You may be unaware that our cheery neighbors to the north have a professional basketball league. Given the National Basketball League’s tight geographical footprint and small number of teams, it’s a fair bet that most Canadians aren’t really aware of it, either.
Some familiar names are sprouting up in the Great White North, however. Former Syracuse guard Brandon Reese is availing himself of an opportunity in the NBL, and several very well known former NCAA players are taking up coaching positions in the fledgling league.
Former Dukie Robert Brickey will helm the Oshawa Power, Georgetown’s Micheal Ray Richardson leads the London Lightning, Mike Evans of the 70’s-era K-State Wildcats will be in charge of the Moncton Miracles, and one-time Hoya Jaren Jackson will stalk the sidelines for the delightfully-named St. John Millrats.
One of the newest transplants is former Wichita State Shocker and NBA champion Cliff Levingston, who seems to have landed his job with the Halifax Rainmen due to a peripatetic head coaching career, as well as some handy family ties.
Levingston’s coaching career began in 2000 as an assistant coach with Fort Wayne Fury of the CBA. In 2002, Levingston was head coach of the Dodge City Legends of the now defunct USBL. During his time with the Dodge City Legends, Levingston was named coach of the year after leading his team to capturing the championship title. Since proving his coaching abilities are of championship calibre, Levingston has continued to enjoy opportunities in the USBL and the CBA.
Cliff Levingston will attend the draft and NBL Canada combine with Halifax Rainmen owner and cousin Andre Levingston in Orangeville Ontario.
It’ll be interesting to see if the NBL can survive and, eventually, thrive. With Canadian players starting to fill up the U.S. collegiate ranks, it’s clear that the hoops scene is on the rise in the land of the maple leaf. British Columbia’s Simon Fraser University (rather dicily nicknamed the Clan) recently became a full member of the NCAA, as well.
Man, NAFTA has really opened up that cross-border trade, eh?
Colorado sophomore forward Tory Miller has been reprimanded by the Pac-12 and he also apologized for biting Air Force’s Hayden Graham earlier this week.
During Colorado’s win over Air Force on Wednesday, Miller was assessed a Flagrant 2 Dead Ball Technical Foul and ejected with 12:25 left in the second half after biting Graham during a loose ball.
In a release from the Pac-12, they announced reprimanding Miller, but he will not be suspended.
“All of our student-athletes must adhere to the Pac-12’s Standards of Conduct and Sportsman-ship,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in the release. “Regardless of Mr. Miller’s frustration and emotion, such behavior is unacceptable and he is being appropriately reprimanded.”
Miller also released his apology in the same release.
“I would like to apologize for my actions during the Air Force game. I would like to apologize to Hayden Graham, Air Force, my teammates and fans. It was a heat of the moment thing. I’m an emotional player, but I let my emotions get the best of me. I will use this as a learning experience and focus on helping my teammates and respecting my opponents for the rest of the season and beyond,” Miller said.
For Miller to not be suspended for this is good news for him and Colorado since he won’t miss any additional action, but did the Pac-12 make the right decision on this?
Michigan State has climbed on the back of star senior wing Denzel Valentine early in the season but they’ll undoubtedly need more help as the season goes on if they want to sustain their current top-5 ranking. One of the keys to the Spartans could be the on-going health of sophomore point guard Lourawls ‘Tum Tum’ Nairn, who is battling a foot injury.
According to a report from Kyle Austin of MLive.com, Nairn has been putting on a protective boot the last few months to help battle plantar fasciitis as the guard has been playing in practices and hasn’t had his minutes reduced in games.
The injury looked like it was hurting Nairn’s early-season play, but he’s been very good in two games at the Wooden Legacy in California this week, so it could be that he’s getting more used to playing through the pain of the injury.
If Nairn is healthy and capable of contributing, he’s a huge boost to Michigan State because he’s one of the fastest players in college basketball and an additional ball handler on the floor. Through six games so far this season, Nairn is averaging 5.3 points and 4.7 assists per game as he’s been one of the team’s best distributors.
Plantar fasciitis can be a tough injury to fight through, so we’ll have to see if this affects Nairn as the season goes along.