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.
Manchester drop curtain on Senior Playoff Finals with D1M win - 1 day ago
follow us on
Manchester retained their D1M Playoff title after a comfortable 73-53 win over Loughborough. A poor 2nd quarter where the Riders fell behind and shot just 2/15 from the floor proved too much to overcome against a well drilled and talented Magic side. Unable to call upon the injured Josh Ward-Hibbert, Loughborough struggled to find answers on offence for the duration. With the game meandering through the 2nd half, an altercation between Lee Goldsborough and Jonas Dieterich during a loose b... [read more]
Manchester retained their D1M Playoff title after a comfortable 73-53 win over Loughborough. A poor 2nd quarter where the Riders fell behind and shot just 2/15 from the floor proved too much to overcome against a well drilled and talented Magic side. Unable to call upon the injured Josh Ward-Hibbert, Loughborough struggled to find answers on offence for the duration. With the game meandering through the 2nd half, an altercation between Lee Goldsborough and Jonas Dieterich during a loose ball play led to unsportsmanlike fouls for both players and a disqualification for Magic's Stefan Gill (173-PG-83) after he was involved in the aftermath. That was as exciting as things got in a 2nd half that never really threatened a comeback from Loughborough. Duane Morgan (198-F-93, college: Adelphi) treated the vocal Manchester crowd to some spectacular plays, including a number of dunks and an alley-oop for good measure. He was awarded the game's MVP trophy after his stat line of 20 points, 12 rebounds and 2 assists. Morgan started his MVP afternoon off well and picked up a team high 5 points in the opening 10 minutes. More importantly captain Jack Minister, guard Kayin Darbey (183-PG-94) and Lee Goldsborough all settled into the game with early points as Manchester moved out to a 22-16 1st quarter lead. Loughborough's athletic guard Reiss Pinnock offered some resistance but it wasn't the start the Riders were looking for as the initiative was with their opponents heading into the 2nd. With the largely Manchester based crowd fully into the game and behind the team in the lead, Loughborough crumbled in the 2nd. With only Pinnock and Levi Noel (197-G-91, college: E.Illinois) troubling the scorers, it was a crippling 10 minutes for Loughborough's chances of success as practically everything they attempted failed to connect. With a young roster, confidence was quickly dented and the D1M 5th seeds never really recovered. A 21 point Manchester lead at the half meant the game was firmly in the hands of the reigning playoff champions. The main talking point of the 2nd half occurred midway through the 3rd period and led to Stefan Gill leaving the court much earlier than expected. With Duane Morgan grabbing an offensive rebound, he went to put the ball back before being forced into a miss by a Lucien Christofis foul. Grabbing the rebound as the whistle sounded, both Goldsbrough and Dieterich went about the act with a bit too much effort for the others' liking. That led to a shove from the Manchester man and a chest bump from the Riders' captain. Taking exception to Dieterich's actions, Gill became involved in the melee with a shove that earned him a DQ. Aside from that flash point, the 3rd period played out with little of note. Loughborough sought a way back into the game that was frequently denied by the continued scoring of Manchester and their own errors on offence. Even when the Riders were presented with opportunities from the free throw line, they faltered there to and recorded a 39% success rate from the charity stripe in the game. The final quarter provided Manchester Coach Paul Middleton with a real luxury as he was able to provide his bench with some useful minutes in a showpiece game. Cian Hickey, Tyme Regent-Bascombe and Yannick Onifade (201-C/F) all saw their first action of the contest during the final 10 minutes and Kaiyem Cleary (196-G-99) was provided with an extended opportunity to showcase his talented. To their credit, Loughborough continued to fight but the difference in score didn't deviate far from the 20-point mark before the final buzzer sounded. Courtesy of: basketballengland.co.uk
Kent add playoff glory to league winning season - 1 day ago
follow us on
In a tightly contested game that was fit for a final, Kent managed to outlast rivals Thames Valley 90-87. Consistently playing catch up in the final quarter after a poor 3rd period, the Cavs rallied from a double digit deficit before coming up just short on the final buzzer. Trailing by 3 with less than 10 seconds on the clock, Thames Valley had one last roll of the dice to try and force the game into OT. Inbounding the ball to star man Martelle McLemore (197-G/F-88, college: W.Michigan),... [read more]
In a tightly contested game that was fit for a final, Kent managed to outlast rivals Thames Valley 90-87. Consistently playing catch up in the final quarter after a poor 3rd period, the Cavs rallied from a double digit deficit before coming up just short on the final buzzer. Trailing by 3 with less than 10 seconds on the clock, Thames Valley had one last roll of the dice to try and force the game into OT. Inbounding the ball to star man Martelle McLemore (197-G/F-88, college: W.Michigan), the imposing forward raced down the court before pulling up at the top of the arc to let fly. With pressure all around him, his shot could only find the back iron before bouncing away. With heartbreak for the London club, Kent will be delighted to have added playoff success to a D2M regular season title. John Shodipo (196-G, college: DuPage JC) collected the MVP award after a 7/9 shooting performance, netted 18 points to add to 11 rebounds, 5 dimes and 2 steals. Captain RJ Eytle-Rock's contribution shouldn't be overlooked as the young talent added 21 points and 8 boards of his own. Whilst the beginning of the 2nd half didn't favour Thames Valley, the beginning of the 1st certainly did as points from Philip Perre (198-F-79, college: N.Alabama) and Robert Banks Jr (193-G-00) Jr allowed the Cavs to move out to a 19-13 lead. Eytle-Rock closed the quarter with a 3 to narrow the gap but it was still a 24-21 Thames Valley game after 1. A 14-7 run to open the 2nd quarter swing the game back in Kent's favour but it wasn't to last. With Banks Jr continuing to enjoy a strong 1st half in which he collected 17 points, the youngster turned it on in the 2nd quarter to push his team back out in front. Kent once again closed the quarter with a 3 but it was their opponents who would lead at the half, up 49-44 after a closing 18-9 burst of their own. The 3rd would prove the undoing of all Thames Valley's hard work. Eventual MVP Shodipo led the charge before Eytle-Rock and Amin Adamu (193-SG-97) joined the party and began to turn the screw. For the 3rd period in a row the Crusaders ended the quarter with a shot from beyond the arc, Shodipo on this occasion, capping an emphatic 10 minutes of play. Their 5-point deficit had been swung around into a 69-62 lead after a 25-13 frame. A frantic and exciting final 10 minutes provided Thames Valley with plenty of opportunities to get back into the game but with 3:30 remaining they still trailed by 9. In fitting with the weekend to that stage, late drama was on the horizon as 80-71 quickly became 82-80 after a trio of free throws from Banks. Both teams traded baskets to get the score to 88-85 before McLemore's fateful final effort. Such a narrow loss on the greatest stage of the year will be a bitter pill to swallow for Thames Valley after finishing a narrow 3rd in the regular season to miss out on promotion to D1M. For Kent though, it's a league and playoff double and the anticipation of top flight basketball next term. Courtesy of: basketballengland.co.uk
Middlesex LTBC take D3 Playoff win after epic battle - 1 day ago
follow us on
In a Final that should be remembered as an instant classic, both Team Birmingham Elite and Middlesex LTBC left everything out on the court in an attempt to secure the D3M Playoff Championship. Middlesex eventually came out on top, 63-62, but the result was in the balance right up until the final buzzer. In a fixture that had everything, the crowd were treated to a real spectacle to end Playoff Saturday at the National Basketball Performance Centre in Manchester. With the score line separa... [read more]
In a Final that should be remembered as an instant classic, both Team Birmingham Elite and Middlesex LTBC left everything out on the court in an attempt to secure the D3M Playoff Championship. Middlesex eventually came out on top, 63-62, but the result was in the balance right up until the final buzzer. In a fixture that had everything, the crowd were treated to a real spectacle to end Playoff Saturday at the National Basketball Performance Centre in Manchester. With the score line separated by just a single digit, Birmingham brought the ball up the floor with just 15 seconds remaining in an effort to tip the game in their favour. Alex Anderson's 3-point attempt couldn't find the mark on a day when his side shot 28% from the floor. With Middlesex grabbing the rebound, it was a heart breaking way to end the game for the Birmingham side. MVP honours went LTBC big man Marius Talijunas (204-C-89) who's tireless work on the boards helped to decide an otherwise even game. Pulling down 19 rebounds, adding 9 points and an impressive 7 blocks, the 6'6' rim protector did the dirty work that so often goes unnoticed, but not today. Establishing an early lead was always going to be important to Middlesex as they came into the game with just 8 players to call upon. Modestas Krasauskas (194-SG-91) seemed to be the LTBC that took that most literally as he exploded out of the blocks to score 15 points in the opening quarter. That allowed Middlesex to take the 1st 24-16 as Birmingham tried to keep up. With Krasauskas taking a back seat in the 2nd quarter, it was the turn of Tadas Bagdonas (C/F) to step to the fore. With Birmingham continuing to toil, shooting just 4/22 from the floor in the quarter, Bagdonas had no such issues. 14 personal points helped Middlesex establish a healthy half time lead at 40-28. Birmingham weren't going to give up though. Seeing that the 8 man Middlesex roster was a 6-man rotation with Petravicius and Vytuvis being used sparingly, LTBC were always going to tire. The game then became a question of how long the D3 South winners could last and if they'd have enough in the tank to see off a youthful Birmingham team in the 2nd half. The answer to that question appeared to have been found in the 3rd quarter when Birmingham came roaring back from 14 down to trail by just 5 with 10 minutes to go. Sharing the load on offence, the West Midlands side had just 1 player on 10 points after 30 minutes, but 8 different players had troubled the scorers. 48-36 Middlesex late in the 3rd became 49-49 with 8 minutes to go as both sides were being boosted by a deafening level of support from the stands. That 13-1 run had changed the game entirely and with a leggy LTBC team on the ropes, it seemed a matter of time before the Elite pulled away. Instead, Middlesex dug deep and refused to fall away. Both teams traded blows with nobody sure which way the contest would go. With 7 lead changes in the final 10 minutes alone, each basket was greeted by a deafening roar. When Krasauskas hit a basket inside with 90 seconds to go, a 4-point lead for Middlesex looked like it may be enough at that stage, but Birmingham's Janis Steda hit a short shot of his own, getting fouled in the process before dusting himself off to sink the and-1. From there, 56 agonising seconds passed with without a basket. Unfortunately for Birmingham, that stalemate was ended by the final buzzer and Middlesex were the ones heading home victorious. Dejected Birmingham players littered the court as LTBC celebrated, a stark contrast in emotions that sport is so impressive at creating. In reality, both teams had a lot to be proud of in a spectacle that should be remembered for a long time to come. Courtesy of: basketballengland.co.uk
Copyright (c) 1998-2017 Eurobasket Inc. Disclaimer
Do not copy, redistribute, publish or otherwise exploit information that you download from the site !
Do not encumber, license, modify, publish, sell, transfer or transmit, or in any way exploit, any of the
content of the site, nor will you attempt to do so.