Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Euroleague Update

It's half way through the Euroleague Top 16 round-robin, and things aren't looking good for the two of the three teams we're watching this year.

First the good news: Terence Morris's (1997-2001) Regal FC Barcelona team is 2-1 in group E. Morris is averaging 6 points and 2.7 rebounds per game: good, but considerably off from his 9.3/5.7 averages for the regular season.

At the bottom of group E, Panathinaikos Athens, home of both Sarunas Jasikevicius (1994-98) and Drew Nicholas (1999-2003), is struggling with an 0-3 record. Sarunas is recovering from an injury and only played in their first game of the round, totaling 6 points and 2 rebounds. Nicholas, meanwhile, is averaging 9 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists while starting 2 of the 3 games. While not mathematically eliminated from the competition, defending champion Panathinaikos's road back to the finals has gotten very difficult.

Meanwhile in group G, Unicaja Malaga and Juan Dixon (1998-2002) are stuck at 1-2. Dixon started all three games before his suspension for steriod use last week. Dixon is averaging 12.7 points and 2.3 rebounds through those three games, but is still waiting on the results of his drug re-test to see if he will be eligible to continue playing.

The second half of the round-robin continues this week.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Steve Blake Traded to the Clippers

Steve Blake (1999-2003) was traded to the LA Clippers today. Blake had played for the Portland Trail Blazers since the beginning of the 2007 season, and is in the final year of his contract (he had also previously played for the Blazers in 2005-06). Along with Blake, Travis Outlaw was sent to the Clippers in exchange for Marcus Camby. From the NBA press release:
The Blazers were able to part with Blake because of the development of Jerryd Bayless and the presence of Andre Miller. Blake returned to Portland before the 2008-09 season and was a starter for much of last season. He began this season in the Blazers' starting lineup as well before taking on a reserve role in December. In 51 games, Blake was averaging 7.6 points and 27 minutes per game for the Blazers.

From the Clippers' press release:
Blake, 29, is in his seventh NBA season and is averaging 7.6 points, 4.0 assists and 2.0 rebounds in 51 games in 2009-10. In his career, the former University of Maryland star has appeared in 470 NBA games, making 289 starts with career averages of 7.6 points, 4.2 assists and 2.6 rebounds. Originally drafted in the second round (38th overall pick) of the 2003 NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards, Blake is a career 39 percent three-point shooter and has played for a total of five teams, spending time with the Milwaukee Bucks and Denver Nuggets as well as the Wizards and Trailblazers.

Clippers GM Mike Dunleavy says, in his own press release:
"We made this deal to add younger players at multiple positions of need. We shored up our backup point guard position and added mobility, range shooting and versatility to our front line. Steve Blake is an accomplished point guard in this league who plays starters minutes and led Portland to the playoffs last year.

(Dunleavy stepped away from being the team's coach earlier this month, handing the coaching reins over to assistant (now interim head coach) Kim Hughes, but is staying on in his role as General Manager.)

Drew Nicholas Answers Fan Mail

Over on the Euroleague website, Drew Nicholas (1999-2003), whose team, Panathinaikos, is in the midst of the Euroleague Top 16 round robin, is the subject of this week's Euroleague Fan Mail feature, in which Drew answered fans' questions from around the world. Here's one question from a fan here in the US:
Since you are one of the few people to do it, can you compare winning the NCAA and winning the Euroleague?

"I would say the comparison is very similar. Growing up in the States, in America, the NCAA championship is such a big event. You grow up watching it and it’s something you dream of doing. The Euroleague title is one of those things that once you become a professional and you start to play on the Euroleague level, that’s the biggest achievement you can have, so you want to be able to do it. So it’s very, very similar. Both are Final Fours, the atmosphere is great… They are both tremendous, tremendous feelings. I can’t say that the one is better than the other. They are 1a and 1b, with neither above the other."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Juan Dixon Suspended for Steroids

Juan Dixon (1998-2002), who has been playing for Unicaja in the Spanish ACB league and the Euroleague since last month, has been suspended indefinitely by FIBA for testing positive on a steroid test. From the Baltimore Sun:
Juan Dixon, Maryland's all-time leading scorer, has tested positive for the steroid nandrolone, his Spanish team Unicaja announced.

The Baltimore native took the drug test in Greece in November, before he joined the Malaga-based team, Unicaja said on its Web site.

Dixon, who went to Calvert Hall, was informed of the positive result several days ago, and the International Basketball Federation decided to suspend him on Friday.

His suspension is indefinite until further notice.

Here's the team's press release (translation). Dixon was averaging 12.7 points per game in 3 Euroleague games and 18.8 points per game in 4 Spanish ACB league games since joining the club in January.

Update: The Baltimore Sun has now reported that Dixon's wife says it was an over-the-counter supplement, Juan is staying in Spain awaiting a re-test, and he has not been released by his team so far.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Mike Jones Switches Teams in Argentina

Mike Jones (2004-08, Who?), who had been playing for Peñarol Mar del Plata in Argentina, has switched teams to league rival Gimnasia y Esgrima Comodoro Rivadavia. Gimnasia's news page (translation) says this, in a news item from mid-January:
The need for consistent performance within the team led the coaching staff and the leadership of Comodoro Rivadavia to make changes within the team: guard Gary Buchanan was dismissed and will be replaced by Mike Allen Jones.

Jones, who donned the jersey of Mar del Plata Peñarol for 8 games, came to our city today and will join the practice this afternoon at 19 pm.

Jones was born in Dorchester, Mass., 24 July 1984, and measures 1.96m. He graduated from the University of Maryland in 2007, professionally went through Turkey and Cyprus, played in the Romanian league last year for Asesoft CSU Ploiesti City, with 13.2 points (59.7% in doubles, 37.5% in triples, 74.4% free throws), 2.5 rebounds and 19.9 minutes on average in 37 games. His statistics during his time with Peñarol de Mar del Plata were 108 points, with a yield of 60% in doubles, 26.4 in triples, and 68.6 at the free-throw line.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Ekene Ibekwe Changes Teams in Turkey

Ekene Ibekwe (2004-07), who had been playing for Kepez Belediyesi in Turkey's TBL, has signed a new deal to play for Genç Banvitliler of the TBL2 league. Here is the team's press release (original translation), which I have taken the liberty of heavily editing into something that makes more sense than the auto-translation:

TBL2's struggling Genç Banvitliler, has added Ekene Ibekwe, who played last season for the TBL's Selcuk University team. After graduating from the University of Maryland, Ibekwe played in France for Israel's Gilboa Besancon. For the 2008-09 season, he joined Selcuk University of the TBL, playing in 28 games and averaging 18.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, and 1.8 assists. For the 2009 - 2010 season, Ibekwe joined our team after Iran'da Petrochimi left the team last month.

Speaking about the transfer of athletes, Çataloluk General Manager Turgay said, "Watching the TBL last season, we noticed Ibekwe, a player we whom we have confidence in his capabilities and quality. In the first half of the season, TBL2's Genç Banvitliler planned to strengthen itself with the aim of adding high-quality foreign players. During this period, we knew about Ibekwe as a player and we knew we found the player we wanted to make a deal with. We think it is an important signing for the TBL2. With talented young players already established on our team, adding Ibekwe to the team will pay off with ain increasing number of wins."

Plus, the press release has a nice picture of Ibekwe dunking on some poor guy from Davidson in the 2007 NCAA tournament.

Also, as a bonus, here's a YouTube video of Ibekwe highlights from his 2008-2009 season in Turkey (the video has embedding disabled, so you'll have to click the link).

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Ryan Randle in Switzerland

Last month, Ryan Randle (2001-03) signed to play with MGS Grand-Saconnex Basket in Switzerland. MGS plays in the Swiss LNBA-A league (the higher of two pro leagues in Switzerland). The MLB Basket blog relays the news:
MGS Grand-Saconnex have agreed on terms of contract with Ryan Randle (206-F-81, college: Maryland). The 28-year-old forward started the previous season in Barreteros in the Mexican LNBP. He tallied 13.0 points and 4.5 boards but left after two games. Ryan Randle later signed for St. Etienne in France. The forward notched 8.9 points and 3.8 rebounds per game in ProB. Ryan Randle graduated from the University of Maryland. He later had stints in Poland, Italy and Cyprus.