Monthly Archives: January 2016

Vickerman and Dennis reflect on Breakers win against Townsville

ANBL - SkyCity Breakers v Melbourne United, 21 November 2014

Dean Vickerman “Any win right now is a good win for us.” 

By Murray McKInnon

The drought is over, the Breakers finally got a win on the board with a 77-74 home victory over the Townsville Crocodiles at the Vector Arena on Friday night.

But they had to battle it out over the final two and a half minutes after Corey Webster with a three pointer had given them an 11 point buffer going into the final stanza.
Clint Steindl sparked a revival for the Crocodiles with six straight points and Nicholas Kay gave them further hope with a three and two free throws. Mika Vukona sitting on four fouls, determined not let it slip away, made two quick layups and Tom Abercrombie came in a with a free throw and a two point shot to clinch it for the Breakers in front of a crowd of 5562.

Scores were locked at 22 a piece after the first quarter where Abercrombie, from the free throw line, in the opening seconds of the game gained the two points he needed to become the Breakers all-time leading scorer surpassing Kirk Penney’s 2,517 points. Abercrombie playing in his 215th game for the Breakers top scored with 22. Charles Jackson with 15 points and 15 rebounds, Cedric Jackson on 13 and Corey Webster 12 were the other top contributors to the win.
The Breakers led 38-36 at the half and at the end of the three-quarter the teams were level again at 52-52.

It was a relieved and smiling Dean Vickerman who fronted the media after the game.
“Any win right now is a good win for us, we built a solid lead and everything that possibly could happen kind of happened in that last part, a number of offensive rebounds, foul a three point shooter, a push off on an inbound pass, there were a number of things that happened that didn’t help us close that thing out, but we held our nerve and we’re really happy to get the win,” said Vickerman.
“The message got through that we wanted to foul, we fouled, we did it right, we questioned the last one, there’s four and a half seconds to go, do you foul that one, but it worked out,” he added.

Vickerman said after six straight losses confidence was down a bit coming into the game.
“After some losses like we’ve had there’s just that little edge off your confidence and we showed that a little bit tonight, but to get through that one and now we keep building and we’re back to 500 and we move on to Adelaide.
“I thought we had some patches where we blew the game and got out to a good margin, that end of the third quarter wasn’t good for us where they made a little come back. I kept my time out there and wanted to see how long we could play that group that we put in at the start of the fourth quarter and they pretty much played the whole game out, Mika played the whole quarter with four fouls, I though Charles was the best of our bigs and kept him out there. Corey struggled the first half but he came through with some key shots. I thought Tommy was outstanding most of the night and Ced just drove us tonight and it was really important his attack on the rim was outstanding play and to get Charles to action that dump down the stretch,” said Vickerman.

The coach was also pleased to see Abercrombie reach a milestone of scoring for the Club.
“There’s been some amazing players play for this Club and for him to be top of the scoring list and with a long career to go it will be interesting to see how far he can take that record” he said
Vickerman left it to Cedric Jackson to comment on Charles Jackson.
“Charles really watches a lot of film that’s a great learning tool from the guys he’s been learning from and he’s always trying to find a way to be a spark and he was definitely that tonight and with his energy he’s the best communicator on court all night. We talk a lot but he drove everything tonight and he’s getting his confidence back and learning how to defend certain players, he’s just got this little thing of get your hand out of the cookie jar. Alex Pledger’s also playing great right now and as long as we can just continue to build on that and stay focussed,” said Cedric.

Going forward Vickerman said it was a nice little bit of relief but there is still more work to do.

“Go in there and play to get the win and see what happens happens, we tick this one off we’re back to 500 and we’re 12 and 12 and we’ve four to go and we know it’s two at home and two on the road and one of the things we haven’t been able to do this year so far is be a really good team on the road and if we want to make the finals we going to have to do that, it’s a great test for us right now.”

Asked if he was disappointed at losing Townsville coach Shawn Dennis said if anything he was pleased with the effort his team showed.
“I don’t think it’s disappointing when you look at you’re playing New Zealand in New Zealand who are four times champion in five years, and we’re the youngest team in the League and spend out the least amount of money in the League, to come back into it like that shows the guts and determination of this group so I’m actually extremely proud. You want to win on the scoreboard but we’re still learning how to win and against the Breakers, there’re three teams in this League, that if you don’t win the possession game, it’s very difficult to beat and that’s Adelaide, Illawarra and New Zealand and we had 17 turnovers and gave up 20 offensive boards and that’s the ball game and then you miss 12 free throws on top of that it’s actually a miracle we were within three, so from that point of view to do that and still have a chance to win the game I’m extremely proud of this group, that’s a great effort and I think people need to realise what a hell of an effort that is against New Zealand.

“They’re four times champions when they know they need to perform in general they always do and they did today, they threw everything they had at us and they only got us by three and that’s an incredible effort by our blokes and I’m extremely proud of them”, said Dennis.

He added that he was impressed with the Breakers play.
“They’re a good shooting team and they can get second chance goes at it and that gives them confidence to shoot the ball and that’s what happened in the fourth quarter, they dominated us in that area and in the last part of the quarter we started to take care of it. And that’s when we were able to edge our way back in and were able to set up a couple of good plays and there’s no secret in basketball that your defence is the thing that creates good offensive opportunities and poise within your team and we started to get that done and overall we weren’t too bad defensively we kept them under 80 points which I think is a very good effort but you just can’t give up all that possession, it just kills you in the end,” said Dennis.
“Our aim is to get to 12 wins if we can and win the rest of our home games and it means we’ve had another improvement after a tough off-season,” he added.

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Kenny’s miracle play plus more

 

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Jarrod Kenny provided the ‘Play of the Week” in the NBL during Perth Wildcats comprehensive 95-72 victory over the Kirk Penney less (out with a hamstring strain) Illawarra Hawks on Thursday.

With the three quarter time buzzer about to sound Kenny launched an optimistic heave from a pace outside his own free throw line. Moments later the sixty feet effort hit nothing but net to give Kenny his only points of the night, increase the Wildcats advantage to 15 points and help Perth secure a play-off berth for the 30th straight season.

In other news from the Australian National Basketball League.

On Wednesday Dion Prewster made his second double digit scoring contribution of the season to the Sydney Kings cause as the NBL cellar dwellers went down 96-86 to the 36ers in Adelaide. Prewster had a very efficient 10 points (4/6FG) that included two from two three pointers plus 4 rebounds and 2 blocks.

On Thursday Leon Henry failed to score from four attempts against his former team the Breakers but he did have the satisfaction of helping the Townsville Crocodiles down the defending champions 89-66.

Europe

Following his season best 25 points last week for the Plymouth Raiders Duane Bailey continued his good form with a 14 points (6/12FG), 8 rebounds and 3 assists effort as the Raiders went down 90-80 against Leicester Riders.

The result was no disgrace for Plymouth, nestled in mid table of the British Basketball League with a 6-11 record, against Leicester that are second on the table (12-1)

CAI Zaragoza slipped to an agonising 80-79 home defeat against Fuenlabrada in the Liga Endesa, Spanish League. Isaac Fotu captured a team high 7 rebounds but scored just 2 points, as Zaragoze remain 15th in the 18-team competition with a 5-12 record.

American College

Nebraska University Huskers picked up its fourth straight win, a 72-71 win over No. 11 Michigan State on Wednesday. The result was described on the Huskers website as one of the biggest wins in recent years. Tai Webster, played a team high 32 minutes for the Huskers, and with 10pts/7rebs/3assists/1steal was a major contributor to the win.

Nebraska’s winning streak came to an end on Saturday when they fell to Michigan 81-68. Webster had 12 points, five rebounds and five steals, the Huskers now 4-4 in Big Ten Conference games.

Jack Salt again started for No 13 ranked Virginia University Cavaliers who recorded an important 69-62 victory against Clemson University on Tuesday. Salt had 2 points and 2 rebounds against Clemson.

He scored a couple more points in the 73-65 win over Syracuse on Sunday as the Cavs improve to 4-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Thoughts on Breakers changes

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Boucher and Henare take the helm at the SKYCITY Breakers

By Murray McKinnon

Breakers stalwarts and legends Dillon Boucher and Paul Henare will take up new roles with the Club with the passing of the general manager’s role from Richard Clarke to Boucher and the head coach role from Dean Vickerman to Henare.

Breakers owner Paul Blackwell said that it is part of being a basketball dynasty.
“The new board set a vision for the Club to be a basketball dynasty and we wanted to build a foundation that we could have generational success. The next part has started with the appointment of Dillon Boucher and Paul Henare.
“Dean Vickerman had a three year contract and at the end of that contract he wanted to be replaced by a New Zealander. While Richard Clarke is moving to a new role with the Brisbane Bullets as they return to the league next season and he is joining up with his former colleagues Andrej Lemanis and CJ Bruton,” said Blackwell.

Since his retirement from the playing roster three years ago Boucher has been groomed to take on the general manager role learning the commercial aspects of the Club and in that time successfully growing the sponsorship and corporate hospitality of the Club.
“Henare has shown outstanding growth as a coach both in the assistant coach role and his head coaching roles in the New Zealand NBL and the Tall Blacks. Stepping into the head coach role is the perfect next step for him but one he had to earn in a competitive process,” said Blackwell.

Henare is excited and ready to take on the head coaching role.
“It’s a Club that’s been a huge part of my life for a long time it’s help mould me who I am as a man today and it’s because of that I take great pride that I take this role and own the responsibility that comes with it and it’s something that I’m extremely excited about not only to take on a new role but to lead such a fantastic organisation and franchise to work alongside one of my best mates (Boucher) and continue the dynasty that Paul mentioned it’s something I’m extremely grateful for and something I’m looking forward to,” he said.

He is also looking forward to the challenges that come with the role.
“Considering the success the Club has had but for me I’ve never been one to shy away from tough challenges and this is a new challenge and a tough one that I’m backing myself to do and one I’m extremely excited about at the same time.
“I’ve got experience and self-confidence and knowing that I’ve been on this pathway since I finished playing. Some may look at it as being a very quick process but for me over the last five and a half years I’ve really tried to fully immerse myself in coaching different programmes and different opportunities that brings myself to being here and I back myself,” added Henare.

Dean Vickerman said that he is pleased that Henare received the posting.
“I think it is important to bring some fresh ideas to the Club. Paul is different to me he’s a different person and he’s going to do it his way and I think the New Zealand players and everyone who comes to this programme will enjoy it and accept it,” he said.
And what for the future of Vickerman?
“You never know if you’ll see me back in the NBL, you never say no, it’s an absolutely great league, possibly right now my focus is more on having a different experience overseas and so I’ll probably research that one more.”

Boucher likewise is excited and knows that he has some big shoes to fill in his new role.
“It is an extremely hard act to follow, Richard Clarke has been a big part of this Club for a long time and he’ll be sorely missed for sure. I’m just excited to follow on in the legacy he leaves behind, but also look forward to learning from him before he leaves at the beginning of April, so I’ll be a sponge around him every five minutes, so for me it’s about learning from one of the best in the business and he’s left this place in a very good position and I look forward to grabbing that position and hopefully taking this Club to new heights as well,” said Boucher.
“There are going to be a lot of challenges, some of them I probably don’t even know about but for me the challenge I think is first and foremost is just understanding exactly how this organisation works and obviously I know the intricacies of the values and the family based values we live day to day by, but for me it’s about learning the day to day of being a GM and for me that’s probably the single biggest hurdle that I’ll have to overcome,” he added.

Coaching would have been the logical path to follow but Boucher feels he is more suited to the administration side of things.
“When I retired I thought about going down the coaching avenue and I’ve got a young family and I certainly wanted to be around for my young family and by, I guess, by pulling on the coaches hat you spend a lot of time away from the family so for me I wanted to spend that valuable time with my children while they were young and stay around for them. The second reason was because as a player even when I was playing I had a very commercial savvy background and I was always aware of sponsors and always aware of the intricacies of the organisation and it’s something that intrigued me to start with and then excited me so for me going down that commercial avenue was something that I saw that the Club was good at but something that I thought I could add my touch to and make it even better,” said Boucher.

Richard Clarke has been part of the organisation from day one and has been through the tough early years and led the transformation of the Club to the point where it is held up by others as a model to follow. He has given 13 years of outstanding service to the Club and he now looks forward to the next path in his career with the Brisbane Bullets.
“It’s actually something I’m really excited about to focus purely on the basketball side of things with Andrej and we want to do things a little bit differently and that’s exciting because it’s a new challenge for me,” said Clarke.
Clarke believes that Boucher will have no trouble fitting into the GM role.
“He brings the competitive nature that he always had on the court, and he’s always had a commercial mind set and I’ve been working closely with him over the three years he’s been on board here with the view to bringing him into the GM role and I think the balance of commercial and basketball knowledge that he has which is tailor made for it. There will be challenges but the big part of the next three months is me working with him on the hand over and making sure that we’ve got everything in place for him.”

A good week for Purcell, Harmon, Beckley and Stockill

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Kalani Purcell, Conference Player of the Week – again.

Tall Ferns continue to make their mark overseas.

 US College 

 Kalani Purcell recorded her eighth double-double of the season to help BYU Provo Cougars defeat Portland 78-66 in a West Coast Conference game at home on Saturday. The Cougars improve to 6-1 in conference play following the win.

 With 5:09 remaining in the game, Purcell (14pts – 5/10FG) hit a jumper to break into double digits. Purcell also pulled down 14 rebounds in addition to eight assists and a career-high six steals, a performance that earned her the Conference Player of the Week Award for the second consecutive week.

“Kalani had a great week,” BYU coach Jeff Judkins said. “ I think what she did this week proves what kind of player she is for this team and in this league. She is a tough matchup for anybody.”

 Earlier in the week Purcell helped BYU record a late 58-54 win over West Coast Conference rival Gonzaga. Purcell ended the contest with a BYU career high equaling 17 points and 16 rebounds to continue her outstanding form.

There is no doubt which Kiwi played at the most famous venue this past week. Josie Stockill and her Colgate University Raiders team visited the prestigious US Military Academy at West Point, New York to take on Army last Wednesday.

Colgate gave Army a scare in both halves before the preseason Patriot League favorites prevailed, 67-55. Stockill was one of three Raiders players in double figures shooting a tidy 5 from 9 to finish with 12 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks before fouling out in 27 minutes.

It didn’t get any easier for Colgate on Saturday hosting Patriot League leaders Bucknell. Stockill was again to the fore posting 14pts (6/18FG), 4rebs, 3 steals and 5 blocks.

Colgate is now 3-13 overall and 1-5 in the Patriot League conference. The Raiders host first-place Bucknell on Saturday.

In other College fixtures.

Cal State University Northridge Matadors continues to struggle this season. Cantabrian Tessa Boagni had 7p/3r/1a/2st/1b but CSUN lost 77-50 at Hawaii Thursday night in a Big West Conference contest.

On Saturday CSUN (2-15, 0-3 Big West) lost 65-49 to UC Santa Barbara in another Big West Conference contest. Boagni had 9p/2r/3b in that one.

Univ of California Berkley was defeated at Oregon State 70-48 on Friday and two days later 69-59 by University of Oregon. Penina Davidson had 2p/5r/4a/1b/1stl against Oregon State and 6pts (3/4FG), 3 rebounds, 2 blocks against Oregon.

Seattle University Redhawks (8-10, 2-1 WAC) led early and lost at CSU Bakersfield 76-68 win in Western Athletic Conference play. Jacinta Beckley (13pts) had a perfect shooting night for Seattle – 5/5FG, 2/2 3PG, 2/2FT)

Europe 

Le Mura Lucca gave up just 20 second half points in beating Toulouse 71-49 in the Italian SerieA. Tall Ferns forward Jillian Harmon led all scorers with 27 points (11/17FG) and also added 7 rebounds and 3 steals as Lucca give Lucca enjoy an equal share of top spot on the Italian League with a 14-1 record.

Calais (3-10) lost its third game in a row in the French League going down 71-49 at home against Toulouse slipping to 13th on the 14 team ladder. Guard Erin Rooney had 11 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals

Australia 

The WNBL is taking a one week break to allow the Australian Opals squad to attend a pre Olympics tournament in Rio.

Vickerman annoyed, Beveridge delighted.

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Career high 40 points for Kevin Lisch

By Murray Mckinnon
The SKYCITY Breakers let a much needed win against the Illawarra Hawks slip from their grasp in a double overtime thriller at Vector Arena on Sunday.
With the score at 80-77 with seconds remaining in regulation time, Mika Vukona stepped up for two free throws which he missed. Then instead of immediately fouling, the Breakers left Cody Ellis clear to launch a three pointer that sank locking the score up at 80 all and sending the game into overtime.
Cory Webster hit a three at the start of the next five minutes of play but Kevin Lisch responded for the Hawks with a couple from the charity stripe a field goal and a three. Tai Wesley came back with four points and Charles Jackson had the Breakers ahead by two only to have Lisch sneak in for a lay up to lock the scores at 89 apiece.
Lisch immediately sunk a three with Webster responding. Lisch then came into his own at the free throw line with six points and despite Webster gaining another two from the free throw Jarrad Weeks delivered the final nail in the coffin with two from the charity stripe to give the Hawks a 103-96 victory.
Coach of the Breakers Dean Vickerman was not impressed with his team’s play in the final seconds of regular time.
“We struggle as a coaching staff just to get past the last ten seconds of regulation and we broke a team rule, when we had the opportunity to foul and that’s what we do in that situation and we didn’t and you pay the price for it to allow them to get a three that was contested and everything, but they shouldn’t even be shooting that basketball it should be shooting two right now (from the free throw) instead of making that three and going into overtime. We talk about it, we made improvements, we did some things better, but that’s just totally against who we are and what we believe in and what our rules are as a team and I thought we had about three opportunities to get it done to foul, they made three passes so that’s where we lost the game.”

After three previous losses to the Hawks this season the Breakers came out with a vengeance and dominated the first quarter to lead 32-24. Tai Wesley was on target from the perimeter and Alex Pledger was superb under the post with eight points in quick succession.
“We were well prepared for the game and for whatever they threw at us and it took three games to get well prepared for this team because they do change things a lot and do disrupt and do a lot of different things.
“There were so many things we did better especially just the intent to start with and I thought our organisation was great I thought the boys were huddling, we played at a pace we like to play at and got good contributions from a lot of people and we just seemed like we were really together and on point and again to me it’s just a shame that we spoilt it for it with that one play,” said Vickerman.
The Breakers went to the break leading 53-48 and were still leading at the three quarter 71-65, but then the Hawks got on top of the game in the fourth to come back with a run of ten unanswered points.

Coach of the Hawks Rob Beveridge said they have been working on their defence in recent weeks and that’s what got then there in the end.
“The Breakers dictated the whole first quarter it was their quarter they came out and that’s what I was expecting the Breakers to do. For us to have three games of 20 plus point wins I was shocked with that and thinking to myself we’re going to come to an arena that’s going to be loud (attendance 6309) and they’re going to throw everything at us and they did that and I thought they were the better team early but once we started to actually play some great defence I thought we were very very good and I look at some of the shots that Abercrombie made and Webster they were late on the clock right on the buzzer and we can’t do much about that but we made them really work for it and as the game went on obviously we shut them down from our defence which is what we have been working on. The first half of the season we were very average and so I’m pretty pleased with that,” he said.
“It was a hell of a game, I don’t know what the fans expect but that was just a wow factor for fans watching, it was a battle, it was a real grind it was an arm wrestle, there was some great basketball out there. It was almost the survival of the fittest at the end, just look at the body language of the players how bad it was. So it came down to that mental grind and what we’re looking forward to is if we’re going to make the play offs that’s the type of grind it’s going to be and I think we ticked the box on that tonight,” added Beveridge.

Vickerman said they were aware of the challenge going into the game.
“We went into the game talking about the challenge we had in front of us how you want to beat every team in the League and to not have done that this year that hurts us as a group in that we couldn’t quite find a way to beat everyone in this League and I hope we get another opportunity to,” he said.
Vickerman did however acknowledge the win by Illawarra.
“They’re a good team and they kept fighting they never give up and they showed why they are one of the best teams in the League tonight the way they kept fighting back.”

Lisch who had a career high of 40 points said it was an enjoyable game.
“That was a long game, it was enjoyable just in the fact that there were so many ups and downs throughout the game. You think you lose, you think you win, it just goes back and forth and both teams just played really hard and we’re fortunate enough down the stretch to hit some big shots, Cody (Ellis) hit some huge shots for us. It was just a fun win which really we needed.”
The Sunshine Swing is coming up for the Breakers (Townsville on Thursday and Cairns on Saturday) and Vickerman said that the team has to start to show that they are a playoff team after suffering four straight losses.
Beveridge feels that the Breakers will make the playoffs.
“This is a winning Club it’s as simple as that. I’ve no doubt and I’ve always said that Perth and New Zealand are the two best teams and for us actually beating four zero in the series is just amazing it really is and don’t think anybody would ever think that Illawarra could do that. But the Breakers they’re champions, they know how to win, they’ve got a group out there and I know that they’ll be fighting their backsides off for the playoffs for sure.”

Webster top scored for the Breakers with 22, Cedric Jackson 18 and Alex Pledger and Tom Abercrombie scored 12. Lisch’s 40 was backed up with 18 from Ellis, 15 from Andrew Ogilvy and 14 from Kirk Penney who did not play the fourth quarter.
“Kirk Penney cramped up pretty bad (in the hamstring) in that final quarter and the thing is at the end of the day he’s 35 years of age and we’ve still got lots of games ahead of us. This game tonight of course we want to win but I don’t want to put our players long term future in doubt so we pulled him and we’ll get treatment for him and the last thing we’ll do is rush him back, if it is anything worse than a cramp or strain whatever it might be,” said Beveridge.

Big points for Penney and Bailey & debut for Smith-Milner

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105 points for Kirk Penney in four games against his former club this season.

Kirk Penney is enjoying his time back in the Australian NBL with the Illawarra Hawks. This week he helped the Hawks sweep the SKYCITY Breakers for the first time since the 2002-3 season.

On Wednesday, the Hawks, already 2-0 up in the series, disposed of the Breakers 87-69 in Wollongong. The return leg on Sunday at Vector Arena was a much closer affair, the Hawks eventually prevailing 101-96 after double overtime. The 35 year old guard retired in the fourth quarter with a hamstring twinge after having scored 14 points to add to the 36pts, 27pts and 28 points scored in the first three encounters.

That’s 105 points against his former club, the club he still holds the all time scoring record for – 2,517 points.

Elsewhere in the Australian National Basketball League James Blond Super City Rangers forward Tohi Smith Milner made his NBL debut for Melbourne United on Friday. In his first season as a development player Smith-Milner played the last five minutes of United’s convincing 98-68 win over Cairns Taipans knocking down one of two three point attempts to finish with 3 points and a block.

Also on Friday Perth Wildcats easily accounted for Sydney Kings winning 96-68.

Jarrod Kenney, 6p/3r/1a, scored with his only two scoring attempts for Perth (both three’s) and Dion Prewster converted one of two scoring attempts for Sydney.

On Saturday Leon Henry, playing his 50th game for Townsville, scored 7 points and corralled 3 rebounds as Townsville Crocodiles was narrowly defeated 108-103 by the Adelaide 36ers

Europe –Men

The Plymouth Raiders took a break from British Basketball League action and will now meet Sheffield Sharks in the last eight of the BBL Trophy after cruising past Essex Leopards 102-60 in their first round game on Friday night.

Duane Bailey scored a season high 25 points for the Raiders and came within a whisker of a double double as he also claimed 9 rebounds.

CAI Zaragoza are struggling towards the bottom of the Spanish League therefore it was not a surprise they were defeated at top of the table Valencia at the weekend. Valencia is undefeated with 16 straight wins but didn’t have it all their own way eventually winning 81-74. Isaac Fotu had 10pts, 6rebs and a block for Zaragoza, now 5-11 for the season.

American College – Men

On Tuesday Nebraska University Cornhuskers won a second straight game as it demolished Minnesota 84-59, the Huskers able to give 14 players court time.

Guard Tai Webster had 9 points (4/8FG), 5 rebounds and 5 assists coming off the bench.

Nebraska continued its winning ways in posting a 78-67 win over Illinois on Saturday.The Huskers (11-8 for the season, 3-3 Big Ten Conference) had four players in double figures, including Webster – 16 points (6/8FG) plus 6 rebounds.

Next up for Nebraska is powerhouse Michigan State on Wednesday. Michigan is ranked No 4 in the country.

Virginia University Cavaliers snapped a two game losing streak on Tuesday defeating number 8 Miami 66-58. Three rebounds and a block in 8 minutes for centre Jack Salt.

Freshman Salt (4pts/1reb), starting for the second successive game, scored the first basket of the game against Florida State on Sunday but the Cavs went down 69-62. The Cavs now have a 2-3 record in the Atlantic Conference.

Jackson Stent heading to Nicholls State University

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Stent to red shirt remainder of 2015-16 season

Jackson Stent departs for the United States today (Tuesday), after recently accepting a basketball scholarship to play NCAA Division 1 basketball for Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana. Considering that Jackson only signed with the school on 23 December, it’s been a busy holiday period for the young 6’8 forward.

“I’ve only just got my visa sorted and my eligibility was only ticked off a few days ago, so it has been a really busy time, but that’s all done now and I’m really excited about heading to Louisiana. Now I have to quickly figure out what to pack,” says Jackson.

Nicholls State University Colonels play in the NCAA Division 1 Southland Conference. Off the court, Jackson plans on studying applied sports science and human performance. He will receive a full scholarship covering a four year bachelor’s degree, tuition, accommodation and meals. Jackson has been approached by a number of schools since mid-2015. He visited some of those colleges, but Jackson says Nicholls State stood out as the right school for him.

“I signed with Nicholls partly because the people there were so friendly and welcoming when I visited last year, and the coaching staff are fantastic. I saw myself fitting in well with Coach Piper’s programme and his support around the academic side of things is great. Studying is a big part of my decision too. Studying a double degree whilst over there really intrigues me.”

Jackson was the last player of 2015 to be signed, joining the likes of Laken Wairau (Indiana), Kayla Manuirirangi (Tulane, New Orleans), Tegan Graham (Colgate), Katelin Noyer (Fresno State), Michelle Nicholls (La Salle), Shalae Salmon (BYU Provo), Sam Timmins (Washington), Matt Freeman (Oklahoma) and Tai Wynyard (Kentucky), all of whom signed in 2015 to play for NCAA Division 1 basketball colleges. Basketball New Zealand Chief Executive Iain Potter says Jackson’s signing tops off a great year where there’s been an increase in young Kiwi players signing to play basketball alongside scholarship educations.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for these kids and that’s one of the great things about basketball, it opens up the possibility of a good education and amazing life experiences if they’re lucky, with the added potential to take their basketball careers further. Our young players are proving themselves to be competitive and the well-rounded sort of people that U.S Colleges are looking for. It’s great for New Zealand basketball and it’s great for our young Kiwi players,” says Potter.

Jackson is a 6’8 forward who has represented New Zealand in the U16, U17, and U18 teams. He is originally from Christchurch, but spent a large amount of his High School life playing for Westlake High School in the North Shore and some time with the Breakers Academy. He also played for North Harbour Basketball Association’s age group representative teams.

Stent returned to Christchurch for 2015 where he spent his last year of high school to attend Middleton Grange School alongside Sam Timmins – another player who recently departed to play for the University of Washington in the NCAA Division 1 Pac-12 Conference. During this time Stent also played Canterbury Basketball Association’ age group basketball. He also spent time with the Canterbury Rams as a development player, and time with the Mainland Eagles Academy where he credits Mark Dickel as an important influence. Mainland Eagles Academy Development Coach Caleb Harrison says Jackson has worked on his game every morning at 6am.

“Jackson is going to redshirt in January which means he won’t play games for them this semester, but will begin his classes and work out with the Nicholls State coaches and strength coach. He is playing well right now and we believe he is going to be an asset for their team,” says Harrison.

Tall Ferns overseas update

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Kalani Purcell – West Coast Conference Player of the Week

Outstanding performances from Jillian Harmon in Europe, Micaela Cocks in Australia and Kalani Purcell, Josie Stockill and Tessa Boagni in the States highlighted Tall Ferns efforts overseas in the past week.

Jillian Harmon once again led the Le Mura Lucca scoring with 22 points as it won a tight one, 75-68, against Unbertide (6-8) in the Italian SerieA. The Tall Ferns forward produced an and one play to give Lucca the lead in the final two minutes after they had trailed 56-53 at three-quarter time.

Lucca has an equal share of top spot on the ladder with an impressive 13-1 record.

Perth Lynx (12-6) retained its spot at the top of the Australian WNBL ladder despite losing one of its two road games this week.

On Thursday the Lynx went down 83-73 at Sydney University Flames. However on Saturday they bounced back against bottom of the table Canberra Capitals, recording a comprehensive 89-63 victory.

Tall Ferns guard Toni Edmondson played strong minutes off the bench in both encounters recording 8 points (2/4 3PG) against Sydney and 5 points (2/5FG) against Canberra.

Perth finished bottom of the WNBL table last season but since being taken over by the Perth Wildcats NBL franchise at the start of this campaign have enjoyed a massive change of fortune. When asked how she was enjoying the season Edmondson said, “I’ve really enjoyed it. I enjoy the professionalism being a full time basketballer – it’s really exciting. I enjoy coming to work every day and trying to get better.”

Micaela Cocks played all but 6 minutes for Townsville Fire (11-6) on Saturday night as they surprisingly suffered a home defeat at the hands of the Shane Heal coached South East Queensland Stars, 90-80.

Cocks scored 15 points and added a team high 6 assists but her efforts were to no avail as the Fire was outscored 27-17 in the last period to suffer a fourth home loss of the campaign.

The WNBL now takes a two-week break to allow the Australian Opals squad to attend a pre Olympics tournament in Rio.

There was plenty of action in American College games involving our Tall Ferns.

In a game that featured nine lead changes and four ties, Seattle University Seahawks made key stops and free throws down the stretch to earn a 69-63 win over UMKC in their Western Athletic Conference home opener on Thursday.

Jacinta Beckley made an important contribution off the bench for Seattle nailing an important triple on her way to 7 points (2/4FG) and 3 rebounds.

Also on Thursday Cal State Univ Northridge Matadors lost 75-52 to UC Davis in both teams’ 2016 Big West Conference opener. Cantabrian Tessa Boagni scored a game-high 20 points for the Matadors, finishing 8-of-13 from the field.

UC Davis jumped out to a 9-0 advantage and led 24-8 after the first period, a lead that proved to be game winning.

Boagni scored 16 of her 20 points in the second half and added three rebounds a block and one steal in 27 minutes. For the season, she is averaging a team-high 12.4 points per game on 48.5 percent shooting.

In a third game on Thursday BYU Provo Cougars topped Santa Clara 68-63 in its fourth conference game of the season.

Kalani Purcell totaled 17 points and a game-high 12 boards in compiling her sixth double-double of the year. Purcell played all 40 minutes for the third time this year as she also added 2 blocks and 3 steals.

BYU completed its two-game road trip in the Bay Area with a 66–57 win over San Francisco on Saturday and improve to a 4-1 record in West Coast Conference games. Purcell again played a major hand recording a career high 9 assists to compliment 6 points and 4 rebounds.

Purcell’s performances earned her the West Coast Conference Player of the Week Award.

On Friday Univ of Cal, Berkley bounced back after dropping its first two Pac-12 games, the No. 21ranked Golden Bears defeated Colorado 64-35 in their conference home opener. Penina Davidson fouled out in 19 minutes with 2 points (1/2FG) and a pair of rebounds to her name.

Hot off the press Cal was defeated 84-79 at home by Utah on Sunday (US time) with Davidson coming off the bench with a 7 points (2/5FG, 2/2FT) and 2 rebounds contribution. The Bears are now 1-3 in conference action.

Josie Stockill’s third double-double of the season wasn’t quite enough to prevent Navy from posting a 51-41 Patriot League win over Colgate University on Saturday.

Stockill scored 10 points and grabbed 11 boards. It was her third twin-figure rebounding game in the last four outings and pushed her collegiate total past the 500 mark to 508. The nation’s leading shot-blocker also added three in this game and now has 60 for the season and 196 for her career.

Penney and Webster shine

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Nebraska Uni career high 22 points from Tai Webster

Guards Kirk Penney and Tai Webster put together the stand out performances by our Tall Blacks based abroad this week.

Last Thursday Kirk Penney fuelled the Illawarra Hawks with 20 points (8/18FG) as it went down 97-96 to Melbourne United in the latest round of the Australian NBL.

In one of the most exciting games of the season the Hawks trailed by 10 points at three-quarter time but clawed its way back into the contest to lead in the dying seconds before Chris Goulding made the go ahead free throw for United with just 4.6 seconds left on the clock.

Illawarra got back in the winners circle on Saturday with Penney once again playing a starring role. The shooting guard amassed 29 points as the Hawks bounced the lowly Sydney Kings 114-90. Penney shot an impressive 6 of 9 from beyond the three-point arc to help move the Hawks to third on the NBL ladder with a 12-8 record.

Dion Prewster had a quiet game for Sydney scoring just two points with his only shot of the game.

Earlier, the first game of the round on Wednesday saw Cairns Taipans keep its play off hopes alive with a 71-61 home win over Perth Wildcats. Jarrod Kenny had 2pts/4rebs/1assist for the Cats.

Despite a career-high 22 points from Tai Webster, Nebraska University Huskers fell at No. 19 ranked Iowa, 77-66, on Tuesday night in American College basketball.

Webster hit 7-of-11 shots from the floor in posting his third 20-point of the season.

Nebraska coach Tim Miles on Webster’s performance, “Tai is doing better and better, he came in with a lot of expectations and that was difficult for him physically and emotionally and he has been a lot better for us this year.”

Webster was less efficient on Saturday but Nebraska broke into the win column for the first time in Big Ten Conference play with a 90-56 win against Rutgers. The Huskers are now 1-3 in conference play.

Webster had 6pts/5rebs/2assists but shot just 3 from 10 from the field.

Freshman Jack Salt contributed 2 rebounds and a block during 8 minutes of court time, as No 4 ranked Virginia Cavaliers was defeated at Georgia Tech, 68-64 on Saturday.

The loss was the second in a row for Virginia that slipped to a 1-2 record in Atlantic Coast Conference games.

In Europe CAI Zaragoza lost its 10th game of the Liga Endesa campaign suffering a tight 71-69 loss to Bilbao (7-8) on Sunday in Spain. The loss ended the two-game winning streak of CAI Zaragoza and leaves it with a 5-10 record. Isaac Fotu scored 6 points and added 3 rebounds in 21 minutes

Zaragoza drops to the fourteenth position on the ladder and next week will play against the league’s leader Valencia Basket that boast a rather daunting 15-0 record.

A freezing polar blast hit the UK at the weekend but the Plymouth Raiders warmed their fans with what coach Corletto described an “ugly win”, 76-72, at home against Leeds Force.

Duane Bailey came off the bench to contribute 8 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal as the Raiders improve to 6-11 and a spot in the top eight of the twelve team competition.

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Remembering Plymouth began the season with six straight losses a move into play off contention is a massive achievement.

Mika Vukona “frustrated” after loss to 36ers

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No celebration for Mika Vukona on 350th NBL appearance

From Murray McKinnon

Heading towards the sharp end of the season the SKYCITY Breakers came unstuck against the Adelaide 36ers with a 87-81 loss at the North Shore Events Centre on Friday evening.
It put a dampener on any celebration Mika Vukona may have had making his 350th appearance in the NBL and his 283rd for the Breakers.
“It was pretty frustrating,” said Vukona.
“Deno and Paulie have talked about things we already know that we can prevent but for some reason we keep on doing it, so it is something as a group and as a unit we really got to take a deep look at ourselves and how we can get ourselves out of that rut because right now it’s not enjoyable basketball and we need to find a way to getting that back,” he added.
The Breakers led 4-3 in the first quarter but from then on Adelaide had the upper hand with the Breakers drawing level twice at 18 all and 65 a piece in the final quarter.
Three pointers in the opening 10 minutes by Adelaide’s Daniel Johnson and Mitchell Creek were matched by Reuben Te Rangi and a spectacular buzzer beater from the half way by Cedric Jackson to have the Breakers trailing by two 23-25 heading into the second quarter.
Corey Webster got just the one successful look from the arc, Tom Abercrombie scored seven, before Adelaide went on a 10-2 run to close out the half ahead 53-41.
Anthony Petrie and Brendan Teys with a three struck early in the third quarter prompting Dean Vickerman to take a hasty time out. This resulted in the Breakers going on an eleven point run while defending the other end and leaving the 36ers scoreless for five minutes. Tai Wesley, Webster with a couple of threes, Cedric Jackson and Vukona worked hard in trying to bridge the gap but Adelaide held on for the win.

Webster who has an average of 23 this season was restricted to just 12, Jackson had 16, Wesley 14 and Abercrombie and Vukona 13.
Vickerman said that Webster’s attempts were about where they have been this season.
“At times he moved the basketball and it allowed Mika to find some open shots as well at the top of the key, but we want Corey to stay aggressive and sometimes he’s got to find a balance of attack in the rim as well as his jump shot.”
Vickerman said that he was pleased with the middle of the third period where the team showed some fight.
“We’ve come off this for the New Year and I was trying to ramp up the intensity, I thought we had it in patches but patches is not good enough to beat a good team like that who played pretty well tonight and give them credit, they played a good game of basketball took it away and made things tough for our shooters to find open looks and we’ve just to keep continuing to find ways. When we rolled it in the post there for a while we were pretty effective, but their intent to get to the foul line and to attack and coming up with a few extra cheaper points than we are at the moment,” he said.
“There were some things said in the locker room (at half time) and I didn’t like the way we came out the first few minutes after half time, our offense was really bad shots and just didn’t share the ball enough in that first part coming out of the break, but found a way to get back in it, but in those tight games there’s so many little things that need to go right. We came up with enough extra possessions to give ourselves a chance to win but it was a big three ball from Daniel Johnson and he was pretty good from out there tonight. And both him and Randle were two guys we identified as key scorers but they still found a way to get it done tonight. I was more disappointed at the offensive end I don’t like when we have 12 assists, we need to be up around 18 assists and sharing the basketball better and I don’t think we got that done tonight,” he added.
Vickerman said there were a few things to iron out and staying energised is one of them.
“I don’t want to play people too long and I didn’t do a good job of that in the second quarter where I played a few people too long.
“We’ve got nine games to go and we’ve got to make sure we get there, there’re a lot of tough teams we’re playing and we’ve just got to get there first and that’s got to be our focus.”

The Breakers have a double header against Illawarra next week. On Thursday they cross the Tasman and then back at the Vector Arena next Sunday 17 January. Kirk Penney almost single handed demolished the Breakers 107-83 in their last encounter on 20 December and Vickerman said that will be their focus going into the series.
“We haven’t found a way to slow them down yet, they’ve scored pretty freely against most teams in the League, putting up a hundred against us it doesn’t sit well with us trying to be the best defence team in the League. I’m not putting the Illawarra series any more important than any other team, we’ve just got to find a way and a method to be able to beat them, if you drop one game and you can drop a couple of spots on the ladder.”