Around the traps
MELBOURNE (Paulo Kennedy’s View from Downunder) - I know I said I'd take another look at the Boomers offence this week, but there's been a fair bit happening, so I'm putting that back for seven days to go around the traps.
The news doesn't really get any bigger than Liz Cambage signing with the Dandenong Rangers in the WNBL, for a number of reasons.
Firstly, Cambage has passed on the WNBA this season, focussing instead on the FIBA World Championship for Women, and now she is passing on massive money in China to play for the Rangers, one of her junior clubs.
Now, big Liz is from my neck of the woods on the Mornington Peninsula, so I'm not that surprised by her decision in some ways, and I understand there are a number of factors at play.
But it says a lot about the person she is that money doesn't always get in the way of representing her country and doing what makes her happy. I like that.
Moore, West Coast making Waves
I thoroughly enjoyed my first year officially covering the WNBL last season, but one of the toughest parts was interviewing West Coast Waves coach Kennedy Kereama after every thrashing.
I must say Kennedy did a great job of staying positive as the losses mounted, but it was impossible not to feel for the man and his team.
For those not familiar with West Coast's plight, the wooden spooners averaged 20 turnovers a game last season, so the presence of Moore - an NCAA star at Nebraska who averaged 15 points per game in Italy this season - is a godsend.
Patty cakes rising
While Moore is slowly working her way towards big things in the US, Patty Mills has been there and done that, and is now shining on the biggest club stage of all.
His 14 points in the San Antonio Spurs Game 4 mauling of the Miami Heat will get the headlines - and there's nothing wrong with that - but it has been his willingness to do all the little things that has been so impressive and drawn plaudits from a number of knowledgeable analysts.
I know I wrote about it earlier this year, but it is so good to see Mills growing into an all-around player who'll do anything for his team or country. I can't wait to see him lead the Boomers at Spain 2014.
As for the NBA Finals, while I would never write off a champion with as much talent as Miami, it seems San Antonio are unstoppable right now.
In his one and only NBA season with the Golden State Warriors, Gladness scored a career-high 14 points against San Antonio on a night I'm sure he'll never forget.
Standing 6ft 11in (2.11m) and blessed with length and athleticism, Gladness' true strength is his ability to intimidate at the defensive end, having blocked an NCAA record 16 shots one night - that's right, best all-time in college basketball. All-time!
Given Townsville play an up-tempo disruptive style, and a fast-paced spread-the-floor offence, the big fella from Alabama seems a good fit. He should fill some highlight reels at the very least.
Boutique Crocs ready to rock
Full credit to the Crocs for also making the shift to the smaller Townsville RSL Stadium. One of the real shames of the club's fight for survival last off-season was what appeared to be a generous deal at the Townsville Entertainment Centre didn't work out as the club needed.
The RSL Stadium mightn't be the world's slickest venue, but it certainly proved an excellent home for the WNBL's Fire in the run to the 2014 grand final, and I suspect it will be the same for the Crocs.
More importantly, if it allows the club to consolidate its position while the NBL works on new commercial deals that is excellent news.
It's also a positive reflection on the NBL. Where past administrations have insisted on certain stadiums, this incarnation is showing the flexibility to combine local venues with new marquee player rules - horses for courses - and that is the approach that's needed at the current time.
I must admit I found it hard to get excited about the 2014/15 draw that was released this week, despite the NBL making a great effort on social media to pump it up. Perhaps it's too far out from the season?
Reading through the fixture was still an interesting exercise though, with the league making baby steps towards the more condensed draw needed after their proposed expansion in 2015/16.
There is a small trial of six mid-week games in Australia (not including New Year's Eve), spread between Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney.
There doesn't seem to be any pattern to those games, however, and perhaps it is more about squeezing the season into four less weeks (a welcome initiative to give the finals clear air) than testing the waters for the following season.
Another thing largely absent is road teams playing geographically-based double-headers, which save money and allow more closely-scheduled games.
There are just seven Cairns-Townsville and Wollongong-Sydney doubles combined, a total of two Melbourne-Sydney and Melbourne-Adelaide doubles, and only one occasion where a visitor to New Zealand plays another game on the way home.
Now the difficulty of putting a fixture together is something grossly underestimated by those who haven't done it (like myself), but this is a lock the NBL must find the key to.
Their television-friendly plan for increased games in a condensed schedule is a good one. I guess we'll just have to wait another year to see if and how they can turn that vision into a reality.
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