Chicago Bulls season preview: Roster analysis

The 2014-2015 NBA season is approaching fast and I for one, can’t wait for tip-off. The Chicago Bulls’ front office was busy this summer and made some great additions to the team.
Noah throwing it down
Eight players remain from last year’s roster and the multitudes of fresh faces are sure to bring some new approaches to the bulls. Returning this season are Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Kirk Hinrich, Nazr Mohammed, Toney Snell, and Mike Dunleavy.
New in town
The biggest acquisition for Chicago this offseason was former L.A. Laker, Pau Gasol. In addition to Gasol, the bulls finally brought Nikola Mirotic to the United States from Spain. The bulls drafted Mirotic in 2011 and have been waiting for him to develop further in the Euroleague before they finally signed him to a contract.
The bulls picked up two guys in the draft and both of them ended up making the team. There was no doubt in my mind that Doug McDermott would make the team but I was pleasantly surprised when Australian pow

View full post on Yardbarker: NBA

Hasheem Thabeet to Pistons: Latest Contract Details, Analysis and Reaction

Former No. 2 overall pick Hasheem Thabeet has found a fifth team willing to let him live out his dream. The 7-footer agreed to a non-guaranteed contract with the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, which will make him part of their training camp roster.    

ESPN’s Marc Stein first reported the news, which has yet to be confirmed by Thabeet or the Pistons:

Thabeet, 27, spent the last two seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He averaged 1.2 points and 1.7 rebounds in 8.3 minutes per game in 2013-14, appearing in only 23 contests. The Thunder traded Thabeet to the Philadelphia 76ers earlier this month to create a trade exception and give themselves breathing room under the NBA‘s luxury tax.

Philadelphia almost immediately waived the former UConn star, who was taken by the Memphis Grizzlies at the top of the 2009 NBA draft. A day before signing with the Pistons, Thabeet thanked the Thunder organization and fans for embracing him the past two seasons. 

“Wanna take a second to thank you OKC,” Thabeet said in an Instagram post, which has been edited to remove capitalization. “The entire Thunder organization and the fans have been nothin [sic] shot of amazing. The memories I’ve made here will last a lifetime and I appreciate y’all for that. Loud City; stay trill.”

Thabeet has also played with the Houston Rockets and the Portland Trail Blazers. While he’s widely considered one of the biggest draft busts of the 21st century—Thabeet has started only 20 games in his first five seasons—he’s developed a reputation as an excellent locker-room presence and seemingly found a home in Oklahoma City.

Kevin Durant, who thanked every teammate in his 2014 MVP speech, highlighted Thabeet’s ability to make him laugh—whether intentional or not. 

“I can walk in and have a terrible day and I can see Hasheem smiling at me, at 7’3″, with small pants on, and that will change my day,” Durant told reporters at the time.

The Oklahoma City community also came to adore him for his enthusiasm, which typically included being the first person off the bench to celebrate after a big play. His “answering” of Caron Butler’s flip-phone call celebration was one of the few smile-producing moments of the Thunder’s Western Conference Finals loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

As for Thabeet’s role in Detroit, there is at least an outside shot of him making the roster. The Pistons have only Andre Drummond and Aaron Gray at center, though Greg Monroe can capably play the position. He may be able to offer some level of guidance to Drummond defensively while also providing some humor in a locker room that features a couple off-beat personalities and has the Monroe contract situation looming.

More likely Thabeet is a camp body looking to impress enough to get a shot elsewhere. Detroit already has 16 contracts with guarantees on the roster, one more than the NBA maximum, per Basketball Insiders. The Pistons also recently signed Lorenzo Brown to a similarly non-guaranteed contract. 

It’s possible that they creatively use their D-League roster to store talent, but it’s unlikely Stan Van Gundy would use a valuable roster spot on someone who is unlikely to make a long-term impact. Thabeet’s teams have been more than five points per 100 possessions worse with him on the floor for his career, per Basketball-Reference.com. Odds are he’ll be used as a training camp body before being waived.

That said, he’s one Gray or Drummond injury away from having a serious shot of making the roster.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Michael Beasley to Grizzlies: Latest Contract Details, Analysis and Reaction

Although most would probably consider Michael Beasley a bust after being selected No. 2 overall in the 2008 NBA draft, the polarizing forward will have another opportunity to realize his immense potential after signing a contract with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported the news of Beasley’s new deal:

Wojnarowski added:

Free-agent forward Michael Beasley has agreed to join the Memphis Grizzlies in training camp on a non-guaranteed contract, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Beasley spent several days working out for Grizzlies this week and chose that offer because of an opportunity to make the roster as a backup power forward.

Beasley spent several weeks working out for teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs.

Beasley has never developed into the superstar that most expected him to be after a dominant freshman season at Kansas State, but he has certainly flashed that potential over the course of his six-year NBA career. With that in mind, at just 25 years old, perhaps there is still time for him to put everything together.

Following Beasley’s flameout in two seasons with the Miami Heat, he experienced varying degrees of success with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns, peaking during the 2010-11 season with the Wolves in which he averaged over 19 points per game. Unfortunately, he was never able to capitalize on the momentum he gained in that campaign.

After three years away from South Beach, Beasley returned this past season as a bench player to lend support to superstars such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Beasley actually turned out to be quite effective in that role, as he put up eight points and three rebounds per game while averaging about 15 minutes per contest.

Despite his offensive efficiency in the regular season, he was a forgotten man during the playoffs. Beasley played in just four games and logged a total of 23 minutes during Miami’s run to a fourth consecutive NBA Finals appearance and was essentially a non-factor.

Although it is unlikely that using Beasley more in the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs would have significantly altered Miami’s losing fate, Suns announcer Eddie Johnson scolded the Heat and head coach Erik Spoelstra for parking Beasley on the bench:

Beasley dressed for just one Finals game and ended up playing 17 minutes in Game 5. He scored nine points during desperation time as Miami frantically tried to mount a comeback, but it was simply too little, too late.

It can be argued that Beasley benefited from the Spurs lessening the defensive pressure, but Andrew Perloff of Sports Illustrated accurately pointed out that he provided a spark in the latter stages of the series:

Despite the Heat’s questionable usage of Beasley down the stretch, he seemed to genuinely enjoy his second stint in Miami. Beasley’s dedication and will to win have always been points of contention, but he clearly bought into a team-first concept with the Heat.

According to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Beasley was thrilled to be part of a deep playoff run for the first time in his NBA career:

Honestly, this season has flown by faster than any other I’ve been in. I don’t know why. I don’t know how. I guess it really does fly when you’re having fun.  … A chance to win a ring is definitely satisfying. It’s fun for a while trying to do it yourself, but losing basketball, it gets old. I definitely would opt for the extended season.

Immaturity has long been the biggest knock against Beasley, but maybe he is finally maturing from a character perspective. He didn’t cause any problems with the Heat this past season, so it is certainly possible that he is ready to make a big leap in his NBA career.

Nobody has ever questioned Beasley’s talent. If talent was all that mattered, he could very well be a multi-time All-Star by this point. He hasn’t quite found a happy medium yet in his career, but it could be on the horizon.

Simply put, Beasley is the type of player teams continually gamble on because the reward could be immense even if the risk is high as well. In this case, though, the risk is negligible since the investment is far from bank-breaking.

All Beasley needs is one more opportunity to show he can be a productive player. He figures to get it this season, but it is up to him to take the ball and run with it.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Nazr Mohammed Re-Signs with Bulls: Latest Contract Details, Analysis, Reaction

The Chicago Bulls added some depth to their frontcourt with the re-signing of center Nazr Mohammed.

The move was announced on the team’s official Twitter account Monday:

Mohammed has played for eight different teams over his 16-year career, proving to be a quality defender and consistent rebounder in the low post. The 37-year-old veteran spent the past two seasons with Chicago, averaging 2.0 points and 2.6 rebounds in 8.8 minutes per game.    

While the 6’10″ player does not always get a lot of playing time, he did average 11.2 rebounds per 36 minutes last season, proving he can be productive when he gets a chance.

ESPN’s Jon Greenberg provides a look at what Mohammed provides the franchise:

The LeBron James reference comes from arguably the center’s most memorable moment with the Bulls during the 2013 playoffs:

Although picking up a technical foul is rarely a highlight, it shows Mohammed’s nature as a hard-nosed player who makes things difficult for opponents.

Meanwhile, this is a chance for the Chicago native to remain close to home for his 17th year in the league. Late last season, he spoke about how important basketball is where he grew up.

“It’s a way of life,” Mohammed told CSN Chicago. “Growing up here, you had to learn how to play basketball. It was just something that was a badge of honor. Everybody in my neighborhood played. We got playground legends. It’s just the way it is.”

The Bulls already have one of the better frontcourts in the NBA with Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson, but Mohammed should be able to provide quality minutes off the bench while keeping the regulars as fresh as possible throughout the season.

With Chicago hoping to contend for an NBA title, this type of move could end up making the difference. At the very least, it will make things easier for the rest of the squad while causing problems for opponents throughout the year.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Andray Blatche to China: Latest Contract Details, Analysis and Reaction

Andray Blatche’s is headed abroad. The veteran big man agreed a deal with China’s Xinjiang Flying Tigers, according to Adam Zagoria of NBA.com:

Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski provides contract details:

Julius Manicad of The Daily Tribune indicates Blatche will be joining Jordan Crawford:

Blatche, 27, averaged 11.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game on 47.6 percent shooting last season with the Nets. He chose to exercise his player option, turning down a contract for a little more than $1.4 million in 2014-15.

While some expected him to draw significant interest on the open market, the waters instead proved tepid. The Raptors met with the 6’11″ forward earlier this month at Las Vegas Summer League but he left without a contract offer. There were also conflicting reports of interest from the Pelicans.

A return to the Nets never seemed like much of an option. General manager Billy King said multiple times at the beginning of free agency that the team was moving in a different direction, seemingly insinuating a behind-the-scenes rift.

“We had our reasons,” King told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News of their decision to move on.

Blatche has been a bit more inconsistent in his desires. Right before the free-agency period began, he seemed to have posted a vulgar Instagram photo with a phrase made famous by Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri. The message disappeared soon after it was posted, with Blatche claiming he was hacked. (Blatche has since resumed using the Instagram account.)

The spat of ugliness came not long after then-Nets coach Jason Kidd markedly declined Blatche’s minutes. After averaging 22.2 minutes per night during the regular season, he only received 14.3 in the playoffs. Kidd played Blatche just four minutes in Brooklyn’s series-deciding loss to the Miami Heat. There were no obvious signs of a rift—players’ minutes can wildly fluctuate in the playoffs depending on matchups—but it’s apparent something went awry down the stretch.

The Nets scored more than two points per 100 possessions and grabbed offensive rebounds at a higher rate with Blatche on the floor, per NBA.com. He remained an above-average one-on-one scorer, ranking well above the league average in points per possession in isolation and post-up opportunities, per Synergy Sports (subscription required).

These numbers fall in line with Blatche’s reputation as a talented offensive player whose enigmatic behavior and lackadaisical defensive efforts tend to cloud perception. He struggles mightily in pick-and-roll coverage, has issues in isolation and ranks as a below-average defender in nearly every team category. As an individual defender, Blatche ranked below the 50th percentile in every category except off-screen coverage, per Synergy.

Those factors played a big role in Blatche receiving mild interest on the open market. When he tested the market last summer, he found teams were similarly skittish in offering him a long-term pay day. 

Of course, Blatche can afford to take another lowish salary next season. The Washington Wizards are on the hook for paying him the final $8.4 million of the five-year, $35 million extension he signed in 2010. Washington used its amnesty provision on Blatche in 2012.

Buying Blatche’s stock is always a calculated risk for an NBA team, but the Flying Tigers should cash in as they continue to attract NBA talent. 

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Danny Ferry Takes Leave of Absence: Latest Details, Analysis and Updates

Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry will take an indefinite leave of absence in the aftermath of the controversy over racist comments he made about free agent Luol Deng, as reported by Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Vivlamore also tweeted out the news Friday:

Hawks CEO Steve Koonin made the announcement in a statement, via Vivlamore:

This afternoon, Danny Ferry requested, and I have approved, taking an indefinite leave of absence, effective immediately. This has been an incredibly difficult time for him and his family and it is my hope that this time away from the Hawks organization allows him the privacy he needs to listen to the community, to learn about his mistakes, and to begin the long process of personal healing. As a human being, manager and friend, I wish him well as he undergoes this process.

While the issues related to race are deeply troubling, at the heart of this dispute is an unfortunate disagreement amongst owners. That said, we have taken several steps to address what we can do as an organization to be better and stronger, including working with a diversity consultant to examine us and to train us to ensure something like this never happens again, we are committed to hiring a Chief Diversity Officer, and we have and will continue to meet with community leaders in an ongoing way to ensure our values reflect the community in which we play and work. The process of selling the team, which is to remain in Atlanta, is already underway.

Effective immediately, our Head Coach, Mike Budenholzer, will assume oversight of the basketball operations department. He will report directly to me.

I am deeply saddened and embarrassed that this has put a blemish on our team and our city, which has always been a diverse community with a history of coming together as one. We should build bridges through basketball, not divide our community or serve as a source of pain. 

Ferry, who has claimed he was reading from a report, made the offending statements during a conference call in June. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also obtained the audio recording at the center of the controversy, which can be heard below.

The recording is only a part of what was a longer call, and Ferry does not specifically mention that he is reading from a background report on this tape. The rest of the recording was reportedly lost.

What’s more, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution provided a PDF document of the Hawks’ scouting report on Deng, which also contained racist remarks regarding the free agent.

Regarding the controversy, NBA commissioner Adam Silver recently said Ferry should keep his job.

ESPN.com noted that Ferry made the following comments when referring to Deng and the scouting report: “Has a little African in him. Not in a bad way, but he’s like a guy who would have a nice store out front but sell you counterfeit stuff out of the back.” Ferry also stated Deng was “two-faced” in referring to his report.

Before Ferry took leave, Koonin said that he would be disciplined but not lose his job. While the actual punishment was not specified, a law firm did undertake a three-month investigation into Ferry’s comments and reportedly went through 24,000 documents, conducted 19 interviews and read Ferry’s previous emails.

No other negative information was found regarding Ferry during that probe.

Ferry also called Deng to apologize, and the forward commented on the situation himself Tuesday.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Elton Brand Re-Signs with Atlanta Hawks: Latest Contract Details and Analysis

The Atlanta Hawks have re-signed one of the top veterans still on the market in power forward Elton Brand. The sides agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal on Wednesday.

Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowksi had the news:

Brand, 35, has averaged 16.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks over the course of his 15-year career, but his production has dropped significantly in the past few seasons. Still, he provided 5.7 points and 4.9 rebounds in an average of 19.4 minutes per game last year.

While he is getting up there in age, he explained to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he does not consider his career over:

“It has. It’s sad because I’ve been doing it for a long time and I love it. Body feels good and I didn’t miss any games because of injury so as long as I can still compete and help out a team, hopefully this team, we’ll see.”

Vivlamore noted that there was competition for the veteran’s services:

Meanwhile, NBA analyst Chris Palmer explained why this would have been a good move for the Los Angeles Lakers:

In the end, Brand decided to remain in Atlanta. They will now get an experienced frontcourt player who can provide solid defense off the bench as well as consistent points near the basket.

Although the two-time All-Star is no longer an impact player in the lineup, his addition to the rotation will certainly lead to a few more wins over the course of the season.

In addition to the production Brand will provide on the court, the veteran will provide plenty of leadership for the young players already on the roster. Considering he has had four seasons of averaging at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in his career, he is someone who can be a mentor.

This relatively cheap signing represents very little risk for the organization and should pay off in a big way during the 2014-15 season.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Serbia vs Spain FIBA World Cup 2014: Game Grades, Analysis for Orlovi vs La Roja

Serbia hung in the best they could against the undefeated Spaniards through much of the game, but Spain’s dominance on both ends was enough to defeat the Serbs, 89-73, to wrap up the group phase. 

It was a chippy game towards the end, with Serbian coach Sasha Djordjevic being ejected after being assessed his second technical foul in the fourth. Referees and players from both sides got into it, but all parties seemed cordial by the final buzzer.

On the floor, Spain put on a clinic through most of the way, playing their aesthetically pleasing brand of high-pace, wide-open basketball while featuring their glut of NBA big men whenever possible. Serbia did its best to compete, and did so valiantly. But the Spanish talent won out, and it was evident in the final score.

 

Serbia Grades:

Bogdan BogdanovicB

Stefan MarkovicC-

Milos Teodosic: C

Miroslav Raduljica: B

Nemanja Bjelica: A-

Rest of Team: D

 

Spain Grades:

Ricky Rubio: A-

Pau Gasol: A-

Marc Gasol: A

Serge Ibaka: B-

Juan Carlos Navarro: B+

Rest of Team: B+

 

Bogdan BogdanovicB

Just 22, it’s clear to see why Bogdan Bogdanovic was drafted in the first round of this year’s NBA Draft. The 6’6″ guard finished up with eight points, two rebounds and four assists on three-of-seven shooting. He made a pair of threes and helped keep Serbia within striking distance through most of the first half. 

His four dimes led the team, and he was one of the only Serbian players capable of creating offense for himself. He launched five threes over his 24 minutes, and he was visibly forcing some shots as the Spain lead ballooned. The individual skills are clearly there for Bogdanovic, who currently plays for Fenerbahce Ulker, but Serbia just doesn’t have enough talent to compete with a team like Spain.

 

Stefan Markovic: C-

Stefan Markovic did a decent job of setting teammates up most of the way, but either the Spain front line was able to gobble up any close attempts, or Serbs just weren’t able to convert. By the time he started forcing action once the Spain lead inflated, he did more harm than good.

He connected on two of his four shots for four points and rounded out the score sheet with three assists and two rebounds. Markovic had a good feel for his teammates most of the way, but Spain’s intensity on both ends was just too much to handle. He became sloppy as the game went on and the pressure mounted, resulting in a pair of turnovers and a team-worst minus-23 plus-minus rating.

 

Milos Teodosic: C

Averaging 11 points and five assists going into Thursday’s game, Milos Teodosic has been a good all-around contributor thus far for the Serbs. But with the active Spain defense blowing most plays up before they can even start, Teodosic‘s impact was minimal. 

He struggled shooting, going four-of-eight from the field, draining two of his five three-pointers. He racked up a pair of assists but turned the ball over just as many times. With Ricky Rubio, Jose Calderon and Juan Carlos Navarro on fire in the backcourt all game long, Teodosic clearly lost the head-to-head battle Thursday.

 

Miroslav Raduljica: B

With 14.5 points on average entering Thursday, Miroslav Radjulica was Serbia’s leading scorer. The seven-footer put up 13 points and four rebounds Thursday, though Spain’s versatile talent’s near the rim made Raduljica pay time after time on both ends of the floor. 

The Serbian team neglected the inside game much of the way, and finally began featuring him towards the end of the third quarter. By then, of course, it was too late. He was active in the screen game, but whatever impact he may have had against an inferior opponent was wiped out by the Gasols and other Spanish bigs.

 

Nemanja Bjelica: A-

As dominant as Spain was, they let Nemanja Bjelica slip through the cracks through most of the game. He finished the game leading Serbia in points and rebounds with 19 and 10, respectively. 

The 6’10″ forward made six of his 14 shots, and was a rare Serbian to find success inside the arc.

 

Rest of Team: D

Serbia has plenty of size on their bench, but nobody was quite able to contend with Spain’s dominance down low. Nikola Kalinic was extremely ineffective over his 12 minutes, scoring just one point while grabbing two rebounds and turning it over once. Vladimir Stimac didn’t get a chance until the waning moments of the third, but looked effective over his nine minutes. He shot three-of-six from in close for six points and grabbed three boards. Serbia was plus-seven with him on the floor in the second half.

 

 

Ricky Rubio: A-

In his 101st career game for the Spanish national team, Ricky Rubio played like a veteran despite his still-raw age of 23. He produced 12 points of his own—including an uncontested 15-footer in the first half to begin to bury Serbia. His six assists led the team, as did his plus-33 plus-minus rating. 

He worked well with the bigs, featuring both Gasol brothers early and often, and constantly kicked out to his guard peers in transition. Rubio is still searching for his niche in the NBA, but he’s one of the best point guards to suit up in international play today.

The most surprising part of his game Thursday was that he received a technical foul late in the fourth. He’s gotten T’d up just six times over his three NBA years.

 

Pau Gasol: A-

Pau Gasol ended with the most offensive output for Spain, going for 20 points on six-of-11 shooting, including a perfect eight-of-eight from the line. Rubio was able to find him in his favorite spots, and when he was challenged by Raduljica or other Serbian bigs, he was quick enough to simply beat them to the rim. 

He only grabbed four rebounds and had one assist, but with the way he was excelling with the ball, and with the way his teammates were performing around him, Gasol provided Spain with all they needed from him. 

 

Marc Gasol: A

With his brother beside him in the paint, and several creating guards along the perimeter, Marc Gasol thrived from start to finish. He finished shooting five-of-six, going for 11 points and leading the team with eight rebounds. He had two assists and even drilled an impressive three-pointer when Spain were making their early, energizing push in the first quarter.

Along with his brother, the team’s guards were able to find him in spots to thrive, and the Serbian bigs stood no match. The one-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year had no problem handling them on the other end, either, and swatted a block along the way.

 

Serge Ibaka: B-

Ibaka wasn’t featured as much as the rest of the team’s NBA bigs, but the 24-year-old still finished with four rebounds and a block, though he wasn’t much of a factor offensively. His most noticeable offensive glimpse came in the second half when he clumsily pulled up for a transition three on the wing. It ended with a rebound that clanked out to nearly mid-court. Spain was actually minus-nine with him on the floor.

 

Juan Carlos Navarro: B+

 

The one-time NBAer finished as the second-leading scorer for Spain with 15, and connected on five of his seven attempts, including three of his four three-pointers. He handed out a pair of assists and pulled down two rebounds on the defensive end. Rubio had no problem finding him in transition, and he fit right into the fast-paced, wide-open Spanish attack.

 

Rest of Team: B+

Jose Calderon and Rudy Fernandez both contributed positively for Spain. They combined for 17 points, two assists and two rebounds, with Fernandez thriving in the fast break. With Rubio playing so well, Calderon wasn’t relied on for much through the first three quarters. Sergio Llull played plenty of minutes but didn’t fair particularly well with the ball, shooting 2-of-7. 

Sergio Rodriguez, one-time NBA point guard and reigning Euroleague MVP, finished with two points and an assist over 15 minutes without a field goal.

 

Coming Up Next:

With group play finished up, Spain has finished first and Serbia fourth in Group A. Both teams move onto Madrid to play in the Round of 16. Serbia will take on Greece while Spain will face Senegal.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Earl Grant to College of Charleston: Latest Contract Details, Analysis, Reaction

Longtime assistant men’s basketball coach Earl Grant is getting his shot to helm his own team, taking over as head coach for the College of Charleston.

CofC.edu’s Mike Robertson reported the news of Grant’s hiring on Tuesday, relaying a message from the school’s president, Glenn McConnell. The following is an excerpt from McConnell’s official statement:

First and foremost Earl is a very impressive leader and a teacher. His positive attitude, strong work ethic and vivacious personality will have a lasting impact on our players, students, alumni and the entire college community. I am positive that his vast energy and desire for excellence will propel the College of Charleston basketball program to new heights. 

He is well known for his many years as an exceptional recruiter, both in evaluating talent and developing relationships. His integrity will help us recruit elite student-athletes who will win championships and make us proud both on and off of the court. He can bring us instant success in the upcoming recruiting season and have an immediate positive impact that will pay dividends for years.

ESPN’s Andy Katz observed Sunday how Grant would go on to become the latest in Clemson’s coaching tree to take over another program:

Grant was an assistant for the Tigers for five previous seasons primarily under Brad Brownell. Before then, he was an assistant at Wichita State and worked with Gregg Marshall, who just guided the Shockers to an undefeated regular season in 2013-14.      

The Cougars are indeed getting a coach in Grant with an excellent pedigree, if not any head coaching experience. 

Grant’s predecessor, Doug Wojcik, was fired amid allegations of verbally abusing players, and that may have contributed to the squad’s poor performance in 2013-14, when they posted a meager 14-18 record.

What should make Charleston fans excited about Grant is that has a reputation for luring talent on the recruiting trail and developing it in college. At the beginning of July, Wojcik wasn’t recruiting. That is a needed change.

According to ClemsonTigers.com, Grant worked mostly with point guards during his most recent assistant stint. Guard play tends to be crucial in the NCAA tournament, and the reigning national champion Connecticut Huskies can attest to that. UConn coach Kevin Ollie, a former NBA point guard, helped mold Shabazz Napier into a stupendous championship leader who became a first-round draft pick.

That’s not to say Grant will replicate such a massive feat at Charleston, but the general principle is similar. It will likely take time for Grant to establish himself, though, given that the Cougars have had little success in recent years.

At least the future looks far brighter for Charleston, as Grant has a great opportunity to establish himself in the mid-major Colonial Athletic Association and bring plenty of positivity to a program that needs it at the moment. Look for the Cougars to upgrade their talent and contend for the CAA title within the next few years.

Read more College Basketball news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – College Basketball

Spain vs. Egypt FIBA World Cup 2014: Game Grades, Analysis for La Roja, Pharaohs

Coming off a dominant performance against Iran, Spain showed once again why it’s a FIBA World Cup contender with a 91-54 win over Egypt on Day 2.

Not only did Spain have home-court advantage as host, it had an undeniable edge in size, quickness and just about every major statistical category.

The team jumped out to a 15-2 lead halfway through the first quarter, and while Egypt put together a much better second period, Spain was intent on dominating the entire second half.

 

Spain Grades

Pau Gasol: B

Marc Gasol: B+

Serge Ibaka: A

Rudy Fernandez: A-

Rest of Team: B+

 

Pau Gasol: B

Following Day 1 of the FIBA World Cup, Pau Gasol was the leading scorer and leading efficiency-per-game player of the entire tournament, according to FIBA.com.

Against Egypt, he wasn’t able to reproduce the production that earned him those accomplishments, but he shot well when given the opportunity, which is all Spain needed.

Finishing with 12 points, the new Chicago Bulls big man knocked down 63 percent of his shots. He only managed to grab three rebounds in more than 19 minutes, however, but we’ll give him a pass because his team won that category by 15.

 

Marc Gasol: B+

Marc Gasol entered this contest following a 15-point, 10-rebound performance against Iran. If we’re holding him to that standard, he didn’t have nearly as solid a showing as fans would have liked.

That said, the big man’s role was slightly reduced because of Serge Ibaka‘s return, and quite frankly, he did what he needed to do to intimidate Egypt’s interior players—something that won’t go in any box score. This won’t go down as a memorable performance, but there was nothing wrong with it, either.

 

Serge Ibaka: A

Before the contest began, NBA.com’s John Schuhmann reported that Ibaka was warming up and looking OK after missing Saturday’s competition against Iran.

As it turned out, we saw that for ourselves as soon as he entered the game with a putback slam and a blocked shot late in the first quarter.

Throughout the contest, Ibaka helped spread the floor with his mid-range jumper, but people will remember this one for how often he was soaring above the rim for dunks and rebounds.

In just under 21 minutes, the big man finished with 18 points on 67 percent shooting while bringing down eight boards in the process.

 

Rudy Fernandez: A-

You could see how hard Fernandez was going to play from the opening tipoff. The ball went up, Spain masterfully tipped the ball away from the defense and Fernandez was off to the races for a quick attempt at a transition bucket.

Unfortunately for Fernandez, the rock didn’t drop, as international rules allow defenses to knock the ball off the rim.

However, this was hardly a bad omen for Spain, as Fernandez used his energy to score 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting (2-of-2 from deep) and collect two steals and a block along the way.

 

Rest of Team: B+

When looking at the rest of the roster, there were very few actual poor performances—Jose Calderon’s 0-of-4 shooting in nearly 15 minutes is the exception.

That just proves what kind of level this team is playing at, and it proves that it will contend deep into the World Cup.

During the matchup against Egypt, guys such as Sergio Llull and Sergio Rodriguez played with relentless energy and made plays on both ends that won’t go down in the box score, although numerous players fit that category at different times of the contest.

Three-point shooting was a problem in this one, as the team went just 7-of-25; however, the team nailed 61 percent of its two-pointers, according to FIBA.com, and pushed the tempo to an unmatched level from the onset of the competition.

 

Egypt Grades

Ibrahim Elgammal: B

Amr Gendy: C-

Moustafa Elmekawi: C

Ramy Ibrahim: D-

Rest of Team: D-

 

Ibrahim Elgammal: B

In spite of being down 42-24 after the second period, Egypt had one bright spot at halftime: Ibrahim Elgammal.

The 6’2″ perimeter player came alive in the second quarter, accumulating eight points by the half. His unwillingness to concede early is what made the second period competitive (14 points for Egypt, 16 points for Spain), and he ultimately went on to finish with 16 points, four rebounds and three assists.

 

Amr Gendy: C-

Although Gendy wasn’t quite the silver lining Elgammal was by the end of the first half, he was something of the sort in the first quarter.

When Egypt was struggling to put the ball in the basket early, Gendy was the only consistent option. In fact, he had half of his team’s points until the 8:25 mark of the second quarter.

The only problem is that at that point he only had six points, meaning Egypt only had 12, and he wouldn’t score again the rest of the way.

 

Moustafa Elmekawi: C

Admittedly, you have to search for small details when looking for positives from Egypt’s performance. But that’s what basketball is often about during learning experiences.

When it comes to Elmekawi, the 6’8″ guard was aggressive at the rim in the first quarter. He wasn’t able to do much against the size of Spain, but his footwork was decent, and he threatened points down low despite only scoring six on the night.

 

Ramy Ibrahim: D-

If you think we’ve been generous with Egypt’s grades up to this point considering the final score, you might be right. But that’s about to change as we discuss Ramy Ibrahim.

At 6’9″, the power forward is tied as Egypt’s tallest player, yet nearly half of his total shots were from behind the arc.

He did manage to pull down seven rebounds, but having shot 0-of-7 on the night for zero points, his size may have been better utilized if he’d been aggressive in trying to draw fouls in the paint.

 

Rest of Team: D-

In the first quarter alone, we saw Egypt shoot 0-of-8 from behind the arc. The team found slight success when it attacked the rim, but the problem is that it just didn’t have the confidence to approach the bigs of Spain.

By the end of the game, Egypt had shot just 34 percent from the field and 16 percent from downtown.

We won’t give the rest of the roster an F because there were stretches where attacking the rim seemed like an actual goal, but virtually everything else was tough for fans to swallow. 

 

Coming Up Next

Both of these teams play again on Monday, Sept. 1. Spain will take on Brazil, while Egypt will face France.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Next Page »