WILLIAMS, COTA IN ANOTHER FINAL FOUR
* Part of Shammond Williams' preparation for the 2006 Euroleague Final Four, the glamor event of Europe's most highly regarded basketball league that begins Friday in Prague, Czech Republic, included being interviewed by euroleague.net last week. "The thing about the Euroleague that immediately surprised me is how much emphasis everyone puts on it," said the former Tar Heel and current Barcelona point guard. "I had heard a lot about the Euroleague, but coming here it's difficult to know the difference between this and FIBA [events] or any other league - until you play in it. Now I know why there is that emphasis. Being a part of it and having the opportunity to see the impact the Euroleague has on basketball in Europe is something I am just happy to embrace."
Former Tar Heel Ed Cota joined Barcelona at midseason as the back-up for Williams at point guard. Cota and Williams have been teammates before at Final Four time (1997 in Indianapolis and 1998 in San Antonio).
"Well, I have my old college teammate here, Ed Cota, but we hardly ever play together," Williams said. "I'm not sure our coach knows we played together before or what we accomplished together. We haven't played together on the court for more than maybe a minute yet, but from our Carolina days, we understand what it takes to win. We're able to step up and take care of it and win at the end."
(In Sunday's Spanish League game, won by Barcelona to stay tied for first-place at 22-8, Williams played 35:35 and Cota played 4:25 in the 40-minute game.)
Barcelona coach Duskan Ivanovic, a legendary figure in European basketball, is counting on Williams to be up to the challenge. "Williams doesn't have too much experience in European basketball, but he managed to change his style and adapt himself to our team's needs, so I am happy with him," Ivanovic told euroleague.net. "Shammond is a very positive person and a very important player for this team."
You can read the full interview of Williams at euroleague.net
Euroleague 2005-06 began with 24 teams from 13 countries. It is now down to four teams from three countries. Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv (Israel) (16-7), the two-time defending champs, will meet Spain's TAU Ceramica Vitoria (17-6) (the last EL champ prior to Maccabi) in front of 16,805 fans in the first semifinal on Friday at 11:30 a.m. EDT (5:30 p.m. local time). Williams, Cota and Winterthur FC Barcelona (Spain) (14-9) will take on Russia's CSKA Moscow (Russia) (17-5) in the second game at Sazka Arena at 2:30 EDT (8:30 p.m. local time).
The winners play for the Euroleague title on Sunday. The losers meet in the third-place game. The games from Prague will be carried live on NBA TV. You can also visit www.euroleague.net for rosters, interviews and live updates on the games.
CALABRIA, MCADOO ON THE COVER IN ITALY
* The latest issue of the Italian "basketball & lifestyle" magazine, DREAM TEAM, has a cover with Tar Heel flair. The theme of the current issue is a tribute to 70 years of the Olimpia Milan basketball franchise (1936-2006). Former Tar Heel Dante Calabria, currently playing in the Italian League in Milan and sponsored by Armani Jeans, is on the cover on the far right wearing a retro jersey of a Milan championship team when the club sponsor was known as Billy.
The other Tar Heel touch is the player second from the left wearing a replica of the jersey worn by former Tar Heel and NBA star Bob McAdoo when he played for the Tracer Milan during the late 80s.
McAdoo played seven years in Italy and led Milan to the Italian and European Championship in his first year there, eventually winning two European titles and three Italian League championships. McAdoo, now an assistant coach with the NBA's Miami Heat, has remarked that his basketball career in Italy, that began when he was 34 and came after 14 years in the NBA, was one of the highlights of his life.
"We won three Italian League championships and a couple of European championships, and even though nobody talks about it, that was some of my very favorite time as a basketball player," McAdoo said in North Carolina Tar Heels: Where Have You Gone? (Sports Publishing L.L.C.) by Scott Fowler.
You can check out the cover of DREAM TEAM featuring Calabria and McAdoo's jersey at dreamteamonline.it
Yesterday in Italy, Calabria came off the bench to score 19 points on 7-10 field goal shooting (going 5-7 on threes) to help A.J. Milano to a 101-68 win to go to 20-10 (4th-place) in the Italian League.
Calabria has connected on 13-of-21 three-pointers over the last three games. That brings him to 45.8 percent (81-177) for the season from beyond the arc. After playing 30 games, Calabria is averaging 13.7 points and 29.1 minutes per game with a FT rate of 84.7 percent (61-72).
CHATTING WITH FELTON
* A couple of weeks ago former Tar Heel point guard Raymond Felton took part in a live chat conducted by BobcatsBasketball.com. Felton fielded questions and comments from a wide variety of locales incuding Tokyo, London, Oakland, Calif. and Myrtle Beach, S.C.
"I'm getting more minutes where I can show my talent and what I can do. That's the main difference," Felton explained when Streamwood, Ill. wondered why the 6-1, 198-pound guard was doing so much better at the end of the season than he was at the start.
What about that "Gems 20" on your armband? "It's actually "GBMS" and it means God Bless My Success," Felton informed a fan.
Leon from Oakland wanted to know why No. 20? Felton stated that No. 2 was taken at Charlotte by Melvin Ely, so he went back to his high school number, 20.
You can read the full chat transcript at nba.com
Felton finished the NBA season with the Bobcats on a high note by being named the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for the last three months of the season (February, March and April). Channing Frye (Arizona) of the Knicks, Charlie Villanueva (Connecticut) of the Raptors, and Andrew Bogut (Utah) of the Bucks were the other Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month winners prior to Felton taking over. Wake Forest's Chris Paul of the Hornets was the top rookie in the Western Conference every month this season.
Felton's rookie stats: 80 Games (54 starts), 30.1 MPG, 11.9 PPG (4th among rookies), 3.3 RPG, 5.6 APG (2nd among rookies), 1.3 SPG (2nd among rookies), 345-883 (.391) FG, 97-271 (.358) 3PT FG (4th among rookies), 161-222 (.725) FT and 13 double-doubles (2nd among rookies)
IC MAG: OWENS RETURNS TO CHAPEL HILL
* For the latest on former Tar Heel Max Owens ('01), be sure to get a copy of the current issue (Spring 2006) of the Inside Carolina magazine.
Owens, 28, is now a member of the Chapel Hill community along with his recent bride. The former Tar Heel guard is now employed at the Ramshead Rathskeller restaurant as an assistant manager.
Owens has a degree in African-American studies. He played the 2001-02 season in the Global Basketball Alliance with the Atlanta Moose and the next year he played in a minor league in Louisville. "I became an after-school teacher in Atlanta, then did some work at the Macon Telegraph before moving to Charlotte, where I worked in the mental health arena before coming back to Chapel Hill," said Owens in the magazine article by IC's Jack Morton.
Look for Inside Carolina, with David Noel on the cover, at your local newsstand or bookstore for the full article on Max Owens. You will also find an article about David Noel called "Legacy of a Legend," a story on the emergence of Wes Miller ("Longshot"), an entertaining tale about the 1978 tour across North Carolina by Phil Ford and Dave Hanners ("Barnstorming") and much more in the Spring 2006 edition of the Inside Carolina magazine. To learn more about the IC Magazine, click here.
And don't forget to welcome back Max Owens at the "Rat."