7 Random Thoughts From The London 2012 Olympics

Random Thoughts London 2012 Olympics Basketball

Random Thoughts London 2012 Olympics Basketball
It’s crazy to think that after a 7 year build up, the London 2012 Olympic games is all over. So much hype, money, and work has gone in over the past few years, it is sad to see it all come to an end. What an *amazing* (stars to emphasise just how amazing it was) two weeks. I was truly blessed to have media accreditation for the whole two weeks, and got to see all the action first hand. Almost a year to the day after publishing 7 Random Thoughts from the Olympic Test Event, what follows are 7 random thoughts and reflections about the Olympic games. I’d love to hear your own thoughts in the comments!

1) Legacy

Let’s get this elephant out of the room right now, shall we? You may have seen my thoughts on legacy before– my feelings are largely unchanged; what legacy? The reality is, for a 10 year old who saw the Olympic basketball on television and decides they want to play basketball now, things are no different than for a 10 year old who decided they wanted to play basketball 7 years ago when we first won the bid (interesting article here, using England Hockey as a case study on how they have capitalised).

Everyone I speak to agrees unanimously the standard of junior basketball in this country is going down, there is still no access to facilities and the level of coaching leaves a lot to be desired (not helped by all of our top coaches heading abroad).

The fact that GB will continue to exist, can only be seen as a good thing and may be the only tangible ‘legacy’ the Olympics has left. However, you are reporting increased interest in your grassroots clubs across the UK, so who knows what could happen over the next few years – I hope I’m made to eat my words! I will definitely be re-visiting this topic over the coming months and years.

2) Media Coverage

Luol Deng 2012 London OlympicsMy dreams of seeing the GB basketball team making front page news never quite happened, and in fact, the media coverage of the actual games never quite seemed to live up to the my expectations.

The fact that so many other sports were doing so well actually ended up hurting basketball. The sports pages had something to write about every day – the realisation the media only cares when you’re winning really hit home (unless you’re football). A combined 1-9 record between the GB men and women’s team just wasn’t enough to see us get more than a side column in most sport pages (that I saw).

3) The Future

Who knows what the GB team will look like in years to come. The centre piece, Luol Deng, has been non-committal about playing in the future (and for the record, I have no problem with that – he has more than done his bit for the programme and basketball in this country), some of the veterans (Reinking, Archibald) are retiring, others may just want a summer off(?).

There is no doubt that there will be significant change in any team that represents GB post-2012 – perhaps this is the chance to see a team built around young British guys that so many seem to want (DVO, MBA, Ogo, Justin, Richards & co.).

4) Team USA

To see the USA team in person is spectacular. Not just their on court prowess, but the attention and adulation they received off it was just insane. During any game that was going on, if they walked into the arena there would be a buzz as everyone would start pointing, taking photos and trying to get close to them. No-other team came close to receiving the attention they did and no other player was loved as much as Kobe.

On the court? Wow. I’ve never seen a team put points on the board so quickly, it was just outright scary.

Olympic Basketball Final 2012 Empty Seats

5) Empty Seats

Perhaps the most disappointing thing (and this goes beyond just the basketball) was the amount of empty seats there were for every game. It seemed to be a result of two things:

1) Selling the tickets in ‘sessions’, which meant every ticket gave the buyer access to two games and so choosing the game they wanted to watch and not bothering with the other one,

and 2) The ‘Olympic family/VIP/whatever you want to call it’ allocations not being used.

It was pretty heartbreaking to watch an Olympic basketball final with thousands of empty seats (see above picture). Just should not happen.

6) Memories

I have a ton of personal memories that will live with me forever from the past two weeks, but there are a couple that really standout.

Being in the press tribune during GB’s improbable-almost-win-but-not-quite-yet-again game against Spain was truly special. As we hit clutch three after three, me and Stu (Tanner) were looking at each other like “shit, we’re actually going to do this!”. Seeing the crowd finally wake up in the last couple of minutes was just awe-inspiring. It’s one of those moments that gives just a tiny little glimpse of what could be in this country – those same moments that make everyone say the UK has the potential to be a world basketball powerhouse.

Outside of GB, USA’s scoring performance against Nigeria was just ridiculous, especially Carmelo’s 37 in 14 minutes. Never seen anything like it.

7) The Website

As expected, it has been a record period in terms of traffic to Hoopsfix.com with over 23,000 different people from 148 different countries visiting the site over the two week period the Olympic basketball was happening, and over 40,000 in the month around the games. It’s crazy to think what started as just an idea has grown into something way bigger than I could ever have imagined – and still doesn’t feel like it has scratched the surface!

Thank you for reading, sharing, commenting and connecting with me. It is hugely appreciated, and I hope you’ll still be here by the time the next Olympics comes around!

Did you check out any of the Olympics? Thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

  • northwards

    I saw UK Sport’s comments post Games when they said they would focus their funding on medla prospects for Rio. This, combined with the fact that both men and women missed their 2012 target of finishing 5th – 8th means the GB setup could be looking at a funding cut.

    The men looked disjointed at times and I can’t help but feel that there was a little bit of disquite among the team towards the coach and some of the playing decsions being made. Be interesting to see who gets the gig going forwards.

    Next summer’s Eurobasket is important as the top six qualify for the 2014 World Championships. I’d be surprised if Deng suits up; and there will be no guarantee with Freeland either.

    Ultimatley, if basketball is to edge towards the mainstream here in the UK, we need senior teams that can medal at major championships. That must be the goal over the next 10 years but much need to change for that to happen. However, some positive building blocks have been put in place; Lets now build on them.

    • Thanks for the comment. Agreed on most of your points – Freeland was adamant after the last game against China he is committed to the programme and will be suiting up wherever possible. Perhaps naive of me, but I believe him.

  • londonfan

    It was great to see some of top teams and players in the World in our town but…we are still nowhere near the top nations and its obvious. The GB teams could have won maybe a game or two against better teams but not because we are at their level, purely because we played at home, the crowd helped, and even some ref´s decisions. And we still did not get the wins!! Only 1 win against the weakest team in the tournament that had nothing to play for…it seems that other countries are doing a lot better with a lot less money. Just look at Croatia women in the past 2 years, Tunisia men and how about Australia! Plus, if you read the foreign press , our improved ranking (and FIBA ranking is a joke!) is a gift from FIBA for hosting the Olympics and spending lots and lots of money!! Any team given the host nation place and not qualifying by right will gain the 20-25 points awarded by FIBA. So, what exactly has been achieved? They spent millions, right?! And my family has to pay good money if I want to play basketball after being “inspired”! What a joke.

    • I couldn’t say for certain, but I’d imagine basketball in Australia is MUCH better funded than in the UK. They have a proper professional league and the Australian Institute of Sport, which has produced a lot of great players over the years.

      • londonfan

        The opposite – my friend plays there and their league is semi-amateur with some players earning money but not much at all. I doubt Jo Leedham earned anything similar to the players in Europe.They had funding before for the national teams but even this is now cut a lot and never has been as much as GB´s millions. But they are a very sporty nation and love to play for their country. Oh, and it seems that their federation has terrible problems with the men´s top league. You can read about this in their papers.

  • I think they need a squad that are committed for the next four years. Deng is and was amazing. His contribution has been nothing short of incredible. If he doesn’t play any more we need to go with the youth squad and build our way up which was mentioned in the article. Putting in Archibald?? Where is the sense in that, he did nothing. Even Team USA had to do it when they lost in 2004. You can’t just throw a few players together and say- there you go boys. These guys need to get used to playing together.

    • Rob

      How can you say Archibald did nothing?? Yes, there were stretches over the course of the tournament where he struggled, but against Spain he was one of the catalysts of the fightback and against China I thought he was our best big of the game.

  • Roy

    As I have commented upon elsewhere on Hoopsfix, I am not sure where these new players are going to come from.

    One has to assume they will come from our present junior players, but given the very poor standard of competition provided by their league, it will take several years before we see players with the necessary skills to be able to compete in a team that can qualify for Olympics, etc.

    With regard to the last sentence of 7. Website: I hope so Sam !!

  • Rob Knapper

    I myself cannot see Deng putting on another GB Jersey I’m afraid. He has done all he can for GB now and like others on here we need to go with the younger players that we have got. I can also not see Joel playing for GB next season as I think we will have the same problem with him that we had with Deng’s insurance and will he want to upset the Trailblazers, but then I guess that will also depend on how good his “rookie” season is in the NBA.

    We need to make sure that there is a legacy as we go forward, but I like many others want to know where it is going to come from? I for one am feeling rather depressed about the future for the game. Don’t get me wrong I will continue to coach at a local level (because I have seen the interest it generates but that is more through local advertising than the Olympic legacy) but grassroots again is where it is at. Until we get cheaper facilities or even purpose built basketball venues then nothing will change. If you go to Europe or the USA you can play basketball anywhere as most gyms are open to the public to use. I coach some US servicemen on my local team and they cannot believe that we have to pay to play on our basketball courts.

    The game needs people in charge who understand the game and want to help change the game, not people who are happy to sit on their backsides and come up with initiatives that do not or will not work. The game needs a massive review (bit like swimming will have) and changes have to be made and this has to start with the BBL and hope that the teams want to help, because a strong national program will only help the game to grow in the UK. For that it means that British players will play int he top league and not just get splinters in their bums watching from the bench, whilst third rate imports are playing in the court.

    British Basketball should have been promoting the game at the Olympics. British hockey had game zones where kids could try the game at the Olympic Park. How hard would it have been to put up a couple of hoops at the venue and introduce kids to the game? Big mistake this and I hope that we do not live to regret it. I have a horrible feeling that Handball and Volleyball will get more out of the Olympics than basketball will.

    If UK Sport take into consideration the world rankings then I think that the funding for basketball may stay the same, but I cannot see it happening.

    Have a read of this article that was written by Ian Whittell and was posted on Mike Shaft’s website (hope this is ok Sam): http://mikeshaft.com/2012/08/14/basketball-london-2012-a-missed-opportunity/

    • Yeah I did see that article from Ian – great read, I meant to put up a post about it, will try and do that later, no problem with you sharing it in the comments here – it’s relevant!

  • JohnB

    Ian has been writing about basketball for many years now and although some of his points are arguable and made by someone who is (I assume) just a fan of the game, (for example his comment re DVO) most of what he writes is very true.

    The person in ultimate charge of the squad and who has the final say on what his players are allowed, is the coach, not team managers. NO coach worth his salt will allow himself to be over-ruled by a team manager. (with reference to his players).

  • lemarko

    I attended the Spanish Round 2 game (that memorable i can’t remember the opposition Australia or China? but overall a fantastic tournament). Sport is mainly played by the middle classes in this country – cricket, tennis, rugby and kids from the poor side of the tracks see a much quicker route through football to their riches. To develop bball, young people must be the future and as the London riots showed, a lot of young people are disenfranchised. As an urban game, the sport has an appealing Hip Hop aspiring, streety, maverick aura. Also with major black role models, in a way that football still does not due to traditional (and non-acceptable) barriers eg minimal number of back managers being an example which is far diffent from the NBA (although the glass ceiling in US appears to be at General Management level. I think clubs will have to develop better programmes with Local Authorities, NHS and Criminal Justice funding to ensure basketball becomes the means for social inclusion for disenfranchised young people. It is the only sport I have seen that has this type of street cred. Funding secured, the free to access indoor centre recently opened by Nike is the way forward as who wants to play B-Ball outside in this climate – might as well choose rugby or football. And their in lies an opportunity for corporate sponsors, where disenfranchised ypeople lapp up their products – by riot or by purchase! I still think BBall is the best form of sport to reach out and engage urban communities, now who will put the case for change and the evidence together to convince both public and private sponsors to open those gyms? As so far the legacy from the Olympics, however compelling and with the exception of Mo and possibly Jess, seems to be located on the Eton playing fields (rowing, cycling etc) and could just taste a little too much of creamy England?

    • nickyc

      I’m not a basketball fan but I am a fan of sport and in particular British sport so I wish the game well. As an outsider the most obvious problem to me at least seems competition from other sports for athletes, fans, media attention. We already have 3.5 major team sports in the UK which makes it pretty much impossible for another team sport to break through. Even the USA with five times our population only accomodates the same number of major team sports. I don’t see how basketball can overcome this.

      I’m pleased to hear that England and Scotland are going to work together as GB but if there is going to any real progress is there any possibility of bringing the BBL clubs on board to help develop young British players? Wouldn’t a strong national side help the clubs in the long run? Unless GB Basketball can convince UK Sport they have a coordinated plan for the development of a successful team I think they’re unlikely to retain the current level of funding and will likely face a cut.

    • nickyc

      Lemarko,

      I do get a bit tired of people making sweeping statements about sports being middle class when it simply isn’t true.

      1/ Rugby – Rugby League has always been based in the working class communities of northern England. Rugby Union has always been more closely associated with the middle classes and yet it also has deep roots in many working class communities, eg. the old mining and steel valleys of south Wales, industrial cities like Gloucester and Leicester, and Cornwall England’s poorest county.

      2/ Cricket has always been the sport which has drawn it’s players and supporters from the widest range of backgrounds from aristocrats to miners. For every Cowdrey or Brearley there’s been a Trueman or a Boycott. And of course it remains the sport of many of our ethnic communities.

      As for Eton…….cycling? Don’t understand this claim as I’ve never associated the two. Pretty sure that working class lads like Brad Wiggins, Geraint Thomas and Jason Kenny didn’t go to Eton.

      • Andyplams

        The British public needs to buy into basketball for it to grow and for this to happen we need our top football teams to back the idea also by supporting there local basketball teams like they do in the rest of Europe. Take Greece, Turkey, Italy, Spain, and even Lithuania were basketball has a sister club to there top footballing clubs. I know in Turkey the football and basketball work really well side by side. The fans of these football teams with or with out season tickets go to both basketball then football matches on the same day.

        We all know how big football is over here in England imagine if we had a Manchester united basketball team with Chelsea Arsenal and the rest of the premier league teams involved basketball will be seen by many fans that’s how it grows and gets better we need our football teams backing basketball clubs in there area. I remember Eventon had a BBL team but then they pulled out more teams need to do the same thing.

        In Spain and other countries i know that the likes of Messy and Renaldo go to see there basketball teams play and the same is done in Greece and Turkey were the arenas are full of top football players there watching just like when team USA came to Manchester and the Man U and Man City players came to watch it can work only with the backing of the Premiere league teams getting involved

  • lemarko

    Nickyc – agree my statement is a little sweeping, however 37% of the medal winners were from private schools out of 7% of the popn. The Sutton Trust report warned that sport was “not a priority” in too many state schools.

    i think the London riots showed disenfranchisement across ypeople from poor backgrounds (not all but most) with behavioural issues and limited material means (ie cash) as common themes.

    I’m less interested in winning medals but changing lives. For example, whilst US College Ball is not seen as the only way to progress european b-ball careers, Spain seems to be an effective option, it does give ypeople in US who can’t normally afford, or engage in further education, an opportunity to build a career outside of b-ball.

    If we have a sport that can reach out to ypeople, that’s perceived as be cool and streety, how does Team GB convince funders that investing millions in social inclusion programmes (and dubious boot camps with little evidence base?) is less effective then creating more indoor courts and coaching – in the way that Jimmy Rogers and Joe White achieved.

    That’s the business case I would take to the Mayor of London.

    Appreciate people’s thoughts on this and how we enable Team GB to think differently.

    • nickyc

      Lemarko – I accept the point you’re making about the percentage of medallists from a private school background. Although in part that reflects the fact that some of the sports in which we are traditionally strong like rowing are expensive in terms of equipment and access to facilities and beyond the means of most public schools. On the downside, in the past, this has left these sports with a pretty small pool of potential athletes but, in the case of rowing at least, they have been actively going out to recruit people from outside this small unrepresentative base and we saw this reflected in London, eg. Britain’s first muslim rower medalled.

      It’s worth noting that the parents of Steve Redgrave were both from working class households and he went to a comprehensive school. He was fortunate to have an enthusiastic teacher who encouraged him to take up rowing. Which leads into you’re point about the lack of commitment from many schools and universities to sport.

      cont.

      • nickyc

        cont.

        I don’t think there’s any possibility of replicating the US’s collegiate sport system because of the vastly different sporting cultures. The only way forward I can see is a much closer symbiotic relationship between schools and local sports clubs. This might include joint use of facilities, cross coaching, a route for kids to continue in their chosen sport and for the best to progress if they wish to do so. Such partnerships would need to be driven by guaranteed financial support from central/local government. After all there are potential benefits all-round: greater sports participation; improved fitness/health; less potential disaffection among the young; reduced financial costs to all parties in the long run.

  • John76

    UK Sport only funds high performance and can’t fund social programs. But British Basketball can do a lot more to support and promote clubs like Brixton, Manchester etc and make sure that the GB teams are not just isolated groups. They could for example give some of their allocated tickets for the Olympics to young players and coaches from London who cannot afford them. The problem in British basketball is the management and the lack of well known and experienced basketball people in it. Yesterday I was looking at the FIBA Europe website and, comparing with 2006,there is no real improvement in results. Scottish teams are on the bottom of Div B and even C, GB U20 teams in Div B, and England has only one talented generation players that won promotions at U16 (now back to Div B), and have the same at U18s. That’s all. Belgium had won a title in Div A for girls, and Sweden and Netherlands have plyed at World championships. Why is GB hiring a hockey guy to lead their performance when they can possibly hire a European expert to lead them forward? Strange.

  • lemarko

    Thanks John for the clarification on funding – perhaps this is where the legacy will come unstuck, as the Olympics was meant to use sport as a means to socio-economic legacy and we good opportunities will fall through the funding gaps. Is there a legacy fund for the Olympics or through existing funding streams – I am unsure.

    GB Basketball is well placed, particularly given the low baseline but must work creatively with bureaucracy and the Mayor’s fund is an option, as well as the number of PCTs (now CCGs) who will need to tackle obesity and diabetes, which healthy living and exercise can prevent. However, the current programmes really don’t reach out well to ypeople in the way that basketball can, with articulate role models like John Amaechi and people with credibility like Luol and particularly Pops who grew up in challenged neighbourhoods like Croydon and Tottenham.

  • John76

    I also think that if we had Blatt coaching instead of Finch we would have been second or third in the group and having a good chance against France or Argentina. Blatt is a master of the end of game situations, Finch is the opposite. I can’t remember a close game that he won with GB. And he did nothing to stop Australia, totally unprepared and clueless.

  • lemarko

    Interesting observation – Finch had a game closer on the team in Luol, and possible Joel. I didn’t really see a consistent offensive system from GB over 6 years. i rate Finch highly but the coach has to take some of the accountability and closing plays, plus implementing a clear cohesive and recognisable offence doesn’t seem to be his key strengths. Mind you, nor that of the England football team!

  • JohnB

    It really does not matter now, and in any case, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

    It is all over. What is vitally important now is what happens next. Where DO we go from here?

  • John76

    I agree. Finch did ok with the group he started with but now they have to bring a European coach with a proven record. Someone who is also going to lead on the whole program from the bottom up and is as good tactitian as Blatt or any of the Serbs.

  • JohnB

    Will there be any funding for the future GB programme?

    If, yes, how much?

    Where are the players going to come from?

    Who might they be?

    Is there a training program/schedule set out? Where is it published, if there is one?

  • lemarko

    John B – good point, isn’t the funding awarded based on performance and potential medals. That’s why I think the legacy argument and community benefits must be our business case and even then it’s a long shot. The links to culture and music as seen at half time in the games is also a way forward.

    I’m hoping Sam is taking notes as I think your ‘7 thoughts’ is a good framework and GB Basketball should be putting a case for change together, particularly in respect to the funding!

    Perhaps also time to put this type of case into the hands of John Ameachi who is the highest profile Ambassador in the GB basketball community at present and also shows a flair for politics.

    An hour with John and Boris could produce some interesting results!

  • Judge n Jury

    Great ideas but ask yourself just one question…………………………. ARE WE GOOD ENOUGH???????

  • John76

    Not without Luol. The women are fighting hard but don´t have the talent other nations have and we have not developed our young players in thre past 6 years. Luol Deng was naturalized before Spice took over and he failed to bring Gordon, Azibuke, Mullens or anybody else of top level to the program (and he had millions of pounds at his disposal!). Unless GB can afford a coach of the caliber of Blatt for next year, there is no hope at all.

  • JohnB

    No sure the question of who should be the coach is in fact the most important question.

    Does not matter how good is the coach if there are not the players of the required standard.

    It is an absolute impossibilty for any GB coach to markedly improve his players. He only has them for a comparartively short time.

    It must be the responsibility of the club coaches to ensure quality players emerge for possible selection – and that is where the problem lies.

    As has been said our junior league does nothing to help develop quality players.

    The GB program suffers because of the huge deficiencies within the English administration and organization.

  • John76

    The GB program did not do enough if anything to improve the standard of the home grown players,their interest was only to pick some ready made players from stateside. I never saw the GB performance staff scouting players at the NBLgames, have you? Six years is a very long time and if the Futures program started in 2007 many youngsters would have been given the chance to develop in the system..No sport can develop with no funding and from what I read the money were with GB,not England. Looking at what Blatt didt – built a young team with only one superstar, (and Kirilenko is not as respected as Luol these days) and they play great team basketball. I was sitting at the games in London next to the French elite coaches from INSEP (not sure if this is how is called, Tony Parker’s youth coach and some others) and they kept talking about it. They thought that everyone in Europe expected GB with all the talent and athleticism to be a great threat to them but felt that the coaching has been below standard. I am not a basketball expert but I don’t thnk that Russia has more talent then GB, why they do so much better then?

    • Russia definitely has more talent than GB. They had twelve Euroleague/NBA-calibre players on their roster and we only had three.

  • John76

    Maybe now they do but not 3-4 yeasrs ago. Shved is 23 and last year was his first Eurobasket but he was developed into a competent shooting guard. I don’t consider Hryapa,Monya or the big guys to be of NBA caliber, only Mozgov but he is no better then Joel. I read a lot of the international press lately, learned many things. We also have Pops, Rob, Luol – all with NBA experience and Dan playing for years in Spain. Kieron also had good season. The guard issue had to be resolved in my view befoe this summer. Still, what happens next is more important and have GB learned their lesson? It is a bit worrying though that the U20s are still stuck in B division after missing so many opportunities in the past 6 summers.

    • Rob

      I’m sorry, but it’s ludicrous to suggest Russia doesn’t have more talent than GB. They do, in every position on the floor. Every single one of their guys are key players on either the best club side in Europe (CSKA Moscow, despite losing the final) or other top quality teams (mainly BC Khimki Moscow who are going to be a very good in Euroleague next year).

      So Archibald played in the NBA for a bit, 10 years ago? Who cares?! Victor Khryapa is one of the best all-round, versatile forwards in the world game (plus if we’re counting NBA cameos like they mean anything, he had one too, more recently than Archibald) and has had sustained success at a level our big men can only dream about. Keiron had a good season in Spain? – yes, he did OK. Khryapa, Kaun, Mozgov, Monya, Fridzon, Shved, Ponkrashov, Kirilenko etc all had better seasons at far, far better teams, you just can’t compare the two as if they belong on the same planet. Dan Clark did a great effort on a bum ankle but last year he was a backup on one of the worst teams in the ACB. It doesn’t do us any good to be so unrealistic in our comparisons.

  • JohnB

    I am not sure if it is the job of the GB program to develop players, is that not primarily the job of the EB?

    Is T16 and all the other “development programs” the responsibilty of GB or England?. If wholly GB, then does the EB sit back and relax?

    David Blatt did build a great team, but the Russion system developed the players, not David Blatt.

    Have to be careful when one talks about “talent”.

    I suspect that John was commenting on talent within English basketball generally, whereas Matt was commenting about the availability of talent for the Olympics.

    I don’t think there is any question that England has as much LATENT talent as any other country, the problem, as already mentioned, is that these players are given almost no chance or opportunity to develop as quickly as other countries, for so many (obvious?) reasons.

    For example, Devon van oostrum had to go to Spain to get any opportunity to develop,

    Unfortunately no one in authority in the EB cares or gives a damm.

    • Rob

      I’m being a total downer here, but we don’t have the latent talent that other countries have. You only have to watch u18 teams from Lithuania, Spain, Serbia etc to see this.

      • John76

        I don´t agree. There is a lot of talent in Britain but those countries have better coaches who know how to develop it. Saying that Navaro for example was more talented kid aged 12 then any of the British kids is ridiculous. He is not athletic, does not have size, and definately is not strong physically. But he has been developed by smart coaches to be a deadly shooter – this can be achieved in any country in the right set-up.

  • John76

    Or perhaps if the money wasted on 4-5 performance directors or administrators in GB and EB were invested in DVO and a few others to keep them in the UK, playing BBL and European club competition together,we would of had a model similar to the French. It seems the waste of resourses on administration yet again. I don’t see how my club for example will be expected to develop players of Olympic standard with no funding reaching to us. Volunteer coaches can only do so much. And in team sports players have to play together for a long time. It is disappointing that from 2006 till now the opportunity to build something high profile and sustainable has been missed. I don’t want to sound pessimistic but just don’t see how this is going to happen now with the focus of the games gone and most likely the funding also.

  • John76
  • Roy

    Everybody is talking about funding and I agree, there is not much about, if anything. But, with respect, should clubs, of which there are of course very many, expect to be funded from some pot?

    Do clubs/teams in Spain, Serbia, France, etc., get funding per se? Most, if not all, have sponsorship (both local and national), which is available of course due to the popularity of the sport and the enormous effort that the various Bodies, FEB, KCC, FFBB, devote to their sport.

    There is a team of 12 year olds that play in a local league near where I live and they certainly do not get funding from government or local council. But they do get local sponsorship from about 30 shops, firms, companies. (Their games are watched by an average of 200 spectators !!)
    ,
    When basketball was very popular in the 80s, sponsorship was very much in evidence. Even for my own junior teams I managed to get limited sponsorship from both local and national companies and in general they were pleased with the product that was offered and the publicity that resulted. (It helped that we had a strong senior program).

    I am sure that funding will never become available, certainly not for clubs. Surely, if there was a sea change within the EB and the BBL and certain people g.o.t.a. and much more was done to achieve a far better product, then might not sponsorship be a possibility, even in these economic times?

    • Rob

      The majority of top level teams in Spain, Lithuania, Italy etc do get public funding in addition to sponsorship. The fact that this is drying up in Spain (for obvious economic reasons) in particular is the reason why there has been a summer of teams folding / taking voluntary relegation.

      • dpeti

        Sorry but not fully correct. One or two get some help for and from stadia etc. but the majority rely on sponsorship.

        • Rob

          Well, that’s not what I’ve been told by people in Spain in particular. Maybe ‘the majority’ is too strong, but for a lot of teams its a big factor.

  • John76

    Totally agree. But have to admit that I was hoping to see the best young British talent playing regularly against top Euro cliubs. This could fit into GB program very well as it would develop British coaches also. Since Rhondda stopped their participation in Europe and Guildford’s attempt did not work out we are just having no international basketball in the UK. That’s a real shame. And it seems that all other countries have at least a team or two out there.

  • Rob Knapper

    In order for the club system in this country to work then the BBL needs to sort out what it wants to do. Does it continue to allow clubs to bring in imports and NOT develop British talent to play on their teams. That is the problem with the country and the basketball. A strong national team will only help to make the game more popular in the country and increase the TV audience…..
    The BBL needs to develop a junior league and promote more youth teams (just like football) and then give those good enough the option and the chance to play in the BBL. Only then will we have the talent to produce world beating teams.

    As for the national program, the fault lies with the national bodies and I will say it again, we need people in charge who have the games best interests at heart. I know that people do not like his views but John Amaechi needs to be approached, Joe Forber at Manchester Magic and those other clubs with strong junior/development programs should be the ones in charge of the game in this country, not people who do it because it looks good on their CV’s.

    If nothing is done then basketball will die a slow death in this country and it will be only the volunteer coaches (like myself) who put their heart and soul in to the game and expect nothing more than the chance to help players get better and have a future in the game.

    As for the coach of the GB senior team, he needs to be given cart blanche control of the whole GB program from senior down to junior level. I agree that Blatt would be great but I would also like to see a top European coach employed (and forgive me but I do not know his name but the Spanish coach would be great) who knows how to coach at international level, and not be lost like a rabbit in headlights (aka Finch) in the big and close games.

    • Rob Knapper

      Forgot to add that it will be interesting to see how the Manchester Giants get on this season as they will or should be running a team mainly made up of British talent.

    • John76

      Yes, I agree to that. They all need to buy into the system and, like in Russia and other countries, ensure that the British players are on court and pay. GB must appoint successful basketball people with reputation in international basketball who will not be using this as a stepping stone to further their carriers. And most importantly – people who care and know how to utilise the talent in this country. Here is hoping.

  • dpeti

    Nothing at all will happen and nothing will change from the present. There are too many people entrenched and who will not countenance any change. The only way, and it is, at the moment, the only way, for any change to take place is for enough people to attend the AGM and force change.

    But that will not happen.

    Of course, having said this, who is there that is (a) prepared to take on any official role and (b) has a better capacity to do the job than those presently in position?

    Maybe the whole administrative process needs to be changed. Instead of a bunch of so-called Executive Officers (who really are doing a very poor job) and a CEO appointed by these Executive Officers, basketball requires to be with one person overall in charge and with the responsibility for making the sport more attractive.

    Whilst I do NOT suggest a person like Barry Hearn, in snooker, darts and poker, we do need someone with clout, and who has the vision and foresight so necessary if the game is ever to take off.

    • John76

      I was not aware that British Basketball has AGM. As far as I heard this is a closed shop run by Spice and a few planted “executives” from outside basketball who spend the funding as it suits them. EB and the Scottish lads are just there to make the numbers. Who is in charge of the whole structure anyway?

      • dpeti

        Absoliutely true John, although I was referring to England basketball.

        Apologies.

        • John76

          I think that British Basketball has to change the game in the UK because for the first time ever they received a lot of money and support (all thanks to the Olympics!). Having this power and not being involved in the old politics of a very poorly supported EB, I feel they should have done a lot more. Still, if they now will be in charge after the support received from FIBA, then they must deliver better then they have until 2012. Our players, coaches and volunteers deserve it. Blaming EB all the time is wrong in my view, almost as wrong as blaming our local club for not having the same support as the football or rugby. Money give power, use it appropriately and not on administrators from other sports who are clueless.

  • Jack

    “John76 August 27, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Or perhaps if the money wasted on 4-5 performance directors or administrators in GB and EB were invested in DVO and a few others to keep them in the UK, playing BBL and European club competition together,we would of had a model similar to the French. It seems the waste of resourses on administration yet again. I don’t see how my club for example will be expected to develop players of Olympic standard with no funding reaching to us. Volunteer coaches can only do so much. And in team sports players have to play together for a long time. It is disappointing that from 2006 till now the opportunity to build something high profile and sustainable has been missed. I don’t want to sound pessimistic but just don’t see how this is going to happen now with the focus of the games gone and most likely the funding also.”

    If the money on the performance director’s has been such as waste then home come, since Warwick Cann has been in post and given us more direction, that both u16 and u18 national teams for men and women have been promoted to division A? Yes the 16 boys have since been relegated but everyone in the know will tell you th 96 boys is the weakest England age group for years……..

    • Everyone in the know will also tell you the ’95s are the most talented generation we have had in years… ;)

      • dpeti

        As has been said before when referring to talent. The 95/96 boys may or may not be the strongest/weakest we have, but how does their talent stack up against the equivalent talent of their European peers?

        Is this not what we should be concerned about?

        While I hope it does not happen, I think the U18 team will find themselves back in Division B after their next FIBA tournament..

    • fan

      Would someone like to tell me, exactly, what My Cann has done to achieve our U16 and U18 teams reaching Division A, that no one else in English basketball could have achieved?

      In any case, surely it is the coaches and coaching staff that have managed this objecrtive?

  • John76

    Our players are more talented then most young Europeans because we have good natural athletes, something they have to develop. However, they are by far better in working on their skills (basketball, football, handball, volleyball) and also prepare them much better tactically. We keep talking about the way foreigh kids read the game and make good decisions, but clearly they have been thought that from a very young age?

  • northwards

    Lots of interesting comments here.

    I’m pretty negative on the way bb is promoted in this country. I would point out, however, that the men were 1 point guard short of a quarter final spot at 2012 in my opinion. If that had occured, i suspect most of us would have regarded that as a real step forward.

  • Steve

    I find it interesting that we’re talking about which players will suit up again now the Olympics are gone and that we don’t expect Deng etc to play again?!! This highlights the issue that we don’t have a real National program. Pau gasol and all the other Spanish superstars play for their country at every opportunity as it is an honour. Same with almost all other nations. Eveyone should be dying to play international basketball and represent their country. Some of our players and even fans by some of the comments view it as a burden or something that’s nice but only if they feel like it.

    • John76

      My understanding was that Great Britain program has been funded so well in order to achieve top result in London – medals were mentioned before it came down to 5-8th place I believe. This has not been achieved, neither a sustainable program below the senior teams has been built (like in Spain or France for example). Luol Deng did great commiting for so many years and he can now focus on his NBA carrier. Therefore, if we must evaluate honestly the achievements of GB program, we must admit that it is a failier, or a missed opportunity as far as funding is concerned. I don’t believe that basketball will receive another 8-10million pounds to prepare for Rio, or if they will, are the current managers and board members capable of doing better then in the past 6-7 years?Doubtful.

  • JohnB

    Does anyone know the schedule for the paralympic basketball? Hopefully there might be a comments or two.

  • I tink we need to look at the German BEKO BBL to learn from what they are doing… They have amanged to create one of Europe’s top leagues over the past few years by developing their youth talent. Each season their is a pot of money which is paid in and at the end of the season who ever has played the highest percentage of German nationals under the game of 23 is given the largest amount from the pot… if a team therefore has 1 german under 23 and plays him for 2 minutes they dont get a share… on the other hand a team like ULM who have a solid young team with germans got the mjority of the pot because they played their German U23’s for longperiods of the game… From top of my head I think the pot was roughly 250,000 Euro. http://euro-step.net/2012/04/the-rise-of-the-germans/

    • nobody

      This is fine but this has nothing to do with grass route development. It has nothing to do with the German Basketball Federation. If the BBL could do something like this then we could be talking but waiting for people to hand over a pot of gold will never happen.

      Since 2005 we have been talking about this and we are now in 2012 and nothing has really changed, the BBL still exists and our young players are still going all over the world to improve their game.

      What is more puzzling is that we hardly see any of these young talents after the age of 23 at home or abroad. So I for one would be interested to know how this can be addressed

      We have had youth teams promoted to Div A in all but one group (GB U20 men) . Both U16 teams this year found the going tough and now have to start again in Div B next year.

      Now everybody is talking about the talent of the 1995 born England players, I would like to point out the 1995 born women players are just as good if not better talent wise that the boys, but we will have to see next summer. I think that both teams will do well and survive in A but then we need to make sure that the U16’s coming up after them will also be good enough.

      No comments from me on the U20 programme, Duco has said it all in his blog .

      As for the GB U20 women they have been relegated which is a shame, I could say more on this but what is the point, if anybody is interested in what happened to the team the you can listen to this interview with their captain: http://www.womensbasketball-in-france.com/fiba-europe-u20-european-championship-for-women-erinmcrrachan.html

      Now the Olympics are over the time has come for everybody to sit down and work out what we really want to do with this sport. I am also interested in the plan for the next EuroBasket because we need to do well and qualify at least one team for the Worlds in 2014.

      • J.Naismith

        Whilst you have a governing body that is only bothered about administration and particpation numbers, which our EB is (on the latter, they have to be, I guess, because that is what the Sport England funding is based on, alas), then you will only ever get what we’ve gotten from them over the last 30 years in terms of ‘development’ of junior players….ie. very little or nothing!

        If they were ever serious, instead of hiring the (useless/sperficial) “Development Officers”, they would have / could have / should have hired full time proper decent coaches and put them to work nationwide to work with young talent on a regular and continuous basis.

        The reality is that our players have emerged from a few ‘pockets’ or hot beds which have recognized coaches slaving away for years and producing the odd player who they then help to further their development by sending them to the US or in a handful of cases Spain or one London kid, to Slovenia. They cannot be developed further here.

        The BBL doesn’t play the English kids (even the ones that do play at Newcastle and only one or two other teams….don’t even make the National team!)…plus none of them are making a decent living wage.

        Unless you have players who are able to practice every day with a decent coach – you’ll NEVER get the scenario in terms of a pool of talented players that can compete in Europe year in year out (like many of the other traditional perennial ‘powers’). we DO have the talent in this country…it’s been said and commented upon many times….what we don’t have is the infrastructure and attitude, the will to develop this talent to its full potential – hence we have to send them away.

        It hasn’t even got much to do with money…look at tennis…what a joke! They have 9 figures every year to spend…for at least the past 10 years….they have great facilities everywhere, they have full time coaches around the country and they cannot produce a consistently top 20 player (male or female)! Go figure! Tim Henman and Andy Murray were “produced” outside of the LTA systems.

        We have the talent, we have the coaches, we have the enthusiasm and love of the game, we have enough money in the system; we have a few ‘hot beds’ that produce exceptional young players every now and again.
        We don’t have unbureaucratic access to (good) facilities; we don’t have a federation that will divert / spend enough money on serious development; we don’t have the cultural ‘appetite’ to really get after the excellence thing….not on a collective basis…and not at the youth level….BUT MOST OF ALL, here is why we will never achieve what many of the guys commenting here and elsewhere want….because we have not had and will not have a week to week year on year tough enough level of competition at the junior national league level to make those (talented individual) kids any better.

        Q.E.D.

  • JohnB

    Unfortunately there is not, and I think never will be, any funding available for a scheme such as mentioned in the previous comment (unless through a sponsorship initiative).

    In any case, as had been suggested so many times, until our junior league is re-vitalised, for want of a better word, no progress will ever be made.

    I am not sure who is in charge of deciding the formation and administration of our junior league, but whoever it is his objectives certainly does not include development.

  • dpeti

    Can I ask who is responsible for deciding the format of, and administering, the present junior men’s league?

    Perhaps an official of the EB will be kind enough to answer the question.

  • Steve

    Someone like Nicky brown or Trevor Lowes???

    • John76

      There is a group of people, Nicky is just the administrator and not a decision maker.

  • Steve

    The competitions comittee or something of the like. One of the many, many issues is that the current National League structure is trying to be for both elite development and participation at the same time. From my time coaching Jnr teams we won most of our games by 50, 60, 70 even 100+ points! This is obviously no good to either team and it forced us to stop playing hard, no fast breaks, no lay-ups etc… What I feel would be most beneficial and has been mentioned several times is an elite/super/premier league run by the NGB (EB or GB) with 10-12 senior teams that all run a full jnr program that compete agaisnt each other. The current national league structure could sit underneath that with feeder clubs funnelling the best talent to the nearest elite club.

    This way everyone knows where they stand and all the talent is pooled together to create a competetive enviroment for players and coaches to develop. The NGB can then have staff devoted to elite development assigned to one structure and the staff for participation to the other. Such a structure would surely attract more sponsorhip and media exposure.

    Now if this is generaly agreed upon by basketball folk around the country (i’ve had this conversation dozens and dozens of times up and down the country and never almost all agree) the REAL MAJOR issue arises. EB have not done this and have refused to do it citing nonsensical reasons. I’m not going to bash EB too much here but all they seem to do is tick boxes and submit participation figures to Sport England. They don’t listen to their membership and have a huge complex thinking everyone’s out to get them. Anyone who challenges the strategy or makes a suggestion is ignored or labelled as a trouble-maker. (They completely ignored the Mallin review, after running to FIBA & claiming it was govt interferance).

    I would love someone from EB/GB to give me a real explanation as why the above elite league scenario can’t be seriously looked at, of course there will be certain issues but I flat out refuse to believe that it cant be done. I would also like to know what their current strategy for development of players and coaches is is some detail. There is a full-time coaching development officer at EB yet can anyone tell me exactly what coaching development programs are in place??

    Until the NGB in whatever form it takes is willing to actually make some changes to infastructure and development and be transparent and you know actually work with its members and promote its development strategies then i’m afraid nothing will ever change. . .

  • dpeti

    The overall coaching standard has not improved over the past years. The BBL and EBL leave much to be desired. The junior league is a league in name only and does nothing to provide strong and effective competition or encourage the development of our junior players.

    In light of this, I would ask if anyone can please enlighten me as to the purpose and effectiveness of the following EB professional offices? Are they all required?

    Coach Development Officer.

    Performance Manager
    Head of Performance
    Performance Pathway Manager
    National Development Manager

    National Leagues Manager
    National Leagues Officer
    National Leagues Officer – Results
    National Leagues Officer – Events
    National Leagues Officer – Publicity

    (There is no National League ?!!!)

    Club Development Officer

    • Fan

      Are these all separate jobs and with salaried positions? If so, that’s incredible. What a waste of financial resources.

      The coaching development guy is in my opinion a waste of time, evidenced by the present coaching situation in all leagues.

  • John76

    Yes, very interesting indeed. And add to that the GB performance and admin staff and then show me the results of this investment in the last 5 years! If I am assessing this from Sport England´s and UK Sport´s perspective, I will not be investing any more in basketball. Unfortunately.

  • johnB

    I am given to understand that this has already been mentioned in a recent meeting of Sport England.

  • Just wanted to say huge congrats on Great Britain on their semi final game & good luck for the bronze game against the US. Now that is real legacy!!!

    • John76

      Fantastic achievement indeed!!

  • Roy

    Unfortunately the paralympic GB team lost by 17 to Canada in the semi-final, but many congrats to the whole team for their achievement.

    Should be a close game against USA for the bronze medal, but all good luck and good fortune to team GB.

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