With Canisius College sophomore Kevin Bleeker (208-C-93), we continuing our interview-serie "Dutch Prospect Abroad". At the age of 18, Kevin moved to Buffalo, New York to play and study at the Canisius College. In his freshman year, he played 15 minutes per game and averaged 2.7 points and 2.8 rebounds per game for the Golden Griffins. We talked to the 610, 225-pound Dutch native about his stay at Canisius College, about taking the next step in his college career and his expectations about the upcoming season.
Tell me about your early basketball experiences. What prodded you into playing basketball? I started playing basketball at a young age. My parents were playing in leagues and I would go to the gym with them and shoot around and play at halftime. I started playing on a team when I was 10 years old. I changed club teams when I was 14 and then I started playing and working on my game everyday. I started playing for ALKMAAR Guardians and then moved to BV Noordkop.
What was the first thing you did when you arrived in America? I came here with my family and we spent some time at Crystal Beach (located in Fort Erie, Ontario Canada, right across the bridge from Buffalo) and we had a family vacation. Then my parents dropped me off at school before they went home. I had been to the U.S. four times before coming to school here, so I knew what it was like.
Was there let's say, a culture shock? I wouldn't say culture shock, because I have been here before, but being away from my family and friends in Holland made it much different. I was now living on my own and going to school in another country by myself.
What was the most difficult thing to get used to? The hardest thing to get used to was the speed and tempo of the college basketball here. The players are so much bigger, stronger and faster than they are in Holland, or anywhere in Europe for that matter.
Kevin, is there anything you've missed by being away from home? I miss spending time with my brother (Steve, who is 15 and plays basketball for BV Noordkop) and I miss not being able to see him play. And it is hard that I can't just hang out with my family and friends.
Was it hard to transition to playing at the college level? Yes, it was a tough change. The guys are just bigger and stronger. The pace of the game is so much faster too. It took me some time to get used to that, but I feel much better about those things now.
What's the difference between you and a American-born player? Before I came here to Canisius, I never lifted weights. The guys were all stronger than me, because they grew up working out with weights. I feel like this is a big thing, not just for me, but for all European players who come to the U.S. to play. European players seem like they are more skilled, while the American-born guys are physcially stronger and much more athletic.
How has Coach Jim Baron helped you improve during your first year at Canisius College? Coach Baron is great to work with. He pushes me in everything I do. He understands the European game - he coached Peter Van Paassen when he was the coach at St. Bonaventure. I know coach Baron can help me become a better player.
What did you try to improve over the summer to prepare for the upcoming MAAC season? I lifted a lot of weights and got much stronger. We did a lot of running too to get in better shape. I worked on getting lower and playing with a better base on offense and defense and I really worked on being quicker on my feet. I also took a lot of shots and really worked on improving my shooting.
The 2012-13 season begins Nov. 02. When does practice begin and what are your thoughts on the team so far? The NCAA changed the rules, so we have been working out as a team since Sept. 15, but the real practice season started Oct. 12. I think we're off to a pretty good start and we are all working real hard. We have a lot to prove, we only won five games last year. We have a whole new coaching staff and a bunch of new players, so we are working at coming together as a group. I think with our talent and our hard work, we can make a run at winning the MAAC. This is a really good league and there's a lot of good teams. I can't wait until the regular-season starts.
Thanks Kevin for the time doing this interview. Wish You and the Golden Griffins a successful season.
Grasshoppers and Lokomotief won semifinal openers in PromotieDivisie - 7 hours ago
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Grasshoppers and Lokomotief won semifinal openers in PromotieDivisie on Saturday night. Grasshoppers overcame De Groene 69-55 in game 1. Lokomotief meanwhile beat Lions 84-73 in their opener.
Second game between Grasshoppers and De Groene will be played on April 29th. Lions will take on Lokomotief on April 30th. [read more]
Grasshoppers and Lokomotief won semifinal openers in PromotieDivisie on Saturday night. Grasshoppers overcame De Groene 69-55 in game 1. Lokomotief meanwhile beat Lions 84-73 in their opener. Second game between Grasshoppers and De Groene will be played on April 29th. Lions will take on Lokomotief on April 30th.
Worthy de Jong selected the top Dutch players playing abroad in last week's games - 2 days ago
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Here is the weekly review of the top performing Dutch players, who play currently abroad. Kim Tillie (210-PF-88) could not help Baskonia (17-13) in their last game. Despite his good performance Baskonia was edged 84-82 on the road by the second-ranked CSKA.
Here is the weekly review of the top performing Dutch players, who play currently abroad.
#1. This week's number one is an international shooting guard Worthy de Jong (194-88, currently plays in France). de Jong could not help SO Maritime Boulogne (10-18) in their last game. Despite his very good performance SO Maritime Boulogne lost 73-86 on the road to the higher-ranked (#13) Chorale de Roanne.
de Jong was the top scorer with 21 points. He also added 3 assists and 3 steals in 22 minutes on the court.
It's de Jong's first season with the team.
This year de Jong averages: 9.9ppg, 3.0rpg, 2.0apg, 1.6spg, 2FGP: 46.5%, 3FGP: 34.9% and FT: 63.8% in 28 games he played so far.
He is currently a member of the Dutch senior national team.
#2. Second place goes to former U20 international center Jito Kok (206-94, agency: Court Side, college: San Diego, currently plays in Estonia). Kok led Rapla to an easy victory against the sixth-ranked Valga (12-20) crushing them 99-70 in the Estonian Alexela KML in Thursday night's game.
He scored 12 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and dished 3 assists.
AVIS UTILITAS Rapla (20-12) is placed second in the Alexela KML.
Kok's overall stats this season are: 5.6ppg, 3.4rpg, 2FGP: 49.1% and FT: 59.4%.
He played for the Dutch U20 national team in 2014.
#3. The Dutch player who performed third best last week abroad was former international power forward Josh Duinker (209-89, college: Richmond, currently plays in New Zealand). Duinker was the major contributor in Saints' victory against the closely-ranked Rangers (4-3) crushing them 103-67 in the New Zealand NBL last Friday.
He scored 18 points, had 8 rebounds and dished 3 assists in 20 minutes.
It was the game of the round between two top 4 ranked teams. Wellington Saints (9-0) are placed first in the NBL.
So far his team won all nine games in the Regular Season.
Duinker has individually a very good year with high stats. He averages: 15.1ppg, 7.4rpg, 2.2apg, 2FGP: 58.6%(51-87) and FT: 86.2% in nine games.
Duinker has a dual citizenship: Dutch and Australian.
Former Zorg and Zekerheid Leiden starter played for the Dutch national team four years ago.
#4. Power forward Roeland Schaftenaar (211-88, college: Oregon St., currently plays in Greece) managed to help A.G.O Rethymno Aegean to win against the league outsider Doxa Lefkadas (4-22) 80-67 in the Greek A1 on Thursday night.
He scored 5 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and dished 4 assists.
A.G.O Rethymno Aegean (13-13) is placed sixth in the A1.
Schaftenaar's team will play only one more game in the Regular Season. And that game will be critical.
Schaftenaar's overall stats this season are: 5.7ppg, 4.1rpg and 1.1apg.
He is also Dutch national team player.
#5. International guard Charlon Kloof (190-90, agency: Octagon Europe, college: St.Bonaventure, currently plays in FYR Macedonia) contributed to a MZT Skopje's victory against the fourth-ranked Kozuv (2-5) 79-75 in the FYR Macedonian Prva Liga in Friday night's game.
Kloof recorded 10 points and added 5 assists in 23 minutes.
KK MZT Skopje Aerodrom (7-0) is placed first in Places 1-6 group.
So far his team won all seven games in the Second Stage.
There are only three games left until the end of the Second Stage. So now every game is very crucial.
Kloof has relatively good stats this year: 10.4ppg, 4.1rpg, 4.4apg and 1.4spg in seven games.
He is another player who holds two passports: Surinamese and Dutch.
Kloof plays currently for the Dutch national team.
#6. Center Nicolas de Jong (210-88, currently plays in France) was not able to help one of league's weakest teams Chalons-Reims (9-19) in their last game on Friday. Despite his good performance Chalons-Reims was defeated 82-69 in Antibes by the higher-ranked Olympique (#15).
de Jong recorded 12 points and grabbed 4 rebounds.
This season de Jong has relatively solid stats: 12.6ppg and 3.3rpg.
He is an international player who is currently on the senior Dutch National Team roster.
#7. Former international power forward Jeroen van der List (213-89, college: Indian Hills CC, currently plays in Japan) led Shinshu BW to a victory against the second-ranked Toyotsu FE (38-16) 82-78 in the Japanese B League D2 on Saturday night.
van der List had a double-double by scoring 13 points and getting 11 rebounds. He also added 4 blocks in 25 minutes.
Shinshu Brave Warriors Nagano (13-41) is placed sixth in Central group.
They ended the series of thirteen consecutive loses.
van der List has reliable stats this year: 14.0ppg, 8.9rpg, 1.5apg and 1.6bpg in 22 games.
He used to play for the Dutch national team
three years ago.
#8. Center Henk Norel (213-87, currently plays in Spain) helped Zaragoza edge the closely-ranked Joventut (9-19) 71-69 in the Spanish Liga Endesa in Sunday night's game.
Norel scored 6 points and grabbed 4 rebounds.
Tecnyconta Zaragoza (9-19) is placed 15th in the Liga Endesa.
It was his team's first victory after four consecutive loses.
There are only four games left until the end of the Regular Season. So now every game will be important.
Norel is one of the most experienced players in a team as it's his fifth year in Zaragoza's roster.
His overall stats this season are: 9.1ppg, 6.1rpg and 1.2apg.
Norel used to play for the Dutch national team
back in 2015.
#9. Former international point guard Leon Williams (189-91, currently plays in Germany) helped BG Goettingen win their game against the ninth-ranked EnBW Ludwigsburg (15-15) 84-75 in the German BBL last Monday.
He recorded 8 points in 16 minutes.
BG Goettingen (19-3) is placed first in the BBL.
It was his team's sixth consecutive victory in a row.
There are only three games left until the end of the Regular Season.
This year Williams' overall stats are: 5.4ppg, 1.6rpg and 2.4apg in 27 games.
He used to play for the Dutch national team
two years ago.
#10. Center Kevin Bleeker (208-93, also represented by Court Side, college: Canisius, currently plays in Spain) was not able to secure a victory for Navarra (15-14) in their game against Zamorano (10-19) in the Spanish LEB Silver (third division).
Bleeker scored 7 points and grabbed 4 rebounds in 18 minutes.
Navarra lost 62-72 at home to the lower-ranked (#12) Zamorano.
His team will play only one more game in the Regular Season.
This year Bleeker's total stats are: 6.6ppg and 5.0rpg in 29 games.
He is a former international player as three years ago he still played for the Dutch senior national team.
#11. Former U16 international forward Kevin van Wijk (203-89, college: Valparaiso, currently plays in Spain) couldn't help Melilla Baloncesto in their game against Gipuzkoa in the Spanish LEB Gold (second division). van Wijk cannot count Sunday's game as one of the best ones.
He scored only 3 points.
His team was edged 78-76.
van Wijk has averaged so far 5.9ppg, 3.3rpg and 1.1apg.
He used to play for the Dutch U16 national team
twelve years ago.
The list of other players, who all have Dutch passport but never been selected to any of Dutch national teams:
#1.Kim Tillie (210-PF-88, college: Utah, currently plays in Euroleague) could not help Baskonia (17-13) in their last game. Despite his good performance Baskonia was edged 84-82 on the road by the second-ranked CSKA.
Tillie scored 10 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in 22 minutes.
This year Tillie averages: 7.1ppg, 3.8rpg and 1.1apg in 31 games he played so far.
He has a dual citizenship: Dutch and French.
#2.Ryan Broekhoff (200-F-90, college: Valparaiso, currently plays in VTB United League) was the major contributor in Lokomotiv's victory against the seventh-ranked VEF Riga (10-12) 80-69 in the VTB United League last Thursday.
Broekhoff scored 18 points and grabbed 8 rebounds.
Lokomotiv Kuban (18-5) is placed fourth in group A.
It was his team's fifth consecutive victory in a row.
They will play only one more game in the VTB United League Regular Season. And that game will be critical.
This season Broekhoff averages: 7.9ppg and 5.0rpg.
He is another player who holds two passports: Australian and Dutch.
#3.Tom Slutsky (193-G-92, currently plays in Israel) led Hapoel Afula to an easy victory against the second-ranked Hap.Haifa (10-16) crushing them 96-71 in the Israeli National League (second division) on Saturday night.
Slutsky scored 14 points, grabbed 4 rebounds and dished 4 assists.
It was the game of the round between two top 3 ranked teams in group Play-Downs. Hapoel Afula (12-14) is placed first.
Slutsky's total stats this season are: 4.3ppg and 1.1rpg.
He has both Dutch and Israeli nationalities.
Despite Slutsky's Dutch passport, he previously played for the Israeli U18 national team and is probably not eligible to play for the Dutch team.
#4.Jamal Smith (197-F-92, college: Chattanooga St, currently plays in Belgium) was not able to help Houthalen in their game against Waregem (18-7) in the Belgian Top Division I (second division). Smith cannot count Saturday's game as one of the best ones.
He scored only 2 points in 26 minutes.
Houthalen lost 79-85 at home to the higher-ranked (#3) Waregem.
Smith has averaged so far 8.8ppg, 4.0rpg, 1.2apg and 1.1spg in 27 games.
He is a naturalized American.
Smith used to play for The Bright Kings Den Helder in Dutch league.
Eredivisie Round 3 of Quarter-Finals. Leiden complete semifinal picture - 2 days ago
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Leiden - Amsterdam 75-56 Leiden outgunned Amsterdam in the decisive third game of the series and advanced into Eredivisie semifinal stage. The game was mostly controlled by Leiden. Amsterdam managed to win fourth quarter 15-14. But it was not enough to take a lead and get a victory that evening. Leiden looked well-organized offensively handing out 22 assists. Great defensive blocking was one of the keys in this match when Leiden made 8 blocks. The best player for the winners was internat... [read more]
Leiden outgunned Amsterdam in the decisive third game of the series and advanced into Eredivisie semifinal stage. The game was mostly controlled by Leiden. Amsterdam managed to win fourth quarter 15-14. But it was not enough to take a lead and get a victory that evening. Leiden looked well-organized offensively handing out 22 assists. Great defensive blocking was one of the keys in this match when Leiden made 8 blocks. The best player for the winners was international forward Mohamed Kherrazi (200-90) who scored 12 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. The former international Jessey Voorn (197-90, agency: Court Side) chipped in 22 points. Four Leiden players scored in double figures. At the other side the best for losing team was the former international swingman Dimeo Van-Der-Horst (197-91) who recorded 20 points and Surinamese Sergio de-Randamie (201-84, college: Houston) added 12 points and 6 rebounds respectively. Both coaches used bench players which allowed the starters a little rest for the next games. Top scorers: Leiden: J.Voorn 22+2reb+1ast, M.Kherrazi 12+8reb+6ast, T.Koenis 10+12reb+1ast, R.Jansen 10+1reb+8ast, D.Draper 9+7reb+1ast, J.Lee 5+4reb+4ast Amsterdam: D.Van Der Horst 20+4reb+3ast, S.de Randamie 12+6reb+2ast, S.Mulder 9+2reb+1ast, A.Roye 6+5reb+3ast, G.Slagter 5+6reb, M.Bruining 2
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