Posts tagged "Basketball"

How do you get a coffee date with a sports-writing legend? You ask

Wednesday morning, on the eve of the women’s soccer final between the U.S. and Japan, I had an opportunity to have coffee in a London Starbucks with Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl.

How did I manage this? The power of Twitter.

I sent a tweet last week saying how cool it would be to get to meet some professional journalists currently in England doing Olympic coverage and included his Twitter handle in it. Less than an hour later, he replied back saying he was getting into London on Aug. 7 and would be happy to meet for coffee. When the alert came on my phone, I had to read it over several times to make certain my phone wasn’t playing a trick on me.

It wasn’t. And after a few tweets back and forth, we had arranged to meet Wednesday morning in Russell Square.

For those who don’t know who Wahl is, I suggest you look him up. He’s perhaps one of the most established senior writers at Sports Illustrated. He’s been a senior soccer writer for SI since 2000 and covers World Cups, the Euro Championships and the Olympic Games. His biography on SI.com says he’s written 31 cover stories for the magazine. And he has more than 230,000 followers on Twitter. Getting the chance to meet and talk sports journalism with him is something I couldn’t pass up.

After getting our coffees, Wahl and I sat at one of the tables and he asked me a few questions about myself. I explained to him what BSU at the Games is and what we’re doing, and he was impressed with what we’ve been able to produce despite not having credentials to events. I also got to tell Wahl what I do for the Ball State Daily News and other events I’ve covered in my short career.

But I was more interested in learning about how he got to SI. He said after his internship at The Miami Herald, he received an offer from SI to be a fact-checker. Having just graduated from college, he said it was too good an offer not to accept. After doing some writing on college basketball and soccer on the side, ESPN offered him a position to be a full-time soccer writer. SI matched the offer, and he’s held the position since then.

The best piece of advice he gave me for trying to land a job after I leave Ball State is to have something on a résumé that makes you stand out. He laughed and said my experience for BSU at the Games will be the thing that makes me stand out on mine.

We talked more on how sports is becoming a big player in social media, especially on Twitter, and his experiences covering some of the major soccer events in the world. The biggest thing he is working on at SI is making sure he is being as efficient as possible because of the costs to send him around the world.

We wrapped up our conversation after about an hour, as he had to get in touch with his bosses and prepare for the women’s soccer final. I left the Starbucks inspired to work my way to Wahl’s level. Being able to cover soccer matches around the world, on its biggest stages, would definitely be a dream job.

Having more than 230,000 followers on Twitter would be pretty cool too.

Mat Mikesell | Sports Reporter

@MatMikesell

Syracuse basketball coach doesn’t have an off-season this year

By Pat Boylan and Brandon Pope  |  BSU at the Games

Legendary Syracuse men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim’s off-season hasn’t been typical. In fact, it hasn’t even been an off-season.

Instead of recruiting and “resting” for the year ahead, Boeheim is hard at work as an assistant coach for USA Basketball at the London Olympic Games.

Late last week we got the chance to go to a Team USA basketball practice and meet up with Boeheim prior to Monday’s final pool play game against Argentina. After a record-breaking, 83-point win over Nigeria, the U.S. struggled vs. heavy-underdog Lithuania, winning just 99-94.

“Sometimes we forget to give credit to the teams we play,” Boeheim said. “They played well. We missed some shots, missed some free throws and didn’t play the kind of defense we have been playing.”

Boehim was refreshingly honest, or at least it seemed. We interviewed nearly all of Team USA – and as expected – answers to a college program weren’t the most in depth. I don’t mean to say they shrugged us off. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised with the responses from most players, and the fact that they took the time.

But Boeheim was different. He gave long, insightful answers. You could tell he’s done this before and knows what the reporters want.

As with any coach, you’re not happy when your team underperforms. There’s no doubt the U.S. did that against Lithuania. But according to Boehim, the close victory could be a blessing in disguise.

“You don’t want to have those games, but you’re going to be in them so you have to know how to win them.”

There’s little doubt Team USA has the best talent of any country. I’ve always had a ton of respect for Coach K and Boeheim. But after just five minutes with the Syracuse coach, I have no doubt in my mind the U.S. has the best coaching staff as well.

Coming off their first test against Lithuania, the USA men’s basketball players were confident heading into their Group A match against Argentina. That confidence paid off, with the Americans topping Manu’s Argentianian squad 126-97.

Team USA knew what they had to do early in order to capitalize. Their bench played a big role in the game.

“We look forward to trying to have an impact in every game,” Andre Iguodola said, a key non-starter for the U.S. “We try to increase the tempo and our energy is always important for us.”

Now the U.S. just needs a similar performance as they head into the semifinals and a rematch with Argentina.

Pat Boylan is a senior telecommunications major and Brandon Pope is a junior telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Pat, Brandon and the BSU team at@patboylanbsu@bpopeizdope@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Team Great Britain claims first Olympic basketball win since 1948

By James Jeffrey  |  BSU at the Games

Team Great Britain huddles on the court during their recent game against China.

Team Great Britain achieved a first in nearly 60 years on an Olympic basketball court – it claimed a victory. Team Great Britain beat No. 10 China 90-58 for its first win in the Olympic Games since 1948.

“Finally got that Win. So thankful to be a part of this GB team and so fortunate to have had such great support throughout the games,” Kieron Achara said via Twitter following the game.

Achara led the team with 16 points, six rebounds and three blocks. Nate Reinking —who is retiring from international competition after the Games — scored 12 points and Team GB captain Drew Sullivan scored 11. Both Pops Mensa-Bonsu and Mike Lenzly were out due to injury.

Only two Chinese players managed to hit double figures. Zhi-Zhi finished with 11 points and five rebounds while YI Jianlian, China’s only NBA player, finished with 11 points and 14 rebounds.

China grabbed an early 7-0 lead by making its first three shots, but it was the only lead they would have in the game. Joel Freeland, recently signed by the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers, helped Britain breech the initial gap with a hook shot over Jianlian. This ignited GB who ended the first quarter with a 20-5 run to take a 27-15 into the second quarter.

Britain outscored China every quarter the rest of the game and was never closely threatened due to the defensive efforts by Drew Sullivan and Kieron Achara. Team GB point guard Andrew Lawrence also helped space the floor with strong ball movement to keep them ahead.

Despite being the home nation, GB basketball did not claim automatic qualification for the games like in most Olympic sports. International basketball federation FIBA had to clear the team before it could compete in the event. This included proving they could be competitive at the Olympic level – which they did by winning FIBA group B. FIBA also mandated Team FB have a lasting legacy for basketball.

“I laugh when people say we were given our spot here in the Olympics because it sure didn’t feel like it when we were trying to get up through Division B and qualify for Europe. We really achieved something here,” Team GB head coach Chris Finch told the BBC.

“Our performances here, while they didn’t necessarily come with the results we were hoping for, came with a lot of potential to keep building the programme,” Finch continued. “I think we have a bright future. We’ve got a long way to go, but this is a good step. We answered every challenge that was thrown at us, but we fell a little short on this one. But it was incredibly satisfying professionally and personally.”

Finch and multiple other players retired after the game, including 38-year-old shooting guard Nate Keinking of the British Basketball League’s Sheffield Sharks and former NBA center Robert Archibald.

Despite competing in the 1948 Olympics, Britain’s current program only started in 2006.

“Great day for GB basketball, let’s make it the start, not the end of the journey,” basketball commentator John Amechi said via Twitter.

James Jeffrey is a junior journalism major at the University of Worcester in Worcester, England. He is a part of a team of British students contributing to BSU at the Games. Follow James and the program on Twitter @bsuatthegames and Facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Rising women’s basketball star credits Indy legend

By Pat Boylan | BSU at the Games

When it comes to women’s basketball, you would be hard-pressed to find a bigger name than Maya Moore.  Moore was the 2009 John Wooden award winner for best women’s college basketball player and took two national championships at Connecticut.

Moore credits a lot of her individual success to Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings.

“Tamika has been a role model of mine growing up,” Moore said.

Catchings will take part in her third Olympic Games this July playing for USA Basketball.  She’s been a face for WNBA for a decade and has been in six WNBA all-star games.

It will be the first Olympic Games, on the other hand, for Maya Moore, who is excited to work with Catchings and the veterans she grew up watching.

“Tamika is a tremendous leader and has helped me out in so many ways on and off the court. She’s really taken me under her wing,” Moore said. “Growing up a lot of people compared my game to Tamika’s, which to me was the ultimate compliment.”

Catchings’ veteran leadership will be key to the United States’ success in London this year. Catchings is the oldest player on this year’s team and is tied for the most Olympic experience.

As Catchings molds Moore and the rest of the team for future generations, they’ll also be looking for a gold medal this year, which would be five in a row for the Americans.

Women’s basketball begins its competition in London on July 28.

Pat Boylan is a junior telecommunications major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Pat and the BSU team at @patboylanbsu@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Quick hits from USA Women’s Basketball press conference

By Brandon Pope | BSU at the Games

Coach Geno Auriemma and May Moore discuss the Women's Basketball team's chances for gold at the summer games.

Youth movement

With five newcomers on this year’s national team, USA Women’s Basketball Head Coach Geno Auriemma had to orientate a new bunch of young Olympians in Friday’s Training Camp in Seattle.

“In three days I think we’ve accomplished a little bit,” Auriemma said. “We’ve learned a little bit too. We got our philosophy out there.”

The team had its first scrimmage on Saturday. Auriemma expects the intensity to pick up as the days draw closer to preliminary competition.

Geno’s crew  

Minnesota Lynx star Maya Moore will be competing in her first Olympic Games in London. She joins six other former University Of Connecticut Huskies.

Moore, the youngest player on the roster, says being on the National Team is “a dream come true.”

“I think if you look at the roster top to bottom, it’s unmatched,” Moore said. “It’s all the players I grew up with: Taurasi, Catchings, Sue Bird … players like that. It’s really a dream come true.”

As an Olympic newbie, Moore has stepped back and watched the veterans guide the team, learning the ways of top world competitors.

“I try to take it all in. I’ve got some great players to learn from,” Moore said. “And when my number is called and Coach Auriemma puts me in, I want to make sure I’m bringing energy and doing all the little things necessary to win games.”

Where’s Britney Griner? 

Baylor basketball star Britney Griner has been all over the national headlines. She dominated opponents with her tremendous size and athleticism. Her college basketball career concluded with a national championship win with the Baylor Bears. But the nation’s leading rebounder and shot blocker is nowhere to be found on the 2012 Olympic roster. Auriemma said it was Griner’s decision not to be a finalist.

“She was part of the group we were going from, but she took herself out of the pool and asked not to remain eligible to be selected for the Olympic team,” Auriemma said. “It’s unfortunate for Britney, but at the same time this team is an incredible team that not enough people  know about or pay attention to.”

Had Griner not taken herself out of consideration, Auriemma says her chances were “pretty good.”

Brandon Pope is a sophomore telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University covering fencing, volleyball and basketball for BSU at the Games. Follow Brandon and the BSU team at @bpopeizdope@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Dwyane Wade undecided about playing in Games

By Brandon Pope | BSU at the Games

In a year when injury concerns and offseason surgeries are shaking up Team USA’s Olympic roster, another integral player may be missing come tip-off time in July. According to NBA.com, Dwyane Wade has mixed feelings on playing in the 2012 London Games. The Miami Heat guard cites his health as the reason for his indecision.

“I’m just going to see how I feel,” Wade said. “This is about being healthy—I think, for all of us, going into the summer healthy—and taking it from there.”

At 30 years old, Wade has reason to be concerned about wear and tear on his body.  The all-star guard has dealt with several minor injuries during his last two seasons in the NBA. Wade has been a member of the last two USA National Teams, winning gold in 2008 and bronze in 2004.

USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo believes the team will be prepared if Wade decides to sit out for the Games.

“You could, today, probably come up with 10 or 11 that look pretty solid unless something happens,” he said. “Wade’s one of those guys, but if he feels like he doesn’t have anything left or doesn’t think he can go, then we’ll make a decision as to who replaces him. We do have a lot of flexibility because we have guys who can play so many positions.”

Wade’s uncertainty is more bad news for Team USA, which has already seen Lamarcus Aldridge, Chauncey Billups, Dwight Howard, Kevin Love,  Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose crossed off the roster due to serious injuries this season. Lakers Center Andrew Bynum will also be missing the Olympic Games, opting to have offseason knee surgery in Germany.

“We’re going to have to have guys step up,” LeBron James said last week. “Dwight is a big part of our team. We was looking forward to having D-Rose on our team at the point guard. So we’re going to have to have guys step up in training camp and relish the opportunity.”

The U.S. will still have plenty of talent left. Recently, University of Kentucky Forward Anthony Davis and Oklahoma City Thunder Guard James Harden were added to the finalists’ roster.  The Americans will still have some of the best players in the world in Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and Kevin Durant on their squad. Carmelo Anthony and Russel Westbrook will also load those wing spots.

Colangelo remains confident that Team USA can claim gold in London this summer, despite all the injuries.

“When we went to Beijing, we had one gold medal winner in the room, and that was Jason Kidd,” he said Sunday. “Now, we have, what? Eight or nine from the two teams? And it’s not like we’re starting from scratch. They’re all indoctrinated. They all know what to expect.”

The final 12-man roster for the USA Men’s Basketball National Team is expected to be announced on July 7 or 8.

Brandon Pope is a sophomore telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University covering fencing, volleyball and basketball for BSU at the Games. Follow Brandon and the BSU team at @bpopeizdope@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Summer Games: maybe Coach K’s last

By Brandon Pope | BSU at the Games

USA Men’s Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski announced Monday that the 2012 Olympic Games in London will “probably” be his last.

Coach Krzyzewski speaks to media at the 2012 Team USA Media Summit in Dallas.

The 65-year-old coach made the announcement at the United States Olympic Committee’s Team USA Media Summit in Dallas, Tex. USA Men’s Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo sat by his side as he uttered the news.

“I think this is the last time,” Krzyzewski said. “I hope we can win the gold medal.”

The legendary basketball coach says he still wants to be involved with the USA Basketball program in some capacity, but you won’t be seeing him on the sidelines calling plays.

“I’ll always be a part of the program and want to be a part of the program,” he said. “(Jerry Colangelo) has been the architect of something that our country needed in developing a culture and we’ll see what type of continuity we have.”

Krzyzewski doesn’t believe his departure will have as much of an impact on the National Team as another USA Basketball leader’s will.

“The biggest loss that we would have is whenever Jerry (Colangelo) steps down. His vision for this has been spectacular.”

Colangelo says he’s leaning toward coming back to USA Basketball after the 2012 Games.

Krzyzewski has been a prominent figure in the United States for international basketball throughout his career. Since taking the position in 2005, ‘”Coach K” has comprised an overall record of 36-1 in international competition. He is credited with reestablishing the U.S. National Team to the forefront of international basketball, seizing gold at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Brandon Pope is a sophomore telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University covering fencing, volleyball and basketball for BSU at the Games. Follow Brandon and the BSU team at @bpopeizdope@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Team USA adds Davis and Harden as finalists

Davis-Harden

Anthony Davis (top) and James Harden (bottom) have been added as Team USA finalists. | Courtesy Photo

By Brandon Pope | BSU at the Games

A major shake-up occurred with the Team USA men’s basketball roster this week.

Anthony Davis, who is coming off an NCAA Championship with the University of Kentucky Wildcats, and Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden have been added to the list of finalists for the 2012 USA Basketball National Team.

“After a lot of deliberations, after reviewing our roster, we think these two additions strengthen our National Team program immeasurably,” USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo said.

“James Harden probably is the sixth man of the year in the NBA, and Anthony Davis brings a dimension to our pool we don’t have. He’s young, but it’s exciting to think about the possibilities.”

Anthony Davis has represented USA Basketball before.

As a high school senior, he was selected as a member of USA Basketball’s Junior National Select Team, which competed at the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit.  Davis finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots to help the U.S. to a 92-80 win over the World Select Team.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be this young and have a chance to represent my country,” Davis said. “This is a great opportunity. I’m excited to be a part of something like this.”

James Harden becomes the third member of the Oklahoma City Thunder named to the finalist’s roster. In just three years in the NBA, he’s already emerged as one of the league’s top players. If Harden makes the final 12, it will be his first time representing the U.S. abroad.

“Being named as a finalist for the USA Basketball National Team is an unbelievable feeling and an opportunity that is truly humbling,” Harden said. “It is an honor to be included with such talented players and I look forward to the chance to represent my country this summer.”

The additions come after news many of the original U.S. National Team finalists will not be able to make the trip to London.

Most recently, Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose suffered a torn ACL in the NBA playoffs, ending his season and eliminating him from Olympic contention.

Shortly before, two key big men were also ruled out for the Games.

Orlando magic center Dwight Howard underwent back surgery to repair a herniated disk. Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum opted to skip the 2012 Olympic Games to undergo the same off-season knee surgery his teammate Kobe Bryant did last summer in Germany.

The National Team’s injury woes began with Portland Trailblazers forward Lamarcus Aldridge’s hip injury in early April. He won’t be ready for international competition either.

Harden and Davis will begin their push to make the final 12 on July 6 at the team’s training camp in Las Vegas. The official 12-man U.S. Olympic roster will be announced shortly after.

Brandon Pope is a sophomore telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University covering fencing, volleyball and basketball for BSU at the Games. Follow Brandon and the BSU team at @bpopeizdope@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.