Australian Hoops News - basketball

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Brisbane, AUSTRALIA (Dec 21) - Leroy Loggins, who celebrated his 41st birthday on Sunday, played his 500th National Basketball League game in the Brisbane Bullets' 106-93 win against Perth Wildcats in Brisbane on Saturday.

Loggins will equal injured Perth forward James Crawford's record of 501 NBL games when he suits up for the Bullets against Melbourne Tigers at Melbourne Park this weekend, reports The Australian.

"I definitely want to play one more season," Loggins said. "I want to be the first to play 20 seasons in the NBL. No one will ever take that away from me.

"I'll be in a league of my own, at least temporarily until James Crawford and Andrew Gaze get there."

Loggins is one of the most highly-decorated players in NBL history. Named on the NBL's 20th Season Team, Loggins has won three NBL titles with the Bullets (1985-87) and West Adelaide Bearcats (1982) and has also received three Most Valuable Player awards.

His extraordinary consistency and durability have been rewarded with selection in the NBL All Star Five 10 times.

Only Andrew Gaze has won more MVP awards (seven) and All Star honours (13).

Loggins, an NAIA All-American, first came to Australia in 1980 to play with Gold Coast to play in a league that pre-empted the CBA. The next year he joined the Brisbne Bullets in the NBL.

Click here to see the NBL Scores and Ladder from the weekend.

Connecticut, USA (Dec 21) - Australian 7-footer Justin Brown may "redshirt" this season at the top-ranked University of Connecticut.

The Perth-born centre - the first Australian to play with a No. 1 ranked college team - is expected to preserve his four years of elegibility, according to family connection Steve Cox.

As a redshirt, Brown won't play in any NCAA game this season, thus retaining his 4four years of eligibilty for college basketball.

"He practices with the team, dresses in uniform for games, travels with the team (so far he's been to Chicago, Univ. of Massachusettes & Univ. of Pittsburgh) and gets all the experience with the exception of stepping on the court to play," Cox told Australian Hoops.

"He is comfortable with this, as he has had a lot to learn about the U.S. game, not to mention Coach Jim Calhoun's style of play (practices are intense)."

"He loves the college campus life, which he says is pretty much like it was at the AIS, although with more class time."

"He's taking English, Biology, Anthropology, Sociology and another course."

Brown's roomate is a Sudanese freshman who didn't make the required SAT scores, but will be on the team next season - Ajou Ajou Deng.

Ajou is 6'11", 210lbs.

"Needless to say, there is not much room in their dormitory room," Cox said.

Melbourne, AUSTRALIA (Dec 21) - Australia's biggest basketball competition has a new name, and has got even bigger.

A body set up by the Basketball Australia Council, with representation from Basketball Australia along with participating and proposed conferences, has agreed that an expanded Continental Basketball Association operate under the banner of "Australian Basketball Association" (ABA) and commence in the March 1999 season.

The ABA competition will build upon the structure created by the CBA to include conferences from NSW, Victoria and Western Australia in 2000.

The CBA already boasted conferences covering Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania.

The intended new conferences have already been co-opted to the governance planning group for the expanded competition, according a media release from Basketball Australia.

BA president John Maddock said, "Whilst the ABA can embrace all states' conferences, it keeps alive the high quality South and East interstate conferences of the CBA," Maddock added.

This statement served to calm the disquiet among some traditional southern powers, because significantly the last two mens CBA national titles have been won, not by the South and East conferences, but by Queensland teams from the North Conference.

The current CBA chairman, and inaugural ABA figurehead, Adrian Davies added, "The high profile professional NBL and WNBL summer league competitions will now be complemented by the 520 association-based teams... of which 100-plus will compete in a series of winter season conferences culminating in a national championship series in September."

The CBA was already the major national competition in winter in Australia, and now, with the basking of Basketball Australia, it has a name (ABA) which says the same.

But what changes will the public see? The announced expansion now adds a western conference for the first time, as well as more teams from New South Wales and Victoria.

This could be a very positive development, as it fully encompasses all major regional leagues in Australia, and appears to have the full backing of Basketball Australia - the sports national governing body.

Washington, USA (Dec 21) - Australia's Axel Dench scored 4 points as Gonzaga University thumped Chicago State 84-38 to earn growing attention in the NCAA national polls.

Gonzaga (7-3) won after leading 36-17 at half time, in front of 2,984 fans.

In the latest USA Today/ESPN rankings, Gonzaga received 16 votes to be equal 3oth in the Top 25 poll. They also received votes in the latest Associated Press rankings.

Connecticut (8-0), with whom Australian Justin Brown is expected to redshirt this season, remained No. 1 for the third consecutive week.

Sydney, AUSTRALIA (Dec 21) - There are two new members in the Australian Boomers squad announced recently, which continues a meteoric rise for Newcastle's Terry Johnson.

Johnson and Victoria's Jason Smith are the two new faces in the 20-man squad for a training camp from January 31 to February 2, to start official preparation for the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

In 1994, Johnson was discarded from the NBL to lead the CBA's Cairns Marlins to the CBA's North Conference title and an appearance in the inaugural CBA national championship game. He was named Australian payer of the match.

The very next year he was back in the NBL, led the league in three-point percentage, appeared in the NBL's Rising Stars all-star game, and is now a leader for the Newcastle Falcons.

The full squad is : C.J. BRUTON - Wollongong Hawks, Martin CATALINI - Adelaide 36ers, Frank DRMIC - Victoria Titans, Simon DWIGHT - West Sydney Razorbacks, Andrew GAZE - Melbourne Tigers, Terry JOHNSON - Newcastle Falcons, Brett MAHER - Adelaide 36ers, Sam MACKINNON - Townsville Crocodiles, Ben MELMETH - Newcastle Falcons, Scott MCGREGOR - Sydney Kings, Matthew NIELSEN - Sydney Kings, Ben PEPPER - Victoria Titans, Tony RONALDSON - Victoria Titans, Paul ROGERS - Perth Wildcats, Pat REIDY - Newcastle Falcons, John RILLIE - West Sydney Razorbacks, Jason SMITH - Victoria Titans, Aaron TRAHAIR - Sydney Kings, Andrew VLAHOV - Perth Wildcats, Brett WHEELER - Victoria Titans.

Four other players have been included in the squad but are unable to attend the camp. These are Shane Heal (Greece), Mark Bradtke (Melbourne Tigers), Luc Longley (Chicago Bulls) and Chris Anstey (Dallas Mavericks).

Coach Barry Barnes will be assisted by Alan Black, Brett Brown (unable to attend) and new coaches Phil Smyth (Adelaide 36ers) and Brian Goorjian (Victoria Titans).

Newcastle, AUSTRALIA (Dec 21) - The coach of the Newcastle Falcons, Shawn Dennis, says despite last week's sacking of American import Todd Mundt, the team can still do well in this National Basketball League season, reports the ABC.

Mundt's contract was terminated over a number of on-court incidents, which included being sent off recently for allegedly striking an Adelaide player and a spitting incident earlier this season.

Dennis says Mundt's loss opens the way for some new players in the team and he is confident it will not affect the Falcons' ability to win games.

"There're people in the team now who'll get great opportunities and I think they're capable of handling it over the next few weeks while we work out exactly where the team is going," he said.

New York, USA (Dec 15) - Current NBA players may soon be headed to Australia, if legal moves against FIBA are succesful.

Nick Van Exel of the Denver Nuggets plans to file suit against the NBA, USA Basketball and FIBA in an effort to play the rest of the season in Europe, the Associated Press reported.

Van Exel and several other plaintiffs, including Marcus Camby of the New York Knicks, will allege that the NBA and USA Basketball will not give clearance to FIBA, the sport's world governing body.

"Nick wants to work this year, and other players want to work, but they are unable to accept offers overseas because NBA and USA Basketball are telling FIBA not to clear them," agent James Bryant said.

Van Exel was traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Denver Nuggets in June, while Camby was traded from the Toronto Raptors to the New York Knicks.

Bryant said Van Exel had two or three overseas offers and Camby had one.

Cincinnati, USA (Dec 14) - Fourth-ranked Cincinnati built a 25-point lead in the first half, then watched it shrink to 11 against Southwestern Louisiana and two Australians.

Cincinnati (6-0) was impressive for brief spurts to win 91-65, but only after Southwestern Louisiana (3-3) made its run and started to think it could pull off the upset.

Southwestern Louisiana was out of sync in the first half as it worked six players into its lineup for the first time, as Cincinnati led 55-32.

"At halftime, Coach chewed us out and basically told us we'd better turn it up from the first half," a Southwestern Louisiana player said. "We did some soul searching, matched their intensity and raised it a little bit. We couldn't match that intensity in the last five or six minutes of the game."

Southwestern Louisiana cut the lead to 64-53 with 7:12 left.

But then Cincinnati showed why they've won 19 straight home games, as they reeled off a 25-5 run over the next four and one-half minutes.

"I vote in the coaches' poll," Cajuns' coach Evans told Associated Press. "I think I had them third (last week). Obviously I'm going to have to put them a little higher after seeing them first-hand."

Southwestern Louisiana's Australian content as always played important roles. Melbourne guard David Patrick had 7 points from 7-10 free throws in 17 minutes, while Sydney forward Brett Smith grabbed 2 rebounds in 12 minutes. The crowd was 12,185.

"We play Cinncinatti on Saturday in Ohio and it should be a tough game for us but we have a good chance of winning," Patrick told Australian Hoops before the game.

His team did well against one of the best college teams in the country.

Perth, AUSTRALIA (Dec 14) - Paul Rogers left Adelaide to attend Gonzaga University in the US, where he was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1997 NBA draft before spending a quiet season with Real Madrid in Spain.

And now he's looking forward to going home, when his Perth Wildcats visit the Adelaide 36'ers this Friday.

"I'll probably be pretty nervous," he told The Australian. "A couple of minutes into the game and I'll be fine."

While playing for the Australian Boomers at the world championship earlier this year in Athens, he decided he wanted to play for Adelaide in the NBL, reports The Australian.

"At the last minute, my agent got the message Brooks might want to come back. They asked us to wait 24 hours," Rogers said.

"Three days later we got a message they had signed Brooks. That was the last contact I had with Adelaide."

While the injury-ravaged Wildcats have made a slow start to the season, Rogers has been sensational.

He's the fourth-leading scorer (22.5 points) and third-leading rebounder (13.4 rebounds) in the league.

Click here to see the NBL Scores and Ladder from the weekend.

Sydney, AUSTRALIA (Dec 14) - Some people fear that Australia's Continental Basketball Association, the national competition that runs March to September (opposite to the NBL), is in danger of being diluted irrepairably below its current high standard.

That's following the recent Council meeting of Basketball Australia that discussed the proposed new national competition for associations, which may result in the CBA almost doubling in size.

Fears exist that if the expansion is too rapid, the standard will fall, ultimately leading to a break-away competition involving the better clubs.

But that's mere conjecture. Here's an extract distributed by Basketball Australia, of a media release jointly released by the CBA and BA:

"The practical effect of motions passed at the BA Council meeting ensure that the provisions contained in the joint BA Board and CBA National Ltd. Board endorsed National Competition submission will form the key elements for implementing this framework

"Requirements to expedite the implementation process include:-

"(i) Appointed representatives of N.S.W., Victoria and W.A's proposed conferences be co-opted immediately on to the planning group of CBA National Ltd, charged with putting into place the expanded Associations-based national competition,

"(ii) Amendment of the CBA National Ltd articles to provide for N.S.W., Victoria and W.A. to be included as share-holders at the earliest practicable time, and

"(iii) The name for the competition be referred to the enlarged governance group for determination.

"The inclusion of N.S.W., Victoria and W.A. as shareholders of CBA National Ltd, along with board representation, is subject to each entities formal acceptance and compliance with the Participation Criteria, and Competition Rules & By-laws as contained in the endorsed National Competition submission presented and adopted in principle at the BA Council Meeting.

"In order to progress these matters, representatives from N.S.W., Victoria and W.A. have been invited to attend the December 12 meeting of CBA National Ltd. A key outcome from this meeting will be to reach agreement on an acceptable name for the competition so that the logistics to process this can be implemented in time for the 1999 Winter season."

Currently the CBA includes conferences including teams from Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, ACT, and South Australia. Only Western Australia is presently unrepresented.

Queensland teams from the North Conference have won the last two mens CBA National Championships (Suncoast Clippers 1997, Cairns Marlins 1998). Victorian South Conference teams have won the last two womens titles.

Spokane, Washington, USA (Dec 14) - Australia's Axel Dench and Gonzaga University took no pity on No. 22 Washington as the 'Zags won 82-71 in an upset.

It was the third loss in a row for the Huskies (4-3), after the Bulldogs (6-3) led nearly the entire game and outscored the Huskies 10-4 in the final 1:40 to put the game away.

"We didn't respond to match their emotion, match their toughness," Washington coach Bob Bender told The Associated Press.

"I thought it was probably our best assertive offensive output of the year and it was probably going to take an effort like that to beat a team like Washington," Gonzaga coach Dan Monson said.

The crowd was 4,368.

Gonzaga have the third best record of teams in the West Coast Conference, which has yet to play a conference game.

A look around other NCAA Division I colleges that have Australians, includes No. 1 Connecticut (8-0), with Perth's Justin Brown, third in the Big East with a 1-0 conference record.

Melbourne's Nick Mirich at George Mason University is atop the Colonial Athletic Association with a 1-0 mark, 3-6 overall.

Southwestern Louisiana, with Sydney's Brett Smith and Melbourne's David Patrick, is third best amongst Sun Belt Conference teams, but are yet to play a conference game.

Los Angeles, USA (Dec 14) - Associated Press reports there was an NBA game of sorts, at Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA campus over the weekend.

AP reported that there were "NBA players like Kenny Anderson, Chris Mills and Eddie Jones. There was a clock, referees, slams, fancy passes and best of all, fans. But this was no NBA game."

About 2,000 fans - a mix of families with young children, teenagers and older folks who probably couldn't afford NBA ticket prices - shelled out $10 and $25 to watch the locked out pros put on a show.

"It was just for the fans," said Anderson of Boston. "This was not a structured game, so you really don't get too much accomplished."

The Mid Valley team, including Mills of the New York Knicks, Tracy Murray of Washington, Charles O'Bannon of Detroit and NBA rookie Paul Pierce, defeated the NBA All-Stars 128-119.

How unlike an NBA game was it?

Some fans yelled, "Defense," but, of course, there wasn't any. That sounds exactly like a "real" NBA game.

"Guys aren't going to go hard out there because they don't really want to get hurt," Jones said.

Their daily pickup games around Los Angeles don't attract more than a curious few. The longer the lock-out, it seems the less people care.

Brisbane, AUSTRALIA (Dec 7) - Brisbane Bullets have moved from fourth to second place in the National Basketball League, beating Wollongong Hawks 86-83 and Townsville 105-97 over the weekend.

American swingman Steve Woodberry hit a game-high 31 points against Wollongong, but was more content to distribute the ball against Townsville, as the Bullets swept their road double, reports The Australian.

Woodberry dished off a game-high nine assists against Townsville, while Leroy Loggins (29 points) and Mark Nash (27) led the scoring.

Nash also collected a game-high 16 rebounds against the Crocodiles in an MVP performance.

The Hawks dropped from third to fifth (5-5) after losing their third straight game, to Sydney Kings 93-72 at the Kingdome.

Amazingly, the Hawks attempted 24 more shots than Sydney (2-7), but the Kings out-shot the Hawks 43 per cent to a miserable 28 per cent from the field.

Sydney forward Matthew Nielsen scored a game-high 29 points and dragged down 13 rebounds. The win snapped Sydney's six game losing streak.

See all the weekend's NBL Scores and Ladder.

Connecticut, USA (Dec 7) - The University of Connecticut are top of The Associated Press NCAA basketball poll for only the second time in school history, making an Australian No. 1 for the first time ever.

Perth's 7-foot Justin Brown is in his freshman year at UConn although has so far been restricted to the bench.

No Australian has ever before played for an NCAA division 1 team ranked No. 1.

Previous Australians near the top include Andrew Gaze who lost the NCAA championship game at Seton Hall, while CJ Bruton was a starter for the No. 1 ranked junior college team in the US.

Luc Longley of course has won three straight NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls in the professional ranks.

Connecticut have been top of the rankings for the last two weeks.

Lafayette, Louisiana, USA (Dec 7) - The University of Southwstern Louisiana outscored Southern Mississippi 8-0 over the final two and one-half minutes for a 56-47 win, led by two outstanding Australians.

The Rajin Cajuns (3-2), winners of three straight, led by only 48-47 with 2:54 left, but Australia's David Patrick hit a layup at the buzzer to cement an amazing win.

USL, which fell to Southern Missippi 51-57 in the season opener, got a game-high 15 points from Melbourne's Patrick who hit on seven-of-11 shots from the field.

Fellow Australian and team mate Brett Smith, from Sydney, grabbed a game-high 7 rebounds.

The Cajuns, taking only their second win over USM in their last 13 meetings, led by as many as eight points three times in the second half before the Eagles took advantage of a four and one-half minute USL scoreless streak.

The crowd in Lafayette, Louisiana, for the NCAA division 1 game was 5,824.

Last week, Patrick added 15 points in an 80-49 win over McNeese State.

Smith recorded 11 points and a game-high 7 rebounds in a 60-56 victory against Texas Tech.

Cheney, Washington, USA (Dec 7) - Australia's Axel Dench scored 9 points for Gonzaga University, in an 81-59 victory over Eastern Washington.

Melbourne's Dench shot 4-9 from the field.

Gonzaga have since narrowly lost 48-49 to the powerful University of Detroit (5-1) to fall to 4-3. The lost game in the first round of the Hawkeye Invitational Tournament.

Gonzaga missed two shots in the final 18 seconds to lose for the first time in four outings. The crowd was 10,921.

Meanwhile, another Australian, Nick Mirich, scored 12 points as George Mason Univresity improved to 2-5 thanks to a 106-55 win over win-less Howard University.

Berlin, GERMANY (Dec 7) - FIBA, basketball's world governing body, has agreed in principle to allow Americans to play for any European team without limits.

The federation previously restricted European club teams to two non-European players. The question now arises will, or indeed can, FIBA lift the restriction in Australia?

"What it means is a team like Real Madrid could field 10 Americans if they wanted," FIBA spokesman Florian Wanninger said, reports Associated Press.

"It puts us in line with the NBA, which has no limit of any kind on foreign players."

Seventeen of FIBA's 20-member central board voted in favor of the change, which could be in force next season.

Details are expected to be completed at a meeting in May in Barcelona, Spain.

"In a world of globalization and liberalization, free movement is the logical consequence," Wanninger said.

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