Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dominic Cheek's Future Looks Bright

Growing up in a rough and tumble neighborhood, which is putting it lightly, Dominic Cheek has been aided along the way by many people. Bob Hurley, coach at St. Anthony High School, is one of those people. Partly because of Hurley, Cheek will have a life beyond the 'hood.

"High school turned my life around," Cheek, who is the 16th-rated high school prospect by Rivals.com and averages 14.5 points per game, told the Philadelphia Daily News. "In eighth grade I was hanging around with the wrong crowd, trying to be like everybody else. But then I came to my senses. Coach Hurley told me if I worked hard I can do something with my life."

Sylvia Fowles Honing Her Game in Russia

Sylvia Fowles is a presence under the basket for USA Basketball and the Chicago Sky. She's a unique player the likes haven't been seen since Katrina McClain ruled the backboard. And here's the scary part: she keeps getting better. Silky Syl is working on her game in Russia this season (she had 27 points and 11 rebounds today in EuroLeague Sweet Sixteen action) and Spartak Moscow Region has hired Alex Troxel to help work on improving her post game.

"The main thing we're working on is making her more effective," Troxel told the Chicago Tribune. "Reading defenses, catching the ball off the block and going to work, backing a girl down. She's so talented and can do so many things we almost needed to simplify her game."

What happenes if Fowles, who came off the bench to average U.S. Olympic team-highs of 13.4 ppg. and 8.4 rpg., while shooting 64.3 percent from the field, comes back even better than she was a year ago? Opponents next season should be afraid of that answer. Very afraid.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Legendary Coach Kay Yow Passes Away

Saturday morning the legendary North Carolina State head coach Kay Yow lost her battle with breast cancer.

"USA Basketball is mourning the loss today of Kay Yow, a friend, coach, mentor, leader and pioneer in women's basketball. Her accomplishments were many within the USA Basketball family. As a member of seven USA Basketball staffs over a 10-year span, the pinnacle of her USA career came when she led the 1986 USA World Championship and 1988 U.S. Olympic Teams to gold medals. Kay has been an inspiration both on and off the court throughout her storied career. However, it has been during her struggles with cancer that Kay has inspired us most. All of us in the USA Basketball family will miss her wonderful smile, personality and strength of character."

Tributes to Kay Yow from Around the Nation:

Michael Redd Injured

2008 Olympic gold medalist Michael Redd suffered a knee injury Saturday night and could be out for the season.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Sue Bird to Finally Get More Promo

Sue Bird has largely flown under the radar of most of the population in the Pacific Northwest since landing in Seattle in 2002. However, look for that to change in 2009, according to Jayda Evans of the Seattle Times.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Vote for the USA's Gold Medalists!!!

The 2009 EuroLeague All-Star Ballot is now online. Be sure to vote for your 2008 Olympic GOLD medalists!

Men's 2008 U18 National Team Update

Matt Humphrey and the Oregon Ducks are having a tough time right now trying to right their ship ... JaMychal Green is having a strong season for Bama, but the team fell to 1-1 in early conference play ... at Kansas the young guns, including Travis Releford, aren't as ready for NCAA action as freshmen in year's past. But they're coming along and still KU managed an 87-71 win over K-State ... Kemba Walker's steady play continues to assist UConn this season. The freshman point, who was the MVP of the 2008 FIBA Americas U18 Championship if you recall, returned to New York last night and posted 21 points, four assists and five rebounds in UConn's 67-55 victory over St. John’s. “I kind of exploded tonight offensively but I really wanted to win and have fun. I’m proud of my teammates.”

Essence Carson Moves to Venice, Other Women's Hoops Highlights

Four-time USA Basketball gold medalist Essence Carson was so impressive in the first half of her rookie season in the EuroLeague, she has been picked up by the Venice club Umana Reyer. Despite averaging 19.8 ppg., TTT Riga went 4-6 and missed out on the upcoming EuroLeague playoffs. But things are looking up for Umana Reyer as the Italian club finished atop Group B and Carson could be just what that team needs to get into the Final Four.

A USA teammate of Carson's on three gold medal squads, Jolene Anderson's basketball career is profiled by the Superior Telegram, which named Anderson its 2008 Sportswoman of the Year. Anderson, interestingly, finished one step below Carson's Latvian squad and is also out of the remainder of the EuroLeague playoffs ... 1996 Olympic gold medalist Rebecca Lobo's state high school scoring record is in jeopardy ... Candace Parker and her baby-to-be is mentioned in a story on soccer great Mia Hamm ... Speaking of Parker, she's being honored by the Tennessee Sports hall of Fame.

'08 Men's Team Brought Home More Than Gold

Members of the 2008 U.S. Men's Olympic Basketball Team earned more than gold medals this summer, they picked up friends for life along the way. Yes, many had already been friends prior to the Games, however, they all formed a lasting bond that has become apparent whenever they see each other this season.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bryant In for 2010, 2012

While some players are not ready to commit to the next quad of USA Basketball Men's Senior National Team events, which would include the 2010 FIBA World Championship and 2012 Olympic Games, Kobe Bryant is ready. "The chance to represent your country, that's not even a thought-process for me," Bryant said Wednesday. "If they want me to be on it, I'm all game." That's good news for USA Basketball since the gold medal at the '10 Worlds would qualify the U.S. for London 2012 and the men wouldn't have to go through the grueling 2011 FIBA Americas Championship, a 10-game tournament over a span of about 12 days.

"Take 2009 off, get it done in 2010, take 2011 off," USA Basketball chair Jerry Colangelo told the Rocky Mountain News of time before the Olympics. "That's the perfect scenario, if they're willing to do that."

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Amy Jaeschke Impressive Last Week

Northwestern sophomore Amy Jaeschke brings home Player of the Week honors to Northwestern for the first time in 12 seasons after spearheading two impressive Wildcat performances last week against No. 17 Ohio State and Wisconsin. Northwestern played the Buckeyes to within nine points, primarily because of Jaeschke’s defensive effort against last year’s co-Big Ten Player of the Year Jantel Lavender. Jaeschke limited Lavender to 15 points and just nine rebounds; the second time this year the sophomore has not recorded a double-double. In addition to her defensive efforts, Jaeschke also turned in a game-high 24 points and five boards in 40 minutes of action. The Wilmette, Ill., native was 6-of-7 (.857) from the charity stripe and 9-of-18 (.500) from the field. In the win against Wisconsin Sunday, Jaeschke netted 12 points while adding four rebounds and four blocks. Defensively, she held UW’s leading rebounder, Lin Zastrow, to just three boards and helped limit the Badger offense to only 17 second-half points. Jaeschke is now averaging 16.9 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, both of which are Wildcat bests.

Last Northwestern POW: Kristina Divjak (February 17, 1997)
(Courtesy Northwestern University Athletics)

Monday, January 5, 2009

While We Were Away ...

Or "What we didn't post during the busy holiday season"
USA Men's Senior National Team: The Indianapolis Star looked back at the influence and impact the USA Basketball Men's Senior National Team had during the Olympics, while Yahoo! sports and the Orlando Sentinel placed the USA's golden run at No. 2 among the year's top 10 stories. As usually happens about this time of year, someone pulls a story 'idea' out of the filing cabinet and asserts that playing for your country during the summer will bring your numbers down the next season. Or you'll get injured. Or simply forget how to make a basket. Strange, though, that the story doesn't look at the number of injured or underproductive players overall in the NBA who sat around all summer not playing for their country.

USA Women's National Team: Katie Smith was named the USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year (USA Today / Detroit Free Press /Detroit News) ... Yahoo! sports also listed the USA Basketball Women's National Team in the No. 2 spot among the top 10 stories of the year. It's also got Candace Parker at No. 1 and a slew of other USA players peppered throughout the list ... 2004 U.S. Olympic Team head coach Van Chancellor's LSU squad lost to 2000 U.S. Olympic Team assistant coach Geno Auriemma's UConn team, but he sees it as a positive and how can you not love that ... Candace Parker is given a nod by Rick Reilly writing about what he'd like to see in 2009 ...Parker was also given a nod by the Associated Press (as its Female Athlete of the Year), adding to her already award-filled year ... Lindsay Kagawa, agent to Seimone Augustus, Sylvia Fowles and Diana Taurasi, among others, is profiled ... Sue Bird returned to UConn for a little hoops practice ... while her USA, UConn & Spartak teammate Diana Taurasi gave some time to the Arizona Republic during her mid-winter break from Russia's cold ... The Daily News takes a look at where Rebecca Lobo, a '96 Olympic gold medalist, is is doing now ... and talk about the way back machine, 1976 U.S. Olympic Team member, 1980 U.S. Olympic Team assistant and 1984 U.S. Olympic Team head coach Pat Summitt's influence spans the hoops world ...

Additional USA Basketball Players in the News: Ashley Paris is no longer in sister Courtney's shadow ...