The Redland Bulldogs lived up to their moniker elegantly yesterday when they battled tenaciously individually and collectively to Win The Paddy Ryan Memorial Trophy played out to enthralled fans at The O Loughlin Gaels Sports Complex in Kilkenny City as they defeated newely promoted to Ireland,s Superleague The Dublin Thunder on a scoreline of 91 to 75.Now from a coaching stance I,m all for strategy that makes the best of what you,ve got and The Bulldogs certainly did this with a seriously disengaging often full court pressure and help defence that put quite simply never allowed opponents in any of their three games to play with composure concentration and confidence.Couple this to a really well conditioned team both physically and mentally and you have the components for real success.The Bulldogs opener versus hosts Team Left Bank Kilkenny saw them start as they obviously planned to finish by using their speed quickness and endurance to take the game to their opponents and keep it there in their opponents half for as long as possible the outcome of which most often than not was a relieved offence simply for getting the ball over the half way line though now with the clock running down and opponents guards over-stressed from having to carry the bulk of the phychological workload.In fairness to Kilkenny they never dropped their heads despite the scoreline running 15 plays 7 17/11, 19/11, 23/11, and to finished at 69 plays 24.Kilkenny though with ex Superleague Winner with Waterford Crystal guard Dean Kavanagh and guard Julian O Keeffe who certainly talent wise were up to Redlands level would have benefitted more having the bigger inside players with better level ball handling and finishing skills at least close to the basket, conditioning too physically would have made a considerable difference though that,s what you get practising 2/3 times / week as opposed to every day and twice a day.The Kilkenny followers though were fully appreciative of the efforts put forward by their team and with this the House -full sign can be expected to be seen when Kilkenny play Blue Demons in their Div 1 opener in a 10 game home schedule in October . Game 2 saw Ballon BC play also newely promoted to superleague play Dublin thunder and as was to be expected seeing the strength of the teams in the warm ups The Thunder won convincingly at 61 to 37.The Thunder on their showing this weekend are quite capable of making an immediate impact at superleague level though it remains to be seen what the true picture can become until teams actually state their named teams for the season.The Thunder in this their opener had good balance with their guards and relatively speaking big men inside allowing substituting after the first quarter with the momentum and game under their control.
The third game pitched Redlands with Dublin Inter (Ballons 1st team) and it in terms of deciding who,d progress or not was critical.The contrasting via East versus West in terms of basketball styles was the hallmark of this game with Inter being more direct and staid in their approach whereas the U.S.A. team were at least on the surface more emotionally involved and self expressive in their play.Inter it must be said though did possess that winning attitude to a man and their tough uncomprimising attitude meant the Americans were put to the pin of their collar to eventually win it at 51 plays 47.Jim Ducey earned his corn with this one on the line in the third quarter impressing on his charges the value of what was at stake in a similar vein to how Isaw The USA team of under 20,s compete at the 2006 Albert Schweitzer Tournament at Mannheim Germany.Ducey,s team duly responded in what to a certain extent as the tournament was their final. Game 4 Dublin Thunder 80 against Castleisland,s 55 points with St Mary,s Andrew Fitzgerald now in the best shape of his life at 30 years of age hitting 26 and playing defence that would have me starting him on any Superleague team at the minute (providing of course he comes through maherprobasket,s teamsystem player evaluation process).
Game 5 Dublin Inter 51 / Team Left Bank kilkenny 49. ....Game 6 Castleisland 66 / Ballon BC 60.
Game 6 the Final : Wearing my coach,s hat and having seen practically every shot, rebound, foul and heard the oooh,s and ahhh,s of a highly entertained fan contingent from early in the day being at the venue literally before the first team arrived my initial thoughts on writing up my usual pre game personalised "skinny" I asked myself "Pat ! What are the deciding factors here likely to be" next I listed them 1.Are the older and in 3/4 instances physically stronger Thunder,s players likely to be be able to gain some mometum early and maintain it to give themselves a shot at winning ?. 2. Do the thunder have the energy to stay with The Bulldogs given the intensity on defence the bulldogs have displayed up to this point ?. 3.Can the Bulldogs win enough boards to get the quick breaking points they are used to scoring to give themselves the leverage they need with what is practically a bit of a gamble even with the top level teams. The answers as they unfolded were irrelevant to a degree as the quality of the bench players dictated the final outcome with the Thunder unable or unwilling to an extent to risk putting guys on the floor who up to this stage were quite capable of playing a positive contributing role and this scenario was evident really early in the opening quarter when The Thunder,s "Big 3" inside players simply had to come out for a breather. (In fairness to The Thunder this scenario is unlikely at the minute to be a diminishing factor in terms of their Superleague aspirations this season).Westbrooks up to the final few minutes to give him his due was able to run the game in a way where if his teamates (and I have seen him do this with the Senior Men,s National team) had the ability to dominate the floor and create passing lanes / opportunities he is quite capable of making those passes with his perimeter scoring threat a plus for himself too, though he could use a quicker step to give himself that triple threat game with a higher level of legetimacy.Bulldogs coaching staff played this one out not unlike an elaborate chess game allowing Thunder to get close but not too close again and again and again until finally and I could see it etched on the thunder,s faces an expression of "Well ! What do we have to do here against these guy.s".The final scoreline again of 91 to 75 was probably a fair reflection and a just outcome for all the efforts The Bulldogs must have put in to get in the shape they are in. Tournament sponsors : www.aib.ie, www.basketballireland.ie, www.kbowlkk.ie, www.leftbank.ie, www.firecentre.ie, www.kingsize.ie, www.arklowbay.com, www.springhillcourt.com, www.clonmelpark.com,www.greenisle.com
Congratulations to Kilkenny BC on running a very successful tournament.
Dean Kavanagh (183-G-84)
32-year old Irish ex-international guard Donnie McGrath (193-90kg-84, college: Providence). He is a dual citizen owning also American passport. McGrath played last season at Obradoiro in Spanish Liga Endesa. In 33 games he had 7.7ppg, 1.7rpg and 4.7apg. The previous (14-15) season he played at Krasny Oktyabr in Russian league where in 6 Eurocup games he recorded 11.2ppg, 2.7rpg and 5.3apg. McGrath also played 17 games in VTB United League where he avera... [read more]
Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius (LKL) signed 32-year old Irish ex-international guard Donnie McGrath (193-90kg-84, college: Providence). He is a dual citizen owning also American passport. McGrath played last season at Obradoiro in Spanish Liga Endesa. In 33 games he had 7.7ppg, 1.7rpg and 4.7apg. The previous (14-15) season he played at Krasny Oktyabr in Russian league where in 6 Eurocup games he recorded 11.2ppg, 2.7rpg and 5.3apg. McGrath also played 17 games in VTB United League where he averaged 9.2ppg, 2.6rpg and 4.6apg. The other team he played shortly was Anadolu Efes in Turkish league. In 5 Euroleague games he got 4.0ppg, 1.4rpg and 1.0apg. McGrath also spent pre-season at La ICL Manresa (also in Liga Endesa) that year. He was a member of Irish Senior National Team between 2006 and 2008. McGrath is quite experienced player. He has played also professionally in France (Cholet Basket), Greece (PAOK Thessaloniki, AEK Athens and Egaleo), Italy (Openjobmetis VA, Verona and BancaTercas), Lithuania (Zalgiris) and Russia (Spartak St.Petersburg). McGrath attended Providence College until 2006 and it will be his eleventh (!!!) season as a professional player.
Ian O'Leary agreed terms with Fuenlabrada - 13 days ago
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30-year old American (has also Irish passport) forward Ian O'Leary (201-101kg-86, college: St.Mary's, CA) from Iberostar Tenerife CB Canarias. In 34 Liga Endesa games in Spain he recorded 4.5ppg and 2.7rpg last season. The previous (14-15) season O'Leary played at Gran Canaria where in 26 Liga Endesa games he averaged 4.9ppg and 3.1rpg. He also played 20 games in Eurocup where he had 6.8ppg, 3.0rpg and 1.2apg. A... [read more]
Montakit Fuenlabrada (Liga Endesa) strengthened their roster with addition of 30-year old American (has also Irish passport) forward Ian O'Leary (201-101kg-86, college: St.Mary's, CA) from Iberostar Tenerife CB Canarias. In 34 Liga Endesa games in Spain he recorded 4.5ppg and 2.7rpg last season. The previous (14-15) season O'Leary played at Gran Canaria where in 26 Liga Endesa games he averaged 4.9ppg and 3.1rpg. He also played 20 games in Eurocup where he had 6.8ppg, 3.0rpg and 1.2apg. Among other achievements O'Leary played in the final of WCC Tournament in 2009. He received also Eurobasket.com All-Spanish LEB Silver Forward of the Year award back in 2011. O'Leary has played previously for four other teams: Blancos de Rueda, Palencia Baloncesto, Vigo and Oviedo CB. He attended Saint Mary's College of California until 2009 and it will be his eighth season in pro basketball. The scouts decsribe him following way:
Overlooked somewhat at college but has blossomed in Europe. Strong going to the basket and has good athletic ability. Working on being more consistent outside the 3pt line but provides a real mis match for teams.
A very good athlete he is able to play several positions effectively because of a great mix of size and quickness. Rebounds like a center but runs like a guard. Very effective mid range jumper causes a lot of problems cause he is able to just shoot over top of most defenders. Can handle the ball and has no problem handling pressure and being a release valve for any backcourt. Aggressive offensive mind set makes him lead by example. At college played in a system to showcase NBA Draft choice Patrick Mills, but his performance in Europe will be very different as he will be allowed to show his complete game. Has very long arms and consistently tips and blocks shots from the backside and weak side. A very complete player is capable of playing at very high levels as he continues to develop. Shoots the deep ball quite well and is extending his range which for a player his size will make him deadly.
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