WIEL READY TO DEFEND TITLE
* ... Following his Dutch League championship season in the Netherlands as the head coach of Eiffel Towers Den Bosch, former Tar Heel player and assistant coach Randy Wiel returned to the U.S. in early June.
"I got a chance to see my son Alexander play baseball. His team, the Diamondawgs, won the Tennessee state championship in the 13-and-under division," Wiel told Inside Carolina via e-mail, last week. "As every summer, I did some clinics In Monterrey, Mexico, in Spain, and in my home country -- the Island of Curacao -- in July."
Wiel spent some time in Chapel Hill with his family during August. Wiel married his wife Connie in Chapel Hill in 1986 and returned to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary.
"We [also] visited with Coach Smith and [his wife] Linnea. I talked some basketball with Coach Smith and spent two days studying film and talking some basketball with Coach Williams' staff to get some fresh Ideas," Wiel added about his trip to Chapel Hill. "I talk to Henrik [Rodl] a lot in Berlin and I know that he visited Chapel Hill right before I did in the summer."
Wiel has been back in Den Bosch, Holland, for about three weeks. He's getting his 2006-07 team ready for what is likely to be a tough season now that they are the team to beat after sweeping the domestic league regular-season crown and the playoff championship title in '06.
In addition to the high expectations of trying to repeat as champs, Wiel is looking to replace two key starters, Angolan center Joaquim Gomes (Valparaiso) and the club's best outside shooter, veteran international player Gert Kullamae. Eiffel Towers signed Florida State's Trevor Harvey, but he came in terribly out of shape and was released.
Eiffel Towers Den Bosch will also be among the 24 European teams that take part in the ULEB Cup, the second-highest level of competition among European club teams. "Our ULEB Cup drawing is probably the toughest. With Real Madrid, Red Star Belgrade, St. Petersburg all in our bracket (Group D), along with Greek power PAOK Thessaloniki. We have our work cut out for us," Coach Wiel explained.
The other four former Tar Heels involved in the ULEB Cup this season are all in Group C. Alba Berlin is coached by Henrik Rodl, Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem will feature Ed Cota, Ademola Okulaja is back with Russian club BC Khimki and Joseph Forte is a member of Italy's Montepaschi Siena. The ULEB Cup season begins on October 30 with Siena hosting Berlin.
Wiel closed by noting to IC, "I'll probably run into Ed, Ademola, Henrik and Joe this year, and we will stay in touch. I will be following our Tar Heels religiously this year and hopefully all their games are on ESPN."
MORE EX-HEELS IN EUROPE
* ... In addition to those previously mentioned, there are several other former Tar Heels that have started training with the European clubs they will be playing for this season. Most leagues begin in early October.
Vasco Evtimov is the lone former Tar Heel on Euroleague Basketball's 24-team circuit at the start of the season.
The euroleague.net team preview feature describes Euroleague participant Evtimov of Italian club Climamio Bologna as "an acknowledged specialist at pulling down misses and a fine passer for a big man." Euroleague is the top club team competition in Europe.
Italy's top league, Serie A, has Dante Calabria returning for his third consecutive year with Armani Jeans Milano. This will be Calabria's 11th pro season in a career that began in 1996.
Kris Lang is another former Tar Heel returning to a Serie A team in Italy. Lang is back with VidiVici Virtus Bologna where his teammates include Travis Best (Georgia Tech) and Ilian Evtimov (NC State).
Italian Serie A club Air Basket Avellino is the new team of Jason Capel. Last year, Capel played in Italy for Roseto. Harold Jamison (Clemson) and Danny Strong (NC State) are among his teammates in Avellino.
Derrick Phelps has signed to play in the Russian Superleague with Spartak Primorie Vladivostock. Phelps is in the 13th year of a pro career that includes playing for 12 teams in six countries.
The roster of French Pro B team Levallois includes international veteran Makhtar Ndiaye for his 9th professional season.
And, after finishing his college basketball career with Minnesota, former Tar Heel Adam Boone has begun his pro career in Austria with Macabido Gunners Oberwart.
STILL IN THE MIX WITH THE KNICKS
* ... Brendan Suhr, Herb Williams, Mark Aguirre, George Glymph, Dave Hanners and Phil Ford make up the crowded coaching staff of the New York Knicks under new head coach Isiah Thomas.
Unlike departed head coach Larry Brown, the man that hired them as assistants, Hanners and Ford have stayed on in New York because they have three years remaining on their contracts and Thomas has a good working relationship with both men, the New York Daily News reports.
The total of six assistant coaches, with roles to be determined, does not look good for former Knicks' star Patrick Ewing to rejoin the club. Ewing left the Houston Rockets recently to spend more time with his family on the East Coast, according to the Daily News article.
* ... Speaking of Larry Brown, Newsday reports the next phase of New York Knicks v. Brown is about two weeks away. The Knicks and Brown go before NBA commissioner David Stern September 29 in Manhattan to determine how much Brown gets from the four years and $40 million remaining on his five-year, $50-million contract that was terminated by the Knicks after one year.
A decision is not expected right away in the case. That would leave the issue still unresolved as the Knicks open training camp October 3 in Charleston, S.C., according to Newsday.
LINKS TO OFFICIAL WEB SITES
* ... Check below and connect with former Tar Heels that you can locate on the Internet via their official web sites:
- Vince Carter, New Jersey Nets
- Raymond Felton, Charlotte Bobcats
- Rick Fox, Actor
- Antawn Jamison, Washington Wizards
- Ademola Okulaja, BC Khimki - Russia
- Jerry Stackhouse, Dallas Mavericks
- Rasheed Wallace, Detroit Pistons