Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Walt Williams and Tony Massenburg are Writing a Len Bias Book Together

Walt Williams (1988-1992) recently told Dan Steinberg's DC Sports Bog (the best part of the Washington Post sports section) that he is in the final stages of writing a book about Len Bias along with Tony Massenburg (1986-90):
“We’re still making edits; we’re in the finishing stages,” the former Maryland great said. “As we get closer to the final stages, I’ll be able to elaborate on it a little bit more. As of now, you can just say we do have something in the works, and we took a different direction than most have. It’s not so much the [Bias] story, but the effect of the story.”

The project is a collaboration between Williams, fellow Terp Tony Massenburg and a writer. Williams said they hope to have a finished product before the end of 2013, so that it could be released during the Maryland basketball season.

Williams is participating in a charity bike ride, the Catoctin Challenge, next weekend in Frederick County. He hopes to raise $50,000 for two charity foundations he supports. There's more on that in the Sports Bog story linked above too, and I wrote about it last year as well.

(Also, if you're looking for a Len Bias book and can't wait until next winter for the Williams/Massenburg collaboration, check out Dave Ungrady's Born Ready.)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Interviews with Landon Milbourne and Adrian Bowie

The writers over at Testudo Times recently had the chance to interview Landon Milbourne (2006-10) and Adrian Bowie (2007-11) on their playing careers over in Europe:

First up, the interview with Landon Milbourne, who spent last season with Panionios in Greek's top division:
It's just different, because, you know, different cultures, different ways of living. As far as basketball is concerned, there's not too much different, you've just got a new group of teammates every year, another coach and you have to adjust to him. But for the most part, you know, you just try to make the best out of it and come home with some wins. [...]

In Greece the basketball culture is real strong, stronger than it was in France. [Panionios] had a real good history in basketball, the people knew a lot about basketball, so they were really, really supportive and it was a real fun year.

Next, Adrian Bowie talks about his season in Germany with the Herten Lions:
My experience playing in Europe was a lot of fun and learning at the same time. Different role then playing at Maryland. I was the scorer on the team and I enjoyed the role. [...]

I am not returning to the Lions next year. Looking to move up to higher league in another country. Just trying to play against the best.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Alex Len Undergoes Another Ankle Surgery

When he was drafted by the Phoenix Suns, everyone knew that Alex Len (2011-13) was recovering from surgery to repair stress fractures in his left ankle. But now, Len has also had surgery on his right ankle too.

The story from NBC Sports:
Alex Len was selected with the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft by the Phoenix Suns, even though he was recovering from surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left ankle.

Len told reporters on draft night that he expected to resume basketball activities in August, which would have put him on pace to be ready for full participation in October’s training camp.

But another surgery turned out to be required — on the right ankle this time — that may put that timetable in jeopardy.

SB Nation says that despite the second surgery, Len should still be ready to play by training camp:
Despite the pair of surgeries, it's expected that Len will be ready for the beginning of the 2013-14 season. The timetable for his initial injury was set at four to six months, and this procedure isn't expected to significantly alter that projection.

While some may express concern that Len needs so much work done before even stepping on an NBA court, it's worth remembering the Suns have arguably the best medical staff in the league. If any team deserves the benefit of the doubt with player injuries, it's Phoenix. So it'll be interesting to see how Len recovers in the coming months.

USA Today asks if the Suns made a mistake drafting Len:
When a 20-year-old, 7-foot-1 man has surgeries on both ankles within a little more than two months, the sofa and armchair doctors throw their ankles off their ottomans in disbelief.

Did the Phoenix Suns draft damaged goods at No. 5 last month by choosing Alex Len? Is this another big man with chronic health issues barely above the hardwood? [...]

There certainly is reason for concern, because Len is a critical element to the Suns' turnaround. But the ankle issues do not alarm the Suns. They checked out the left ankle before drafting him and were confident that the partial stress fracture would not be a future issue.

But Len himself assured his fans on Twitter that he'll be back in around 4 weeks:

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Five Terps in the WNBA This Season

Five former Terps are playing in the WNBA this season, and the Diamondback has been following along with weekly updates on their seasons (check back there weekly for updates).

Marissa Coleman (2005-09) is playing for the Los Angeles Sparks (player profile). Here's Coleman answering questions in the Sparks MVP Lounge.

Tianna Hawkins (2009-13) is playing for the Seattle Storm (player profile). The Washington Post recently featured Hawkins in a story about her rookie season.

Lynetta Kizer (2008-12) is playing for the Phoenix Mercury (player profile). Kizer, the back-up center behind Brittney Griner, has missed games recently with an injury.

Crystal Langhorne (2004-08) is playing for the Washington Mystics (player profile). Believe it or not, Langhorne is now the Washington area's longest-tenured athlete (counting college plus her pro career with the Mystics).

Kristi Toliver (2005-09) is also playing for the Los Angeles Sparks (player profile). Toliver is one of LA's leaders on the court this season, according to ESPN.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Logan Aronhalt to Play for Assigeco Casalpusterlengo in Italy

Logan Aronhalt (2012-13), making his first appearance in this blog, has signed to play next season with Italian team Assigeco Casalpusterlengo. Casalpusterlengo plays in the Nazionale A league, the third division of pro basketball in Italy. Naturally, there were lots of local stories about the signing: with the Announcement:
Former Maryland guard Logan Aronhalt has signed a 10-month contract to play basketball with Assigeco Casalpusterlengo in Italy.

Aronhalt, who averaged 6.0 points per game as an off-the-bench 3-point threat in his lone season with the Terrapins, signed a contract last Friday while playing in a Las Vegas showcase and will leave for Italy on August 15.

The Washington Post's Terrapin Insider:
With Casalpusterlengo, Aronhalt enters an eerily similar situation to the one he found in College Park. The Italian squad, which finished fourth in its division last year, fields five players born in the 1990s, included two born in 1995 or later.

“I’m going to be one of the older guys on the team, but I think anytime they bring in imports they expect to score and be one of the better players. I’ll be doing a lot more scoring than I’ll be doing at Maryland,” Aronhalt said. “Then again I’ll have to be an older guy, an elder statesmen of sorts.”

The Baltimore Sun:
As a high school player in Ohio, Logan Aronhalt twice went with teams to Italy to play basketball. Aronhalt, who played as a graduate student last season at Maryland after playing three years at Albany, will now be going to Italy to start what he hopes to be a long professional career.

The 6-foot-3 shooting guard signed last week with Assigeco Casalpusterlengo, a third-division team near Milan. Aronhalt said his agent sent tapes out to a number of European teams and had a connection to another agent in Italy, who helped close the deal.

The Diamondback:
In Italy, incoming players often start in the third-tier league, like Aronhalt will with Assigeco Casalpusterlengo. Players are able to move up into the higher divisions, as Aronhalt hopes to do by performing well this season.

“I’ll be playing in the lower league, but the top division is very good,” Aronhalt said. “This gives me a chance to get my foot in the door over there, and hopefully I can work my way up.”

Friday, July 19, 2013

Greivis Vasquez Traded to the Sacramento Kings

Greivis Vasquez (2006-10) was traded from the New Orleans Hornets Pelicans to the Sacramento Kings. The Sacramento Bee says:
Vasquez comes to the Kings from New Orleans, who received Tyreke Evans from Sacramento in a sign-and-trade. Portland sent the draft rights to center Jeff Withey to New Orleans and two second-round draft choices to Sacramento. Center Robin Lopez and guard Terrel Harris were dealt to Portland from New Orleans as part of the trade, too.

Vasquez averaged career highs of 13.9 points and nine assists last season.

Also, they're excited in Sacramento:
Vasquez's passing skills give the Kings an opportunity to improve ball movement, which was often minimal last season as players resorted to one-on-one play.

The Kings want unselfish players who will be accountable, and Vasquez fits the bill.

"I think I can showcase my leadership skills, my talent and things that people haven't seen yet," Vasquez said. "I want to be the leader. I want to be the guy people follow. I didn't come here to score 40 points. I came here to make my teammates better."

Vasquez is currently injured, but he expects to be ready for training camp:
TThe Greivis Vasquez-Tyreke Evans deal was made official on Thursday, and Vasquez was able to talk to the local media on Friday. The usual platitudes were volleyed about -- his enthusiasm sounds great in print -- but there's also a bit of news: he expects to be medically cleared to resume basketball activities in eight weeks, putting him healthy in time for training camp, which typically begins in the last days of September.

Vasquez had surgery to remove bone spurs from his right ankle at the end of the Hornets' 2012-13 season.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Alex Len Selected by the Phoenix Suns with the #5 Pick in the NBA Draft

As predicted by nearly everyone, Alex Len (2011-13), making his first appearance in this blog, was a lottery pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. The only mystery was how high he would be selected. And the answer was fifth overall by the Phoenix Suns. Here's a round-up of coverage:

The Phoenix Suns announce their pick with an unusually bad pun in the headline:
“When Anthony Bennett went first, I think everybody in the room was excited to think that the guy we had rated the highest on our board may end up (reaching us), and that’s exactly what happened with Alex,” Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek said. “So when the fourth pick came, and we saw it wasn’t Alex, it was a no-brainer for us.” [...]

“Obviously when you want to be a fast-breaking team, the best way to get out on the break is to play good defense and take off with it,” Hornacek said. “Big guys are not usually that mobile, and he’s a very mobile guy. And especially in our system where you want to get out running, he can fill the lane. Several times you saw him go down the middle of the lane, get a pass just inside that free throw line, take one long stride and he’s dunking it. I think being a gymnast is going to bode well for footwork and everything else.”

Also from the Suns' website, here's a video of Len's introductory press conference with the Suns, and an interview with Mark Turgeon about how Len will continue to develop and evolve in the NBA.

The Arizona Republic:
The Suns did not just think Len was the best center in this year’s draft. They thought he was the best player in the draft. The Suns did not win the draft lottery on May 21, but they felt like they won it Thursday when they were stunned that Len was available at No. 5.

The Suns started salivating once Cleveland dropped jaws by taking UNLV’s Anthony Bennett first. They discussed trading up with each of the four teams ahead of them to get Len.

“How often do you get a chance to get a 7-1 skilled guy who is a great person on the court, who is long, has got a nice touch, finishes well around the basket with good body control?,” Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough said. “We feel like he’s just scratching the surface of his basketball ability.”

Testudo Times:
"With the pick 5th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Phoenix Suns select Alex Len, Antratsyt, Ukraine and the University of Maryland."

They were the words Alex Len had always hoped he’d hear, the ones his mother believed could become reality if she gave her son the opportunity to achieve his dream of playing in the NBA. In a matter of seconds, years of work, stress, sacrifices and struggles became a distant memory, as NBA Commissioner David Stern handed Len his Suns hat, marking the unofficial start of his lifelong dream to play in the NBA.

The Baltimore Sun:
The selection of the 7-foot-1, 255-pound Ukrainian marks the highest of a Maryland player since Steve Francis was picked No. 2 by the Vancouver Grizzlies in 1999. He is the first former Terp taken in the lottery picks (top 14) since Chris Wilcox was selected eighth by the Los Angeles Clippers in 2002.

Maryland coach Mark Turgeon, who accompanied Len, his mother and sister to the draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., said he was “thrilled” with the selection of Len by the Suns, a rebuilding franchise coming off its worst season in more than 40 years.

The Washington Post:
Once thought to be in the running for the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, former Maryland center Alex Len dropped to fifth, where the Phoenix Suns selected him Thursday night in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The Suns chose Len over Kentucky center Nerlens Noel and Kansas guard Ben McLemore, who were both still available.