PHELPS MAKES AN IMPACT
* Since the calendar went to 2005, coach Randy Wiel, former Tar Heel player and assistant coach, has been on the losing side just once while leading Nijmegen EiffelTowers through the pro league in Holland. "We have been playing pretty decent basketball since the beginning of the year (11-1)," Wiel informed Inside Carolina. "We had some injury problems early, including Mike Mardesich (former Maryland player) who is still recovering from injuries to both his ankles. But I have to say that we also signed Derrick Phelps in early December, and that really started our turnaround."
"Derrick gives us tremendous leadership on the floor," Wiel told IC "He leads the league in assists with 7.8 per game and also is averaging 12.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and almost 2 steals in 34 minutes per game. He is 32 now, but if you saw him, he looks like he is right out of college at 22. Not an ounce of fat, and he can still defend any guard, big or small. As when he was in college, he is one of our team's best rebounders, so we let him go to the offensive boards and rotate our shooting guard back for defensive balance."
In yesterday's 81-75 victory by Nijmegen in Holland, Phelps proved that point by grabbing a team-high nine boards along with 12 points and six assists. The win improved the team record to 16-8 -- one-and-a-half games out of first-place -- as the regular season heads into the final weeks.
"Although Derrick is a very quiet, reserved person by nature, on the court he is very vocal and really communicates and drives the players hard in practice," Wiel continued about his point guard. "He works with [assistant coach] Walter Davis on his offensive skills, which is a pleasant surprise. He can post up smaller guards and has been very effective."
"Although our team, EiffelTowers, is based in the Netherlands, we only feature two Dutch players. We have three Americans, three Russians, two Yugoslavs, one Bulgarian and one from St. Martin," said Wiel. "Thank goodness most of them have played basketball in the U.S. so Derrick, who speaks a little German [from his years playing in Germany], does not have any problems communicating with the players on the court. Walter Davis is trying to pick up some Dutch, you'll just have to hear the soundbites of that."
Coach Wiel also stated that playing and coaching on the European circuit (ULEB Cup) with visits to Russia, Yugoslavia, France, Germany and Belgium has "been a very good experience for all of us."
"Derrick, Walter Davis and myself really are enjoying the Tar Heels this season. We have watched some games on ESPN, but cannot get the CBS or Fox games, so we listen to those on our computers. That last Duke game must have been something else. We were very excited for Coach Williams and the seniors," said Nijmegen coach Wiel from the Netherlands.
NBA VET READY TO GO
* Scott Williams will bring an end to his 15-year NBA career following the Cavaliers' final game this season, according to a report in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Sunday.
"It's been one heck of a ride," Williams told the Cleveland newspaper. "I've had a career that I would have never dreamed of having and it's great to go out with this organization. I'm going out on a positive note."
"It's time," said Williams, who will turn 37 on March 21 and has not seen much playing time this season. "I've always said that I didn't want this game to ruin my body. I didn't want to walk away with any lasting injuries or anything that would prevent me from enjoying the next biggest game of my life and that's playing one-on-one with my son in the driveway."
"I developed my knowledge of the game by playing under Dean Smith, Larry Brown, Phil Jackson, George Karl and coach Paul Silas," Williams said. "I've had a number of influences from Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and John Paxson. I feel fortunate about my basketball education and I've had the pleasure to learn from some of the best."
"Obviously, I didn't bring fans to the arena and I didn't electrify anybody with spectacular plays above the rim," Williams said. "But I was a true professional that worked hard and tried to make his teammates better. I played for 15 years and I was able to overachieve and that makes me feel good."
Williams has spent the past few years working as a commentator on radio and TV. He has also done broadcasting work in Phoenix, according to the article in the Plain Dealer.
"He'll be very successful," Cavs' coach Paul Silas told the paper. "Broadcasting is his thing. He would win if he was on the ESPN Dream Job [show] because he's such a natural."
A DREAM CUT SHORT
* Speaking of ESPN's Dream Job, former Tar Heel J.R. Reid got some bad news at the end of last night's show when he was voted off of the show that will find ESPN's next NBA analyst by picking up three of the five available votes to be cut. Despite being the only contestant to go five-for-five in the overhyped Al Jaffe (ESPN VP of Talent) quiz about NBA current events, Reid found the disapproval of panelists Kit Hoover (ESPN general reporter), Stephen A. Smith (ESPN NBA analyst) and the
Reid was generally admonished for providing weak analysis of game highlights and conducting a poor interview via satellite of former Maryland star Joe Smith, now with the Milwaukee Bucks. Panelist Woody Paige and the viewers voted to cut Matt Bullard. Dennis Scott, Dee Brown and Bullard will be back on Dream Job 2005 next week (Sunday, 10 p.m.).
Scott Williams, a one-time UNC teammate of Reid, made a guest appearance via satellite on the show and was interviewed by Dee Brown. Williams was asked by Brown about his upcoming retirement and comments made by Cleveland coach Paul Silas (see above) that Scott Williams was a natural broadcaster and would be a Dream Job winner if he was among the show's contestants. Williams, looking very relaxed and confident, took it all in stride. "I don't know about that," the soon-to-be retiring NBA veteran said with a laugh. "You guys all do a great job. I've caught a few shows. I've had the opportunity to have some radio and television training and it will be a great way for me to transition out of basketball, but still stay around the game I love."
Jaffe was impressed enough by Williams as an interview subject to say, "If he's still listening, Scott Williams, call me when you retire. Nice job."
Reid summed up his performance by saying, "It was tough. The interview was tough. I hadn't done that in awhile. Just didn't have my best game tonight."
HOLMES READY FOR PLAYOFFS
* Jonathan Holmes concluded the Danish league's regular season on Sunday. His team in Denmark, Horsens I.C., lost the game, but Holmes was back on the court after missing a game after a bout with bronchitis. "It has been a long week recovering, but I am back and the playoffs are just about a week away," the UNC grad informed Inside Carolina via e-mail from Horsens, Denmark last week.
With a second-place record of 18-8, Horsens is now playoff-bound with the top eight teams from Denmark's BasketLigaen. "We had been on a tear since November really, winning 15 of 17 games [before losing the last two games]," said Holmes.
In 25 regular season games played, Holmes averaged 33 minutes, 13.6 points, 5.4 assists (4th) and 2.1 rebounds along with excellent accuracy marks of 81 percent on free-throws (36-44) and 41 percent from three-point range (54-130).
"Hope all is well in Chapel Hill, and I will let you know how the playoffs pan out," Holmes concluded in his message to IC
EVTIMOV BEING EVALUATED
* Former Tar Heel Vasco Evtimov, 27, has been diagnosed with a heart condition after a routine test confirmed that he suffers from a cardiac arrhythmia - an irregular heart beat.
His current team in Italy, Lottomatica Virtus Roma, announced last week that "an extra-systolic cardiac condition has been found that has required further tests," according to fibaeurope.com. "The results of those tests have imposed the player to suspend his sporting activity until the problem is resolved."
Evtimov started the season in Sevilla, Spain, but was recently acquired by Roma of the Italian League. Evtimov played center for Sevilla last year and led Spain's ACB League in rebounding. However, a new coaching staff and personnel changes caused him to fall out of favor with Sevilla and his playing time was greatly reduced. Evtimov asked to be relocated and was sent to Italy to finish the season.