Map not to scale, not for navigation use.
Map not to scale, not for navigation use.
Long time followers of this site will know I place a lot of value on the Four Factors approach to game analysis. See this previous post for further details.
You heard it here first!
The deal has not been formally announced by the team yet, but lobpasstoabercrombie.com understands The New Zealand Breakers are set to sign former Belmont University star Kerron Johnson as their new import point guard.
Kerron Johnson is perhaps most famous for his game winning shot over the Murray State Racers which helped the Bruins clinch a berth (a program-best 11th seed in the West) in this year’s NCAA March Madness tournament. Interestingly Johnson had turned down an offer from Murray State four years prior to play for Belmont. The Bruins were knocked out in the first round of the NCAA tournament this year by Arizona, despite Johnson’s 22 point haul in the round 1 game. During his time with Belmont, Johnson led the Bruins to 102 wins, four regular season championships and three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.
The 22 year old senior will play his first professional basketball in Auckland, New Zealand for the Breakers replacing reining MVP and all round national hero, Cedric Jackson. These will be big boots to fill for the 6″1 point guard, and not just because Jackson was a full 3 inches taller than him.
In many ways Johnson’s game appear similar to that of Jackson, he’s a drive-and-dish style point guard, who can both score the ball (averaging 14.3ppg in his senior year) and find his team mates (4.8 assists per game in 2013). Johnson’s game utilises his speed and quickness (yes, they are 2 different things) to beat his defenders and get to the rim or the free throw line. He also averaged 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals in his final year in College which saw the Bruins finish with a conference-best 26-6 record. Johnson is not known for his three point shooting, but this isn’t a skill the Breakers are desperate for, as he will be surrounded by shooters at the Breakers. Like Jackson, Johnson will serve as a distributor and ball handler, however he may find some defensive match ups with the larger point guards in the league a good challenge as he steps into his professional career.
Kerron Johnson’s team-mate and back court partner at Belmont, Ian Clark (also a senior) was picked up by the Utah Jazz after an impressive Summer League outing for the NBA team, in which he won the 2013 NBA Summer League MVP (Las Vegas). Both he and Johnson went undrafted in the 2013 NBA draft. Clark was only rated 2 spots higher than Johnson in the 2013 DraftExpress Top NCAA Seniors rankings, which is a promising sign.
Johnson was named to this year’s Ohio Valley Conference all-tournament team as well as being named the conference’s MVP – both honours he also received the previous year when the Belmont Bruins were part of the Atlantic Sun conference. In fact he was named in the all-conference team every year he was in college.
Kerron Johnson along with Ian Clark led the Bruins in the Win Share column, which long-time readers of this blog will know that I love. Johnson is more renown for his offensive skills than his defence, and this is reflected by the fact that about 63% of his total win share is contributed from OWS. Perhaps the most important stat that stands out to me though is his assist rate of 29.2%. This means that around 1/3 of every possession he had ended him finding his team mate for a scoring opportunity – a highly valued skill for a point guard.
Johnson’s turnover rate wasn’t great at about 20%, which is something that may need to work on as he finds his way through the NBL season.
Kerron’s greatest strength however appears to be his ability to take contact and get to the free throw line. He averaged almost 7 free throws per game his season and knocked down about 78% of them. He got to the line 210 times last season giving him the 21st best free throw rate in the entire country (73.57). He said in an interview with ASAP Sports earlier this year “my role is to take the hits and control the tempo” and he seems to have that down to a fine art.
All in all a solid signing from the New Zealand Breakers coaching team, and one that will no doubt keep Breakers fans entertained. Many of you will have read about the Wildcats new signing yesterday of James Ennis, with many Cats fans already proclaiming him to be the MVP of the NBL for this coming season. I’m always cautious of laying these kinds of expectations on players straight out of the college system, as playing against hardened professionals, such as those they’ll come up against in the NBL is a lot different to playing against teenagers. There will be a number of players fresh out of the US college system in the NBL this season, and it will be exciting to see how these players develop their professional careers.
Below is the boxscore from last night’s New Zealand v Cameroon game in Shenzhen, China. I didn’t see the game, so I can’t give you much, other than it was won with a free throw from Mika Vukona. There are rumours the game will be on Shenzhen TV around 12:30pm (NZ) today – but I can’t promise you anything sorry.
I have included Cameroon’s boxscore too on a separate tab. I hear Christian Bayang is unemployed… Any NBL takers? Would be nice to have an import from somewhere other than the USA for once.
Thanks to @cameroonbasket for the help finding the info
Because they are almost impossible to find anywhere else, I have compiled the boxscore stats from last night’s game between China and New Zealand below. I recorded these live, but have double checked them against the photo of a boxscore Basketball NZ put up on their Facebook page, and them seem accurate. I did record a few extra offensive rebounds for Vukona and Salt which I’ve taken off because they were not on the official stat sheet, although I’m fairly confident they actually happened. I didn’t take off Jack Salt’s block, because that definitely happened, even if the Chinese don’t want to admit it.
Will do my best to get hold of Game 1 numbers for you too.
Disclaimer: Before you read this article three things should be noted. Firstly, sorry to all the Australians who read this blog, but if you do continue reading, I hope you can sympathise with us. Secondly I would like to completely separate Basketball New Zealand from the New Zealand Breakers. The Breakers are now well promoted, well resourced and well covered by the media. They have made huge strides in recent years and should be congratulated for their contributions to basketball in New Zealand. And thirdly, this is all my own opinion, based on my experiences and frustrations as a fan. I don’t speak for anyone else.
The fact that you have located this site and have begun reading this fairly lengthy article indicates that you are likely to be something of a basketball enthusiast.
Like me, you’ve probably got multiple tabs open in your browser right now, checking stats from games, doing your best to keep abreast of the latest NBA, NBL and European frantic free agency periods, possibly even using the Trade Machine on ESPN.com to hypothetically correct the train-wreck of a season facing your favourite team (yes, I’m a Nuggets fan…).
You’re most likely a tech savvy and well informed individual, who uses a smart phone, has a twitter account, an NBA LeaguePass account and has learnt that the three letters ‘Woj’ now indicate breaking NBA news. What separates you from the millions like you though, is that you live in New Zealand.
And this is where it gets tricky.
Here in New Zealand, being an NBA fan is easy – regular season games are available a few times a week on ESPN or every minute of every day with your League Pass account. You can buy NBA jerseys from your local Rebel Sport, you can talk about players with most of your sporting-minded buddies and you can watch the NBA finals at almost any bar around the city.
What you can’t do however, is support your own national basketball team.
There has been a lot of coverage lately around the lack of funding Basketball New Zealand (BBNZ) has received from High Performance Sport NZ, mostly because of our new favourite son; Steven Adams making New Zealand basketball a dinner time conversation. But I’m going to go ahead and say it – lack of funding is not an excuse.
In the modern age of the internet (yes, that does sound like something your dad would say) it should be easy to follow the progress your national basketball team – I can’t go near a computer without knowing the every move of Team USA. It is unfortunate though, that I know more about the Australian Women’s basketball team than I do about the Tall Blacks.
This is not the fault of the media, who have done a fine job of trying to cover the sport in recent times – the rise of the Breakers even means we are getting a little more than just a re-hashed press release too. I believe instead that BBNZ have a number of fundamental issues relating to how they view the sport which is creating frustrated and disconnected fans.
Firstly, the focus of the organisation is firmly on ‘grassroots’ player and coaching development. Obviously this in itself isn’t a bad thing at all, but when your resources are extremely limited, as they are with BBNZ it becomes all too easy view the community like students rather than fans. For example, if BBNZ were bicycle shop, it would be investing all it’s resources in teaching kids to ride bikes, rather than selling it’s bikes and helping customers. BBNZ seem oblivious to the fact that New Zealand already has a large section of the public who love and understand basketball, or even just appreciate sport in general and would love to have a local and national team to support if it was sold to them in the right way.
I have never played a game of rugby, can’t kick a ball to save myself and don’t fully understand how a scrum works, but I still won’t miss an All Blacks game – and it is this sporting mentality that is being overlooked by BBNZ. People love to support the national side, they’ll watch the games, wear the jerseys and cut out the players pictures from the Weetbix boxes even if they’ve never touched a basketball in their life. BBNZ have not made supporting the team an option for the casual fan, instead burying it deep in a website that is the internet equivalent of the TV show Horders. Fans want easily accessible video content and photos, player profiling, easily accessible stats, results and ways to watch and follow their team – NONE of which should blow the budget (Youtube is free now guys) and until they get that, BBNZ can never claim to be a modern sporting body. It should be noted here that www.nzhoops.co.nz is a great alternative to the giant smoldering turd that is www.basketball.org.nz
Secondly (yes, all that was only one point) – Funding. BBNZ don’t receive any money from High Performance Sport NZ, but I’m sure that’s not news to you – we know and accept that now, let’s move on. As almost every single media article I’ve read about this issue regurgitates; basketball is the second biggest sport in the world and is one of the most participated in sports in the country. Up until now though, this has been used as an argument against the lack of government funding coming into the BBNZ offices. Let’s look at it another way though – shouldn’t a sport with such a large following be able to support itself? Why have BBNZ not been able to capitalise on the huge potential fan base and create something that resembles a profit?
I believe the answer is found within my first point (can you remember that far back?). BBNZ doesn’t understand the needs of the modern sports fan. There are two major revenue streams which don’t exist for BBNZ and the first, most obvious one is merchandising.
I have a Tall Blacks tee-shirt in my cupboard, it’s one of my favourite t-shirts and one I wear proudly – but good luck trying to get one of your own, I purchased it from a former player on Trademe. So here we go BBNZ – a little money making tip from me to you, ready?: Sell t-shirts BBNZ, please for god sakes SELL T-SHIRTS. It’s so monumentally simple. Everyone loves tee-shirts, everyone loves basketball. This may come as a revelation to you, but PEOPLE WILL ACTUALLY PAY TO WEAR YOUR BRAND AND PROMOTE YOUR PRODUCT.
I do not have a marketing or business background, I studied Geography at university and am therefore under qualified in making these comments but, I have done my own very basic investigation into this anyway and you can easily make $20 profit from a t-shirt if you sell it for a reasonable $40 to $45, probably more if you’re smart (and let’s not assume that at this stage). Lets say BBNZ sell 2,500 Tall Blacks t shirts (that’s not even 1 for everyone attending the upcoming game at the NSEC) – boom, that’s $50,000 profit right there, enough to cover Steven Adam’s insurance for the World Champs next year. This doesn’t even include the massive market for basketball jerseys in New Zealand at the moment. I’d buy a Phill Jones or Kirk Penney Tall Blacks jersey the day they went on sale, and I bet hundreds of others would too, that’s not to mention how many ‘Adams’ Tall Blacks jerseys would sell next year. How about NZ NBL Final Four t-shirts? Historical jerseys from famous NZ NBL players? The list goes on – and sorry it’s beginning to sound like a rant. I just find it down right ridiculous that I can buy a Team USA jersey in any Footlocker in New Zealand, but I can’t wear a Team NZ jersey unless I actually make the team (not going to happen).
My second money making tip for BBNZ is (and this is going to come as a surprise…): How about you actually play some games in New Zealand so fans can PAY to come and watch you. If the New Zealand Breakers can sell out Vector Arena multiple times over the course of one NBL season against teams like Townsville, then surely it follows that if the national basketball team, containing not just the Breakers but the best New Zealand has to offer play a game there (especially against Australia) it should be the same. I know this seems like a stretch given the present situation, but lets just imagine it’s marketed properly. That’s income right there, and it’s money earned from doing exactly what it is your organisation is set up to do – play basketball. Imagine for a second my friends, sitting in a full 9,000 seat arena, supporting your national basketball team.
It has been four years since the last game the Tall Blacks played in New Zealand. FOUR YEARS. We currently have some of the best, if not the best crop of talent this country has ever seen and this is what’s happening. BBNZ cannot even organise a single home game for our national team in four years. WHAT ARE YOU DOING? No wonder they don’t get any funding, I wouldn’t fund that either. I know I’m not the only one who is disgusted by the fact that we are having potentially the golden days of New Zealand basketball pass us by because a group of people (using the word ‘people’ there instead of something else took restraint) can’t figure out how to promote a sport that basically does all the promoting itself, to a nation of fans desperate to support their team.
I’m hitting the keyboard keys pretty hard right now, and using way more capitals than any sane person should, so I think I’ll take a break.
It’s been well over 12 hours since the Tall Blacks finished up their first warm up game in China last night, perhaps I’ll check the boxscore and see who played well…
Nope, doesn’t exist? Oh well… Never mind…
So lets recap instead then, so you can all go to bed; Basketball in New Zealand receives no government funding, but this shouldn’t matter because the crop of talent is the best it’s ever been, it’s a very popular sport in this country receiving ever increasing media coverage, we’ve got a three-time NBL championship team playing here and we’ve even got our very own NBA player now, so it should mean that BBNZ has more money than it’s ever had. They’ll be fine, right?
I don’t know anyone who ‘works’ for BBNZ but I do know that for some odd reason they’re based in Wellington, and all signs would point to the fact that they most likely do not have an internet connection into the building. So I’m going to break this whole article down into 5 points that they can write down in red crayon and stick to their wall.
Upon re-reading this post, I realise that I may sound like a raving madman, but I’m actually ok with that under these circumstances. For too long basketball in New Zealand has been keep locked away from us fans and it’s time that BBNZ stopped taking pity on itself and actually were as proud of the sport they are supposed to be promoting as us fans are of supporting it. We have national heroes like the staunch Mika Vukona, the seemingly unstoppable offensive machine that is Corey Webster and the human highlight real called Tom Abercrombie that deserve more than this. Let us be fans BBNZ, let us support our team.
INFO CURRENT AT DATE OF PUBLISH | THANKS TO ANDTHEFOUL.NET FOR PROVIDING MOST OF THE INFO