 1989-90 Blazers set team records for wins (59), road wins (24) and team confidence, as they fashioned the second best record in the NBA.

For many, it would be called Clyde Drexler's team, but truth be told the key to the 1989-90 turn-around season was an off-season trade that sent former Blazer Sam Bowie and a draft choice to New Jersey for Charles Linwood "Buck" Williams.

Not a splashy forward or heavy scorer, Buck Williams was a banger, a defensive stopper, an intimidator and clearly the key to the great Trail Blazers' teams that dominated most NBA opponents from 1989 through 1993.

(Bonus Video: Buck talks about wearing a bow tie on the sidelines.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Jasikevicius Finally Signs in Lithuania

After rejecting their first offer and practicing with another team in Greece for a few weeks, Sarunas Jasikevicius (1994-98) has finally signed to play this season for Lietuvos Rytas in Vilnius, Lithuania. Long ago, before his NBA stint and all the Euroleague titles and big contracts in Spain, Israel, and Greece, Lietuvos Rytas was Sarunas's first pro team after leaving Maryland. Lietuvos Rytas is competing in the Euroleague tournament this season, but currently in next-to-last place in the Group C round-robin and faces an uphill battle to make it to the Top 16 round. The team is currently in second place in the Lithuanian league regular season.

The Lithuanian-English translation of the official team story (translation) is virtually unreadable, but there it is for your reading enjoyment; the first line reads: "The Lithuanian Morning back Sarunas Jasikevicius now live in a hotel that once was mined. On the day when the first player signed a contract with a team of Vilnius, drunk Arunas Valinskas reported bomb Sarunas."

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Jasikevicius Still Unsigned, but Working Out with Greek Team

As national leagues and the annual Euroleague opening rounds begin, the big free agent story of the fall in Europe is: Where will Sarunas Jasikevicius (1994-98) sign? After the team he led to the Euroleague Championship in 2009, Panathinaikos, declined to resign him for this season, there have been rumors that went nowhere about a return to his former team, Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel, and rejected offers to return to his first pro team, Lietuvos Rytas or Kaunas Zalgiris in Lithuania.

Still without a team as the season begins, Sarunas is staying active in Greece, working out with Peristeri Athens (translation) even though he hasn't signed with the team and isn't playing in games for them. He could sign with Athens, but for now he appears to be holding out for an offer from a higher profile team.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Return of the Mobbies

Click here to vote for my blog ... early and oftenThe Mobbies are back for 2010!

What are the Mobbies? They're the Baltimore Sun's annual blog awards, and once again, Maryland Basketball: Where Are They Now? is nominated in the Terps Blogs category. Last year, we finished a respectable "not in last place", and I'd like to that well again this year, so please head over there and vote today!

(You can vote once per day until November 12.)

Monday, November 01, 2010

Gist Signs with Euroleague Power Partizan Belgrade

After being cut at the end of the preseason by the Spurs last week, it didn't take James Gist (2004-08) long to sign with a new team in Europe. Gist signed a new contract with perennial Euroleague power Partizan Belgrade of Serbia. Partizan was one of the Euroleague Final Four teams last spring. The Euroleague press release says:
Serbian champion Partizan Belgrade moved to reenforce its frontcourt by signing power forward James Gist to a one-year deal on Tuesday. Gist (23 years old, 206cm) will be in Belgrade on Wednesday to watch Partizan play Khimki Moscow, but is not expected to make his Euroleague debut until next week. Gist arrives from Lokmotiv Kuban of the Russian League, where he averaged 11.4 points and 4.2 rebounds in 17 games last season. The year before that, he put up 13 points and 6 rebounds on average for Angelico Biella in the Italian League. Previously, Gist played for University of Maryland from 2004 to 2008. Gist's arrival coincides with the release of power forward Sava Lesic (22, 208), who was part of the Partizan team that reached the Final Four last season while winning the Adriatic League, Serbian League and Serbian Cup trophies.