Archive for February, 2011

NBA 2k11 PC Review

NBA 2k11 PC Review

At one time, EA Sports’ franchise basketball title NBA Live ruled the simulated gaming world, but the recent surge by 2k has put their game at the top of the heap. But you don’t have to pick one or the other if you’ve got a GameFly account, you can just pick both and see which one you like better.

Of course, it’s always considered a banner edition of any game when Michael Jordan, who guards his image relentlessly, appears in game play. Some people say it’s a fitting match for His Airness, arguably the greatest player of all time, to appear in what could be the greatest basketball game of all time. But, hyperbole aside, the game still shows the polish and slick finish that allowed 2k to overtake one of EA’s top games.

Even though the controls are better, and some of the bugs from last year’s edition have been ironed out, the most impressive features of 2k11 are actually the incredible amount of work put into recreating Jordan’s game and abilities, and the improvement of the simulated GM. Easily the best general management sim of any game I’ve played, I can’t help but wonder if several NBA teams with lousy GM’s couldn’t get better results from using replacing their management with this game. I’m only partially kidding.

If you love basketball and haven’t tried this game, you should get a GameFly account just to check it out.


Video Game Rentals Delivered

Carmelo Anthony
Flikr/Keith Allinson


By Marcus Shockley

Look, I’ve gotta be honest. I like Carmelo Anthony. I overlook the no-defense-style and I’ll always respect that he’s a superstar that proved he could hang in college, bringing a championship to Syracuse.

And, I’m glad he got to play where he wanted. I do agree with many analysts who say that the superstars teaming up like it’s AAU is bad for the league. That’s true. It also won’t last. The hard truth is that the players might think they run the show, but they aren’t writing the checks. The people who write the checks make the decisions, and that’s one of the big reasons there will likely be a lockout this year as the owners make a point to Lebron and all the rest of the players.

But, back to Carmelo and the Knicks.

Let’s get one thing straight: there is absolutely no reason why the New York Knicks can’t be one of the dominant powerhouses in the NBA, competing for titles every year. They have the big market, the money, the media and the ability to attract players that means they should be able to be just as competitive as the Lakers.

But they aren’t, and it boils down to management and ownership. You can’t overcome Bad Management, and the Knicks have some of the worst. If they were in any other market they’d be in danger of contraction. The worst thing about Bad Management is that it never learns, never changes and never gets better. The only thing that will save bad management and ownership is wholesale change (see the Tampa Bay Bucs and Indianapolis Colts), and the last time I checked, the same owner is over the Knicks that thinks Isaiah Thomas is an awesome guy.

To be blunt, the Knicks are a horribly run organization and business, and they won’t win while they have the current management.

Let’s unpack this blockbuster trade, shall we? The Knicks had already put together a team that was most likely headed for the playoffs, behind respectable GM Donnie Walsh (slumming, apparently), but traded away all of their supporting cast for a guy who puts up big scoring numbers. Yeah, that will work, unloading almost the entire team for a single scorer. Starbury, anyone?

Sure, they have Chauncy Billups and, of course, Amare Stoudamire. But Billups is gone at the end of this year, and then there will be a lockout, and the Knicks will be looking to bring in those same kinds of players they just traded away. Their roster is thin. Nobody on their team plays any defense. Deron Williams isn’t coming to New York. Chris Paul isn’t coming to New York next season. How, exactly, is all of this supposed to make them long term contenders with the Lakers, Celtics, Magic and Heat?

I’m not sold. Even though I like Billups, Anthony and Stoudamire on the same starting five, I know bad management, and bad management will always run it right into the ground.

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By Marcus Shockley

Little Rock Lightning Logo

The Little Rock Lightning, a new ABA franchise based in Arkansas, is beginning the work for their first season. With tryouts already scheduled for July 16-17, 2011, Bernard Brown, one of the team’s owners, is looking forward to the new endeavor. “We’re probably going to have a couple more tryouts,” says Brown, who is also networking in the Arkansas area to ensure that players are aware of the new opportunity.

The Lightning are not associated with the former ABA team that was located in the Arkansas area in 2004, the Rim Rockers. This team is a completely new team, but Brown is hoping to repeat something that the Rim Rockers did, which was bring some former Arkansas Razorbacks to the roster. The team hasn’t designated a coaching staff yet, as the season does not start until December 2011, but they are already working in the community.

Normally the Lightning expect to play between 30-35 games, but the schedule is still being determined. We will be featuring more information and follow ups with the team as they begin tryouts and of course, follow the team as they kick off their inaugural season.

Basketball Elite is proud to be a media partner for the the Little Rock Lightning and wish them much success in the coming year.

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By James Blackburn

Roy Williams UNC
Flikr/Kevin813


(Reports from Wake @ UNC game on February 15, 2011)

Harrison Barnes, 6’8”, F, UNC
Strengths
Good shooter who follows his shot. He never misses right to left and rarely leaves the ball short- good misses when he does miss a shot. Strong upper body. Had several nice passes to post players against the Wake Forest zone. Showed the ability to put the ball on the floor and get to rim where he can finish with either hand. Good defender when he wants to be. Although he is not known to be a superb athlete- he did have several athletic above the rim finishes late in the second half, including a drop step dunk in traffic.

Weaknesses
Although he is a good shooter, he doesn’t have the quickest release. Potential to be a great defender (he showed this towards the end of the game), but seems to take some defensive possessions off. Has a bad habit of putting the ball over his head and holding it against the zone- needs to bring the ball down and protect it in triple threat position, so he can be a threat at all times.

Overview
Solid game from Barnes, who finished with 17 points and 4 assist. He seems to be getting better and better each game and is looking more comfortable. Did not force the issue and took much better shots than the last time I saw him play earlier in the year vs. Kentucky. Will definitely be a top 5 pick.

Tyler Zeller, 7’0”, F/C, UNC
Strengths
Gets great post up position-very deep. Has good post moves- very effective hook shot. Runs the floor well. Good strong rebounder. Ty Walker’s (Wake Forest, 6’11”) shot blocking ability had no effect on Zeller today (6-9 FG). He was getting whatever he wanted on the offensive end.

Weaknesses
Needs to improve passing ability out of post.

Overview
Zeller continues to impress. Zeller does not really make you say “Wow” with anything he does, but he is a solid player, who does many things- rebounds, scores, and defends. Not the most athletic player, but he will play in the NBA.

John Henson, 6’10”, F, UNC
Strengths
Active player on both ends of the floor. Great rebounder, especially on the offensive end. Does a good job of keeping the ball alive and tipping the ball the ball in basket, even when he does not have great position. Good shot blocker, who either blocks or alters most shots in his vicinity. Does a good job of keeping space between himself and offensive player so he can block the shot. Athletic player. Showed off an improved low post/all-around offensive game with some nifty moves around the basket. Good footwork. Right handed player who loves to go left. Very long- length causes havoc on defensive end. He guards the inbound pass under the goal- had several deflections and caused some steals b/c of active hands and length- makes it difficult for opponents to get ball in bounds, let alone getting a score.

Weaknesses
Must get stronger. Needs to improve FT shooting- 4-10 FT for the game. His shooting form is not bad, but the consistency is not there- the shot might miss short, long, left, or right. He needs to develop a mid range jumper.

Overview
Good game today from Henson, who finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Has a never ending motor. Henson has made major strides in his offensive game, but there is still room for improvement. Will be a good fit for most NBA teams.

Kendall Marshall, 6’3”, PG, UNC
Strengths
Great passer. Does a lot of little things well. Directs the offense- very poised and savvy player, especially for a freshman PG. Good in transition- makes good decisions, high basketball IQ. Ability to create own shot. Uses creativity to get into the pain.

Weaknesses
High dribble. His jump shot needs improvement. His shot is flat, but his mechanics look OK. Needs to improve his overall offense.

Overview
Marshall is now going to be leaned upon even more at PG since the departure of Drew. Very good assist to turnover ratio. Finished with 8 assist, 3 rebounds, and 3 points. A player to keep an eye on.

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By James Blackburn

Paul Davis basketball WSSU

Paul Davis, PF-C, 6’9”, Senior

(35 min, 6-7 FG, 1-5 FT, 13 points, 18 reb, 3 blk)


Warm-ups

While Davis was warming- up I noticed several things. Davis has a smile on his face the entire time. He is cordial to his teammates, opposing players, and officials in meeting at the center circle with the captains. He is high fiving players in the lay-up line. Has great overall body language in warm-ups.

Strengths

Excellent rebounder who boxes out and rebounds the ball with 2 hands. Chins the ball and secures rebound. Gets inside rebounding position on both ends of the floor. Had several tip in rebounds tonight. Good shot blocker. Very athletic player who is quick off his feet. Good active defensive player in general. Long arms allow him to play the passing lanes and guard on the perimeter (3 steals this game). Led the team in minutes played tonight and never once showed signs of fatigue- good endurance level. Does a good job of hiding himself behind the zone and going to the open spots, the gray areas. Got deep post up position multiple times through out the game and did not get frustrated when his teammates could not get him the ball. He sees the floor well and is an above average passer for his size. Runs the floor well on the offensive end. Agile and quick for a big man. Leader on the floor. Huddles up players in FT situations. Great body language.

Weaknesses

Needs to get stronger- add more upper body strength. Needs to get back quicker on the defensive end. Not a very good FT shooter- not a lot of rotation on the ball. Dribbling needs improving. Needs to improve his back to the basket game- looks anxious and was quick to get rid of the ball in post- needs to become more patient with the ball in his hands. I never saw him shoot other than free throws. Needs to improve overall shooting and range. Does not have the greatest hands for a big man.

Overview

Paul Davis continues to excel this season for a Winston-Salem State team that took the step back down to the NCAA D-II level this season. This is Davis’ first season playing in the CIAA, playing the previous three years with WSSU as a independent member of NCAA D-I. Paul garnered All-Independent Second Team honors last season as a junior. After applying for the NBA draft last season, before removing his name early to stay eligible, Paul hopes to continue to improve and get stronger this senior season to improve his professional hopes. Davis has loads of potential, with a long frame and above average athleticism. Davis is a great teammate and never complained or showed any negative body language. Did not complain or look frustrated. Encouraged teammates even when they made mistakes. Always had eyes on his coach and listened. This could help him land a roster spot on a NBA summer team and/or an invite to training camp. At the very least Davis will have more than several suitors calling for his talents overseas.

Coach Bobby Collins Interview

After the game, I had an opportunity to speak to Coach Collins about Paul Davis and the improvements he has made. Coach Collins had nothing but good words to say about Davis and how far he has come since his freshman year at State. “He has improved in all areas”, Collins replied when asked about Davis. Coach said when Paul Davis first arrived on campus he weighed 165 lbs and was a shot blocker only. Now he has added weight and has developed into a scoring threat. “He has a picture-perfect jump hook and he loves the weight room”, Collins said. “He is coachable and is a team player”. Coach Collins said that Davis will enter his name into the NBA draft again this year.

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East Team
Name Pos Hgt Wgt High School (School Location) College
Khem Birch C 6-9 210 Notre Dame Prep (Fitchburg, MA) Pittsburgh
Michael Carter-Williams SG 6-5 175 St. Andrew’s School (Providence, RI) Syracuse
Rakeem Christmas C 6-9 222 Academy of New Church (Bryn Athyn, PA) Syracuse
Mike Gbinije SF 6-6 194 Benedictine High School (Richmond, VA) Duke
Michael Gilchrist SF 6-7 210 St. Patrick High School (Elizabeth, NJ) Kentucky
P.J. Hairston SG 6-6 220 Hargrave Military Academy (Chatham, VA) North Carolina
James McAdoo PF 6-8 216 Norfolk Christian School (Norfolk, VA) North Carolina
Quincy Miller PF 6-9 210 Westchester Country Day (High Point, NC) Baylor
Austin Rivers SG 6-4 189 Winter Park High School (Winter Park, FL) Duke
Shannon Scott PG 6-2 170 Milton High School (Alpharetta, GA) Ohio State
Marquis Teague PG 6-2 175 Pike High School (Indianapolis, IN) Kentucky
West Team
Name Pos Hgt Wgt High School (School Location) College
Bradley Beal SG 6-4 177 Chaminade College Prep (St. Louis, MO) Florida
Jabari Brown SG 6-3 200 Oakland High School (Oakland, CA) Oregon
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope SG 6-4 190 Greenville High School (Greenville, GA) Georgia
Anthony Davis PF 6-10 200 Perspectives Charter School (Chicago, IL) Kentucky
Myck Kabongo PG 6-2 170 Findlay College Prep (Henderson, NV) Texas
Johnny O’Bryant PF 6-10 245 East Side High School (Cleveland, MS) LSU
Sir’Dominic Pointer SF 6-6 195 Quality Education Acad. (Winston-Salem, NC) St. John’s
Otto Porter, Jr. SF 6-9 200 Scott County Central (Sikeston, MO) Undecided
Adonis Thomas SF 6-6 210 Melrose High School (Memphis, TN) Memphis
Kyle Wiltjer PF 6-9 221 Jesuit High School (Portland, OR) Kentucky
Tony Wroten, Jr. SG 6-4 206 Garfield High School (Seattle, WA) Washington

For the full rosters and bio, click here.

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Fans often wonder why NBA teams are always willing to gamble on players with ‘potential’, but shy away from players who seem like much safer bets. In the world of horse racing, they’d be betting on the shiniest stallion, not the racer who had come in second in ten races. Why?

For the answer, we can turn to the world of pop music. People either love or hate Simon Cowell, the mogul who rose to fame for his snide remarks on American Idol. But Simon was wealthy prior to being on the show, and he obtained his wealth not by discovering Michael Jackson level talent; he systematically found talent that looked remarkably similar to what was already selling. The reason is because Simon knows that star power like Michael Jackson is once-in-a-lifetime, but you can dress up a pretty girl with mediocre talent to make 20 Brittany Spears clones, and make more money.

NBA owners too often treat their personnel moves like horse betting, where they want to take a chance on a player who could be the next Michael Jordan, rather than just working toward building a solid team of really good players. It doesn’t work in horse racing betting, and it doesn’t bring in championships.

Don’t Peak In High School

By Marcus Shockley


Dave Telep said something a few days ago that echoes my own thoughts regarding some high school basketball stars. There is a lot of talk among high school players as to ‘who’s number 1′ and it culminates in rankings, lists and mix tapes which feature the next superstar. Telep said that the players who were the most concerned last year with their rankings and mixtape highlights are the very players struggling in college this year.

Hey, there isn’t anything wrong with highlight tapes or mixtapes. But it needs to be said, many times, that high school ranking doesn’t mean a thing in the long run.

Nothing.

Jonathan Bender
Flikr/TruthAboutIt

When I spoke with Ryan Blake a few days ago, the NBA Director of Scouting, he said that if you watch high school players’ highlight tapes, everyone looks like an NBA All-Star. Then you see the player on the college court and they start looking very, very human.

The worst thing that can happen to anyone, not just basketball players, is to peak in high school. If you are playing in all-star games, getting listed in basketball magazines and have 3,000 Twitter followers as a high school senior, it’s all too easy to think you’ve made it. Got people hanging on your every word and college fans repeatedly clamoring to know where you are going to college?

That doesn’t mean anything. Yet.

Sure, you’ve got potential. But too many players think that a top high school ranking is going to guarantee them a lottery pick and a 15 year NBA career. All a top ranking guarantees you is that college fans are going to expect you to be amazing. They are going to expect to see what they saw in highlight films. They aren’t going to be happy if you can’t dribble to the left or can’t do the footwork in the paint. Suddenly, you’ll be just another college project, not a future NBA All-Star.

People can be very fickle. No, check that, they are fickle. They will love you as a high school player until you commit to their rival school. Then the fans of your school will love you until you step on the out of bounds line at a crucial moment in a game and they’ll call you a bust. Are you ready for that? You’ll have to have the focus and toughness to remember that even though the fans come and go, you are the same player and same person you always were. You need to be your own biggest fan and harshest critic.

To be fair, today’s top basketball high school players have more knowledge and experience against college and pro players than in the past. But playing high school and AAU doesn’t make you a pro, or even college ready. There’s a big difference in playing against high schoolers and playing against guys your own size, who are more than likely stronger and more experienced. It takes a lot of work and mental toughness to succeed, which too many players take for granted.

I’ve said it before, high school player rankings serve more for entertainment than real meaning. People love mock drafts and rankings, but in the end, none of it will matter if you get to college and never play defense or can’t hit a hook shot. Most players need a few years of work in college before they even make an impact, and the vast majority of players in the top 100 high schoolers never even sniff the NBA.

Don’t peak in high school. There are a lot players in college right now who aren’t any better than they were their junior year of prep varsity. They haven’t put in much work and they aren’t listening to their coach. Don’t be another ‘sob story’.

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By Marcus Shockley

Adam Coble (PF/C, 6’8″, 2012) has a fluid game, runs the floor well and has great hands. Coble can catch the ball on the move and in traffic and has a decent shot, especially if he can get deep position on a smaller player. Adam has the heaviest interest right now from Alabama, Richmond and Appalachian State the most, but has received interest and contact from almost all of the ACC schools.

Ryan Burnett (SF, 6’3″, 2012) is a player who has flown somewhat under the radar but is garnering attention of several college programs. NC State has been in contact the most, while other schools who have expressed interest include Furman, VCU, Richmond, George Mason, Western Carolina, Stanford, Missouri, St. Francis(NY), Yale, UVA, and UNC Charlotte.

In other news, the McDonald’s All American rosters have been announced!

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