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Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Stop Press: Exciting News!! Bloguin Launch!!

A Stern Warning has a brand new site!! Click the logo or go to http://www.asternwarning.com

Exciting news!

Break out the streamers and balloons… A Stern Warning has moved to a bright and shiny new site. Gone are the tired images you see in front of you, replaced with a new and much more functional site.

You can check out the site now at http://www.asternwarning.com. So please don’t forget to change your bookmarks.

But wait… there’s even more exciting news! A Stern Warning is a founding member of a brand new network of sites, Bloguin.

The Bloguin network is proud to include some of the very best bloggers in the basketball blogosphere. Whilst this is only the beginning, the site already includes 3 Shades of Blue, TWolves Blog, Upside and Motor and of course the new A Stern Warning site.

On top of that, there are a number of sites that you will definitely be familiar with, who are a matter of days away from launching on the network. In short, this is very, very exciting.

I'm sternly warning you to get your hot little keyboard over to the new A Stern Warning. Meanwhile, this site will remain here as a relic of a past era!

NBA Opening Night : Tension and Drama

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Blazers v Lakers on TNT

The NBA certainly knows how to entertain. What a night of drama and excitement it has been.

Firstly, I must point out that currently being based in the United Kingdom, it is rare to get to see NBA action live. Not only did we have the honour of watching a preseason game between the Miami Heat and the New Jersey Nets a couple of weeks ago in London, but tonight I was simultaneously able to watch the Cleveland Cavs v Boston Celtics game on free-to-air television, whilst also watching the Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers on the internet. Totally legally too.

TNT has a great new invention this season called OT Extra, which broadcasts select games live on the net, including multiple camera angles. They designate a camera to follow a player from each team, as voted by us, the loyal fans. The connection was a bit flaky for me tonight, however I'm sure that this was a factor of both distance across the Atlantic and the fact that every man and his blog was trying to watch the Oden-extravaganza. More on that later.

Celtics 90-85 Cavs (boxscore)

You could tell that it was opening night for a number of reasons. Firstly, everyone was jumping out of their skins with excitement and jitters. That was both beneficial and detrimental in some instances. LeBron was doing his best impression of a super-hero as always for the Cavs and he certainly did a good job of pushing the defending champions all the way on the night of their ring ceremony. His 22 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists were typical King James numbers. However at the end of the night he pulled up short, missing a shot with less than a minute to go which could have brought the Cavs within one point.

Anderson Varejao was performing his jack-in-a-box routine in the waning minutes, as he coralled rebounds that shouldn't have been his and had a dominant effect in the final quarter. He finished with 9 and 9, along with 3 steals.

Mo Williams did not seem to be completely integrated with his new teammates as yet, which is to be expected for a point guard taking charge of new sets. He committed four turnover and five fouls in the game and just did not seem in synch.

Paul Pierce dominated the score board with 27 points. His +/- on the game, of +12 was matched only by Leon Powe, who came off the bench and neutralised the performance of Varejao with a similarly enthusiastic performance, which fans became familiar with in last season's Finals.

It was a tight final couple of minutes, but the Cavs could not spoil the Garden party, as the Celtics enjoyed their championship memories for the last time before embarking on a quest for back-to-back trophies.

Bulls 108-95 Bucks (boxscore)

Greg Oden was not the only #1 pick stepping out for his debut performance tonight. That treat also belonged to Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose, a Chicago native, who had flashes of brilliance during the victory with 11 points, 9 assists and 4 turnovers.

The big question with the Bulls has been how new coach Vinny Del Negro was going to split playing time, particularly in the crowded backcourt. Part of that problem was answered with a recent injury to Larry Hughes. However he started Rose (32 minutes) and athletic Thabo Sefolosha (11) at the guards and brought long-time running mates Kirk Hinrich (26) and Ben Gordon (26) off the bench.

Tyrus Thomas showed some of the promise expected of him with 15 and 10 for a solid double-double, whilst Luol Deng's 21 points led the team's scoring as the Bulls were ahead at every quarter break.

Michael Redd put up 30 points for the Bucks, who are integrating Richard Jefferson (15 points) into the lineup as well as Luke Ridnour at the point, following the departure of Mo Williams. Andrew Bogut played 25 minutes for 9 points and 7 rebounds, despite recent injury concerns.

Lakers 96-76 Blazers (boxscore)

As has been mentioned both on this site and on various others such as Blazers Edge and the Oregonian ad nauseum, these Blazers have been overhyped all offseason long. It's not that this team doesn't have a tonne of potential and it's not that they won't perform well this season and great in the long-term. The thing is, they are just not ready yet.

They are not ready for a Kobe Bryant-driven Lakers team that came so close to a title last season and have since re-loaded with Andrew Bynum (who was unavailable during the playoff run). They are not ready to blow teams away. They are not ready to harness the power and skill of Greg Oden just yet.

Oden has shown many things in the short time he has been on a basketball court. He has shown that he has amazing brute strength and an inordinate amount of skill to go along with that. He has also shown that he is yet to combine that all into one package and this gets him into foul trouble. This was the case early on in this match, as the TNT crew were forced to re-direct their Oden-Cam to Travis Outlaw -- the only Blazers starter who was providing any semblance of a game.

The big rookie did manage to block Bynum early on, in what was always a much-anticipated matchup. He also snared a few rebounds. However the cogs were not turning for the Blazers as they got significantly behind early against a smooth-running Lakers team. It was not until Rudy Fernandez came off the bench that the Portland coaching staff saw some scoring punch on the court. Both Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge failed to impress, shooting horribly from the field in what can only be described as opening night jitters.

The thing that has to be remembered is, this is a Portland team that is integrating four key rookies into an already young squad in an attempt to improve upon a .500 record from last season, playing against a seasoned Lakers squad that can argue itself to be the best team in the league. Anyone who was drinking from the media bandwagon Kool-Aid that said the Blazers were going to come out and surprise the LakeShow were kidding themselves. To suggest the Blazers may do it by the end of the season is another story, but now? No way.

As a Portland fan, this game was difficult to watch. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't see the potential of the team unfolding before our eyes, it's just that it is always hard to watch a game where your team is clearly not in a position to challenge for the victory.

It has almost become a cliché with this Blazers team that injuries are rife. Well, Oden even managed to injure his right foot in this game (according to Yahoo! Sports), limiting him to 12 minutes of action. The extent of the injury is not known at this stage. Let's not go any further into that for the time being.

Outlaw managed 18 points for the Blazers, followed by Fernandez with 16. Joel Przybilla proved his workmanlike self, with 11 rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench.

For the home side, Pau Gasol scored 15 points (most of them early on), whilst Kobe went for 23 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 turnovers in what was a sloppy game. Trevor Ariza proved why he has been in consideration for a starting role, with 11 points in 24 minutes. The "other" big fella, Bynum, finished with 8 points, 3 rebounds and 3 blocks in 27 minutes.

The Lakers cruised through this game but surely have plenty of things to fine tune, as tonight's oppposition was clearly not on the top of their game. Portland will be looking to get the "Big Three" combination of Oden-Roy-Aldridge better acquainted as the season goes on and will be crossing their fingers that Oden does not have any lasting injury.

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NBA Blogger 2008/09 Season Previews - Southeast Division

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The season previews, as organised by Jeff at Celtics Blog, keep on comin' at ya!

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Atlanta Hawks
Matt McHale: Basketbawful
Hoopinion: Peachtree Hoops

Charlotte Bobcats
BrettL: Queen City Hoops
Ziggy: BobcatsPlanet

Miami Heat
Darren Heitner: SportsAgentBlog.com
Gregory Broome: The Peninsula is Mightier

Orlando Magic
Ben: Third Quarter Collapse

Washington Wizards
Rashad: Hoops Addict
HoopsAvenue: HoopsAvenue
Mike Prada: Bullets Forever
Truth: Truth About It Dot Net

Also see links to all the previews at CelticsBlog.com

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Monday, 27 October 2008

Where does Boobie fit in Cleveland?

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Boobie Gibson

Daniel Boobie Gibson has more certainty than ever in his career as a Cleveland Cavalier, and less certainty at the same time.

In July at the conclusion of the Cavs' season, Boobie signed a five year, $21m deal to tie him to the team as LeBron James' most promising sidekick. Clearly this was an investment in the young guard's future by the Cavs and an indication of their confidence in him.

Of course, the focus in Cleveland ever since King James came along has been on finding the suitable supporting cast for the star, to put the Cavs over the top, in much the same way as the Bulls did with MJ once upon a time. On that basis, the arrival of Mo Williams in Ohio later in the offseason was much welcomed by fans.

Williams is a great scoring guard, though always presents the problem of being a bit of a tweener -- a shooting guard in a point guard's body. A description that somewhat the same as Boobie.

Gibson has spent this offseason building muscle and confidence to his game. He likes the Cavs' chances along with those of his own. "We have the guards. We have the shooters. We have the defenders. We have LeBron James. We have everything we need to get to where we want to be at the end of the season," Gibson said. "It's just a matter of us getting out there and putting in the effort."

However, the signing of Williams surely brings the question as to how this will affect Boobie's playing time and share of the ball. Clearly Gibson was not ready to take over a team and run the offence and is much better as a spot-up shooter and secondary scorer. But the arrival of Williams, combined with Delonte West, Alexsander Pavlovic and Wally Szczerbiak in the backcourt makes for a battle for minutes. Cavs coach Mike Brown potentially has some tough decisions on his hands as the season progresses.

What do you think? Leave your comments below.

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Friday, 24 October 2008

Battle of the Bloggers Fantasy NBA : Ready to explode!

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Battle of the Bloggers Fantasy NBA

How is that finger of B-Diddy's?

That is the question that the ...a stern warning fantasy hoops team is riding on this season. A little while back I made mention that we were going to get a gang of like-minded bloggers together to battle out a fiercely contested Fantasy NBA crown this season. Little did I know that the entourage of budding Kevin Pritchards we would assemble would be such a prestigous gang of bloggers with serious fantasy hoops credentials.

Rather than list all of those fine bloggers immediately, let's have a look at how the Battle of the Bloggers is shaping up and inadvertantly we'll get around to discussing the prospects of all of the teams and their managers. I should mention that already trash talking has begun in this league, with many a season of fantasy sports under the belts of this group. There is no shortage of cockiness here.

Who has given up on Free Throw Percentage already?

That would have to be Ryan McNeill of Hoops Addict, who has managed to draft Dwight Howard (.590), Tyson Chandler (.593) and Tracy McGrady (.684). Really Ryan should just go out and get himself Shaq now to top it all off. If he stays with those guys, the season is over in that category. Then again, it's not always a bad strategy to admit defeat in one category if you know you can bolster others in the process. The other area that Ryan might need to boost a little is in the three point shooting department, where he does not have one player that managed to break the 100 mark for the season during 2007/08. That could all change of course if Dwyane Wade has added an outside stroke in the off-season and if T-Mac has a healthy year. We shall see...

Injuries... it's all part of the fun!

Scott of Waiting For Next Year will be waiting for January, as that is the date set for the return of Gilbert Arenas, who may well give the WFNY squad a boost in the home stretch to the playoffs. That is not to say that Scott will struggle in the interim. He has put together one of the most well-rounded squads in my opinion, with coverage across the board of categories. One concern for the team though: there are a few players who definitely will not be able to wait for next year, as their production continues to drop. Having Jason Kidd, Allen Iverson, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and to a lesser extent Kevin Garnett on the team may hurt from this perspective. On the other hand, he has one of my favourite fantasy (and real life) players in José Calderón, so I instantly like his squad.

The ...a stern warning squad is one that I'm already happy with, although I do have my reservations. Baron Davis is a constant injury risk and he already has a finger situation worth keeping an eye on. Jermaine O'Neal and Nene Hilario are both coming off injuries (with Nene's being particularly wince-inducing for all of the males in the room) and thus are slightly unknown quantities, however they form a large percentage of my big man ranks. There are plenty of shooters in the squad, so three pointers should not be of concern. Davis, Jason Richardson, Andre Iguodala, Michael Redd and Leandro Barbosa all hit at least 100 treys last year, so I felt comfortable in making the season's first trade in sending Jamal Crawford off in exchange for the rebounding and shot-blocking prowess of Canadian team exile Samuel Dalembert. He'll team up nicely with German defector Chris Kaman inside for my squad. Meanwhile, I'm very happy with having Caron Butler and Tayshaun Prince on the wings -- in particular I expect this to be a big season for Prince with increases in several categories, especially threes and points.

Veteran savvy

Dennis Velasco of About.com's Pro Basketball site has been playing fantasy hoops since before you were conceived in the back of your parents' car. He has all of the tricks and knowledge and I have to quietly say that this scares me a little. On that basis, I second-guessed myself four times upon making the Crawford-Dalembert swap with him. The trade certainly benefits both teams in terms of needs, however there is plenty of change at play in the respective teams that those guys play for. Crawford has just inherited a coach in Mike D'Antoni who will up the tempo and has already stated that he expects the Knicks guard to thrive in, however his recent performances have been uninspiring. Meanwhile Dalembert has one Elton Brand coming in to eat up his paint in Philadelphia. Despite this, the big man has already said that he expects Brand's arrival to merely free him up and allow him to grab even more offensive rebounds. Oh, how I hope this is true. Dennis's Bout It Bout It squad has also snared my man Brandon Roy, who will no doubt continue to rise this season; as will Kevin Durant. Rashard Lewis and Amare Stoudemire are two of the studs of FNBA and Marcus Camby, when healthy is unrivalled in the big man categories.

Meanwhile, after following Nels' Give Me The Rock site for some time, I know that this guy certainly knows his rotisserie from his VGM and his head-to-head from his keeper leagues. If you're a fantasy geek, you'll realise that those comparisons don't even make sense, but I just wanted to throw them all into one sentence anyway. In short, I know that GiveMeTheRockettes will be a competitive side this season. Turnovers may well be an issue to look out for, but having LeBron James on board instantly makes you a dangerous team. There are some unknowns here though. When will Manu Ginobili return from injury and will he be ready to contribute immediately? What will Greg Oden bring to the table? Grant Hill: is he going to decline further? Corey Maggette in Warriors colours is a great thing for any fantasy owner though, and Joe Johnson always contributes well. This team will be a contender.

Best team name award

There are two great contenders here for best team name. The first is The Ollie McClellans, owned by good friend Ethan of NESW Sports. McClellan of course, was the inspirational manager in the all-time great basketball movie Hoosiers. Ethan has put together a fearsome backcourt of Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant -- devastating either on the fantasy court or a real one. His team is stacked in the forwards department with Antawn Jamison, LaMarcus Aldridge (look out for him this season!), Pau Gasol, Rasheed Wallace and potential rookie of the year, Michael Beasley. Add Brad Miller and Ben Gordon into that mix and you have the makings of a great squad.

What are the odds of the other entrant into the best team name stakes having the name "Ollie" in it? Well, you guessed it, it does. Kev Ollie's Mustache is a fantastic name, coming at you from Zach of TalkHoops.net. The big weakness I see for this squad is in the assists department, but outside of that, a well-rounded team is taking shape. TJ Ford is the only point guard in the locker room. Perhaps Kevin Ollie himself will need to be given a call-up. There are some quality big men in Tim Duncan, Elton Brand, Andrew Bogut, Al Harrington and Andrei Kirilenko, so rebounding will not be an issue. Paul Pierce and Danny Granger will take care of many of the other categories.

Small ball?

Erik over at Points In The Paint has his hands full with a few high profile fantasy leagues, so here is hoping that this means I'll snare a free agent from his grasps whilst he's not looking! Then again, all of that practice certainly helps. He has already had one spot of bad luck, with Deron Williams going down with injury, however that should only be a short setback. Erik has gone the small ball route, which may cause him to struggle in the big man cats like rebounds and blocks. Having Kevin Martin, Shawn Marion, Rudy Gay, Mike Miller, Mehmet Okur and Mo Williams on his team will make him dangerous nonetheless. OJ Mayo is the biggest question mark on the squad.

The opposite of small ball...

Zorgon of the OKC NBA blog, known as Blue Blitz, is packing heat in the big man department. What other way do you describe a squad that contains Yao Ming, Andrew Bynum, Andris Biedrins, Dirk Nowitzki and Emeka Okafor? "Zorgon and Erik, I see your future... it involves a trade..." Zorgon also boasts Chauncey Billups and little-big-men Richard Jefferson and Hedo Turkoglu. All I can say is, wow. We are going to struggle when it comes to matching Blue Blitz in rebounds and blocks. A solid squad.

Last but definitely not least

The Suicidal Penguins represent the Utah Jazz blog and they are definitely to be feared. Pick a category, it's covered. You want assists? Chris Paul and Andre Miller have got you. Blocks? Josh Smith and Kenyon Martin. Carlos Boozer, Al Horford and Kevin Love will mop up the boards. Ray Allen will nail the treys. Ron Artest and Ronnie Brewer will steal everything in sight.

After reviewing all of these teams, I am more confused than ever as to how this season will pan out. That is what makes it so exciting. I'm quietly confident that my team will represent ...a stern warning proudly. But as any fantasy fan knows, it only takes one injury to put a season on ice. I present to you the fantasy squad that I hope will take out the prestigous first annual Battle of the Bloggers:

Baron Davis (PG)

Jason Richardson (SG, SF)

Andre Iguodala (SG, SF)

Caron Butler (SF)

Jermaine O'Neal (PF, C)

Michael Redd (SG, SF)

Chris Kaman (C)

Leandro Barbosa (PG, SG)

Samuel Dalembert (C)

Tayshaun Prince (SF)

Nene Hilario (PF, C)

Good luck to all competing. Updates will continue as the season tips off.

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Thursday, 23 October 2008

NBA 2008/09 Blogger Previews - Northwest Division

A Stern Warning has a brand new site!! Click the logo or go to http://www.asternwarning.com

The next instalment is here... the all important Northwest Division, starring your Portland Trail Blazers.

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Denver Nuggets

Jeremy: Pickaxe and Roll

Nick Sclafani: The Nugg Doctor

Minnesota Timberwolves

Derek Hanson & Staff: TWolves Blog

Andrew Thell: Empty the Bench

wyn: Canis Hoopus

Oklahoma City

xphoenix87: BallerBlogger

Zorgon: Blue Blitz

Royce: The Thunderworld  

Portland Trail Blazers

Mookie: ...a stern warning

Benjamin Golliver: Blazers Edge

Coup and SJ: Rip City Project

Utah Jazz

UtesFan89: The Utah Jazz

Basketball John: SLC Dunk

Also see links to all the previews at CelticsBlog.com

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Sunday, 19 October 2008

NBA Blogger Previews : Portland Trail (no longer Jail) Blazers

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Jeff at CelticsBlog has once again mobilized the network of NBA bloggers to produce previews of all 30 NBA teams this season. Here is the ...a stern warning take on the Blazers this season.

Team Name: Portland Trail Blazers

Record Last Year:
41-41 (.500)

Key Losses: James Jones (Miami Heat - free agent), Jarrett Jack (Indiana Pacers - trade), Josh McRoberts (Indiana Pacers – trade)

Key Additions: Rudy Fernandez (rookie), Greg Oden (rookie), Jerryd Bayless (rookie), Nicolas Batum (rookie), Ike Diogu (Indiana Pacers – trade)

1. What significant moves were made during the offseason?

This offseason was not about making moves, it was about capitalizing on moves already made. The biggest transactions for the Blazers that come into effect this year, actually happened in the Summer of 2007. That was the draft that netted Portland both Greg Oden and Rudy Fernandez. The potential of Oden has been a topic of both excitement and curiosity for a long time now and the fact that the NBA had to wait another year to see him in action only adds to the anticipation. Not much can be said about the big man that hasn’t already been said. One thing is for sure, his size on both ends of the floor instantly changes the makeup of this team and adds an extra headache for opposing coaching staff in preparing to face this rising unit.

Fernandez wowed basketball fans worldwide at the Beijing Olympics and proved GM Kevin Pritchard’s instincts right, as he played like a seasoned veteran on the Spanish team that claimed the silver medal, falling only to Team USA. Fernandez’s dunk over Dwight Howard was a show-stopper that garnered instant highlight reel recognition and cemented his reputation as a player to watch in the NBA this coming season. Fernandez has an outside stroke which must be respected, an athletic yet wiry frame and a level of composure rarely seen in rookies. In short, Pritchard’s decision to buy the 24th pick of the 2007 draft from the Phoenix Suns was vindicated.

Pritchard has a reputation for identifying the players that he wants and then going out and doing whatever he has to do to get them. Portland fans have a massive level of respect for the man who has essentially turned the franchise around from the Jail Blazers into a team full of talent-laden, team-oriented, community-minded players (now you try to get that many hyphenated words into a sentence!). Thus fans applauded when the Blazers made a draft day trade (consummated later due to collective bargaining agreement restrictions) to acquire Arizona scoring guard Jerryd Bayless (11th pick in the draft), along with big man Ike Diogu from the Indiana Pacers in exchange for rotation point guard Jarrett Jack, bench-warmer Josh McRoberts and swingman Brandon Rush (13th pick). Many pundits had mock drafted Bayless much higher in the order of proceedings, however many surmise that his fall was a result of a attitudinal problems. Bayless’ attitude has been something of constant question since his arrival in Blazer black and red. He is somewhat of an enigma as he does not seem to be the type to joke with teammates and also seems extremely assertive for a rookie. Despite this, Blazers fans were thrilled with his Summer League play which saw an MVP performance, propelled by amazing penetration to the hoop and a procession of free throws. The big question on Bayless, which has not been positively answered yet, is can he play the point as a passer? Time will tell.

In other draft day manoeuvring, the Blazers acquired the draft rights to Nicolas Batum, a French swingman with a tonne of length and potential. Batum is one of those players who instantly has phrases like “ridiculous upside potential” and “long” attached to any description of his game. The 6’8” Batum’s wingspan is reportedly greater than 7’0” and with his defensive instincts already in place, he has the potential to be that defensive stopper that every great team needs. Upon the drafting of Batum, most thought that he would be too raw to contribute immediately and spend a lot of time in the D-League. His performance in Summer League seemed to confirm that as he looked lost on the court and his shot was not falling. However he has been a positive revelation during preseason games, showing an outside shot that will go down with increased confidence and an innate ability to get to loose balls and shutdown players. So great has the turnaround been that coach Nate McMillan has installed Batum into the starting lineup of late and the biggest surprise of the early-going may be that Batum finds himself a starter on opening night. This is largely driven by injury to incumbent starter Martell Webster and the desire to keep Travis Outlaw with the bench group to provide punch as games progress.

2. What are the team's biggest strengths?

The Blazers’ biggest strength is their team unity. The team is filled with “good character guys” and they all seemingly get on like a house on fire. This ability to enjoy each other’s company is much-desired trait around the league when it comes to playing an 82 game season plus playoffs (and there will be playoffs). The cohesiveness of the team is also important when it comes to countering one of the team’s greatest weaknesses – a multitude of talented young players at every position (not a bad problem to have by any stretch of the imagination). As coach McMillan tries to shuffle minutes throughout the season, he will be relying upon the comradery of teammates to minimize minutes-envy amongst his troops. Team leader Brandon Roy, whilst young, has a maturity beyond his years and the respect of his teammates.

Yes, the Blazers’ depth across the chart is well heralded. This squad seems to me to be one of the most micro-examined teams in a very long time in the league, as fans analyse the potential minutes and characteristics of even the 15th man on the roster (and 16th for that matter). Realistically, the Blazers have two lineups that they can go with at any time, with a couple of players to slot in as spare parts when need be. The likely starters, Steve Blake, Brandon Roy, Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge and Oden can be subbed for the second unit without losing a great deal in momentum – this is very important as the season goes on and fatigue hits. The famed second unit, which has been gelling well in practice, includes the Spanish backcourt of Sergio Rodriguez and Fernandez along with impact scorer Outlaw, Channing Frye and Joel Przybilla. When you remember that the injured Webster is to return to this lineup, promising rookie Bayless will be expecting minutes and Ike Diogu can work well in the paint, you realise that there is a huge arsenal of talent at the team’s disposal.

The Blazers have one of the strongest supporter bases in the league. The home sell-out streak from 1977-1995 of 744 consecutive games is well-documented, curtailed only by an era where the team became a laughing stock around the league. Despite the “Jail Blazer” period, the fans remained in support of the team and have come back in droves in recent years as the squad has taken a turn for the better, culminating in the massive level of support which can be seen currently.

3. What are the team's biggest weaknesses?

Injuries. And recovery from them. However I refuse to talk about that for fear of further jinxing.

As mentioned previously, one of the biggest weaknesses for this team lies in one of their biggest strengths. It is clear that at some point of the season one player or another will grumble for greater playing time. Fans have already speculated that Outlaw wants more shots and more minutes, as a result of one feature piece on him in the Oregonian. However, the unity of the team and the tight reigns held by McMillan will be the means through which Blazers management hope that this will be as small a problem as possible.

Inexperience is always a concern in a league dominated by grizzled veterans , capable of enduring the pitfalls of one of the longest seasons in professional sports. The Blazers are led by young players with old heads on their shoulders – but despite these old heads, there will no doubt be nights where opponents get the better of Portland’s finest purely through the wiles of veteran savvy. Relative veterans Blake and Przybilla will be relied upon to keep the locker room in sync.

4. What are the goals for this team?

The Blazers do not have any illusions of grandeur in their goals for this season. The team knows that they are young and will need at least another year to bond as a unit that can even consider challenging for a title. Integrating four rookies into a squad is never an easy task, regardless of their talent levels. Last season was an unexpected surprise, as a team that was predicted to fall dismally with the loss of starting 20-10 player Zach Randolph and the season-ending injury to Oden, managed to pull to .500 with the second most exciting winning streak of the season (after that of the Houston Rockets). Thus this season the expectation is that the Blazers will do one better, move into the playoffs and whilst not looking to go all the way, will pick up the experience needed to take them where they want to go in future seasons.

Outside of winning and losing, the Blazers will be looking to see how Oden integrates with frontcourt running mate Aldridge and no doubt will be focussing on getting his offense to a level where he becomes a threat down low with more than dunks. The coaching staff will also be trying to determine where Fernandez fits in this squad – as a starter at shooting guard with Roy at small forward, or as a punch off the bench in the backcourt. Perhaps the biggest unanswered question in Blazerville is who will be the big-minute point guard by season end. Blake is clearly the tried and tested choice, who has reportedly improved his game with a strict offseason regime. Bayless’ Summer League showing turned a lot of heads but many question if he is a pure point guard and so far the answer is ‘no’. Rodriguez is my tip to surprise and garner a larger share of minutes. Already he has gotten the nod over Bayless in McMillan’s second unit and his relationship with Fernandez should do his game no limit of wonders. He has worked hard in the offseason to improve his game and by the end of 2008-09 we should know if he has a solid future with the Blazers or if he will be packing his bags.

5. Is Greg Oden the next superstar centre in this league or another Theo Ratliff?

This is a question that has been put into cryogenic freezing for a year now. When Oden was drafted in 2007, many pointed to Kevin Durant as a better option at number one. However with the current makeup of the team, it seems clear that a dominant and imposing big man is exactly what this team needs to complement the finesse of Roy and Aldridge (the other two components of Portland’s very own “Big Three”). 2007 Summer League play showed an Oden who was hamstrung by foul trouble, lack of conditioning and ultimately ended in season-ending heartbreak for Blazers fans.

Now that big Greg is back, many a fan and media hound is waiting to see the signs of the next David Robinson or Shaquille O’Neal and not merely an imposing big man who pulls down 10 boards a night and blocks a couple of shots. We’ve already seen Theo Ratliff in Blazer colours and he didn’t bring a championship our way. Whilst it seems clear that Oden will be no Ratliff – already his in-game dunks indicate that – what he will be is the biggest elephant in the closet for this team. His teammates can not stop boasting of his size and ability to dominate the key. Whether that translates to games is another question.

It is worth noting that the Blazers had the lowest number of fast break points per game last season. Fast breaks start with defense and the addition of Oden down low, with a fresh Przybilla backing him up means that many a Blazer break will be ignited from blocked shots and rebounds. When combined with the addition of Fernandez’s fast break artistry and his chemistry with Rodriguez, Portland fans are looking at a much more exciting team this season.

Predicted Record: 45-37 (first round playoff exit)

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Saturday, 18 October 2008

Bynum and Farmar can read women's minds (and fight Chuck Norris)

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What women want. Andrew Bynum knows it. Jordan Farmar knows it. Now you too can know the secret, for just 10 instalments of $39.95 + p&p.

Well, perhaps the last part isn't totally correct. However, both Bynum and Farmar said in a recent interview that they know what women are thinking and there are a lot of men out there who would too like to know the secret. Do they teach this in the NBA rookie program? Perhaps that was the study course that Mario Chalmers and Darrell Arthur were brushing up on?

NBA.com Lakers reporter, Mike Trudell, asked the Laker youngsters a series of "would you rather?" questions. I have to admit that I was thoroughly impressed with the answers that the two came up with for many of the questions. To the question, "would you rather be able to communicate with animals, or be able to read women's minds?" both went the animal route:

Bynum: Communicate with animals, actually. I think you already know what’s on a woman’s mind, so definitely the animals ...

Farmar: Animals. I can already read women’s minds.

They were both pretty assertive on that point.

Another question asked would they prefer to meet Chuck Norris in a cage fight or match Kimbo Slice in a street rumble. Both opted for Norris. Obviously neither of them have seen this site.

Interestingly, when given the choice of a Laker teammate to select for a 2-on-2 battle, big boy Bynum opted for his big man cohort Pau Gasol, rather than Kobe. Perhaps it was also because Bynum has asked Pau to take him to Spain to introduce him to some Hispanic ladies (another question in the interview alluded to this).

Go ahead and read it, it's a quality read. I have to admit that the reason I opened the article in the first place was one of shock. I read the headline: "Would You Rather: Andrew Bynum/Jordan Farmar" as a serious question to the reader. I mean, who in their right mind would select Jordan Farmar over Andrew Bynum (apart from an angry Kobe Bryant in a parking lot a year ago talking to some kids with a video camera)?

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Friday, 17 October 2008

The only people that need to worry about Rillie are opponents

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A few people have been surprised by John Rillie's relatively slow start to the young NBL season and have questioned what is behind his slow down in form. I'm here to say, after watching JR play in the NBL since 1995, a return of his deadly scoring stroke could be just around the corner.

Rillie is the type of player that opposing teams base their defensive strategies around -- his ability to light up is simply that good. And that jump shot has not gone anywhere. Unless the Townsville shooting guard has had his arms transplanted in the off-season, people will have to remember that it was only in last season's quarter finals that he was lighting up the Gold Coast Blaze for 24 points on 6 treys.

Many people will point to the fact that through the first four games of 2008/09 JR is averaging 5.5ppg on 23% shooting, both well below his averages. However this is the life of a shooter. You will have a few nights where the shot is not falling, then before you know it, you're on a massive streak again. Last season up until Round 4, Rillie had four forgettable games of 4, 5, 9 and 11 points. However by mid-season he was in regular form, hitting 20+ with a slew of three-pointers more often than not during that period.

Today on his blog, JR addressed the issue, saying that he too would like to know when his form will be back. "No one is on their game 100% of the time, no matter what your job is. Like any other job for any other employee, I will face lean times. The mark of a professional is how they deal with these times and their ability to push through to the other side."

Worth noting is the unrivalled work ethic of the man:

"I believe in my day to day preparation. I believe that there would be very few, if any, other players in Australia that put in the extra time shooting that I do. And I am talking about both during the season and the off-season. I believe that like anything that someone practices over and over and over, shooting for me is like second nature.

As per a normal day I head out to our practice facility in the morning for training. After our team session has finished, I do my individual shooting practice. On any given day I will make anywhere from 100 to 250 extra baskets. This is something I have done for the duration of my career.

I do not deviate from my routine because it has served me well for so long and I believe that extra time is going to get the job done. If I start to second guess myself and deviate from the tried and tested, it is easy to become confused on what is working and what is not."

Tonight against the Wildcats, the Crocs reaped some of the benefits of JR starting to find form. They may have lost to a Perth Wildcats side newly reloaded with top-class combo-guard Luke Kendall, however Rillie did knock down three treys on his way to 11 points and did the other things which make him such a good player with 6 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals (FIBA boxscore).

"Townsville captain John Rillie threatened bring the Crocs back from the dead, launching a mini revival with eight third-quarter points, however the Wildcats held strong to lead 83-66 at the final break."

However a near triple double from Perth import Darnell Hinson (10p 11r 9a) and 17 points from forward Ben Knight were too much for the Crocs, in what was reportedly a very physical game.

Next up on the Crocs' schedule is a Round 6 encounter at home with the Sydney Spirit. Look to Rillie to fully turn the corner against his old "West Sydney Razorbacks" who have already built a bit of rivalry with him through the media this season.

And if anyone needs a reminder of a John Rillie explosion, watch this video.

NBA Blogger 2008/09 Season Previews - Central Division

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Chicago Bulls

Nels: Give Me The Rock

Matt: Blog-a-Bull

Cleveland Cavaliers

Rock: Waiting For Next Year

FTS: Fear The Sword

David Friedman: 20 Second Timeout

Amar Panchmatia: Cavalier Attitude

Detroit Pistons

Brian Spencer: Empty the Bench

Natalie Sitto: Need4Sheed.com

Matt Watson: Detroit Bad Boys

Indiana Pacers

Tom: Indy Cornrows

Milwaukee Bucks

Jeramey Jannene: The Bratwurst

Frank Madden: BrewHoop

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Thursday, 16 October 2008

Eddie Jones : bought out by Pacers

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Eddie Jones will likely call it a day on what has been a fine career, after not reporting to the Indiana Pacers and reaching a buyout on his contract. Jones has made it clear that he did not want to be dealt to any team that was not a contender and the Pacers clearly do not fall into the "Championship threat" category.

The Press Release delivered via the Pacers' website acknowledges the joint agreement that was made and likely was expected by the team when they dealt for the veteran swingman.

"Eddie has had a terrific career and has been a great professional and we appreciate him working with us on this agreement," said Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird. "This will allow us to go out and sign another player if we want to."

After a solid career at Temple University along side Aaron McKie, Jones was the 10th pick in the 1994 NBA Draft, joining the Los Angeles Lakers. As a rookie on a Cedric Ceballos-Nick Van Exel-Vlade Divac led team, Jones ranked first in the NBA in steal/turnover ratio and unsurprisingly made the All-Rookie 1st Team. He spent four and half seasons with the Lakers before being traded to the Charlotte Hornets in part of a 1999 for Glen Rice.

1999-2000 saw arguably Eddie's finest statistical season, as he averaged 20.1ppg, 4.8rpg, 4.2apg and led the NBA with 2.7spg. This performance earned him an all-star berth, his third such honour after 1997 and 1998. He found himself on a team which fades from memory in the Hornets colours, including Derrick Coleman, Baron Davis, Brad Miller, David Wesley, Anthony Mason, Ricky Davis, Elden Campbell and veterans Dale Ellis and Hersey Hawkins.

In the off-season of 2000, Jones made a homecoming to Miami, joining Mason, Ellis and Davis in a deal that sent PJ Brown, Jamal Mashburn, Otis Thorpe and change to Charlotte. Jones spent five and half productive seasons in Miami (with a season and a half in Memphis in between) however a title continued to allude him.

He made a last dash at a title by joining the Dallas Mavericks for 2007-08 and we all know how that panned out. He will be remembered as a spectacular dunker, three point marksmen, athletic defender and a great team-oriented player.

Here is a chronological look at the highlights of Jones' solid career, from his Temple days, up until his time in Miami (2006):

Eddie also appeared in this great Taco Bell "neck syndrome" commercial with Shaq in his Laker days:

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MLS is expanding and Steve Nash wants in

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Major League Soccer is looking to add two expansion franchises to begin play in 2011. Noted soccer fan (who is not bad with the boot himself), Steve Nash, is backing a bid to get one of those newly created teams in Vancouver.

There are a number of high profile bidders involved in the various entries, with owners of NHL, NFL, Champions League and South American teams all putting their hat in the ring.

No word yet on whether Nash will try to get himself a starting gig as striker for Vancouver FC, should the bid be successful.

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Wednesday, 15 October 2008

NBA 2008/09 Blogger Previews - Southwest Division

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Dallas Mavericks

Jake Kerr: Mavs Moneyball

Houston Rockets

grungedave and UofTOrange: The Dream Shake  

Memphis Grizzlies

Joshua Coleman: 3 Shades of Blue

New Orleans Hornets

Rohan: At the Hive

ticktock6 & mW: Hornets Hype

Ryan Schwan & Ron Hitley: Hornets247.com

San Antonio Spurs

Graydon Gordian: 48 Minutes of Hell

Also see links to all the previews at CelticsBlog.com

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Today's Warnings : 15 October, 2008

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There are big changes afoot at ...a stern warning. The site will be unrecognisable shortly and it's going to be Grrrreat like Frosties. In the meantime, there hasn't been a lot of activity here on the surface of things -- but look out.
Great articles are floating around out there in the waters of the NBA pre-season at the moment; here's a taste:
  • One of the most comprehensive reviews you will find on the newly released NBA 2K9 video game, can be found at Sports Video Games. Competition has certainly hotted up this year in the NBA video games arena, as both 2K and EA have brought their 'A' games to the table, finally.
  • The next baller we all need to look out for is John Wall. See World Hoops Blog for video.
  • The Rip City Project speaks to Cleveland's And One about the Blazers vs Cavs. Carolyn wants to steal Oden away -- it ain't gonna happen, C!
  • A mention from fellow Fantasy NBA combatant, Give Me The Rock, about our firey tournament which is up and running!
  • Meanwhile, JR and his mates have another tournament up and running, which ...a stern warning will be represented at.
  • Great video here at NESW Sports of Kevin KJ Johnson bringing in the Round Mound to support his political campaign.

    More injury woes for the Townsville Crocs. They just can't get a break in that department.

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Is John McCain a Dallas Maverick?

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This is one of the weirdest videos you will watch, asking if John McCain is a Maverick...

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Friday, 10 October 2008

NBL Round 4 : More Upsets To Come?

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Already in Round 4 of NBL action we have seen the Wildcats beat the Tigers by 4 in Melbourne and the Taipans show up as rude visitors in New Zealand, winning by 11 at the North Shore Events Centre. Both of these, whilst not Earth-shattering, were upset victories for the visiting teams. Are there more upsets to come in Round 4?

Tonight the Wildcats try to follow up on their victory with a visit to the Wollongong Hawks. Kavossy Franklin has not been his usual self for the Hawks in the last couple of games and they will need for him to fire up if they are to beat one of the top form teams in the competition. However the Wildcats certainly have been relying on the streaky outside shots of both Darnell Hinson and Peter Crawford of late and will need their inside men to contribute to ensure the win.

A Stern Prediction: Wildcats by 8

The Gold Coast Blaze are visited tonight by the Sydney Spirit, as two of the lower rung teams of the league battle it out. Shane Heal is hopeful of leading his team to a first win of the season and pull them out of the situation of being the only team to be winless. Former Houston Rocket Juaquin Hawkins will be playing through the pain and that inspiration, along with a rabid home crowd, should be enough to pull the Blaze through to a deserved first win.

A Stern Prediction: Blaze by 5

Tomorrow night the Melbourne Tigers will host the dangerous Adelaide 36ers, who welcome the questionable fitness of Adam Ballinger and Aaron Bruce into the squad for the match. Adelaide have already shown that they are a team to be feared with numerous options all over the court, however the cornered Tigers will be looking to make up to their loss to the Wildcats and should please their home fans with a W.

A Stern Prediction: Tigers by 8

The extremely busy Wildcats will be in Sydney to take on the Spirit tomorrow night as well. This could be a rare 2008-09 opportunity for the Spirit to snare a prized scalp, with the Wildcats playing their third game in four days and possibly showing the signs of travelling across the wide Nullarbor. The Spirit have the weapons on a good night (Derrick Low, Matt Knight, Liam Rush, Dave Gruber) to shock some teams and this may be just that night.

A Stern Prediction: Spirit by 3

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Thursday, 9 October 2008

Today's NBL Video Warnings : 9 October, 2008

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Townsville Crocs News

Gaze TV Episode 4

Brief highlight: Isiah Victor dunk versus the Tigers

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NBA 2K9 : Major Glitch

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The much anticipated NBA 2K9 video game has been released. The graphics and gameplay on this thing look amazing, however some fans are not happy. Take a look at the following video which shows a very substantial glitch in some copies of the game.

(Note language may offend in this video)

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Sergio Rodriguez : The Forgotten Blazer

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The NBA preseason has finally commenced and there is plenty of excitement around the Portland Trail Blazer circles, as has been anticipated for some time now. For over a year, a great many people have been waiting for a behemoth named Greg Oden to take the court and give the Blazers that inside presence that only comes along once a decade.

As if that wasn't enough to get the crowd into a frenzy, there was the sparkling Olympic Silver Medal performance of Rudy Fernandez with the Spanish National Team to get tongues wagging, including the Spaniard swingman's stunning dunk over Team USA's own manchild Dwight Howard. There was also a Summer League MVP performance by fellow rookie Jerryd Bayless to continue the Kevin Pritchard worship by the Rose Garden faithful.

Last season saw the Blazers do much better than expected and the All-Star play of Brandon Roy got him not just Oregon-wide, but national recognition as a player to respect. LaMarcus Aldridge proved himself as a player on the verge of similar fame with many solid performances as the inside punch to Roy's outside kick. Along the way, we saw the hatching of Travis Outlaw as a solid go-to scorer and perhaps the best bench injection in the league down the stretch of games. Late on we were reminded with glimpses of what Channing Frye can do on the basketball court with a solid finish to the regular season, followed by the off-season news that he was developing a three point shot to prove himself worthy of playing time.

At this point we have not even mentioned starting point guard stalwart, Steve Blake, sharpshooter continually on-the-verge, Martell Webster nor the Vanilla Gorilla in the middle, Joel Przybilla.

All of this gives you an indication of how much talent Sergio Rodriguez has to battle with in order to get himself noticed on this Blazer team and entice coach Nate McMillan to grant him playing time. The Spanish point guard disappointingly was not part of the Spanish Olympic team that took on Team USA in the Gold Medal Match. No doubt this, along with his struggle for minutes last season behind Blake and Jarrett Jack, motivated him to find answers this off-season.

He returned to his home in the Canary Islands and did his best to clear his mind in order to improve his game. Often in the past, the biggest criticsm of Rodriguez's game has been his apparent inability to slow down and make the right decisions on the court. He has lured Blazer fans through two seasons with Steve Nash-like ability to handle and dish the rock, but the consistency has not been there to allow McMillan to give him solid playing time.

“After two years playing in the NBA, I have to think that the most important thing is you don’t have to worry about anything else. You have to worry about yourself,” Rodriguez said. “And that is what I tried to do during the summer.”

The other area lacking in the point guard's game, which is essential at the NBA level, was his shooting ability from the outside. On a team stacked with a big three of scorers, the only way to get your shots is to knock them down when the opportunity knocks.

He worked with Blazers shooting coach John Thompson to develop more arc on his shot — one of the biggest weaknesses of his game.

He improved his strength and played with other pro players each day. And when training camp opened last week, that offseason work showed through when Rodriguez posted the third-fastest time in McMillan’s infamous conditioning test.

These changes to his game, along with fortune smiling on him, might make Rodriguez the most unexpected surprise in a Blazer uniform early on this season. That fortune has arrived in the form of misfortune for incumbent starter Blake, who will miss time early on with a strained hamstring. Rodriguez has often felt mistrust from his tough-love coach and had communicated that to good friend Fernandez before he too joined the team. However, it appears that the Blazers brass want to make sure that rookie Bayless knows his place (MVP of Summer League or not) and hence, McMillan has made it known that Rodriguez holds the edge for playing time in Blake's absence.

This will be the Spaniard's chance to prove that his newly cleared mind, improved shot and added experience will be what it takes to get him over the hurdle and be a solid contributer for this exciting team.

Already in the Blazers' preseason opener versus the Sacramento Kings, Rodriguez was given the starting nod and did not disappoint, putting up 11 points (whilst shooting the ball well from deep), 7 assists and 2 turnovers in only 26 minutes of victorious action. Tonight versus the Golden State Warriors he again is seeing significant time, emphasised by the unfortunate news that Webster has sustained a stress fracture of his left foot, in the never-ending stream of Blazer injuries.

Rodriguez's strong connection with newly-crowned star Fernandez may indeed add to his playing time with the primary playing unit, giving him an added advantage over Bayless, who will be better suited to igniting the scoring in the second unit with Outlaw until further changes to the rotation are arrived at.

“I just had to get my confidence back,” Rodriguez said. “I feel I’m stronger now. I can shoot better. And my mind is clear. And I just want to play, I just want to have fun. I just want to win.”

Video Highlights of the Blazers' win over the Kings (courtesy of ESPN).

Coach McMillan's thoughts on the Blazers after their first win:

Nate McMillan's take after the exhibition opener

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Shaq Video Interview : On Kobe, Legacy & Dancing

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This is a great video interview with Shaquille O'Neal, courtesy of ESPN. As always, you have to admire Shaq's confidence, openness and ability to interact with the media. The guy is just a reporter's dream. Here he talks about his relationship with Kobe during the Laker years and the fact that those titles might not have come without all of the friction; he talks about his legacy after basketball; he calls himself the Best Big Man Dancer In The World (hard to argue with); and he says that he called Kobe immediately after that "tell me how my a$$ tastes" rap and apologised and Kobe understood.  It is clear that he respects  Bryant a lot now and that everything in the past is water under the bridge. This may be a mellowed Shaq, but he's still 320lbs of fun!

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Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Today's Warnings : 8 October, 2008 (from the blogs)

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Whilst other things are taking up time in the world of ...a stern warning, here's what you should be reading up on:

  • And One has the news on everyone's favourite Cleveland Cav (no, not LeBron) and the likely starting lineups for the Cavs' first pre-season game versus the Raptors.
  • Paulie D at World Hoops Blog tells us that Starbury is still a team player (yes, denote sarcasm whenever Marbury is mentioned).
  • NESW Sports has plenty of links and some comic relief.
  • JR is deadset "On Fire" in this clip, provided by the Basketball Professor, Dodge Taylor. Meanwhile, Signor Rillie has just released Episode 5 of The "OT" Podcast.
  • Happy Birthday for yesterday to DJ Leon Smith.
  • Skeets at Ball Don't Lie has a photo of former Adelaide 36er, Julius Hodge, icing it up. He's currently on the NBA Live Europe tour, which I'm excited to say, means I'll be watching him live on Saturday here in London vs Miami Heat.
  • Ballerblogger shows Shaq scoring 53 points... do you remember that Shaquille O'Neal?

On a final NBL note, the Tigers host the Wildcats tonight. This should be a real battle of the titans, but I'm Sternly Predicting that the Tigers will be too strong at the SNAHC and will come out 8 point (Isiah) victors, with no Paul Rogers around to stop Mr Anstey.

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Monday, 6 October 2008

Blogger NBA Season Previews 2008/09 : Atlantic Division

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The NBA season is almost upon us and ...a stern warning is taking part in a Blogosphere-wide preview series on the league that is known as the best in the world. Look out later in the month for our Portland Trail Blazers preview, but in the meantime, follow the links as the Atlantic Division is analysed in fine detail.

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Boston Celtics

Jeff Clark: CelticsBlog.com    

Jim Weeks: Green Bandwagon      

FLCeltsFan: LOY's Place

John Karalis: Red's Army

Dustin Chapman: Celtics 24/7

New Jersey Nets

Dennis Velasco: About Basketball

New York Knicks

Joey: Straight Bangin'

Seth Rosenthal: Posting and Toasting

Philadelphia 76ers

Dannie & Pete: Recliner GM

Jon Burkett: Passion and Pride

Toronto Raptors

Franchise: RaptorsHQ.com

Ryan McNeill: Hoops Addict

Cuzzy: Cuzoogle

Also see links to all the previews at CelticsBlog.com

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Sunday, 5 October 2008

NBA 2009 Season Warmup (Video)

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What better way to warm up for the NBA season than watching this?

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Blogscar Nominations Ballot

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Further to the original post on this, here are the ...a stern warning nominations for Blogscars in some of the categories offered.

Best NBA Video Blogger - NESW Sports: Ethan just keeps on bringing out some of the hardest to find old clips, especially ads.
Best NFL Video Blogger - Can't comment on this one.
Best MLB Video Blogger - MouthPieceSports.com: totally on the strength of this video about the Cubs, with music by Eddie Vedder. This comes back to my Pearl Jam bias. I should point out that I only found this video through NESW Sports too.
Best “Other Sport” Video Blogger - JR, On Fire: it's not really another sport, but technically it's not for NBA, but rather NBL that we find the strength of the original content that JR comes up with on a regular basis.
Best New Sports Video Blogger - World Hoops Blog: Paulie Danger has his fair share of video content incorporated into his hoops blog, which has been growing consistently since it's start not long ago.
Best Self Made Sports Video Blogger - No comment here.
Best “Hard to Find” Sports Video Blogger - NESW Sports: Ethan hands down always finds the best stuff that you can't find.
Funniest Sports Video Blogger - No comment here.
Best Sports Video of the year - To tough to call for me.
Funniest Sports Video of the year - Having the memory of a goldfish doesn't help here, but I will go for this one where Charles Barkley meets Barney the dinosaur.
Best Sports Video Blog of the year - NESW Sports, hands down.

Get voting, people!

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Friday, 3 October 2008

NESW Sports : The Blogscar Awards

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Forgot the Oscars, forget the Academy Awards, Ethan at NESW Sports has come out with a new brand of awards -- The Blogscar Awards, for fine efforts in video blogging.

Personally, I feel that NESW Sports should be nominated in pretty much every category. Go on and check it out and get voting!!

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NBL Round 3 : Blowout Round

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So far Round 3 of National Basketball League action has been all about the art of the blowout. The round started with the Wildcats showing some 13 point home hospitality. The Breakers then welcomed the 36ers to the land of the long white cloud with a 38 point drubbing. The Dragons then paid a visit to the Hammer with a 17 point win.

Then last night the Tigers made much easier work of the Taipans than most would have expected, knocking them off by 24 points.

Tomorrow the Dragons visit the Hawks. The home team from the 'Gong will be looking for a stronger performance from Kavossy Franklin than they got in Perth a couple of days ago. One thing about the Hawks is they know how to fight. I would not be surprised to see an upset win from them here. Look for Glen Saville to defend his home court and Cam Tragardh to step it up. NBL official preview.

A Stern Prediction: Hawks by 5

The Crocs welcome the Wildcats to the not-so-welcoming Swamp. Look out for a JR explosion, backed up by the still recovering Rosell Ellis (the Love Doctor). The Cats are looking strong lately, as are the Crocs, so this should be a great match. Check out John Rillie's preview of the match, including some milestones that will be reached. NBL official preview.

A Stern Prediction: Crocs by 3

Other Aussie basketball news

* Memories from Gonzaga of Axel Dench and John Rillie.

* Kristi Harrower is trying to get back to play for the Bendigo Spirit.

* More hoops news from World Hoops Blog.

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Thursday, 2 October 2008

Perth Wildcats CEO continues Heal-bashing via Facebook

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Well, as has been mentioned around the NBL traps lately, all publicity is good publicity, right? The biggest news in Australian basketball circles of the last week has been the Wildcats v Blaze post-game press conference that saw Brendan Joyce explode at reporter Ross Lewis of the The West Australian, demanding he be thrown out of "the presser" for his treatment of new Gold Coast recruit, Shane Heal.

Whilst The Hammer seemed unfazed by all of the attention (he normally thrives on all of this stuff), his coach came out to bat for him, which ended up in a visit to Chuck Harmison's office by Brendan Joyce. Joyce was exonerated of any wrongdoing and given a warning by Harmison. However, it seems that Perth Wildcats CEO Nick Marvin is not happy with the war of words ending there.

According to an anonymous tipster, Marvin's Facebook profile currently reads "Nick Marvin to those who were at the presser: the hammer has always been a tool you know!" with a humourous play on words directed in Heal's direction. Clearly he was not happy with the result of the press-conference scuffle. These are clearly not the professional, measured words that would be expected of a team CEO, who would require his players to act with a certain level of class. In fact, I don't know why the Wildcats are even getting involved in all of this, given that they clearly have bigger fish to fry, like winning games. The Cats are in a position to do very well this season if they keep their heads screwed on tightly.

Meanwhile, Adelaide journo Boti Nagy, is not happy with the result of the of the whole situation either, claiming in a round-about way that there may have been a conflict of interest, or bias involved with Harmison being the investigator of Joyce's conduct, given their history:

"PATHETIC. The NBL's interim chief executive Chuck Harmison let his league down - and not for the first time - in his handling of the "Brendan Joyce press conference" affair.

You'll recall Joyce lost his mind at Perth journalist Ross Lewis for having the pound ! #@&%* audacity to raise questions over Gold Coast signing a 38-year-old Shane Heal.

Joyce wanted Lewis out of the presser but was told that wasn't happening by Wildcat CEO Nick Marvin. He had a further crack at Lewis after the interviews, the sum total of which led to another stellar investigation by Harmless-one.

No, he didn't contact Lewis at all before giving Joyce a caution, then reacted badly when some in the media brought up their former Wollongong CEO-coach connection. Hey, no-one even mentioned their playing days together at Nunawading. (Well, not until now.)

Considering Chris Anstey was fined $2000 for a gesture at the crowd, Joyce's a caution is laughable. All he achieved was curtailing coverage of the NBL in the west.

Well done to all concerned."

Nagy also made it clear on a recent HoopsTV interview and in his column that he wants to stick up for freedom of journalistic licence in the league, as the NBL needs all the reporting it can get. Obviously Joyce felt that his player came under undue scrutiny and didn't appreciate it and no doubt he crossed a line, but whether he was within his rights is a matter of personal opinion.

Back at the ranch, Heal managed to score 19 points, including 5 three pointers in his team's 17 point loss to the South Dragons. Mark Worthington did most of the damage for Heal's old team, with 20 points.

Photo Credit: Ian Munro
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