LANG, USA HEAD FOR DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
* Former Tar Heel Kris Lang (C, 6-11, 247) is officially a member of the USA 12-man team that will leave Miami today to compete Aug. 24-Sept. 4 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in the FIBA Americas Men's World Championship Qualifying Tournament, USA Basketball announced yesterday.
"I like our big guys. We kept five big guys, five inside types," said coach Mo McHone. "That's because when we went to Brazil we realized the necessity of having that many because of all the foul trouble we got into."
The top four finishing teams (in addition to Argentina who has already qualified by virtue of winning the 2004 Olympics) will earn a qualifying berth in the 2006 FIBA World Championship that will be held in Japan. It is worth noting that 20 of the 24 countries that make it to Japan will come from qualifying. The four remaining entries will be selected by FIBA in November.
This weeks schedule has the USA playing Panama on Wednesday, Brazil on Thursday, Canada on Friday and against Venezuela on Saturday to end the preliminary round. The other group consists of Argentina, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Uruguay.
Go to the FIBA Americas official event website and check usabasketball.com for full coverage of Team USA in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
A CHANGE OF PLAN FOR HOLMES
* Former Tar Heel Jonathan Holmes has reconsidered his original plan to begin his coaching career as the head at Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont. Holmes has declined that position and instead will start as a full-time assistant coach at Montreat College in Asheville, N.C.
"After reevaluating the situation in Vermont, I came to the conclusion that I needed to be an assistant first and learn the ropes as far as what it takes to be a college basketball coach," Holmes informed Inside Carolina on Friday. "After meeting with coach [Bill] Robinson last week, I felt very certain that Montreat was the place for me to begin my coaching career."
In addition to being an assistant to Bill Robinson, Holmes will also be the head coach of the NAIA school's JV team. "In December we will be traveling over to Chapel Hill to play Carolina's JV squad," Holmes told IC. "An opportunity to coach a game in the Smith Center is something I am greatly looking forward to." Holmes jokingly added that he might put in calls to "Jerod [Haase] and C.B. [McGrath] to make sure that they take it easy on us."
Holmes is planning on getting started in Asheville Monday. He expects Montreat College to be a solid team with a very difficult schedule that includes several Division I schools, as well as a tournament in Hawaii over Christmas.
COTA, RUSSIAN TEAM PART COMPANY
* Dynamo Saint Petersburg of Russia's Superleague announced Friday that Ed Cota had violated his contract (the second year of a two-year agreement) since he did not report on time for training camp and his contract was no longer valid with them.
The club stated that Cota would be replaced on the team at point guard by Jerry McCullough (Pittsburgh), a veteran of European basketball. McCullough was a teammate of Dante Calabria last season in Italy with Armani Jeans Milano.
Cota was a captain and star player for Dynamo SPb last year, helping them to the championship of FIBA's Europe League club competition with an unbeaten record of 20-0. Cota was recruited to Saint Petersburg, a Russian League expansion team in 2004-05, by coach David Blatt. Blatt has since moved on to Benetton Treviso in Italy.
SUMMER HOOPS IN NYC FOR FORTE
* The New York Post ran a report last week on New York City's summer hoops leagues sponsored by Nike. The section on the Pro City league, played at Hunter College at 68th and Lexington in New York City, noted that the league's award for Sportsmanship went to Joe Forte.
In the Pro City championship game on August 11, Forte scored 20 points (9-15 FG, 2 threes) for Gold's Gym in a 106-102 loss, despite a "valiant comeback, highlighted by three Joe Forte steals, to cut the lead to 100-97 with 1:26 left," according to the Post article. Forte's teammates included Omar Cook (St. John's) and Rafer Alston (Toronto Raptors).
Forte has also been on the court at Rucker Park in New York City this summer. "The highest-profile player slated to suit up for the first game Monday evening was Joe Forte, the former North Carolina star who had a brief NBA stint with the Celtics and Sonics," ESPN.com reported on a recent appearance. "Forte hopes to get back to the NBA. But in the meantime, he's enjoyed his second summer playing at Rucker. 'You've got to bring your 'A' game out here,' Forte said. 'Or else the fans will get on you. But that's what Rucker's all about.'"
The report at ESPN.com also noted, "Black Wall Street was the favorite, but Certified led most of the game, thanks in large part to an assortment of crowd-wowing jumpers and dunks from Forte, nicknamed 'Something's Out There.'"
WIEL ADDS BLUE DEVIL TO DUTCH TEAM
* Former Tar Heel Randy Wiel is getting ready for his second season as a head coach in Holland. After a merger, his EiffelTowers team has been relocated from Nijmegen to Den Bosch.
The most recent roster move by the Den Bosch EiffelTowers is the signing of Nate James. The ex-Duke star played last season in Bosnia (HKK Siroki) and previously has played in The Philippines and Hungary.
Former UNC star Derrick Phelps was with Wiel and EiffelTowers last season, but is not on the current roster.
McCANTS HITS VEGAS WITH T'WOLVES
* The Minnesota Timberwolves have a two-day mini-camp starting today in Las Vegas that new coach Dwane Casey hopes will get his team indoctrinated into his philosophy of baskeball and get familiar with each other.
Former Tar Heel and Minnesota rookie Rashad McCants is among the many new Timberwolves expected to be on hand in Vegas and begin the process of recovering from the dismal season Minnesota had last year.
McCants has been bothered by a strained hamstring and didn't play in the Wolves summer league last month. "We'll evaluate him with the goal that he's ready for the start of training camp," Casey said, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune.
Few trips to Vegas involve only basketball and this one is no different. The Casey plan for building team chemistry in Sin City includes events away from the court, such as a team dinner and a trip to the bowling alley. You had something else in mind?