Sad but true. Matt “Matty-boy” Gorman is no longer playing professional basketball, at least not at the moment. He was not re-signed by the Sheffield Sharks for 2010-11, and there is no record of him playing for, or even signing with, another team. Yet.
But, who from Syracuse is still playing pro hoops, whether in this hemisphere or not? That’s the knowledge we are about to drop, right here. You are about to find out what Demetris Nichols has in common with Hitler, what kind of shoes Kristof Ongenaet is wearing, and more. But first:
This NBA season has been a difficult one for just about everyone in the Association who played at SU. Topping the list, as usual, is Carmelo Anthony. He’s toiling for a Denver team that was once poised to challenge for a title but has taken a couple of steps back towards mediocrity, and has been passed by the Spurs, Mavericks, and even perhaps the Thunder. There are daily trade rumors surrounding him (based on the fact that he will be a free agent at year’s end) and on top of all that, he had to deal with the death of his big sister last week. Through all of this, Melo is still putting up big numbers. He is averaging 24.3ppg (right around his career average) and 8.5rpg (more than 2 rebounds better than his career average, and a full rebound better than his previous best season) and is likely to start for the West in next month’s All-Star game.
Beyond Carmelo, things drop off considerably. Next in line would be Hakim Warrick, who seemed to be having a fine year off the bench for Phoenix but has fallen out of favor in the last couple of weeks. Hak is averaging 10.6ppg and 4.3 rpg on the season, and had scored in double figures 15 times in his first 25 games, but his minutes have unexpectedly shrunk recently, to the point where he did not play at all in two of the Suns’ past three games. This blurb chalks it up to the coach trying to make changes and tighten his rotation to get the team to start winning (Phoenix is 5 games under .500) but I will point out that it hasn’t worked: the Suns are 1-5 since Hakim’s minutes began to seriously dwindle.
A similar sort of thing has befallen Donte Greene. The difference is that Donte began the season buried on the bench. OK, actually he started the first game of the season, went 1-7 in 26 minutes, and then was banished to the bench. He saw a total of 7 minutes of floor time over the next 8 games. Then suddenly he re-appeared, getting 20 minutes against the Knicks on November 17, and apparently impressing the coach because he was immediately inserted into the starting lineup the next night, where he stayed for 17 straight games. He played solidly in most these games, but the string ended after he went 4-13 against the Bucks on December 23. He did not play at all in the next game and has got only 3 or 4 minutes in each of the five games since then. For the season he is averaging 6.4 points per game.
Wes Johnson, on the other hand, has been starting for the Minnesota Timberwolves since the fifth game of the season. As you might expect from a rookie, his production has been up and down, but overall the Wolves seem happy with how he’s fit in. He’s averaging 9.4 ppg and is shooting 45% from the floor, 38% from deep, mostly playing shooting guard in the Rambis System. (Being in that position undoubtedly accounts for the fact that he only grabs 3 rebounds per game.) DIME Magazine says that Wes should get more shots. Without having seen a minute of actual T-Wolves’ basketball, I wholeheartedly agree.
Wesley’s teammate Jonny Flynn has had a forgettable time so far in his 2nd season with Minnesota. He missed the first month-and-a-half recovering from injury, and although he has been active for the last 3 weeks he hasn’t exactly been thrust back into a featured role. Jonny is backing up the immortal Luke Ridnour at PG, getting around 18 minutes per game, averaging 5 points and 2 assists per contest. With Minnesota expecting Ricky Rubio to finally join the team next season, and Ridnour fitting into Rambis’ offense in a way that Flynn could not as a rookie, there have been plenty of trade rumors swirling around Jonny too.
This leaves Andy Rautins and Etan Thomas. Both of these guys are stuck way at the end of their teams’ respective benches. Rautins has played in two games so far this season, Thomas in four. Neither has seen any meaningful minutes, and that is unlikely to change anytime soon. Rautins would be a candidate for a stint in the D-League except that the Knicks really only have one point guard on their roster and so they are keeping him around for depth. And New York hasn’t been on either end of a big blowout in a long time, depriving Andy of potential garbage minutes. They have had only one game since November 7 that was decided by more than 20 points, and that was against Miami in a game that was tied at halftime. Meanwhile, Etan is hanging around Atlanta as their emergency big man and with his current one-year contract could end up moving at the trade deadline should the Hawks want to add a complementary piece.
That wraps up the NBA representatives. But I know the real reason you have read this far is to find out what is going on in the rest of the world. Here goes:
Paul Harris started 9 games this season for the Maine Red Claws before being replaced in the lineup by a guy named Tiny Gallon (honest). Paul had a great start to the year, scoring double-figures in 9 of the team’s first 10 games, but his production has waned a bit since he lost his starting job. Nevertheless he is still playing a key role for Maine. For instance, he had a fine game on New Year’s Day with 13 points and 7 rebounds. And no matter what you think of Paul’s career as an Orangeman, you must read this recent profile from the Buffalo News. It doesn’t paper over his troubles at SU, not by a long shot. It faces them head-on, just like Paul has had to. I’m serious. Read it. Now. Paul is averaging 11.5 points and 7.5 rebounds for Maine, and he is shooting 38% from three-point range. Honest.
Josh Pace has returned to American shores from New Zealand, just like he has done the past couple of years, and has signed on once again with the SE Texas Mavericks of the ABA. He played for the “Mavs” last season and won the ABA’s MVP award while leading them to the league title. If you have read my updates here in the past, you know that the ABA has the most terriblest website in the history of pro sports. No box scores, no cumulative stats — heck, they don’t even have each team’s schedule and results posted. And the Mavericks themselves have let their website domain lapse and are simply posting occasional updates on a Facebook page. So, I can’t tell you how Josh is doing in Winnie, TX. But I’m sure he’s kicking ass.
Here’s a bonus one for you, before we leave North America. Our old pal Louie McCroskey is playing for the Quebec Kebs — sorry; “les Kebs de Quebec” — in the PBL (a league made up of teams that split from the ABA so that they could run things professionally). He has appeared in both games for the Kebs this season (which began last week), scoring 8 points in the first and 13 in the second.
Demetris Nichols, after being cut at the very end of Utah Jazz training camp, has gone back to France. Last year he played for Gravelines; this year he is playing for those Nazi collaborators in Vichy. Demetris joined the team in early December (replacing Curtis Sumpter on the roster) and has made an immediate impact. He is averaging 19 points and 5 rebounds per game in his four games with the team, including a 28-point outburst in their most recent contest. The team is just 1-3 since his arrival, but considering they were 1-7 before that, let’s count this as an improvement, yes?
Elvir Ovcina is still playing. He has returned to Germany for another season with the LTi Giessen 46ers. The 46ers started the season 5-2, but have since lost ten in a row to fall near the bottom of the standings. I assume it has something to do with their coach looking like this:
Quin Snyder has nothing on that guy.
Elvir is doing his part, though, for the team. He’s averaging 13.8 points and 7.5 rebounds on the year. He’s a solid presence in the middle, and occasionally busts out something ridiculous like this 16-point, 14-rebound, 9-assist performance in his most recent game. And he can still dunk when nobody is guarding him:
Also in Europe is Kristof Ongenaet, whose career refuses to die, not that we should be surprised. You may recall that he spent nearly all of the previous Italian League season on the bench (he appeared in just 4 games). But what we neglected to tell you — because we had no idea it was happening at the time — is that K-Ong went home to Belgium to finish out the springtime. Between the beginning of March and the middle of June he appeared in eight games for Belgacom Liege Basket, averaging just over 2 points per game (and presumably playing his guts out). This season he’s decided to try his luck again in Italy, and he is playing for the same team for which he rode the pine last season. However, they’ve changed sponsors for this season, so instead of being known as Sigma Coatings Montegranaro they are now known as Fabi Shoes Montegranaro. I can only assume the entire team is outfitted with the most fabulous shoes (and in Italy, that’s saying something). The team is led by, among others, former Villanova pain-in-the-ass Allan Ray. Kristof has appeared in six of the team’s 13 games so far, averaging 4 minutes, 1.5 points, and 1.2 rebounds per contest. The team is 6-7 on the year, tied with six other teams for 6th place (not kidding).
That’s it for Europe. You may be wondering, what about Terrence Roberts? Isn’t he playing in Ukraine? Well, he was, but he’s moved on. To:
Specifically, Jordan. I am honestly not joking when I say that I am fairly confident this is the trophy presentation from their preseason tournament.
The Jordanian basketball league appears to consist of just four teams. Terrence is on a team called ASU Sports Club. The season is not really underway yet so I don’t have any stats or anything, but I’ll keep looking. As you maybe can imagine, it’s a challenge to narrow down the billions of Google hits for “Jordan basketball”.
Not far from Jordan, we find Terrence’s frontcourt partner Darryl Watkins, plying his trade in Lebanon for Sagesse - Al Hekmeh Beirut. Lebanon has a somewhat more developed league than Jordan, with 9 teams total. They’ve been playing since late October, but Mookie didn’t join the team until just before Thanksgiving. He’s done well, averaging 13 points and 11 rebounds per game. Only twice in nine games has he failed to reach double-digit rebounds.
Over in Turkey, Preston Shumpert has kept on doing his thing. He’s left Efes Pilsen to join Galatasaray Cafe Crown, and has helped them to an 11-2 record and a tie for first place in the Turkish League standings. He’s averaging 10.2ppg and 3.2rpg. His numbers are down a bit from last year, particularly his three-point shooting: he is hitting just 38% from deep this season, whereas last year he was better than 55%. (Ridiculous, I know, but true.) His best game on the year is easily this 18-point, 7-rebound, 4-assist game against TURK Telecom.
Eric Devendorf has recently been lighting it up in Australia after a rough start. Rather than doing a recap here, I will direct you to yesterday’s report over on TNIAAM which sums up the situation nicely, and which also motivated me to get my rear in gear and put this post together after months of dawdling.
You also might be interested to know that Ryan Blackwell’s coaching debut is going great. He’s got his former team, the Osaka Evessa, in first place in the West Division of Japan’s BJ-League, with a record of 17-5. He’s managed the transition from player to coach smoothly and confidently. And he’s been hitting up Bernie Fine for coaching tips and advice. Here he is, all suit-jacketed up:
Would you believe that the other guy in the photo is Ryan’s assistant coach? (He is.)
That’s all for now. No Gorman, no Jason Hart, and no Josh Wright. If any of those guys surfaces, though, or if Terrence Roberts leaves Jordan for Azerbaijan, we’ll let you know.