We know Lithuania is wary of Russia but if last week’s Top 10 is any indication, it’s actually the Americans flying overhead…
In any case, Lithuania has officially been introduced to lob city.
Here is a recap of UConn Basketball’s week on Twitter for Huskies past, present and future.
Kemba Walker may need surgery on meniscus (would miss 6 weeks)…
Jeremy Lamb to Brooklyn? Or maybe Charlotte?
LeBron James recruits Ray Allen to Cavs by staring until he agrees…
Shabazz Napier plays with Reggie Evans (peek-a-boo)…
Roscoe Smith records NBA D-League leading 20th double-double…
The German BBL begs the question of Khalid El-Amin for MVP (update to come) and other stuff I don’t understand…
Niels Giffey plays in the German BBL All-Star Game…
Jerome Dyson keeps it simple…
Marcus Williams shows play-making is not the only play he’s making…
Ryan Boatright moves into 18th on the all-time scoring list…
…on a career-high 28 points.
Daniel Hamilton does a little bit of everything (turning the ball over included)…
…while Omar Calhoun does something (forgot he could dunk).
UConn ESPN Top 25 commit Jalen Adams puts on at the Hoop Hall Classic…
…and future teammate Steve Enoch does the same.
Khalid El-Amin got the sweet taste of victory after leading UConn to the 1999 National Championship, and has not stopped since. BC Goettingen (Germany, BBL) received much criticism this off-season when they brought in the 35 year old El-Amin, fresh off a 2013-14 season he spent rehabbing an injury. The move was based off El-Amin’s European track record, which speaks for itself. Joining Besiktas (Hilton Armstrong’s current team) of the Turkish League in 2003, El-Amin dominated for two straight seasons -averaging 20 points a game and leading the league in assists- including an MVP performance at the 2005 Turkish League All-Star Game. Next, El-Amin signed in Ukraine where he led Mariupol of the Ukrainian Basketball Superleage to the 2006 Championship, earning both regular season and playoff MVP honors. Following stints in Turkey and Lithuania, El-Amin won his most recent title in 2011, with Zagreb of the Croatian A-League.
Goettingen’s bold move has paid immediate dividends as El-Amin has led the club to a #10 ranking in their first season back in the BBL(first tier German league, think Niels Giffey) after winning the German ProA title last season (second tier, think Enosch Wolf). Goettingen has 16 regular season games remaining to move up to #8, the last playoff berth. The club took a step in the right direction this afternoon, defeating #5 EWE Baskets behind 15 points/3 assists from El-Amin.
His performance was worthy of an appearance in the BBL “Tweet of the Day”, comparing El-Amin to 2004 German Footballer of the Year Ailton, who like El-Amin was small and chubby but quick (thank you Enosch for the explanation).
After a rough 36 point loss at the hands of Giffey’s ALBA Berlin (see above photo) to start the year, El-Amin has put together quite the season, averaging 14 points per game in 29 minutes with his 5.9 assists good for fourth in the BBL. Since highlights from today’s game are not yet available, here are top plays from a game back in December where El-Amin dropped 28 points en route to an upset of #4 Ratiopharm.
Although nearly 16 years removed from his Storrs days, El-Amin still bleeds blue. In fact, this past summer I watched him hit the game-winner in the Jim Calhoun Celebrity Classic at Mohegan Sun. At the 2:10 mark of the interview below, El-Amin talks about his love for UConn and the disbandment of the Big East Conference.
“I represent UConn everywhere I go, I’m a Husky for life.”
Tyler Olander had 13 points and a team leading 6 rebounds as #7 Siauliai rolled over #11 Mazeikiai, 86-61. Ryan Olander finished with just 4 points but once again provided the play of the game, on this lob the announcer clearly did not expect him to finish:
Air Olander makes an additional appearance, in this week’s LKL Top 10 plays (#7).
Siauliai returns to action January 31st, against Alex Oriakhi and #6 Zvaigzdes. Oriakhi is averaging 10 points/7 rebounds on the year but his club has fallen to Siauliai in both meetings this season.
When we last checked in with Hilton Armstrong almost a year ago he had just been selected to represent the Golden State Warrior’s D-League affiliate (Santa Cruz) in the 2014 NBA D-League All-Star game. For the remainder of the Spring, Armstrong bounced between Santa Cruz and Golden State before signing in April for the remainder of the NBA season. He appeared in fifteen regular season games and all seven of the team’s playoff games posting averages of 1.7 points and 3.1 rebounds in 6.5 minutes. Additionally, Armstrong appeared in 32 (23 starts) D-League games, averaging 12 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.75 blocks in 30 minutes of action. However, with a healthy Andrew Bogut returning from injury, the Warriors waived Hilton on July 30th. Two weeks later, Armstrong signed with Besiktas of the Turkish Basketball League.
If you follow the NBA, Besiktas may ring a bell. In 2010 the club announced it’s largest contract in basketball division history, dishing out $4 million to Allen Iverson. Iverson played only ten games before retiring from professional basketball after calf surgery. Next season, locked out of the NBA, Deron Williams announced he would play for Besiktas for a cool $5 million. After Williams’ departed back to the NBA, Carlos Arroyo led the club to the EuroChallenge (third tier, think Tyler/Ryan Olander) Championship- qualifying for the EuroCup (second tier, Jerome Dyson) in the process.
Here are some highlights from AI’s brief tenure in Turkey:
This season, the club competes in both the Turkish Basketball League (national) as well as the EuroCup (regional). Armstrong, along with Chris Lofton (Tennessee) and JaJuan Johnson (Purdue, Boston Celtics), have led Besiktas to 4th place in the TBL (10-5) and berth in the EuroCup playoffs. The club, 0-2 in Group M play, desperately needs a win tomorrow against Neptunas (Lithuania) to keep a potential Final Eight matchup with Jerome Dyson’s Sassari alive.
Armstrong is currently averaging 8 points, 4 rebounds and 1 block on the season. Though his statistics are down, he has made consistent appearances on the highlight reel, including this ridiculous put-back dunk:
Armstrong had some of his stronger games in the more competitive EuroCup, including 13 points/5 rebounds and the game-winning assist against Khimky (Russia) earlier in the year.
1:30, 1:45, 2:10 and 2:30 (assist)
In the TBL, Hilton dropped 16 points/4 rebounds on Turk Telekom back in October.
0:30, 1:10, 2:00
#7 Siauliai hung tough for the duration of the game but took home the loss yesterday against #4 Lietuvos Rytas, 88-72. Down 46-32 at half, the club rallied during a 28 point third quarter to within two, but ultimately could not overcome Rytas’ hot shooting (42% from three). Ryan Olander had 2 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists in the loss.
In other news, Siauliai has added former Virginia Tech forward Jeff Allen. Allen finished fourth place all-time at Virginia Tech with 1,111 career rebounds and also became the first player in ACC (not to be confused with AAC of course-big difference) history with 1,500 career points, 1,000 rebounds, 200 steals and 150 blocked shots. Allen comes to Lithuania from Maccabi Haifa of the Israeli Premier League -the top national league in Israel- where he was averaging 11 points/4 rebounds.
Here are some highlights from Allen’s VT days:
Andre Drummond made two huge plays in the waning seconds of Friday night’s game against the Indiana Pacers. First, deadlocked at 96-96 with :24 seconds remaining, Drummond coaxed Pacers All-Star big man Roy Hibbert into an offensive foul. Then, on the ensuing possession, Drummond followed a Brandon Jennings’ miss for his 16 point on his 16 rebound, giving the Pistons 10 wins in their last 12 games.
I have not been shy in proclaiming Drummond a Hall of Famer, barring injury. His athleticism is so freakish, he could completely redefine the center position in the NBA, similarly to how LeBron James redefined the small forward. In just his third season, at a mere 21 years old, Drummond is averaging roughly 12 points, 13 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. To average these numbers, with a game so raw he barely has a viable post move or sense of defensive positioning, is a scary thought for Eastern Conference opponents.
Though impossible to imagine at this point in time, Drummond’s athleticism will eventually fade. His ultimate reputation will be decided by technique, development and execution. As SI.com’s Rob Mahoney puts it in his article linked below: “He will always appear capable of more, because in some sense he’s capable of almost anything.”
Ladies and gentlemen, watch out for Andre Drummond.
Ryan Olander had 12 points/4 rebounds and Tyler Olander played possibly his best game of the season adding 9 points (on a perfect 3/3 from downtown) and a team-leading 7 rebounds in #7 Siauliai’s 92-61 victory over #9 Prienai. The win snaps a four game losing streak for Siauliai and puts them two games ahead of #8 Lietkabelis, who clings to the last playoff berth. Ryan Olander’s dunk in the first half was voted the “Moment of the Game” and has led some in Lithuania to call him “Air Olander”.
Game highlights can be found below with TOlander appearing around the 1:05 mark and ROlander at 2:15:
The full game can be viewed here:
Siauliai returns to action January 18th when they take on Lithuanian powerhouse Lietuvos Rytas. Rytas, featuring Travis Leslie (Georgia/LA Clippers) and Billy Baron (UVA/URI), compete in both the LKL and EuroCup (think Jerome Dyson). Leslie led Siauliai to the Baltic Basketball League (BBL) championship last year before signing with Rytas.
This is what happens when 6’10 Italian center Tomas Ress tries to jump with Jerome Dyson:
Dyson has been on absolute fire the last 5 games in Italian Series A League play averaging a ridiculous 26.2 points, 6.6 assists, 6 rebounds and 2.5 steals for #2 Banco Di Sardegna. Sassari competes in both the Italian Series A League (national) as well as the EuroCup (regional). The club also competed in the Euroleague (Euro NBA, think Niels Giffey/Marcus Williams) earlier in the season but failed to reach the Top 16. They were booted into the Top 32 of the EuroCup (one level down) to play for a chance at the EuroCup crown and an automatic bid back to the Euroleague for next season. Essentially, the EuroCup (and lesser regional leagues) is a chance for clubs without the necessary accolades to qualify for Euroleague play automatically, similar to how conference tournament’s work with March Madness. European clubs rely heavily on sponsors who rely heavily on exposure, better leagues = more exposure = more money = better players.
To gauge the scope of the EuroCup, here is a map of all participating clubs (minus late additions):
Dyson is having a career year for Sassari with his 18.5 points per game, 4.8 assists per game and 2.3 steals per game good for 4th, 4th and 1st respectively in Series A play. On January 11th, Dyson dropped 30 points (6-10, 3P), dished out 8 assists and added 4 steals. In fact, his DEEP 3’s in the last two minutes led Sassari to the come-from-behind victory. Follow the link below for highlights (shots come at 2 minute mark):
Sassari returns to action January 20th when they battle Buducnost (Montenegro) in EuroCup play. The matchup pits Dyson against former Big East standout Omar Cook (St. John’s). Dyson and his squad will need to finish in the top two of Group H to advance to the Final Eight – they currently sit at 3rd with a record of 1-1. Other Group H members include Buducnost, Canaria (Spain), and Banvit (Turkey).
We always knew Dyson could make plays like this…
…now he is making winning plays.
We last checked in with the Twin Towers in mid-December after Siauliai had been eliminated from EuroChallenge contention on a half-court buzzer-beater. Not to worry, there is still much basketball to be played. This season, Siauliai competes in both the top national league, Lithuanian Basketball League (LKL), as well as the competition-based EuroChallenge (invite only). Remember, European clubs play in multiple leagues. Some are national, others regional and select are competition-based off the previous season’s performance. Siauliai earned an invite to the EuroChallenge after a 2013-14 campaign that saw the club win its first Baltic Basketball League (regional) title. Siauliai failed to advance in EuroChallenge play but will still compete for the LKL championship in April.
The holiday’s proved a rough stretch for Siauliai as they have gone 1-3 in their past 4 games. The club dropped to #6 in the standings (9-9), after another tough home loss, this time at the hands of #4 Juventus. Siauliai jumped out to a 48-37 lead at halftime before watching Juventus pull to within 1 with :20 seconds remaining. On the inbound, Juventus’ Rashaun Broadus (BYU) shook free from his defender for the game winning lay-in. Watch below:
Ryan Olander had 9 points/5 rebounds while Tyler Olander added 5/3 in a losing effort. Broadus led Juventus with 17 points/3 assists. Here are the complete stats for the Twin Towers through 18 games:
With 20 games remaining, #6 Siauliai must remain #8 or higher to advance to the LKL playoffs. Siauliai is off for a few days before returning to action January 17th against #9 Tonybet.
Here is a video compilation of the Top 10 plays of 2014, posted to the club’s Facebook fan page. Ryan Olander makes two appearances in the Top 10 at 19 seconds and 1:52.