Saturday, April 30, 2011

Obinna Ekezie's Travel Website

If you've been coming here long enough, you may remember that two years ago I wrote about Obinna Ekezie (1995-99) starting a travel business in Africa. Well, it's up and running, and they've been working with travel agents for a while now. But if you're planning on traveling to or from Nigeria this summer and you're a do-it-yourself traveler, try out Wakanow.com, which is the new direct-to-consumer travel site operated by the company Ekezie founded and runs, Zeep Travel Network.

(His company reps actually contacted me since they knew I posted news about Obinna in the past and asked if I would post an update. So if it sounds like a press release or free advertising, well, yeah.)

Parents of recruits out there in any sport would do well to Google Obinna Ekezie stories from the 1990's like this one. Ekezie used his basketball skills and his scholarship offer to Maryland so he could attend one of the best business and engineering schools in the country. That's right, read the story: he double-majored in two tough disciplines on his way to an NBA career. After his playing days were over, including four seasons in the NBA, followed by time in Italy and Russia, Obinna turned his Maryland education into successful international entrepreneurship.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Nik Caner-Medley Taking Spain by Storm

This spring, Nik Caner-Medley (2002-06) has taken Spain's top basketball league (which is also Europe's best basketball league), the ACB, by storm. There's a huge feature story on Nik (translation) as the lead story on the front page of ACB.com (which would be the Spanish equivalent of being the lead story on NBA.com in the US). Yeah, it's a lousy translation, but you get used to it after a few paragraphs. Enjoy the photos. Watch the video near the end, and keep in mind that all happened in a 153 second span during one game.

This was the season that Nik took off in Spain. It started with Player of the Week honors in week 8. Player of the Week again in week 23. Then week 31. Player of the Month for February (translation). Then March (translation). Then this week, Player of the Month for April (translation, and this story has a pretty sweet highlight video to go with it). He's only the fifth player ever to get Player of the Month honors three times in one season in the ACB. Nik jokes that every time he wins an award, he has to take his teammates out for pizza, and it's starting to make him poor. There's one month to go in ACB league play, and Nik's team, Asefa Estudiantes Madrid is only in 10th place with a 16-15 record, but not eliminated from play-off contention yet, and you'd have to think Nik Caner-Medley would be a top candidate for MVP of the season.
(Photo: ACB.com)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cliff Tucker Joins the Football Team

Cliff Tucker (2007-11) recently joined the ranks of former Maryland basketball players eligible for mention in this blog, but he's not leaving Maryland quite yet. Tucker has joined the Maryland football team as a wide receiver, as briefly reported in the Baltimore Sun and Testudo Times, and more extensively detailed by Patrick Stevens' D1scourse blog in the Washington Times, who went back to an interview he did with Tucker as a freshman in 2008:
"To tell you the truth, football was kind of the No. 1 in high school," Tucker said then. "Basketball is my first love. I learned that first. All the sudden, high school came and I became a dominant football player. I just loved playing the game and everything. I just fell in love with football a little bit more. Then I just sat down and thought to myself 'I know I can't do both.' I knew it was kind of too tough. Basketball's a lot longer career. In football, you get injured and things like that."

Considering Tucker is 6-foot-6, it shouldn't come as a huge surprise he caught 19 touchdowns to go along with 939 receiving yards as a high school senior. And why not? He was likely to win any jump ball in the end zone with a defensive back, even in a football-rich state like Texas (Tucker attended high school in El Paso).

Big 12 schools such as Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M expressed interest.
I think Calvin McCall was the last athlete who played football and basketball for the Terps. He made the jump the other way, splitting time with both teams for two years before quitting football to concentrate on basketball. McCall is now coaching basketball at his old high school in Orlando, Florida.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Chris Wilcox Leaving a Good Impression

Chris Wilcox is having a huge late-season revival for the Detroit Pistons. In the month of April, he is averaging 12.7 points and 7 rebounds per game, well above his season averages of 7.3 points and 4.3 rebounds. And, he's doing it mostly off the bench with no real increase in his minutes. Wilcox recently scored a season high 27 points in a victory over Milwaukee. Excerpt from the Detroit Free Press:
"Chris Wilcox was outstanding," said coach John Kuester. "I thought the way Chris was so good was because of his ability to slash when people were posting up, getting offensive rebounds, showing his athleticism; something we needed and, hey, 27 points and 13 rebounds is pretty impressive."

MLive.com recently wrote about Wilcox's desire to leave Detroit with a good impression as he plays for a new contract next year:
"I just know these last games, I’ve got to go out and finish strong," he said. "I’ve got to go out and play hard and keep doing what I’m doing. Hopefully, I can leave a good impression on them when it is time for me to re-sign. I just want to be in a situation where I can grow and where I can help."

Unfortunately, with Detroit eliminated from playoff contention while the Pacers and Hornets have qualified for the postseason, Wilcox will now top the list of longest-tenured players without a playoff appearance.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Bambale Osby in the Estonian Dunk Contest

Here's a YouTube video of Bambale Osby (2006-08) in the Estonian slam dunk contest. Boom is playing for TTU/Kalev in Estonia this season. He's #34 in red, in case you can't pick him out by his hair.



(Via Testudo Times.)

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Drew Nicholas in the Euroleague Final Four

Greek team Panathinaikos, home of sharpshooter Drew Nicholas (1999-2003), beat Regal FC Barcelona (and Terence Morris (1997-2001)) 3-1 in their best-of-5 quarterfinal series to reach the Euroleague Final Four.

In the series, Nicholas averaged 9.8 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in four games. Nicholas played well in the first three games, but sprained his ankle and left game 4 early, which hurt his averages. Morris averaged 5 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.5 steals in four games.

Panathinaikos, back in the Final Four after winning it all in 2009 and then missing out in 2010, will play Montepaschi Siena on May 6th.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Mike Jones Signs in Venezuela

Mike Jones (2003-07, Who?) has signed to play (translation, and see the 2nd news item in the story) with Guaiqueries de Margarita in Venezuela. Guaiqueries hasn't updated the news on their website in almost a year, so let's go with an excerpt from the story I linked to above, from Caracas newspaper, El Universal:
Forward Steven Thomas and guard-forward Mike Jones are the two new acquisitions to the roster playing on the island of Margarita. [...]

Jones, who reached an agreement with the team according to a report on the Prosports portal, played at the University of Maryland, where he was teammates with Venezuelan Greivis Vasquez, who now plays in the NBA.

Jones previously played with Argentine clubs Peñarol de Mar del Plata and Gimnasia de Comodoro Rivadavia.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Steve Blake Does Mixed Martial Arts

When he's not playing basketball, Steve Blake (1999-2003) does Mixed Martial Arts training as part of his work-out routine.



Someone should have warned Jason Terry about that before last night's Lakers-Mavs game. (Picture)

Happy April Fools Day!

Happy April Fools Day, Maryland fans! Hope you enjoyed the cats today! They're all from I Can Has Cheezburger. The next news item (Steve Blake and MMA) is for real.

In all fairness, at the bottom of this post from February, I warned you that I would do this someday. :)

The April Fools Day Starting Line-Up, in case you missed any:
Sarunas Catikevicius
Landon Meowborne
Ekene Ibekitty
DJ Catberry
James Hisssst

James Hisssst Demonstrates Shot Blocking Style

James Hisssst demonstrates his shot blocking style:

Cat making shot block motion

Happy April Fools Day!

DJ Catberry Hangs Out With Testudo

DJ Catberry hangs out with Testudo:

Cat on a turtle

Happy April Fools Day!

Ekene Ibekitty Shows Off Basketball Agility

Ekene Ibekitty shows off his great basketball agility:

Cat on a basketball

Happy April Fools Day!

Landon Meowborne Goes Up For the Winning Shot

Landon Meowborne goes up for the winning shot:

Cat about to shoot basketball

Happy April Fools Day!

Sarunas Catikevicius Shows Off His Moves

Sarunas Catikevicius shows off his moves:

Cat playing basketball

Happy April Fools Day!