SHAMMOND, COTA HEADED FOR PRAGUE
* With a 76-70 win over Real Madrid (Spain) last Thursday by F.C. Barcelona (Spain) to take a best-of-three Euroleague quarterfinal series 2-1, count Shammond Williams and Ed Cota among those that will be part of the grandest stage in European professional basketball –– the 2006 Euroleague Final Four in Prague, Czech Republic.
In the Game 3 win to clinch the series, Shammond Williams helped the cause from his point guard position with six assists as he struggled from 3-point range going 1-6 while scoring just three points in 21 minutes.
Ed Cota, in the game for only eight minutes, scored two points on 1-2 from the field with two rebounds and one assist. His one field goal though was classic Cota. With Barcelona leading 34-33 Madrid went zone "but Ed Cota beat it with a floating layup," according to the Euroleague Basketball game report.
The Final Four event in Prague begins with a semifinal doubleheader on April 28 with Winterthur FCB taking on CSKA Moscow (Russia). The other semifinal matches Euroleague's defending champ Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv (Israel) against TAU Ceramica Vitoria (Spain). The winners meet for the Euroleague title on April 30.
CSKA Moscow features Trajan Langdon (Duke), J.R. Holden (Bucknell), David Vanterpool (St. Bonaventure) and international star Theo Papaloukas (Greece).
TAU Ceramica includes San Antonio Spurs '02 draftee Luis Scola (Argentina), NBA prospect Tiago Splitter (Brazil), Travis Hansen (BYU), Casey Jacobsen (Stanford) and Lionel Chalmers (Xavier).
In addition to Williams and Cota, Bacelona features Juan Carlos Navarro (Spain), sharpshooter Mikalis Kakiouzis (Greece), Gianluca Basile (Italy) and Bootsy Thornton (St. John's).
ROOKIE SEASONS END FOR JAWAD & MELVIN
* After departing North Carolina as graduates and national champions, Jawad Williams and Melvin Scott were ready to take on the world. Although they probably didn't anticipate seeing as much of it so fast.
Jawad Williams got things started by playing for the Golden State Warriors in the Vegas Summer League. Williams then went to preseason training camp with the San Antonio Spurs. An assignment that included a trip to the Virgin Islands. Williams was released by San Antonio prior to the start of the NBA season.
His next stop was in Spain where he signed on in November with Alta Gestion (High Management) Fuenlabrada, located near Madrid and a team in the ACB, the top pro league in Spain and widely considered to be among the best pro leagues in the world.
After a stint of 19 games with AG Fuenlabrada, Williams was released and returned home at the end of March. He then finished out his first season of pro basketball playing the last four games on the schedule of the Fayetteville Patriots (16-32, 8th) of the NBA's D-League.
Upon his return from Spain, Williams told the Fayetteville Observer he was happy to be back in North Carolina, described his time in Spain as a great experience and noted that the combination of adjusting to pro basketball, a different style of living and the language barrier was a tough transition.
"So I talked to some people, including my agent, and they thought it was better for me to come back now and prepare myself for the [NBA] summer leagues," Williams told the Observer, prior to his first practice session with Fayetteville.
- Williams in Spain (ACB): 19 Games, 16.2 MPG, 5.2 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 24-62 (.387) 2PT FG, 12-40 (.300) 3PT FG, 14-20 (.700) FT
- Williams in Fayetteville (NBADL): 4 Games (2-2), 31 MPG, 14 PPG, 5 RPG, 1.8 APG, 21-54 (.389) FG, 3-15 (.200) 3PT FG, 11-15 (.733) FT
* Melvin Scott got his rookie season started by playing for the Utah Jazz summer team in the NBA's Rocky Mountain Revue in Salt Lake City, Utah. Scott followed that experience with a trip to Greece and a chance to tryout for Aris Thessaloniki. Scott was released by Aris prior to the start of the season in October when the injured player he was filling in for -- Corey Brewer (Oklahoma) -- was deemed ready to return to action.
Germany was next on Scott's itinerary. But after playing in just three games in the German Basketball Bundesliga (Federal League) he was released by BS Energie Braunschwig right before Christmas.
Scott was apparently still ready to see more of the world and in January accepted an offer to play in Iceland. He played seven games and the playoffs (losing 3-1 in the semis) for KR Reykjavik of the Iceland Express League. His time in Iceland included being ejected from a game for cursing a referee (that incident also carried a one-game suspension), and sinking a three-pointer at the buzzer to give his team a dramatic victory. Scott informed the locals that he hadn't done that since his days in high school.
- Scott in Iceland (Regular Season): 7 Games, 28.4 MPG, 15.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 30-66 (.455) 2PT FG, 7-35 (.200) 3PT FG, 25-36 (.694) FT
OKULAJA "FINAL FOUR" RUN FALLS SHORT
* Ademola Okulaja took part in the Final Four of FIBA's 2006 EuroCup competition two weeks ago. Okulaja's Russian club, BC Khimki (Moscow Region), downed Russian rival Dynamo St. Petersburg (Russia) 63-61 in the EuroCup semifinals held in Kiev, Ukraine. Okulaja contributed nine points (4-7 FG) and four rebounds during 20 minutes of action.
The EuroCup championship game was played two days later and was a different story for Okulaja and Khimki as DKV Joventut (Spain) won the title easily 88-63. Okulaja, still working his way back from a knee injury, went scoreless (0-0 FG, 0-4 FT) in 11 minutes with a rebound and a steal.
Coming up next for Okulaja will be the Russian Superleague playoffs. BC Khimki just completed the regular season schedule with a 19-5 record for a third-place finish. CSKA Moscow (22-2) and St. Petersburg (19-5) were the teams ahead of Khimki.
- Okulaja in Russia (Superleague): 7 Games, 13.3 MPG, 6.2 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 13-27 (.480) 2PT FG, 3-9 3PT (.333) FG, 9-15 (.600) FT
- Okulaja in EuroCup: 7 Games, 16.4 MPG, 4.6 PPG, 3 RPG, 8-16 (.500) 2PT FG, 4-10 (.400) 3PT FG, 4-10 (.400) FT
* played 2 games for RheinEnergie Cologne (Germany) and 5 games for BC Khimki (Russia) during EuroCup
13 TAR HEELS AWAIT NBA PLAYOFFS
* The NBA 2005-06 season has ended and the 2006 playoffs are set to start on Saturday (April 22). Here's a look at the 13 former Tar Heels representing eight playoff teams as a player (6), coach (5) or executive (2)...
Eastern Conference: Rasheed Wallace (Pistons), Bob McAdoo, asst. coach (Heat), Vince Carter (Nets), Jeff McInnis (Nets), Pat Sullivan, asst. coach (Nets), Antawn Jamison (Wizards), Brendan Haywood (Wizards), Mike O'Koren, asst. coach (Wizards) and Donnie Walsh, CEO (Pacers)
Pistons (1) vs. Bucks (8)
Heat (2) vs. Bulls (7)
Nets (3) vs. Pacers (6)
Cavaliers (4) vs. Wizards (5)
(According to media reports, Jeff McInnis of the Nets, out since January with a left knee injury, is not expected to play in the playoffs despite showing signs he has recovered from his injury.)
Western Conference: Jerry Stackhouse (Mavericks), George Karl, head coach (Nuggets), Doug Moe, asst. coach (Nuggets) and Mitch Kupchak, President & General Manager (Lakers)
Spurs (1) vs. Kings (8)
Suns (2) vs. Lakers (7)
Nuggets (3) vs. Clippers (6)
Mavs (4) vs. Grizzies (5)
The next excitement for those not involved in the playoffs will be checking the results of the ping pong balls at the 2006 Draft Lottery that will be conducted May 23 in Secaucus, New Jersey.
CRAWLEY TO COACH AT OHIO U.
* Former Tar Heel star Sylvia Crawley ('94) has been named as the new women's basketball coach of the women's at Ohio University (Mid-American Conference). Crawley was an assistant coach at Fordham last season and served as interim head coach there after the season ended when head coach Jim Lewis retired. Crawley, a native of Wintersville, Ohio, also served as an assistant coach at North Carolina, from 2000-02.
"Sylvia has championship experience on the college level, the professional level and in international ball. She has it all. She's got tons of experience and she's a great person. She'll be a tremendous role model and representative for Ohio University," said Sylvia Hatchell, Head Women's Basketball Coach, University of North Carolina.
Crawley, 33, has played professional basketball in Europe (1994-96 and 1999-2000), with Colorado (1996-98) and Portland (1998-99) of the American Basketball League, for Portland (2000-02) and San Antonio (2003-04) in the WNBA and in South Korea (2005).
At North Carolina, Crawley captained the 1993-94 Tar Heels to a 33-2 record and the national championship, earning Final Four MVP honors from the Carolina coaches.
She also had her #00 jersey honored in 2000, becoming one of just nine players in school history to have their jersey retired or honored. She is one of 24 players ever to score 1,000 career points at North Carolina and still ranks among the school's all-time top 10 in blocked shots and field goal percentage. In 2003, she was named to the ACC's 50th Anniversary Team.
She was USA Basketball's Female Athlete of the Year in 1995 after helping the United States to a silver medal at the World University Games.
(Source: Mid-American Conference official website)