UConn in Europe: Jerome Dyson and Marcus Williams

euroleague.net

euroleague.net

Marcus Williams

Club: Crvena Zvezda Telekom

Location: Belgrade, Serbia

Leagues: Adriactic League, EuroLeague

Marcus Williams is enjoying a great year taking over for DeMarcus Nelson (Duke) as point guard for Crvena Zvezda, a Serbian team competing in both the Adriatic League (ABA) and Euroleague (top level in Europe). The ABA is a regional professional league that features clubs from the former Yugoslavia including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia as well as Israel and Hungary. The league was founded in the years after the Yugoslav Wars and has featured American players such as Adam Morrison (Gonzaga), Jordan Farmar (UCLA) and Scoonie Penn (Ohio State). Williams has partnered this season with 2011 Golden State Warrior’s draft pick Charles Jenkins to lead Zvezda to a perfect 8-0 record, good for first in the ABA. Always a pass first point guard, Williams’ 6.8 APG are good for fourth in the league. Here’s a look at his complete stat line:

ADRIATIC G MIN FG-FGA FG% 3PM-A 3P% REB AS PTS EFF
M. Williams 8 22.5 13-39 33% 16-36 44% 2.4 6.8 10.5 10.8

As one of the premier clubs in European basketball, Zvezda also competes in Group D of the Euroleague, which, as I mentioned earlier, is the equivalent to the European NBA. The Euroleague regular season runs from October 16th to December 19th, with 24 teams divided into 4 groups (A, B, C, D). Each team plays 10 games within the group, in a round robin format, with the top four teams from each group advancing to the Top 16. The Top 16 divides clubs into two additional 8 club groups (E, F), where teams play a 14 game round robin season spanning December 30th, 2014 to April 10th, 2015. The top 4 teams from Groups E and F then advance to a best-of-five series with the series winners advancing to the Final Four. The 2015 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four will be held in Madrid, Spain from May 15th to 17th on a single elimination basis. Also competing in the Euroleague for UConn this season is Jerome Dyson (Banco di Sardegna, Italy, Group A) and Niels Giffey (ALBA Berlin, Germany, Group B).

Currently, Zvezda sits at #2 in Group D with a record of 3-3. Williams has put together an impressive season thus far, setting a Euroleague record with 17 assists in his last outing. Overall, his 8.0 APG lead the league through six games. Here is a complete statline below:

EURO G MIN FG-FGA FG% 3PM-A 3P% REB AS PTS EFF
M. Williams 6 30 13-38 34% 13-43 30% 4.2 8.0 13.5 14.7

Euroleague Assist of the Night:

Marcus Williams Zvezda Highlights:

 

Jerome Dyson

Club: Dinamo Banco Di Sardegna Sassari

Location: Sardinia, Italy

Leagues: Lega Basket A, EuroLeague

euroleague.net

euroleague.net

 

Jerome Dyson comes to Sassari after one year with Enel Brindisi of the Italian National League (Lega Basket A) and has made an immediate impact. Dyson was named MVP of the Italian SuperCup, a yearly preseason competition that takes place between winners of the Italian Championship and Italian Cup from the previous year. It comes as no surprise Sassari is a great fit for Dyson- the team’s offensive philosophy is similar to Coach Calhoun’s at UConn, a run and gun that emphasizes getting out in transition and pushing the tempo. Dyson, along with Edgar Sosa (Louisville), Rakim Sanders (BC/Fairfield) and Jeff Brooks (Penn State) have led Sassari to a 5-1 record, good for second in a league widely considered one of the best in Europe. A quick search through the rosters seems to support this claim as former Big East stars Austin Freeman (Georgetown), Allan Ray (Villanova), Samardo Samuels (Louisville), Sam Young (Pittsburgh), MarShon Brooks (Providence) and Darius Johnson-Odom (Marquette) all participate. True to his UConn days, Dyson is first in the league with 2.7 steals per game. Here is a complete stat line below:

ITALY A G MIN FG-FGA FG% 3PM-A 3P% REB AS ST PTS EFF
J. Dyson 6 28.7 14-32 44% 11-33 33% 3.2 4.8 2.7 14.7 16.8

Following a 2013-14 campaign that saw Sassari win the coveted Italian Cup, the club earned a chance to compete in the Euroleague. The adjustment has been difficult as Sassari currently sits in last place in Group A with a record of 1-5, a group that includes European powerhouse Real Madrid. The team struggles have not  stopped Dyson’s individual performance however, as he continues to fill up the box score on a nightly basis. Here is a complete Euroleague statline:

EURO G MIN FG-FGA FG% 3PM-A 3P% REB AS ST PTS EFF
J. Dyson 5 29 15-37 41% 12-29 41% 3.0 3.8 2.0 14.4 9.0

Dyson interview on Euroleague Media Day:

Highlights from 2013/14 season (low quality):

CHECK BACK NEXT WEEK FOR AN UPDATE ON NIELS GIFFEY / ENOSCH WOLF…

 

 

 

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BC Siauliai falls to Usak Sportif in Turkey

Siauliai Usak

bcsiauliai.lt

Usak Sportif overcame an early deficit to defeat visiting BC Siauliai 79-69 in Group H play yesterday in Turkey. Americans Justin Carter (Creighton) and Courtney Fells (NC State) led the way for Sportif with 19 points each. Siauliai’s 12 point first half lead was erased  quickly on a strong shooting night from Sportif, finishing 31-62 (50%) from the field. The two clubs were back and forth throughout the third quarter before an 11-2 run by Sportif sealed the deal. Rokas Giedraitis led the way for Siauliai with 25 points/4 rebounds and Ryan/Tyler Olander combined for 10 points/14 rebounds in a losing effort. With the loss, Siauliai drops to 2-1 in Group H play. They return to EuroChallenge action December 3rd when they host Enisey in Lithuania. The club returns to LKL action tomorrow at home against #4 Juventus.

BC Siauliai off to best start in EuroChallenge history

bcsiauliai.lt

BC Siauliai finds themselves an even 6-6 entering Round 13 of the LKL season. After jumping out to a 4-2 start, Siauliai lost four in a row to close October. One particularly notable game came on October 9th against Alex Oriakhi’s club, Zvaigzdes, in a game that pit two former UConn champions against one another. Tyler Olander not only got the better of the matchup -14 points to Oriakhi’s 6- but Siauliai came away with the 13 point victory. You can view the battle here. November has proven promising thus far for the club with two double digit wins over #10 Nevezis and #8 Tonybet. Here are the twin towers official stat line through 12 LKL games:

Player G MIN FG-FGA FG% REB BL PTS EFF
R. Olander 12 17.6 36-73 49% 4.0 0.5 8.1 7.6
T. Olander 12 12.7 18-30 60% 2.3 0.1 5.0 5.1

EuroChallenge

November also marks the start of the EuroChallenge season. As I mentioned in previous blog posts, EuroChallenge is the third tier men’s professional club competition in Europe. 32 teams from 20 countries are divided into 8 regular season round robin groups based on geography. Siauliai competes in Group H of the EuroChallenge along with Enisey (Russia), Tsmoki-Minsk (Belarus) and Usak (Turkey). The two finalists at the end of each season get promoted to the EuroCup, where clubs can then compete for a EuroLeague promotion (European NBA). Strong performance in the EuroChallenge attracts sponsors, providing clubs with financial means to attract the top international players.

Siauliai has started EuroChallenge round robin play a perfect 2-0, largely in part to the play of the twin towers. Ryan Olander leads the team in scoring at 19.5 while Tyler leads in rebounding at 5 per game. Worth mentioning- Ryan’s 76% from the field is good for third in the entire EuroChallenge. Here is a full stat line from the first two games:

Player G MIN FG-FGA FG% REB BL PTS EFF
R. Olander 2 25.5 19-24 79% 3.5 0.5 19.5 16
T. Olander 2 12.5 3-3 100% 5.0 0.0 5.5 7.5

Siauliai barely survived a November 4th contest against Enisey to open round robin play in Lithuania. Up eight with 4 minutes left, Enisey stormed back to tie the game with 30 seconds on the clock. Luckily, American Jonathan Lee (Northeastern) saved the day for the home team knocking down the go-ahead foul shot with 17 seconds remaining. Tyler Olander scored 5 of his 6 points in the fourth quarter and Ryan Olander poured in 16 points on 8-10 shooting in the 93-92 victory.

Watch the full game here.

Next, Siauliai traveled to Belarus for a matchup with fellow Group H member Tsmoki-Minsk. Ryan Olander contributed a game high 23 points on 11-14 shooting and Tyler Olander added 5 rebounds en route to a 94-91 win. As in any league at any level, road wins are especially impressive and can make all the difference come tournament time.

Watch the full game here.

The twin towers return to action tomorrow when they take on Usak-Sportif in Turkey. Usak is 1-1 in Group H play with a home win over Minsk followed by an 18 point blowout loss at the hands of Enisey. They are led by Americans Chris Warren (Mississippi), Courtney Fells (NC State) and Justin Carter (Creighton).  Siauliai is shooting a ridiculous 50% from behind the arc in EuroChallenge play and will look to add to their best start in history.

You can watch the game live on the FIBA Youtube channel at 6:30PM: https://www.youtube.com/FIBA

Check back for weekly updates…

UConn Basketball: Keys to the 2014/15 Season

 (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

(AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

November is here once again which means the return of my favorite season, college basketball. Here are a few keys for UConn to repeat as National Champions. It starts (and ends), of course, with point guard Ryan Boatright.

Ryan Boatright

This is finally Ryan Boatright’s team. Two years ago, I would’ve cringed at this idea but today I am much more comfortable given his progression. Here are two subplots to look for concerning Boatright this season:

Leadership

We know Boat can drive, we know Boat can defend- but can he lead? This is the most important question of the season and in my opinion, the biggest indicator of success. If you look at the last two National Championship runs, it was not the tremendous play of Kemba and Shabazz that made the difference but the leadership they exhibited. Both were able to elevate the performance of their teammates, whether it was making the extra pass or an inspiring defensive stop. A telling sign will be body language. Pay attention to Boatright after a missed defensive assignment or botched layup- does he throw his hands up in disgust or encourage his teammate with a pat on the back? We need the latter.

Boatright/Purvis floor relationship

I think we can all remember the painful offensive sets in the beginning of the Napier/Boatright years- long possessions ending in a deep 3 or forced drives into traffic trying to draw contact. Either way it hurt the eyes to watch. It took Boatright and Napier 2.5 years to learn to complement each other. Boatright and Purvis don’t have that luxury. While Purvis could not suit up for the Huskies last year following his transfer, he practiced with the team everyday which should eliminate some of the learning curve. We need both to perform, but most importantly, we need them to complement each other.

Identity

Top Dogs vs Underdogs

Last year we were the Hungry Huskies, the underdog, the misfits. This year, as defending National Champions, the expectations are much higher. Playing as the underdog is much different than playing as the defending National Champions. We have a target on our back. It is essential we keep the same hunger while avoiding a championship hangover. Humble Huskies. With Kevin Ollie behind the wheel you know we will defend and you know we will compete, that is a given. However, with different pieces than last year it remains to be seen how the puzzle fits together. Early season tests against Duke and Florida will be a good gauge.

Emergence of Role Players

We need to defend and we need to rebound for 40 minutes over a span of 6 months. It doesn’t matter who the production comes from, it just needs to be there night in and night out for the duration of the season. It could take the whole season to learn the shape of the puzzle but we know the result when all pieces fit come tournament time.

Inside Presence

Amida Brimah is good. Really good. We know Brimah can defend the basket but can he do so without getting himself in foul trouble? If so, he has the potential to be a lottery pick in next years NBA Draft. If not, Philip Nolan, Kentan Facey and newcomer Rakim Lubin will need to pick up the slack. Keep a close eye on the Brimah- Jahlil Okafor matchup when UConn battles Duke in mid-December. Every big time player has a breakout game against a big time talent on a big time stage (Kemba in Maui, Bazz vs Florida). This could very well be Brimah’s coming out party.

Resiliency

In 2011 we lost 4 out of 5 games entering postseason play. In 2014 we were manhandled by Louisville before the AAC tournament. As any season, this season will have its highs and lows. A team is not defined by their lows, a team is defined by their response. I am less concerned with the blowout loss and more concerned with the attitude at practice the following day. Resiliency starts with leadership which brings us back to my first point: Ryan Boatright.