Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Nik Caner-Medley's All-Star Season in Spain

Nik Caner-Medley (2002-06) had a big season this year in Spain's ACB league, playing for Asefa Estudiantes in Madrid. While the team struggled to a 16-18 record and missed the playoffs, Nik was named ACB Player of the Month three times and was a break-out star in the league this season.

In the ACB regular season, Caner-Medley averaged 14.4 points (7th in the league) and 7.6 rebounds (1st in the league) in 31 games. Nik was named to the First Team All-ACB team (translation) following the season as one of the two best frontcourt players in the league. He was at the top of the league (translation) with his 17.6 average player rating as well as his 7.6 rebounds per game and 5.5 defensive rebounds per game.

Estudiantes also advanced to the quarterfinals of the continent-wide Eurocup tournament, where Nik averaged 12.4 points and 7.0 rebounds in 14 games.

And now for your viewing enjoyment, Nik Caner-Medley highlights from this season:

...And a Q&A session with Nik answering questions from fans on the street (the questions are in Spanish, but he answers in English with Spanish subtitles). Notably from this, he's a free agent this summer, but is focusing on playing again in Europe instead of the NBA.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Drew Nicholas is Once Again a Champion in Greece

Drew Nicholas (1999-2003) is once again a champion in Greece, as his team, Panathinaikos BC of Athens won the Greek League Championship for the ninth consecutive season. Panathinaikos was second in the regular season, with a 24-2 record, behind only undefeated Olympaikos, whom they defeated in the play-off finals 3 games to 1.

Earlier this season, Panathinaikos also won the Euroleague Championship for the second time in three years. Nicholas was an elite shooter and an ace defender in the tournament:
With clutch shot after clutch shot in the 2011 Turkish Airlines Euroleague title game, Drew Nicholas played a valuable role in giving Panathinaikos its sixth continental title. Nicholas, a former Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy winner, has developed into an ace defender for the Greens, but he showed in Barcelona that he still has an elite scoring touch. Nicholas came through with 14 points against Maccabi Electra to help guide the Greens to the promised land. From the time he entered the game early in the second quarter, Nicholas put the ball in the net, whether by driving through the Maccabi defense or by trusting his shooter's touch. When the final buzzer sounded, Nicholas could say that by excelling at whatever end of the court his team needed him most, he was now a two-time Euroleague champion.

In 20 Euroleague games, Nicholas averaged 9.8 points, 1.2 rebounds, and 1.7 assists while shooting 41.5% from 3 point range. In 27 Greek League games, Nicholas averaged 9.7 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 2.3 assists while making an even better 44.4% of his 3 pointer attempts. This was Nicholas's third season playing for Panathinaikos.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cliff Tucker will Play Football at UTEP

Cliff Tucker (2007-2011) will enroll at the University of Texas El Paso next fall and join their football team. Tucker participated in Maryland's spring football practices, but was not offered a scholarship, so he is returning to his hometown (El Paso Times):
Having exhausted his eligibility in basketball, he competed in spring football for Maryland, but when that school didn't have an available scholarship, he inquired about coming to UTEP.

His next game should be Sept. 3 in the Sun Bowl against Stoney Brook, in the orange and blue of the Miners.

"I've always had a love for football," Tucker said, making official his transfer to UTEP. "I've come back to El Paso every summer and I'm excited to go to UTEP."

As a football player, Tucker was recruited by most of the Big 12.
The UTEP Miners play in Conference USA, and went 6-7 last season.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Terence Morris Wins Spanish Championship

This season, Terence Morris (1997-2001) and his team, Regal FC Barcelona, won the Spanish ACB regular season with a 27-7 record and ACB Championship tournament, beating Bizkaia Bilbao 3 games to 0 in the finals. Along the way, Regal Barca also won their 22nd Spanish Cup mid-season tournament and advanced to the Euroleague quarterfinals.

In 20 Euroleague games, Morris averaged 6.6 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. In 41 Spanish ACB games, Morris averaged 5.9 points and 3.3 rebounds. Following the season, Regal Barcelona announced that they will not extend his contract (translation) for next season.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sarunas Jasikevicius is a Champion in Turkey

Sarunas Jasikevicius (1994-98) is coming off a championship season in Turkey, as his team, Fenerbahce Ulker, won the Turkish BBL regular season with a 27-3 record, won the mid-season Turkish Cup tournament title, and wrapped up their season by winning the Turkish League Championship for the second year in a row. In the middle of all that, they also advanced to the Euroleague Top 16.

Jasikevicius started the season with Lietuvos Rytas in Lithuania before being released and subsequently signing in Turkey in December. In 6 Euroleague, 4 Lithuanian league games, and 2 VTB regional league games with Lietuvos, Sarunas averaged 8.5 points and 3.9 assists per game. In 24 Turkish league games and 6 Euroleague games for FB Ukler, Sarunas averaged 7.7 points and 2.4 assists.

Sarunas will be a free agent this summer, and doesn't know if he will be re-signed by Fenerbahce, but he believes he can play 2-3 more seasons (translation) and would like to play in Turkey again.

And now, five minutes of Sarunas highlights from the final game of their Championship series:

Monday, June 20, 2011

James Gist wins Three Trophies in Serbia, then Signs in Turkey for Next Year

James Gist (2004-08), coming off a big season with Partizan Belgrade in Serbia, has signed to play next year for Turkey's reigning champion, Fenerbahe Ulker. (If you remember hearing about FB Ulker on this blog before, it's because it's also home to Sarunas Jasikevicius.)

Partizan played in three different leagues this season, and Gist averaged 11.6 points and 6.3 rebounds in 56 total games. Partizan went 13-1 in the regular season and easily won the Serbian league's championship tournament (not a surprise; this was their tenth straight title as the big fish in an otherwise weak league). Partizan also won the mid-season Serbian Cup tournament. Partizan went 18-8 and won the Adriatic international "NLB" league regular season and championship tournament against tougher competition (it was only their fifth consecutive Adriatic championship). Partizan also advanced to the Top 16 round of the Euroleague tournament before bowing out.

Now enjoy this Top Ten compilation of Gist's dunks from this season:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Greivis Vasquez Engages in Sports Diplomacy

Greivis Vasquez (2006-10) is working with the US State Department and the NBA as part of the SportsUnited program to reach out to kids in Venezuela. The Baltimore Sun had this story about Vasquez's sports diplomacy today. Excerpt:
Vasquez said he approached the U.S. Embassy in Caracas recently about doing some work for the community. Ann Stock, the State Department's assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, said that Vasquez's name came up when the State Department contacted the NBA about its program.

"Close to 65 percent of the people in the world are under age 30," Stock said. "We need to figure out ways to engage with those young people, and sports have always been a way to do that. Greivis is a perfect person for this program, because he's so personable and he's a role model to a lot of kids. He's going to learn a lot too."

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Vicki Bullett To Be Inducted into Hall of Fame

Former Terp Vicki Bullett (1986-89) will be inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday. Don't remember her? Maryland's press release will fill you in:
A Terp from 1986-89, Bullett was named to the 1989 Kodak All-America team. Over the course of her career she averaged 16.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game to become one of the most decorated players in Maryland history. Bullett was a member of three ACC Championship teams en route to being named the 1989 ACC Player of the Year, and ACC Tournament MVP. She is fourth all-time in the Maryland record books in scoring with 1,928 points in her Terrapin career and is third in rebounding with 968 boards.

A two-time Olympian, Bullett was a part of the USA Women's Basketball team that won gold in 1988 and captured bronze in 1992. She played six seasons in the WNBA for the Charlotte Sting and the Washington Mystics from 1997-2001, scoring 2,018 points.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

WNBA Season Begins as European Women's Season Wraps Up

Three former Terps are playing in the WNBA this summer: Marissa Coleman (2005-09) and Crystal Langhorne (2004-08) with the Washington Mystics, and Kristi Toliver (2005-09) for the Los Angeles Sparks.

Many women spend the summers playing in the WNBA, but then spend the WNBA off-season, known to the rest of the world as "basketball season", playing overseas.

This winter, Crystal Langhorne played for Russia's UMMC Ekaterinburg. UMMC lost in the Women's Euroleague Final Four (but won the third place game), then bounced back to win the Russian league championship. UMMC did not lose in the Russian league all season: they were undefeated 18-0 in the regular season, then won their three playoff series 2-0, 2-0, and 3-0.

Marissa Coleman played for Hungary's MKB Euroleasing Sopron, which won the Hungarian Women's Championship after finishing second in the regular season. MKB played in the women's Euroleague competition, but lost in the round of 16.

Kristi Toliver played for Turkey's Samsun Basketbol, which finished 7th in the regular season and then lost in the quarterfinals of its league tournament.

Shay Doron (2003-07) no longer plays in the WNBA, but she played for Israel's Elitzur Ramla this year, leading her team to the Eurocup Championship, the Israeli State Cup, and the Israeli League Championship. The team finished first in the Israeli regular season as well, going 17-1. In this interview (from her own official site), Shay talked about her team's record-setting season and her career.

Lori Bjork (2009-10) played for Romania's Satu Mare this winter, where she was selected for the league's All-Star game (translation). Satu Mare finished the regular season in first place, but lost in the finals of the Romanian League Championship.