British basketball journalist Dave Ryan looks back at GB's first seven summers back in the international game, with a certain amount of disappointment. With the dust now settled on the Olympics, there's time to look back on Great Britain's achievements in the basketball tournament.
I'll freely admit that I waited to write these words because I didn't want to mess up my gold medal ticket chances. That sounds paranoid, I know, but the reason I haven't worked for GB Basketball this summer is that I reported we stunk against Turkey at EuroBasket last summer. I actually quoted Chris Finch and Joel Freeland saying we stunk, and all hell was let loose. This isn't a rant about me not working for GB, while I could have used the money, I was actually relieved when they confirmed they wouldn't be using my services this summer because the level of grief would have ruined the tournament for me. I don't think their website has gained from the decision, much of the stuff over and above games reports - previews, reaction pieces and tournament round-ups (much of which I did for free) - has disappeared.
I wouldn't be arrogant enough to suggest that GB's non-employment of me is the biggest problem facing British basketball (if it is, there is no problem!) but some of what happened last summer shows how the bigger picture was ignored in favour of things that don't really matter. If the Performance Director needs to sit on the bench, he shouldn't be sending texts about what needs to appear in the game report - he really should have more important things to worry about rather than ranting about me using the word "trey" in a report. The last six years haven't been a disaster. Far from it. Three of the four GB teams have achieved a level of success that couldn't have been dreamed of before London got the Games. As Chris Finch said in his final press conference, we took on every challenge and succeeded but ultimately came up short at the Olympics. It's the lack of legacy that concerns many people.
The main focus of GB was always going to be the Olympics and doing well at them. It had to be, if we didn't get there - and certainly for the women is was far from guaranteed - the funding would've ended instantly. If we stunk at the Olympics the funding was likely to disappear. If they drastically cut the funding now, and don't give us a chance of build on what's been achieved over the last six years, that money really was wasted. But more really could have been done to build towards the future.
The "GB Futures" programme was pretty big in 2010 running in tandem with an England programme and gave the next generation a lot of international experience. But, with our place in London confirmed in March 2011, the last two summers have seen it shrink to the point that it barely seems worthwhile. It should be a big part of the GB set-up, running alongside the U-20 team, preferably with the same coaching staff. As it was, Finch did the job for a year, GB made a big deal about development, then appeared to forget all about it because hthey'd been given the berths. Still, that's better than the women's development programme, that consisted of playing in the World Student Games and then forgetting all about it. The England programme that was supposed to form part of it, never happened, either.
The under-20 men have been poor throughout the six years, they haven't really progressed from the hastily recruited team that Jeff Jones put together when England Basketball ran the programme in the first year. Tim Lewis was given far longer than a coach of one of the senior sides would have been allowed with such failure. It's as if they didn't really care.
And, without raking up the whole Devon van Oostrum saga (and there's definitely more to that than we've heard) , to not even name him on the reserve list when GB were so top heavy with big men, didn't exactly show any forward thinking.
There's been little in the way of coaching development. By this summer - the key point in the programme - all four teams are coached by foreign coaches, with their lead assistant a non-Brit as well. Whatever happened to Tony Garbelotto? Shouldn't there have been a British assistant coach for the men being groomed for the big job when Finch moved on? Damian Jennings is the obvious candidate for the women, but there's still every chance next year that (at least) three of the four head coaches will be non-Brits. Although I'm beginning to turn into John Amaechi, that's a pretty damning indictment after six years.
There's been a lot written about the money spent on training camps and hotels etc. it's hard to judge whether it was spent well without having been there. The camp in Houston this year seems like a lot of money to spend, but with EuroBasket qualifying not starting until next week, it was the only way of getting decent opposition at that stage of the summer. We could probably have done with longer together as a team before the Olympics anyway, but if we'd stayed in England, there wouldn't have been anyone worth playing. But the amount of money spent on non-coaching personnel really needs looking at. There are three people on the GB website listed a having "performance" in their title - and that's not counting Tim Lewis because his real title should be video co-ordinator - seriously what are they all doing? Warwick Cann provides a link between the England junior teams and GB, he does get out a lot and watches a lot of games, but it's arguable whether it's a full-time job in November or December. Ron Wutella (who I have a lot of time for) has seen his role shrink, he's now part-time and dealing with the players in America. I don't know what his terms and conditions are, but that doesn't seem like a very big job and in the days of modern communication it's not as if he needs to be the States.
And then there's the Performance Director - a man who's never played or coached basketball at any proper level. I've coached one EBL D1 game (I may have mentioned this in the past), that's one more than he'll ever do and I just can't see how someone with no background in basketball could be the best man for the job. Even if you ignore that, they appeared to have two and half men doing what is basically one job. He really can't be that busy if he's trying to write the game reports from the bench during games - and yes, there is obviously a bit of an issue between us, but that doesn't change the basic facts.
I could ignore the chronic waste of money but the farce about places in the Olympic Village and bench really tops it - and I'll admit to being seriously angry about this. After Poland 2009 there was serious consideration given to firing Finch and bringing someone else in. Maybe they couldn't get who they wanted or maybe they just didn't think they could justify it after what he'd done (and we had been placed in the group of death), but in the end the decision was made to stick with him and they appoint Paul Modeski as an assistant coach. He's good, I've talked to him and talked to people who've talked to him, and he knows his stuff. He's played and coached in the NBA and his role was much more than just being a big-man coach. So where was he during the Olympics? Staying in a hotel outside the Village and sitting ten rows back in the stand, rather than being on the bench.
Meanwhile, Damian Jennings was doing likewise for the women while Spice and Ron W sit on the bench. Unbelievable. I can just about understand Ron being there, he's coached at college level in the States and could conceivably bring something to a game situation - and the women had three coaches, even if they chose the wrong second assistant thanks to a Facebook campaign by people who think they should pick the team based on who wins the women's league. But to have only two coaches for the men, and leave arguably the most experienced of the three in the stand so a bloke who's never coached a game in his life beggars belief. The ego truly landed when it came to the crunch. The lack of interest in building a fan-base for OUR national was also clear. Whether it was the invitation-only games at Cobham when they should've been taking them to Guildford (or elsewhere). But it was just never there. I guess the money was irrelevant in the big scheme of things, and once again it comes back to the lack of any real wish to build a legacy. Let's be honest the GB Supporters' Club exists in spite rather than because of the efforts of GB Basketball. I'm not being unfair, here, look at the farce over tickets in Lithuania, it made their lack of interest in the fans pretty obvious. Which if you're going to grow the game - and get to a point where home game make money - is pretty short-sighted.
I'm not totally down on the whole GB programme. It's achieved a lot in its first seven summers. But if it's going to succeed it needs to be run by people who want to grow the game in the long-term. So much has been achieved, so much more could have been.
The BBL are delighted to announce that the Bristol Flyers will be joining their ranks.
The Flyers, who will be owned by Bristol Sport Ltd, will commence participation in BBL Competition from the start of the 2014-15 season. They will remain in the EBL Division One for the forthcoming season [read more]
The BBL are delighted to announce that the Bristol Flyers will be joining their ranks.
The Flyers, who will be owned by Bristol Sport Ltd, will commence participation in BBL Competition from the start of the 2014-15 season. They will remain in the EBL Division One for the forthcoming season.
The club have established themselves as one of the most successful and well-supported community basketball clubs in the country outside of the BBL, securing promotion to National League Division 1 in 2007, becoming National Cup Champions in 2010 and being crowned as English Division 1 Champions in 2011.
Bristol Sport Chairman Martin Griffiths said 'The Flyers have already developed one of the best youth schemes and academy pathways in the country, and having performed so successfully in recent years at the top of the semi-professional leagues, it is right and proper they should be part of the UK's premier professional basketball league.
"This new Bristol Flyers BBL franchise will give the city's talented young basketball players and coaches the chance to develop and to shine at the national level. It's great news for sport in Bristol, and I am delighted that Bristol Sport has been able to make it happen."
Andy Webb, BBL Chief Operating Officer, commented: "We are delighted to welcome the Bristol Flyers to the BBL. They are a perfect fit to extend our reach within the UK and, with the support of Bristol Sport, we believe all the building blocks are in place for a hugely successful franchise."
The London Lions have made point guard Rod Brown(186-PG-78, college: W.Michigan) their first signing as they get ready to move to the Copper Box Arena.
The 61 American made an instant impact when he joined the Lions at the turn of this year, spearheading their successful push for a Playoff place. Brown is a veteran of many years playing in the UK before heading off to Europe to play in the big leagues in Spain and Italy [read more]
The London Lions have made point guard Rod Brown (186-PG-78, college: W.Michigan) their first signing as they get ready to move to the Copper Box Arena.
The 61 American made an instant impact when he joined the Lions at the turn of this year, spearheading their successful push for a Playoff place. Brown is a veteran of many years playing in the UK before heading off to Europe to play in the big leagues in Spain and Italy.
Now a British passport holder, Brown took hold of the team making the winning basket in the Lions last regular season game to qualify for the Playoffs.
Lions Head Coach Vince Macaulay had this to say, Im just so excited, we have a great opportunity at the Queen Elizabeth Park and with these great challenges we need capable men, Rod was a great addition to us last season and hes just as excited as I am about the move, his veteran leadership was key and will be required this season as we try to compete at the top of the League table, we had a job on our hands to retain his services as he was in great demand hear and overseas but the potential here is the best in British basketball and I think Rod saw that.
A native of Texas, Brown graduated from Western Michigan University in 2000 before coming over to the UK to play. Following spells in Greece, Spain and Italy, Brown played in Switzerland in 2011 where he won the Championship and Playoffs.
Last season Brown averaged 15 points and 4.5 assists per game for the Lions, however it was the calmness under pressure that he brought to his team mates, Macaulay added, In building this years team Rod was our first name down and all at the club are delighted to have been able to bring him back but this is only the start of assembling an exciting team for London.
Player sponsorship is now available for Rod Brown on a first come first served basis.
The Lions are about to announce Season ticket offers for the Copper Box as well as a first opportunity to go to the Copper Box and pick your seats in Seat Selection Sunday, if youre interested in any of these please just email firstname.lastname@example.org
Joe Prunty takes over Great Britain - Jun 12, 2013
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Great Britain has finally got to know the name of their new head coach. Joe Prunty will guide the team at the 2013 EuroBasket. He replaces Chris Finch who stepped down after the London Olympics. Joe Prunty has lately worked as assistant coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Previously he was assistant coach with the Portland Trail Blazers and the Dallas Mavericks. Previously Joe Prunty worked as a scout for the San Antonio Spurs [read more]
Great Britain has finally got to know the name of their new head coach. Joe Prunty will guide the team at the 2013 EuroBasket. He replaces Chris Finch who stepped down after the London Olympics. Joe Prunty has lately worked as assistant coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Previously he was assistant coach with the Portland Trail Blazers and the Dallas Mavericks. Previously Joe Prunty worked as a scout for the San Antonio Spurs. Great Britain will try to improve their two consecutive 13th-place EuroBasket campaigns in 2009 and 2011. They will play in Group A of EuroBasket. Great Britain will face France, Germany, Belgium, Israel and Ukraine. Top three teams from the group will advance into the Second Stage of the tournament.
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