SLUC Nancy may be the second best team in the French League with only one defeat, but come Thursday evening the team will easily suffer their greatest loss of the season.
That’s when Nicolas Batum will hold a press conference in Nancy to announce he is returning to the Portland Trail Blazers with news coming late last week of a resolution to the NBA lockout.
It’s the end of a brief era -- one that head coach Jean-Luc Monschau hoped would last throughout Nancy’s season with many more film sessions.
“I hope he stays as long as possible. I’m a little bit selfish,” Monschau said after a recent home game against Paris-Levallois.
“That young guy is really impressive.”no comments
When I mentioned to Nicolas Batum back in September at EuroBasket in Lithuania that I wanted to make the five hour drive from Nuremberg, Germany to Nancy, France to work on a story later in the year, I knew it would be a worthwhile trip.
Getting the chance to see Batum play in his native France was eye opening for reasons about basketball, but also about the places life takes us as people and allows us to hit pause, reflect and be thankful. He never thought he'd be back in France playing at this point in his career. And I certainly couldn't even fathom the day I would be living in Europe cover basketball, let alone catching up with a guy that I've covered in the NBA since he arrived in Portland as a rookie in 2008.
I will never forget seeing Batum that first season in the Blazers locker room. His locker was positioned right next to LaMarcus Aldridge's. After one home game where Aldridge flashed skills that included a hard earned double-double on the night, the local media flooded Aldridge's locker stall during a long postgame interview session which obviously flowed into Batum's space as he got dressed.
As Aldridge lit up for the cameras and questions flew from all directions, there was young barefoot Batum softly and respectfully asking one reporter if he could have his shoes, which were being stepped on under the foot of the media scrum.
Two stalls down you could hear then-Blazer Channing Frye offer some words of wisdom to the rookie.
"Don't ask him, you tell him....you have to speak up Nic."
Cau, or "Hello" as we say in the Czech Republic...
Again, I would like to take the time to thank everyone for reading my column here at Beyond the beat. I appreciate it.
The season is in full swing. We are 9-5 with our next game coming this Sunday at home. We haven't been playing well the last month after a really good start. We won our first five games then we had some injuries which I think disrupted our rhythm. This past Saturday was the first really bad loss of the season. We were up 21 points with five minutes left in the second quarter and ended up losing the game. Our opponent USK Prague started playing zone and we couldn't solve their zone. The main reason was that we couldn't score from the perimeter. During the second half we shot 0-17 from the three point line. I was 0-6 myself and finished the game 1-9. As a team we finished the game 5-27 from three. It doesn't help that we are missing our best player: Pavel Houska is the league's reigning MVP, and is out with a back injury and nobody is sure when he will be back. He is averaging 18 points and 9 rebounds per game. In the meantime guys have to step up.
I have to take on more of a scoring role. I am looking forward to the game Sunday especially after losing the last game.
Former Oregon Duck Michael Dunigan has to be racking up the frequent flier miles. The big man is on the move again.
After starting the season in Italy with Junior Casale, the team announced today it has parted ways with the 6-10 center. Dunigan, who has also spent time with Hapoel Jerusalem in Israel and Estonia's BC Kalev/Cramo will now be suiting up in the Ukraine Superleague.
According to David Pick of EuroBasket.com, Dunigan has signed with Sk Dnipro Azot in the Ukraine.
Dunigan had been struggling in the Italian League, averaging just 2.8 points, 4 rebounds and 13.6 mintues per game in 5 appearances.
He spent three years at Oregon before deciding to turn pro after Dana Altman took over the program in Eugene.
I'm sitting here on this Virgin America flight from JFK to LAX having just purchased $13.00 internet fee and a $9.00 "Holiday Turkey" sandwich which was actually pretty good. I could be doing a lot of things during this five-hour flight back to my hometown, but I have chosen to write about basketball.
First off, the Johnson family sends our condolences to the family of Walt Hazzard. We were all rocked by the news that the UCLA legend Walt had passed away from health complications. Coach Hazzard was the captain on John Wooden's first championship team at UCLA, a mentor to many of us in the Bruin basketball family and one of the best people I've been around.
I last saw Coach Hazzard at the Anaheim Convention Center in March while covering the Southern California High-School Championships. Coach was there with his wife and son, Jala, watching his grandson Max play for Loyola High-School. I went over to pay my respects and Coach Hazzard -- as always when we saw each other -- flashed that radiant smile and shook my hand. Coach had been suffering from side effects of a stroke, but was as alert and on point as ever. His son Rasheed, who won a championship with Lakers in 2009 as an advanced scout, is a childhood friend of mine -- a fabulous coach, a basketball savant, a classy, elegant gentleman and man.
The apple obviously does not fall far from the tree.
UCLA basketball is in a state of utter confusion right now and I haven't the slightest clue why. Fans are popping champagne and celebrating Monday night's win over Chaminade University at the Maui Invitational like it's 1995 and the Bruins just beat President Clinton's Hogs.
It's Chaminade Bruin Nation, relax.no comments