Tag Archives: Paulius Jankunas

Switching Screens: In Defense of Rudy

By: Rob Scott / @robscott33

Rudy Fernandez. There, I said it. It’s OK, take a deep breath and step away from the screen. The end of Real Madrid’s 75-74 victory over Zalgiris Kaunas came straight off the page of a script written by anyone around Europe who thinks Spanish players, and Fernandez himself, are unsportsmanlike provocateurs. Reaction from around the continent seems to have been along the lines of Nicolas Batum when he punched Juan Carlos Navarro in the crotch at the Olympics.

Is this fair? As ever with Rudy, a little bit, but not entirely. I’m a dedicated Rudy apologist, while admitting that not even I can justify some of his more egregious flops over the years. This latest episode was the conclusion to a perfect storm of questionable refereeing calls, several Madrid players pouring petrol on the fire, and, to my mind, the continent-wide dislike of Los Blancos’ omnipresent and infamous footballing cousins.

The ugly ending at la Palacio de Deportes should not obscure what was a fascinating game of intensity and drama, but let’s examine the final 41 seconds, with Madrid leading 72-70:

Ksistof Lavrinovic steals the ball away and is grabbed by Rudy Fernandez near midcourt. An unsportsmanlike foul is called. It looked like a 50/50 call, Rudy did grab him from behind so it was probably the right one. Many players’ instincts would have led them to do the same. Earlier in the quarter, Kaukenas had done something similar to Llull but no foul was called.Verdict: Good call, no villain points for Rudy.

Lavrinovic makes both free throws, tie game, 72-a-piece. Sideline possession Zalgiris, Kaukenas to inbound. 5 second violation, turnover. The video below shows this was a bad call. Yes, Real Madrid were at home. Many people will make more of this than is fair. After all, if the pressure to give 50/50 calls to the ‘evil empire’ was so great, would Rudy’s foul not have been called straight up, rather than unsportsmanlike? Verdict: Bad call.


Sergio Rodriguez misses a three pointer, rebounded by Lafeyette, who Rodriguez then fouls intentionally with 8.7 seconds on the clock. Insanely high risk strategy by Pablo Laso, given that Lafeyette is an 88.2% free throw shooter this year. I didn’t like this strategy when Dule Vujosevic used it on Marcelino Huertas and I don’t like it any more now, regardless of the end result. Lafayette makes both, Zalgiris lead 74-72 with 8.7 seconds on the clock. Here’s where it started to get silly. Verdict: Never give away the lead, no matter how much you trust your offense.

Following Lafayette’s second make, Rudy retrieves the ball under the rim and it looks like he taps it to the ref on the baseline whilst turning away, except the ball accidentally hits Ksistof Lavrinovic on the head. Rudy’s back is turned as Lavrinovic shoves him angrily in the back. Lavrinovic’s reaction is understandable, but you have to remember he probably had no idea the ball had hit the Lithuanian, and so didn’t know why he’d been shoved. Regardless, Mirotic wades in, Rudy walks away, the refs do a great job in controlling the situation, warn everyone they’ll be T’d up, and nothing bad happens. Verdict: Misunderstanding.

Following back-to-back timeouts, Madrid set up with the floor spread, Rudy handling the ball with Llull and Rodriguez in each corner. Rudy drives and kicks to Rodriguez in the right corner, and it looks like he was probably fouled making the pass, although the no-call benefitted Madrid and it probably qualified for ‘swallow your whistle at crunch time’ status. Ibrahim Jabeer helps just a little too much on the drive and slips trying to recover to the corner. ‘Chacho’ buries the three, Madrid lead 75-74 with 3.5 seconds to go.

Here’s where Laso’s decision to foul on the last play makes even less sense – Madrid fouled to get the last possession, but because they scored too early, it wasn’t even the last possession. You can’t wait until the last few ticks to put up the shot to win in case you miss, but if you score “early”, the other team gets it’s chance anyway. Granted, it’s harder to set up a winning shot in 3.5 seconds rather than 8.7, but the risk is there.  Verdict: as our friend Savas Birdal of euro-step.net put it:

Marko Popovic got open from a crosscourt inbounds pass, and fired up a three that was just long. Jankunas went up for the putback and got hands on the ball only for Rudy to get there at the same time and swat it away.

Game over, Madrid win.

In the aftermath of the buzzer, it looks from the video that Rudy said something to Jankunas on the floor which sparked a mini-brawl, though a pretty tame one, in the grand scheme of things. Madrid players surrounded Jankunas, although there didn’t seem to be any punches thrown and the whole thing was over pretty quickly. Verdict: If Rudy did spit at Jankunas, he should be suspended. Otherwise, he’s just a jackass, not public enemy number one.

The Rest of the Game

Madrid won without hitting any real high notes, which has to be a great sign for the rest of the campaign. Their three point shooting, until the crucial moments, was poor, finishing 8-of-29. One thing that mitigates this poor shooting is the way they crash the offensive glass, with 12 offensive boards to Zalgiris’ 21 defensive, not including team rebounds. Nowhere was this more crucial than Reyes’ putback of a missed triple by Llull that put his team up by two in the final minute.

Madrid’s fastbreak game was also about as effective as it normally is, but Zalgiris’ transition defense was superb, limiting its impact on the game.

The play of the game in term of clever execution came in the first quarter. This is one of several set plays that Laso runs with Rudy cutting baseline to finish a lob at the rim. This time it was a horns set with Reyes (left) and Slaughter (right) screening up top. Llull used Reyes screen, and Zalgiris as usual hedged aggressively, while Slaughter moves across the paint. The whole effect is to drag the defense away from the weakside, where Rudy is preparing to cut to the rim for the lob. Just before the pass, Slaughter makes like he’s going to set another ball screen for Llull, dragging Kuzminskas away from Rudy, Llull whips the ball to the rim where Rudy throws it down. This play only worked because Plaza has his bigs hedge out very high on ball screens, and that might be something he has to vary as the year goes on. Here’s a video of the play:

Zalgiris are now 1-2 and play CSKA Moscow next week, but they are not out of contention by a long shot. They’ve dropped two tough road games on the final play, and are very much a Top 8 quality team. Popovic remains one of the craftiest operators on the continent, going 5-of-9 from three-point range in his 21 point effort.

However, Jabeer picked up his third foul midway through the second quarter, which affected Zalgiris’ rhythm, and he finished with only three points. Kuzminskas and Jankunas failed to score and for all Tremmel Darden’s excellent defense on Rudy, he only dropped in six points of his own. Madrid overcame off-nights from the likes of Carroll and Llull, but Zalgiris cant afford for so many of their guys to score so little.

This wasn’t an elite level game in terms of execution, but the intensity level took a step up. It’s after Christmas and although the Top 16 is a lot longer now, it feels like the true contenders will begin to emerge from this point on.

The return game in Kaunas is on March 7. This season now has its pantomime villain. Be prepared for another classic.

Rob Scott writes ‘Switching Screens’ every week for ELA. He also writes for Euro-step.net and The Basketball Post. Follow him on Twitter @robscott33.

Thursday Picks: Drew Nicholas Wears Red Against His Greens

By: Sam Meyerkopf and Nick Gibson

A 2-1 start is less than ideal, but it’s enough to work with. Five more games today. Let’s try and do better.

Zalgiris (4-6) vs. Maccabi Electra (7-3)

Sam: Guilty secret: I loved Reeves Nelson in college.  He played with attitude (which hasn’t helped him off the court) and went after people.  My admiration for Reeves will not be enough though for Zalgiris to overcome the much more talented Maccabi.  Maccbi Electra.

Nick: Let’s hope Dainius Salenga brought some extra ‘roids for his buddies. Except for Paulius Jankunas. You know, because there’s no need to medicate Herculean strength. Maccabi Electra.

Anadolu Efes (5-5) vs. Galatasaray (4-6)

Sam: In the best interest of maintaining the homecourt advantage, the Efes box office should have withheld all tickets from Galatasaray fans.  Even if a few fans did get tickets, Galatasaray can’t score enough to stick with Efes.  This is the must watch game of the day. Andaolu Efes.

Nick: This derby won’t disappoint; expect a win/loss margin of under six, and expect Dusko Savanovic to turn up the Top 16 heat, a la last season in Valencia. Anadolu Efes.

Unicaja (4-6) vs. Real Madrid (7-3)

Sam: With Joel Freeland there was a slim chance Unicaja could win this game, without him there is close to none.  With the way this team is injured and recent players have been released, they might be lucky to suit up eight guys.  Real Madrid.

Nick: Your classic case of two teams trending in opposite directions. Even with a healthy Freeland, Real Madrid still comes into Martin Carpena Arena and hands Unicaja an L. Real Madrid.

Olimpia Milano (4-6) vs. Panathinaikos (7-3)

Sam: Get that thought out of your head now.  Milano at home, in the first game of the Top 16, maybe they could catch Panathinaikos off guard?  Nope, they won’t, Kostas Kaimakoglou keeps looking better and better, PAO rolls. Panathinaikos.

Nick: Another match-up of contrasting clubs. Panathinaikos is as predictably steady as they come, while Milano is lucky their wheels regripped the road before slamming into elimination. It’d be cool to say, “Drew Nicholas is ready to give it to his former team!” But we’ve all watched him this year. Not happening. Zeljko over everything. Panathinaikos.

Barcelona Regal (9-1) vs. Bennet Cantu (5-5)

Sam: Well this week isn’t very fun, as it seems there are very few opportunities for upsets.  This is usually when things can go crazy, when everything looks so simple.  Cantu beating Barcelona at home? Well that, my friend, that isn’t crazy; that’s downright insane. Barcelona Regal.

Nick: ELA has been to 10 or 11 games at Palau Blaugrana this season and haven’t been treated to a Barcelona loss. Not even a single-digit win. Cantu doesn’t have the depth inside to show us anything different. Barcelona Regal.

PODCAST #104: Turkey In Turmoil

Why wasn’t Ersan Ilyasova in the game during the waning seconds against Poland? Can Lithuania pull any positives out of today’s Spanish shellacking? Did Paulius Jankunas make it onto ELA’s All-EuroBasket-Thus-Far team? And will Slam and Freaknick ever be able to wrap their minds around all these crazy tie break scenarios?

Don’t know. You have to listen.

PODCAST #95: The Hosts, The Champs and The Turks. Will Group A Have Any Surprises?

Os Davis of BallinEurope stops by for part one of a four-headed podcast. We’re breaking down EuroBasket, one group at a time, starting in Panevezys with the incomparable Group A. It’s about to get real.

Press play above and you’ll get answers to these questions:

-Which three teams will advance to Vilnius?

-Does Great Britain stand a chance without Ben Gordon? Would he have made a difference at all?

-In a group filled with talent, will any one player rival the impact the Lithuanian crowd will have on this tourney’s outcome?

-And is FIBA letting the NBA ruin its tournaments with insurance no-shows like Marcin Gortat?

So while you’re here, you should go ahead and subscribe on iTunes for FREE or check out the rest of the podcasts right here.

Hoopsquad Hierarchy: Zalgiris goes hard in the paint.

Mirza Begic is leading the league in blocks, Paulius Jankunas has pulled down more rebounds than anyone outside of Randal Falker and Martynas Pocius might as well prop up a tent on the free throw line, as he runs through his routine an EL-leading 8 times per game. They spread out the minutes, bring fresh bodies off the bench three and four at a time and grind you down to nothing through physical, attacking basketball. Their early efforts have been rewarded with a 3-1 record and the all important Group A road win over Caja Laboral, who tried to finesse themselves through a brick wall and failed miserably. So where does that leave them in the Hierarchy? See for yourselves.

RankTeam (EL record)What they did to get here and who's up next...Last Week
1Fenerbahçe Ülker (4-0)Last season, the incomparable Mirsad Turkcan played only one EL game due to injury. He's rejoined the party this season, dropping 13 and 10 in last week's trouncing of a very physical Montepaschi team. If he stays healthy enough to produce at this level all season long, a trip to Barcelona is not a stretch. Wednesday at Cholet2 (81-68 W vs. Siena)
2Maccabi Electra (3-1)Jeremy Pargo hard to the rim, misses the shot. Fellow point guard Doron Perkins grabs the offensive board and, with all of Khimki focused on the interior, kicks it to a wide open David Blu(thenthal) for a gamewinning three with .4 seconds left. The beauty of having two guards ready and willing to attack. Thursday vs. Asseco Prokom6 (78-76 W at Khimki)
3Regal FC Barcelona (3-1)Gianluca Basile goes down with an injury and Barcelona can't wait but a few weeks to snatch Joe Ingles from CB Granada. Other potential suitors were reportedly Simas Jasaitis and Bojan Bogdanovic. It must be nice to snag some team's best player and bring him off the bench. Wednesday at Montepaschi Siena4 (69-55 W vs. Lietuvos Rytas)
4Union Olimpija (3-1)I suppose CSKA had to get a win eventually, and Olimpija had the ill fate of seeing Moscow in their most desperate moment. They need to dust themselves off and carry on. Stozice Arena can be a powerful elixir. Wednesday vs. Valencia3 (65-55 L at CSKA Moscow)
5Zalgiris (3-1)So, yeah. Didn't see that road win coming against Caja Laboral. And let's hear it for Mirza Begic, whose 16 and 8 is precisely what Zalgiris hoped they were getting last season from Union Olimpija. One rule has been consistent this year in Zalgiris: don't expect to play weak and win. Exhibit D was Caja getting outrebounded 43-21. Filthy. Thursday vs. BC Khimki13 (88-92 W at Caja Laboral)
6Montepaschi Siena (3-1)As the old adage goes, defense never slumps. But even a steady diet of D can't cure 37% from the field on the other end. It was only one game, but they need to regroup. And fast. Barcelona's no slouch. Wednesday vs. Barcelona1 (81-68 L at Fenerbahçe)
7Panathinaikos (3-1)Nick Calathes might have put an end to the longest transition period in modern basketball history by dropping 11 points, 6 assists and a couple of steals in their big win over Efes Pilsen. That's exactly the kind of help Dimitris Diamantidis needs in his backcourt. Thursday at AJ Milano8 (84-61 W vs. Efes Pilsen)
8Olympiacos (3-1)Vassilis Spanoulis leads the EL in assists. Teammate Milos Teodosic is second. I guess the question marks hovering around that tandem are dissolving pretty quickly. Wednesday at VIrtus Roma7 (86-78 W vs. Spirou)
9Real Madrid (3-1)Novica Velickovic gets a season high 18 minutes and puts up 9 points, 4 boards, 2 assists, a steal and a block.Find my man some PT. Wednesday at Spirou9 (83-81 OT W vs. Brose Baskets)
10Caja Laboral (2-2)David Logan, Fernando San Emeterio and Brad Oleson combined for 16 in their disappointment against Zalgiris. Don't expect that three-headed swingman to go so quietly the rest of the season. Wednesday at Partizan5 (88-92 L vs. Zalgiris)
11BC Khimki (2-2)Now owners of a 6-point win, a 4-point loss, a 4-point win and most recently a 2-point loss. Seems like it's all leading up to one big tie this week in Kaunas. In unrelated other stuff, it was nice to see Sergey Monya assert himself offensively in the second half against Maccabi. Thursday at Zalgiris10 (76-78 L vs. Maccabi)
12Efes Pilsen (2-2)Always hailed as a versatile and physical defender, Kerem Gonlum's offense has really started to come around since moving to Efes from Ülker for the 2005-06 season. Improving every season since, Gonlum's got his average up around 10 points this season and the D hasn't taken a rest, good news for all Efes fans. Bad news is that Lawrence Roberts hasn't yet joined the party. Averages of 5 and 5 won't get the job done. Thursday vs. CSKA Moscow11 (84-61 L at Panathinaikos)
13Brose Baskets Bamberg (2-2)Bamberg is a missed call (Brian Roberts was clearly behind the line on that OT three) and a D'Or Fischer tip-in away from a 3-1 record. If Kyle Hines keeps shooting 73% from the field Bamberg just might hustle their way to the Top 16. Thursday vs. Unicaja12 (83-81 OT L at Real Madrid)
14Partizan (2-2)Once thought to have a shallow front court, Partizan could have one of the scariest by season's end. Nathan Jawai has squeezed in nicely, so to speak, and James Gist went off for a 24 RKG at Asseco Prokom. Then there's Jan Vesely, who's yet to make his expected impact four weeks in, but this already looks like a repeat of last year's gradual explosion: his 5.6 average RKG in the regular season leapt up to 13.5 in the Top 16. You just can't hold an athlete like that down for long. Wednesday vs. Caja Laboral17 (62-69 W at Asseco Prokom)
15Cholet (2-2)After reeling off two straight wins against Group C's bottom dwellers Rytas and Cibona, it's time to host the EL's finest. They need to come ready to scrap. Wednesday vs. Fenerbahçe15 (71-84 W at Cibona)
16Armani Jeans Milano (2-2)After getting molested on the boards since Pecherov's injury, Jonas Maciulis and Stefano Mancinelli finally took it upon themselves to make it happen in the paint, combining for 16 in last week's win in Valencia. If you want to get road wins, creating extra possessions are a must, and only Maccabi and Fenerbahçe have picked up multiple wins away from home like Milano has. Thursday vs. Panathinaikos16 (69-80 W at Valencia)
17Unicaja (2-2)Anyone have Berni Rodriguez on their fantasy teams last week? Considering a -8 RKG preceded his 36, I' venture to guess only the true B-Rod devotees are raising their hands right now. ELA salutes you. Thursday at Bamberg18 (104-83 W vs. Roma)
18CSKA Moscow (1-3)OK. Finally got one. Check it off the list and take a deep breath. I'm feeling a big week from Trajan Langdon, who's still fully capable of going shot for shot with the likes of Rakocevic this week in Istanbul. Any doubters should take a peek at his Parisian outburst against Partizan in last year's third place game. Thursday at Efes Pilsen19 (65-55 W vs. Union Olimpija)
19Valencia (1-3)If I were Manuel Hussein, I would dream up some creative punishment for being outrebounded by the diminutive AJ Milano rotation last week at home. It would involve hills, sacks of sand, and industrial strength elastic bands. Maybe some 'power electronics' also, just to keep the sponsors happy. Wednesday at Union Olimpija14 (69-80 L vs. AJ Milano)
20Virtus Roma (2-2)Things started off just peachy for the Romans with a pair of easy wins in weeks one and two, but a couple frames later they sit at .500 after losses of 18 and 21 points. Perimeter scoring has been an issue, and Charles Smith needs to do better than the 2.7 points he's averaged since week two. Wednesday vs. Olympiacos20 (104-83 L at Unicaja)
21Lietuvos Rytas (0-4)Congratulations, Rytas. You've been the most impressive winless team thus far. Three road games out of the first four is tough, especially when two of those are at Barcelona and red hot Fenerbahçe, but a tough schedule's no excuse. Nobody said this Euroleague business would be easy. Wednesday vs. Cibona22 (69-55 L at Barcelona)
22Asseco Prokom (0-4)Only one loss has been of the double digit variety, and that's a reflection of their inability to close. Last year, for better or for worse, it was Qyntel Woods late. This year Daniel Ewing is trying to fill David Logan's role as perimeter scorer while incorporating new teammates Wilks, Brown and Giddens. Identity has been a problem for Daniel and, by extension, Asseco Prokom. Even with all of those issues, the back court is the least of Prokom's worries. Thursday at Maccabi Electra21 (62-29 L vs. Partizan)
23Cibona (0-4)I hate to put this so bluntly, but Cibona blew it last week. A win against Cholet would've put them in the driver's seat for Group C's fourth spot, and now they sit in the cellar with a trip to Vilnius looming. Meanwhile, Cholet has the comparative advantage over both of the winless teams below them. It all could've been avoided if some threes had fallen in Zagreb (Boganovic: 1/7 from beyond the arc).Wednesday at Lietuvos Rytas23 (71-84 L vs. Cholet)
24Spirou Charleroi (0-4)They have lost games by 8, 9, 10, and 11. If we were playing poker they'd be on their way to quite the hand. Wednesday vs. Real Madrid24 (86-78 L at Olympiacos)

The Dotted Line Up: McCalebb to Montepaschi, Mikhail to Maccabi, and Jankunas heads home.

By: Freaknick/@euro_adventures

Bo McCalebb, Point Guard, Montepaschi Siena (from Partizan)

A band can top the charts with an atrocious lead vocalist and a multinational corporation can rake in billions under a clinically incompetent CEO, but don’t expect to see a championship caliber basketball team without an elite point guard orchestrating the show. So while BP pollutes our waters and Nickelback does the same to our ears, Montepaschi has been scouring the hoops landscape for someone to replace their lead singer of four years, Terrell McIntyre, who fled for Malaga.

It seems they’ve done just that. His name: Lester “Bo” McCalebb. His last gig came with Partizan, who scooped him up just a week prior to their first EL contest. It didn’t end horribly: 22 games, 13.4 points, 3.4 assists, 2 steals and an All-Euroleague Second Team bid, all while sending the illustrious club to its first EL Final Four since 1998. Add that to Adriatic League, Serbian League and Serbian Cup titles and I’d say Bo’s year wasn’t awful. His reward was a trip to Siena where he steps in as the unquestioned starter, a fate I was not so sure would befall him. See rumors had him going to Barcelona, which would have been an utter waste of his abilities. The thought of him splitting touches five ways with Rubio, Navarro, Lakovic and Basile is a stab to the heart of the fantasy player inside of me. It’s his show now, and he deserves that.

McIntyre’s departure, along with Henry Domercant and Romain Sato, will give Montepaschi games a different feel than they’ve had the past few years, but with young gunner Pietro Aradori aboard it could also mean a younger, faster backcourt rather than the grind-it-out style that’s defined Siena in the past. Not necessarily better, but different, which can evolve into better if you let it. In addition to the starting lineup, Bo steps right into a leadership role on this team too, alongside Ksistof Lavrinovic and the now iconic (to me at least) Shaun Stonerook. I’m still hoping to see Siena shake things up a little more by signing a slasher—Sato was one of the best—and clearly more will be expected of David Hawkins who never appeared to take a breath the entire 2010-11 season; horrendous passes, cramming himself into double teams and awkward shots ensued. He’s better than that, and his skill will shine through this year with the expanded freedom and responsibility.

I can only hope now that Aleks Maric decides Partizan’s offer—whatever it is—has enough commas to keep him around for another year. Otherwise, the brutal pattern persists and Belgrade loses all its stars once more.

Paulius Jankunas, Power Forward, Zalgiris Kaunas (from BC Khimki Moscow Region)

The brighter news Sunday came out of Kaunas that big man Paulius Jankunas was returning home after a lousy showing with BC Khimki last season. His sixth and most recent season with Kaunas, 2008-09, included some nifty stats: 13.8 points and 8 rebounds as a very mature 24-year-old. Now he’s 26 and coming off a season in Russia where his EL production dropped off to 8.2 and 4.9 thanks to his sudden urge to step outside and shoot 53 triples in 16 games; his previous EL high had been 34 in 20 games back in ’07-08. A little tougher to grab boards when you’re 20 feet from the glass. No wonder the numbers tailed off.

With Travis Watson sucking everything down in the paint for Zalgiris and Omar Samhan pretty much one-dimensional offensively, Jankunas’ stroke will help out, but he can’t fall in love with it. I know he’s a European power forward and society tells him he was put on this earth to stretch defenses, but what society doesn’t understand is that pulling a post threat away from the hoop is doing nothing but favors for the opposition. Zalgiris fans—a label I now loosely identify with—should send Paulius written pleas begging him not to poison Mario Delas’ head with visions of corner threes and 15-foot fadeaways. If Kaunas wants to compete, they ain’t doin’ it with cutesy finesse tactics. It’s got to be tough, and with the team they’ve assembled it might as well happen now.

Mikhail Torrance, Guard, Maccabi Tel Aviv (from the University of Alabama, NCAA)

Here’s how it went: David Blatt gets hired, Maccabi signs Richard Hendrix, Blatt tells Hendrix (and all of his new players) that he’s committed to winning and connecting with his players on a more personal level than Pini Gershon did. You know, he’s like the “cool dad” of coaches—the one who buys the teenagers wine spritzers and lets them watch R-rated movies—and the first order of business is asking their thoughts about the team. Hendrix says there’s this kid who played with him for two seasons at Alabama and is cut out for Euroball: he’s got a sturdy build, positional versatility, and can distribute from either the 1 or the 2 (much like Doron Perkins). His name is Mikhail Torrance and he’s a beast, and the best thing about him is he didn’t get drafted despite having some great individual workouts and more than enough talent. See he’s got this common heart issue that pushed him right out of the top 60 on June 24 and now he’s available and Richard has already put in a good word. Blatt asks his US scouts about him, they call his agent and sooner than you know it Mikhail’s on his way to Israel.

Granted, I made that scenario up in my head (and acted most of it out to myself in my empty bedroom, which was oodles of fun), but I’ll bet it’s not far off. Besides, Tucaloosa is often hailed as the Tel Aviv of Western Alabama, so I’m positive the cultural transition will be seamless. As far as finding a fit for Torrance, it looks like Alan Anderson is headed elsewhere (Olympiacos maybe? I no longer trust any signings I read until they’re reported by EL.net…gotta be certain) so Mikhail along with Israeli MVP Elishay Kadir would be a nice replacement by committee. Speaking of committees, I’m heading up the “Bring Halperin Home” committee trying to get Yotam back and playing in the yellow jersey. While spirits are high, funding is low, so send whatever you can spare.

So with all of this stored away in our files, it’s time to sort and shift 55 players into their rightful spot in ELA’s rankings. Where do McCalebb, Jankunas and Torrance end up? Look and see below, and make sure to note the biggest movers (Omar Samhan up, Jaka Klobucar and Arvydas Siksnius down) in this edition of The Dotted Line Up:

RankPlayerTeamHe's here because...Last Week
1Terrell McIntyreUnicajaEL's streakiest team picks up EL's most consistent PG. Viva Malaga.1
2Romain SatoPanathinaikosThe 'D' Pana needs at the 3 w/o the lack of 'O' they're used to.2
3Marko TomasFenerbahçeF**k Jacob & Edward. I'm #TeamMarko.3
4Bo McCalebbMontepaschiWith the season he had last year for Partizan, one could argue McCalebb vs. McIntyre is a push.-
5Vassilis SpanoulisOlympiacosI just hope this doesn't turn Teodosic into a pure jumpshooter.4
6David LoganCaja LaboralWith Tiago gone, the ACB champs will run. And run and run and...5
7Ali TraoreLottomatica RomaHis lefty hook is second only to Navarro's runner as far as trademarked shots go.6
8Andrew WisniewskiEfes PilsenNo more PG duty for Rakocevic. The best need-based signing of the summer.7
9Brad NewleyLietuvos RytasCan't wait to see him in Action in Istanbul this summer, Vilnius this fall.8
10Robertas JavtokasValenciaI think Valencia could make noise, and The Hammerhead could be the difference.9
11Richard HendrixMaccabiAthletically he's a downgrade to Fischer, but he plays a smarter, better game.10
12Omar CookValenciaIt remains to be seen how de Colo will adjust to off-ball scenarios.11
13Matt NielsenOlympiacosOlympiacos needs to bring in more frontcourt offense before I'm ready to slide Matt up.12
14Paulius JankunasZalgirisThank the Lithuanian Lord. Now pray that he regains his '08-'09 form.-
15Sergio RodriguezReal MadridLlull/Rodriguez could easily be the league's coolest backcourt...if Ettore Messina allows it.13
16Krzysztof SzubargaAsseco ProkomThe stage is set for Daniel Ewing to slide over and fill David Logan's scoring shoes.18
17Jamont GordonCSKA MoscowLike teammate Tomas, he earned the right to play for a winner.14
18Pietro AradoriMontepaschiInflated role should get him 12+ per game.15
19Dusko SavanovicValenciaBeautiful complement to Javtokas down low. And to everyone else, everywhere else really.17
20Miroslav RaduljicaEfes PilsenHas the skills. I question the desire. Efes needs him to ramp it up.16
21Kaya PekerFenerbahçeExtra points for stealing him away from rival Efes.19
22Engin AtsurFenerbahçeGentlemen, start your Engins. Calling it now: breakout year.20
23Kosta PerovicBarcelonaHe'd be a great pickup for anyone else. For Barca he's just another guy.21
24Mikhail TorranceMaccabiLove when teams capitalize on potential NBA draftees who slipped through the cracks. Keeps 'em hungry.-
25Elishay KadirMaccabiAlways important to lock up homegrown talent.22
26Luc-Arthur VebobeCholetMay end up on my All-Beastly team.23
27Milovan RakovicMontepaschiDoes the EL test for steroids?25
28Sergey BykovCSKAI really need to see how the CSKA backcourt shakes out before I rank him appropriately.26
29Clay TuckerReal MadridShould see plenty of good looks with Rodriguez/Prigioni runnin' thangs.27
30Darjus LavrinovicFenerbahçeYou like him more than I do. This I promise you.30
31Cenk AkyolEfes PilsenHawks draft pick. Holler back.29
32Erwin DudleyEfes PilsenGive him 20 minutes and he'll grab you 6 or 7 rebounds.32
33Arvydas SiskniusLietuvos RytasLooked great when I saw him play, so maybe I'm biased.24
34Omar SamhanZalgirisSamhan is a great 3rd or 4th big now that Jankunas is back in town.39
35Jerry JohnsonLietuvos RytasWith Newley and Kelys on board, Rytas should play much faster next year.28
36Kostas KaimakoglouPanathinaikosA definite offensive upgrade over Stratos Perperoglou.31
37Ian VougioukasPanathinaikosI'm liking this pick up more every day. Will look good next to Batiste (who wouldn't?).37
38Zydrunas KelysLietuvos RytasThe world will soon know Speedster Kelys.33
39Jure LalicCibonaNot great when your team's best signing is this low.36
40Jaka KlobucarPartizanIt would be great if he could spell Bozic/Kecman.34
41Romain DuportCholetHe'll block some shots. So that's cool.38
42Pablo AguilarReal MadridJust pray he doesn't get stuck on the bench a la Vlad Dasic.40
43Dragan MilosavljevicPartizanIf it's not Klobucar who steps up on the wing, it better be Dragan.35
44Nicolo MelliAJ MilanoThis signing will look terrific in two years.41
45Jeff FooteMaccabiStyle of play will be no issue for the Ivy Leaguer. The athletes will.42
46Tal BursteinMaccabiIt must seem like I'm hating on the veterans pretty hard. Sorry.43
47Andrea MicheloriMontepaschiPart of a bulk signing to make MPS feel good about their interior D.44
48Giedrius StaniulisLietuvos RytasHe and Valanciunas should have some fun practices.45
49Rasko KaticPartizanLord have mercy on the man who's expected to fill in for a 7'6" behemoth.46
50Cemal NalgaLietuvos RytasIs Rytas going to have enough jerseys to go around?47
51Eimantas BendziusLietuvos RytasWell Rytas certainly has options on the perimeter. Good ones? Not sure yet.48
52Meredis HoumounouCholetHe doesn't need to buy a vowel.49
53Drago PasalicCibonaThinking of donating the contents of my piggy bank to CIbona.50
54Gustavo BarreraUnicajaI sure hope Rafa Freire's ready to go.51
55Paulius DambrauskasLietuvos RytasNothing personal, Paulius. It had to be somebody.52

Mirza Begic fills a (big) hole down low for Zalgiris

By: Freaknick

Don’t look now, but Zalgiris might make some noise in the Euroleague after a year of hibernation.  On Saturday they announced that Union Olimpija’s 23-year-old Slovenian big man Mirza Begic would be joining them in the paint for three years.  This signing comes on the heels of Paulius Jankunas’ departure to BC Khimki, and Begic-along with former Euroleague rebounding champion Travis Watson-should instantly give them one of the best frontcourts in Group A. Just Imagine the damage they could have done if Jankunas (and now-Zaragoza center Loren Woods, for that matter) would have stayed along for the ride.

Begic averaged 1.6 blocks in 10 Euroleague games last year-good for 3rd best in the regular season-and after averaging 3.6 points and 2.7 rebounds two years ago, he bumped his line up to 11.1 and 6.1 last season.  Along with the offense, the defense, and the room for growth, Zalgiris is getting some of the best young feet in Europe; Begic treats his pivot foot like a loaded gun and he whips out up-and-unders that would make Kevin McHale proud (watch him go to work below).  And in case you were thinking about to slap the Euro-big stereotype on him, think again: he’s a tough customer who has taken exactly ZERO three-pointers in his two Euroleague seasons.  He understands his strengths and he’s determined to beat you with his best stuff.  Frankly, it’s quite refreshing.

Dreadlocks and Dutch Cookies: Things I missed in my week at sea

By: Freaknick

As part of my desperate attempt to piece together something that resembles a social life, I spent the past week singeing the skin off of my nose at Virginia Beach.  But while I was busy blinding my fellow beach-goers with Emir Preldzic-like paleness, the Euroleague world managed to keep spinning without me (crazy, I know).  So with sunburns healed and internet access restored, I’ve had a few hours to sift through the wreckage of this week’s action.  All I could muster were these bite-sized musings:

August 10-Morris Finley signs with AJ Milano…What a colossal waste!  Montepaschi Siena could have had it all: the glory, the fame, the headbands.  The Italians first showed their commitment to having the Euroleague’s most impressive collection of hairstyles when they extended All-Hair All-Star Shaun Stonerook until 2012.  Then they went a step further by adding David Moss and his crown of locks (think Lil’ Wayne in his first installment of The Carter).  If that weren’t enough, David Hawkins packed up his tightest do-rags and brought his carefully manicured head to Italy for some good old-fashioned, salon style basketball.  Hawkins’ departure clearly left AJ Milano’s hairdressers reeling from boredom, so they decided to play dirty; they plucked Finley from their Italian neighbors, thus shooting down Siena’s dream of becoming the hair to the throne.  I mourn alongside most of Europe at the thought of what could have been.  No word yet on whether a Lavrinovic/Childress swap is in the works.

Right to left (also in order of fabulousness): Hawkins, Moss, Stonerook, Finley.

August 10-Nuggets forward Linas Kleiza signs with Olympiacos…After Denver’s improbable run to the Western Conference Finals, they seem to have had their fill of winning, thank you very much. If it weren’t enough to lose defensive dynamo Dahntay Jones to the Pacers, Kleiza will now watch from afar (Greece) as the Nuggets employ an interesting strategy for conquering the NBA this season; that is, to play 82 games without a bench.  But don’t worry Denver: at least you re-signed Anthony Carter so that he can poach minutes from rookie Ty Lawson.  You really can’t blame the Nuggets for penny pinching I suppose, as J.R. Smith requires two NBA-level contracts: one for him and another for his lawyer.

August 11-Guillem Rubio signs with Unicaja…So maybe I exaggerated the Continue reading Dreadlocks and Dutch Cookies: Things I missed in my week at sea