Salt and Webster shine but other TB’s quiet


The numbers don’t do him justice (5 points, 6 rebounds and 1 block) but Jack Salt impressed everyone including coach Tony Bennett as Virginia beat Georgia Tech 62-49 to improve to 5-2 in Atlantic Coast Conference play on Sunday.

“There were some great stat lines, but I don’t think there were any better than the way Jack impacted the game. Statistically, he had six rebounds and played 35 minutes. Ben Lammers (Georgia Tech centre) is a good player and he made him earn everything. He played with his hands free, he fought his position and showed his strength, and that was impressive. I love seeing that, and it was a huge key for us in the game because that guy can score and make some big plays,” said Bennett.

Salt logged a career high 35 minutes and admitted to some weariness post game, “I was pretty tired, I hadn’t played this much in a long time, but I was very happy to be out there. It was so good to be out there and guard a good player. I was excited for the challenge, because his offense means a lot of one-on-one defense.”

Nebraska suffered the agony of a single point defeat twice in four days to slip to 3-4 in Big Ten conference action.

Tai Webster had a game high 18 points, as the Huskers were edged 67-66 by Ohio State on Thursday. He followed that with a team high 14 points as the Huskers lost 65-64 to Rutgers at the weekend.

Isaac Fotu’s form seems to be mirroring that of his team Zaragoza. The Tall Blacks forward contributed just a single point and a pair of rebounds as Zaragoza went down 82-77 at home to Unicaja and they have now lost five of their last seven games in the Spanish League.

In the Australia NBL Brisbane Bullets bounced back from a 33 points mauling at Adelaide on Thursday to upset Melbourne United 88-71 on Saturday. Reuben Te Rangi is finding buckets hard to come by (just 2 points across the two outings) but is doing a fine job defensively as he spends some time in both the small forward and guard spots – he had 3 rebounds in each game.

The same can be said for Jarrod Kenny. The Perth Wildcats point guard didn’t trouble the scorers last week as Perth won at home against Cairns and lost at Vector Arena on Sunday against the Breakers.

World Masters Games – table officials volunteers still needed


As most are aware the World Masters Games is being held in Auckland in the second week of the April school holidays.

Already over 150 teams have entered from all around the globe – close to 100 of these teams are from overseas.

We are still keen to engage more table officials and referees BUT tomorrow – Friday January 20th is the last day for volunteers to register – your help would be very much appreciated.

Last day for volunteer registrations tomorrow – jump on board and join the team


Mike Lacey

Fotu relieved plus season best efforts from Webster, Le’afa and Karena


Isaac Fotu was a relieved man on Sunday as Zaragoza escaped with an overtime win beating Manresa, the bottom club in the Spanish League, 87-77. Fotu, now in his third season in Spain, played for Manresa in his first Liga Endesa season and will have been delighted to gain the victory against his former club – he posted 9 points (4/7FG) and 7 rebounds in 30 minutes of action.

Also in Spain Mike Karena equaled his season best with 23 points at a very efficient 9 from 11 shooting. The Tall Blacks forward added 8 rebounds for good measure as Sammic ISB comfortably disposed of Tarragona, 90-68, in the second tier LEB Silver competition. Sammic remain tied for top spot with a 12-5 record.

In American college action Tai Webster continued his excellent run of form. The combo guard recorded career highs in points (28) and rebounds (9) but couldn’t prevent Nebraska falling 91-85 at Michigan. The combo guard converted 12 from 20 scoring attempts from the field as the Huskers slip to 3-2 in Big Ten Conference play


Jack Salt fouled out in just 18 minutes as Virginia beat Clemson 77-73 and move to 3-2 in Athletic Coast Conference play. Salt has 2 points, 2 rebounds and a block.

Sacramento State had begun 0-3 in Big Sky Conference play but a couple of road wins last week improved their standing. On Friday they beat Southern Utah 88-83 with Izayah Le’afa scoring a season high 16 points (5/7FG). They backed up on Sunday outscoring Northern Arizona 74-62. Le’Afa only scored three points in that one but helped orchestrate the win with 33 minutes of action – he has converted 8 from 10 threes in the last three games.

In the Australia NBL Reuben Te Rangi scored 5 straight points in the third period for Brisbane Bullets against the Breakers. Brisbane looked destined to take the win until Breakers new point guard Kevin Dillard intervened with the last 6 points of the game to snatch an improbable 84-82 victory.


Beckley & Beck in the points, Davidson the blocks and Purcell the rebounds


There were career highs and season bests as a number of Tall Ferns excelled in college action last week.

 University of California Berkley snapped a three game losing streak with a 65-53 victory at Colorado on Saturday. Penina Davidson was highly influential for the Bears snaring 8 rebounds and scoring 8 points as well as swatting a career high 6 blocks.

Unfortunately the Bears went down 63-57 at Utah on Sunday – Davidson had another 8 rebounds plus 5 points in that one. The Bears are now 2-4 in Pac-12 Conference play.

She gobbled up 19 rebounds and added 10 points and 4 assists but it wasn’t enough to secure the win as Kalani Purcell and BYU Cougars fell 70-63 at San Francisco on Friday. They bounced back on Sunday to defeat San Diego 81-63 with Purcell notching 15pts, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. BYU are now 4-2 in West Coast Conference play.

Also in the West Coast Conference St Mary’s Gaels are 3-3 after a win and a loss this week. Stella Beck, with a season high 19 points, plus 4 rebounds and 6 assists, helped the Gaels down Portland 92-76 on Friday. Beck looked set to eclipse that mark on Sunday as she scored 18 first half points against Gonzaga. Unfortunately she and the Gaels faded after the interval as they went down 79-75. The Hutt Valley native didn’t add to her opening half points tally but did amass 9 rebounds to come within a whisker of a double double.

 In a rich vein of form at the moment Jacinta Beckley recorded 13p/3r/1a/1b/1st as Seattle University Redhawks defeated University of Missouri-Kansas City 75-65 on Friday. Seattle moved to 3-0 in Western Athletic Conference play after beating Chicago State 64-51 on Sunday. Beckley went 7 from 9 in accumulating 15 points.


Krystal Leger-Walker only had 4 points as Northern Colorado Bears mauled Montana 65-46 on Friday but the combo guard was huge in general court play. She led the game in both assists (8) and steals (4) as the Bears won a sixth straight game and their fifth in Big Sky Conference fixtures.

Tessa Boagni had 7 points, 6 rebounds and a pair of blocks as Cal State Northridge slipped to 1-3 in the Big West Conference after an 81-65 loss at UC Davis.

Australian WNBL

Townsville Fire couldn’t mark Suzy Batkovich’s 300th WNBL appearance with a win. They went down 73-67 at Canberra Capitals where Micaela Cocks played a strong hand for the Fire with 8 points, 4 assists and 2 steals.


 Le Mura Lucca overcame a one point three-quarter time deficit to defeat Torino 78-62 in Italian Cup quarter-final tie. Jillian Harmon was one of five Lucca players in double figures, scoring 15 points, as Lucca outscored Torino 24-13 in the fourth.

Other News


Tall Ferns guard Erin Rooney has signed with Polish club Artego Bydgoszcz for the second half of the Polish League season.

Rooney has battled back to fitness after undergoing knee surgery early last year. The Cantabrian picked up the knee injury playing for Calais in the French League, an injury that impacted on her ability to perform at her best for the Tall Ferns during last year’s Olympic Qualifying campaign.

Bydgoszcz are the reigning Polish League champions but currently sit seventh on the twelve team competition ladder with a 7-6 record.

Rooney’s signing takes to seven the number of Tall Ferns currently playing on professional contracts overseas joining:

Jillian Harmon – Le Mura Lucca (Italy)

Micaela Cocks and Chevannah Paalvast (both Townsville Fire)

Toni Edmondson (Perth Lynx)

Jordan Hunter (Adelaide Lightning)

Jess Bygate (Melbourne Boomers)

Rooney signs on in Poland


Tall Ferns guard Erin Rooney has signed with Polish club Artego Bydgoszcz for the second half of the Polish League season.

Rooney has battled back to fitness after undergoing knee surgery early last year. Rooney picked up the knee injury playing for Calais in the French League, an injury that impacted on her ability to perform at her best for the Tall Ferns during last year’s Olympic Qualifying campaign.

Bydgoszcz are the reigning Polish League champions but currently sit seventh in the twelve team competition with a 7-6 record.

It is unclear when Rooney will make her debut in the Polish competition.

Kiwi Men in College – half term report

Last week we took a look at the New Zealand women in NCAA Division 1 colleges. This week we provide a half-term report on the nine blokes playing in Division 1.



Tai Webster is having a stand out season for the Nebraska Cornhuskers having scored in double figures in every outing this season 20,10,23.16,19,23,12,12,20,22,17,10,21,18,23,17. The Tall Blacks point guard leads the Huskers in points (17.7ppg) and assists (4.1apg) as his team currently boasts a 3-1 record in Big Ten Conference play – their beast start in 41 years. Webster was voted Big Ten Conference Co-Player of the Week in the first week of January after Nebraska won on the road at Maryland and Indiana. Webster averaged 19.5 points, 3.5 assists and 3.0 steals across the two games.


Tom Vadonovich is in his final year at James Madison University has made over 100 appearances for the Dukes. The former St Pat’s College forward is averaging 7.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game this season with a college career high of 18 points against Western Michigan back in October.

The Dukes are currently 3-1 in the Colonial Athletic Conference.




Angus Riley is averaging 3.3 points and 2.7 rebounds per game at Bryant University where the Bulldogs are 1-3 in the Northeast Conference, one of the losses in overtime another by three points. The ex Nayland college forward scored a season high 11 points against Salve Regina in November. His career best of 18 points came against Prairie View A&M last season.



Zach Young is finding minutes hard to come by at Nicholls State Colonels. A member of the 2012 Junior Tall Backs, alongside fellow Wellingtonian Vadonovich, Young is averaging 2 points per game with a season high 10 points scored against Thomas University in December. The Colonels are 9-7 overall this season and 2-1 in Southland Conference play.




Jack Salt is having a fine season anchoring the defence at the Tony Bennett coached Virginia Cavaliers. The 6’11” centre has started every game for the No 11 ranked Cavs that are 12-3 for the season and 2-2 in the strong Atlantic Coast Conference. The former Westlaker averages 4.6 points per game but it is at the defensive end where he averages 4 rebounds per game that he is most effective. Had a season high 10 points against Robert Morris in December.



The first year in college is normally about transitioning from high school basketball to a totally different environment and culture. Obtaining a decent chunk of court time is often difficult at best.


Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’Afa has transitioned better than most becoming a regular starter at Sacramento State. Overall Le’Afa is averaging 3.9 points per game but in the three Big Sky Conference games – unfortunately all lost by the Hornets – he has upped his average to 9.3ppg playing 30 minutes per fixture. The former St Pat’s point guard had a season best 11 points against Portland last week landing all three efforts from beyond the three-point arc.


Tai Wynyard is struggling to make an impression at the NBA factory otherwise known as the University of Kentucky. Wynyard has clocked less than 3 minutes per game in his 10 appearances for the Wildcats and has accumulated just 8 points and 9 rebounds for the No 6 ranked college team in the nation.



The third ex Westlake Boys student at a Div 1 school is Matt Freeman. He started with a hiss and a roar for Oklahoma Sooners scoring 15 points on debut for last season’s NCAA Championship semi-finalists. As expected in a first season the swingman’s form and opportunities have fluctuated although he has been given court time in every Sooners game. Freeman is averaging 4.6 points and 2.0 rebounds across 15 games. Oklahoma are struggling a little in the Big 12 Conference with a 0-4 record.


Former Otago Boys High, and briefly Middleton Grange, forward Sam Timmins has been providing good minutes, 14 on average with a season best 25, for the University of Washington where the Huskies are 1-2 in Pac-12 action, 8-7 overall.

Having made 7 starts this season Timmins corralled a season high 11 rebounds against Western Kentucky and averages 3.4 boards and 3.7 points per game for the Huskies.


Tall Blacks roundup as Webster keeps rolling



In American college action there was another terrific performance from Tai Webster as Nebraska Huskers had an epic double overtime win against Iowa on Friday. Webster played 49 minutes and as the Huskers moved to 3-0 in Big Ten Conference play. To put the 3-0 start in perspective it is the first time that the Huskers have been unbeaten in the first three conference games for 41 years!

Webster ended the marathon encounter with 23 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals.

The Tall Blacks guard claimed his 17th consecutive double figure outing on Monday but Nebraska’s unbeaten four game run came to an end, as they were downed 74-62 by Northwestern. Webster had 17 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in that one.

Jack Salt continued in his starting role for No 11 ranked Virginia Cavaliers in a 79-62 victory against Wake Forrest on Monday. Salt managed 5 points, 5 rebounds an assist and a block as the Cavs improved to 2-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Izayah Le’afa had a season high 11 points (3/3 3PG) but Sacramento State fell to 0-3 in Big Sky Conference play after going down 83-76 against Portland State.

In Europe

 Isaac Fotu produced a double double of 12 points (5/8FG) and 10 rebounds but it wasn’t enough to prevent Zaragoza slipping to a third straight loss in Spanish League action. They went down 94-78 at Estudiantes and have slipped to 13th on the 17 team Liga Endesa ladder.

 Mike Karena landed 8 points and 7 rebounds but fouled out as Sammic ISB beat Gandia 76-64 in the second tier Spanish LEB Silver competition. Sammic are in a four-way tie at the top of the table with an 11-5 record.

Pro and college review of Tall Ferns in action

Basketball - Tall Ferns v Japan, 27 August 2009

Toni Edmondson

Perth Lynx put on a show to help Toni Edmondson celebrate her 200th WNBL game defeating Bendigo Spirit 108-67. Unfortunately for Edmondson she found herself in foul trouble and was limited to 5 points, 5 assists and a pair of rebounds in her 19 minutes of action.

Edmondson first played in the WNBL for the Christchurch Sirens ten years ago. She had stints with Adelaide, Bendigo and Dandenong before settling in Perth, playing 110 games for the franchise since signing in 2012.

Talking about the milestone Edmondson said, “I knew it was coming up I just didn’t know it was so soon. When you are start you don’t think you are going to be around that long – I generally take it season by season.”

 Micaela Cocks was one of five Townsville players in double figures on Friday night as the Fire demolished Canberra Capitals 93-60. The Tall Ferns guard finished with 14 points (5/9FG), 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Continue reading

Kiwi women in college – half term report

It is a bit of a challenge trying to keep tabs on the growing number of Kiwis playing in American college basketball. Here is a little summary of who is doing what in the Women’s teams with apologies in advance for those I have overlooked. Time permits to have a look only at players in NCAA Division 1 schools.

For convenience I have grouped the players by year groups.



Kalani Purcell continues to impresses at BYU. The Tall Ferns forward is averaging almost a double double for the Cougars (12 points and 9.2 rebounds) as well as leading the team in steals. The Cougars were West Coast Conference regular season champions last year and have begun with a win and a loss in defence of that title. Purcell had 18 double doubles last season the most by a BYU player in a season – she has 6 already this season.


Playing in the Big Sky Conference is former Freyberg High guard Freya Newton. She has started all 13 games for Idaho State Bengals that are currently 8-5 for the season. Newton is contributing a very useful 5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2 assists per game. Unfortunately she is not getting to play alongside Brooke Blair as her fellow senior went down with an ACL injury in the opening game of the season. Blair is now red shirting this season. Continue reading

So where are the 2009 Junior Tall Blacks now?


Without doubt one of the basketball highlights of 2016 was the success of the Junior Tall Blacks.

Beating Australia 57-51 in the final of the FIBA U18 Oceania Championships in December advanced the JTB’s to the 2017 FIBA U19 World Championships.

The World Championships, to be held in Cairo in early July, will be just the second attended by a New Zealand age group team – the last appearance was the Men’s Under 19’s in Auckland in 2009.

I thought it an opportune time to reflect on 2009 and look at where that group of players, that performed admirably in Auckland under the watch of head coach Kenny McFadden, are now at. Continue reading