Olympics

College of Charleston’s Andrew Lawrence to be documentary subject

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Apparently, it’s film trailer day here at CBT. Worse things have happened.

Courtesy of Hoopsfix.com comes a teaser trailer for a new documentary about Andrew Lawrence’s journey to London as a member of Team Great Britain. Lawrence is a London native who just happens to be a star player at College of Charleston. Along with Matthew Dellavedova of Australia, he was a rare Olympic performer with collegiate eligibility remaining. As a result, much of the footage in this trailer seems to take place on the C of C campus, where Dough Wojcik just took over for the legendary Bobby Cremins.

Lawrence scored 13 ppg for the Cougars last season, and led the team in minutes, assists, steals and assist-to-turnover ratio. If the trailer is any indication, he excels at pensively staring at bodies of water as well.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxzM75kBUN0%5D

Will collegiate players return to Olympic basketball?

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As a man of a certain age, I’m very tempted to employ the phrase “back in my day”. It gets more difficult to resist with each passing season. Especially with basketball going through absolutely seismic changes in organizational structure over the past half decade.

For instance: “back in my day, it was called the Big 8, and Colorado was the farthest we had to travel”. See how easy that is? It just rolls off the keyboard. It’s all relative though. Somewhere, there’s a codger who remembers when the University of Chicago was a Big Ten football power, and he’s looking at me with pity in his eyes.

One aspect of the changing of the game that’s always bothered me is the move away from college players in the Olympics. When teams loaded with NBA stars win, it’s sort of an unsightly bully beat-down. When they lose, the ensuing national snit is hard to listen to. It’s a petrie dish of questionable sportsmanship either way.

According to the Collegiate Times, however, the NBA may just be prepared to take its ball and go home. Per a recent article on the Times’ website, the NBA and FIBA are considering the notion of starting up a World Cup of basketball. And why, exactly, would that be a good thing?

While there may be plenty of fond memories of the USA’s gold medals in basketball, there’s one thing that is even sweeter to basketball officials: money.

The tournament would likely bring in millions, or even billions, of dollars through advertising support and TV contracts for the NBA. The International Olympics Committee provides the league with no compensation for its players participating in the games, and this has been a sore spot with many influential people in the industry, such as Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

This effort may seem like pure greed on the part of the NBA, but as America’s Olympic team for 2012 starts to take shape, it seems more and more like this might be the more practical suggestion.

An exodus of top talent to a more lucrative international tournament might not bring about a return to the amateur ideal, but a talented college player might stand a chance of making the team. Then again, now that college coaches are allowed to run limited workouts with their teams in the summer months, we might just find that nobody really wants the gig any more. Could a group of AAU Pump n’ Run All-Stars win a gold medal?

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

Cal Poly guard joins Calipari’s Olympic quest

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You may not know the name Amaurys Fermin. The senior has been part of a rebuilding process at Cal Poly under coach Joe Callero for the past four years, helping the team go from a 7-win cellar-dweller in the Big West to an 18-game winner this past season. Things were getting better under Fermin’s floor generalship, but the school fell short of it’s ultimate goal – an inaugural appearance in the NCAA tournament.

Fermin is not yet done with his lofty goals, however. He’s just been named as part of the Dominican Republic national team, famously coached by national title-toting John Calipari. Fermin was born in the DR before his family moved to the Bronx. He led the Big West in assists in his senior season, dropping 119 dimes and leading the Mustang attack.

The Dominican team has one last-ditch shot at getting to London, as described by the Cal Poly athletics website:

To reach the country’s first Olympic tournament, the Dominican Republic will have to grab one of the three final qualification spots at the 12-nationFIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament, scheduled for July 2-8 in Caracas, Venezuela. The Dominican Republic was drawn into Group C alongside Russia and South Korea. The top-two finishers in each of the four three-team groups advance to the quarterfinals. The champion, runner-up and third-place nation will complete the Olympic tournament field.

Fermin joined the team late because he was focused on finishing up his history degree at Cal Poly. Now that he’s got all that book-learning in his head, he can focus on making a little history for his birth nation.

(photo: Cal Poly athletics)

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets at @stfhoops.

UK Futures team features US college stars

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Basketball has long been a truly international sport. Some nations have been more successful in implementing the theories and practices of good ol’ Dr. Naismith than others, of course. The United Kingdom would be one of those less assertive roundball non-dynasites, but for how much longer?

With the 2012 Olympics set to begin in London, British basketball is on the rise. The national men’s team, under the leadership of Chicago Bulls guard Luol Deng, is preparing to engage in a rather quixotic — yet proud — quest to protect their turf this summer.

Perhaps more importantly, the basketball establishment in Britain has a unique opportunity to promote the sport to younger players, in an attempt to secure the future of hoops in the United Kingdom. To that end, they’ve hired former NBA player and Kansas Jayhawk Paul Mokeski to coach the Great Britain Futures team. British hoops site Hoopsfix.com posted some of Mokeski’s hopeful comments recently:

“I am excited and honoured to be the head coach of the GB Futures team. This will be my third year with the GB program and the experience has been very rewarding. The Futures programme is very important in the development of young players and gets them ready for the transition into the senior squads. This year the Futures program is the beginning of our preparation for the Olympics in London this summer.”

If you don’t happen to remember Mokeski’s college career (it was the 1970s, after all; it’s quite possible Mokeski himself doesn’t recall every detail), there’s a more recent connection to US college hoops. Former US college stars Matthew Bryan-Amaning (pictured), Ovie Soko and Ogo Adegboye will star on the team alongside lesser-known UK-bred talents.

In fact, the UK’s relationship to, and hopes for, basketball are incredibly similar to what we see between the US and soccer. If England and associated countries wish to continue to send their best players overseas to face top competition, that can only be good for the talent pool in college hoops.

Should Anthony Davis head to the Olympics with Team USA?

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With Dwight Howard now out for the Olympics and in need of back surgery, who will the United States turn to before the international games in London?

Bill Simmons has an answer: Kentucky’s Anthony Davis.

It makes sense. With the Lakers’ Andrew Bynum reportedly not interested in participating, Davis could be the inside presence that Team USA needs.

Dwayne Wade and Ray Allen have talked about their belief that Olympic athletes should be paid, but do you think that Davis, fresh out of college and about to cash in on a rookie deal, is too concerned about that?

As Simmons points out, Davis would be “the ultimate happy-to-be-there” guy. With scorers like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Derrick Rose, Davis can make the difference where the US might need it most: defensively.

He showed in the national championship game that, even without demanding the basketball on the offensive end, he can be an invaluable piece of a well-rounded team.

The United States has found out in recent years that, just because you can throw a collection of All-NBA players together, doesn’t mean you’ll breeze to an Olympic gold medal.

Imagine bringing Davis off the bench, in combination down low with a player like Tyson Chandler, who also brings a defensive presence. Add those two players to three elite-level scorers and I like the options that the Americans will have in London.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_