Brandon Yip will play for Portland Pirates

GLENDALE. Ariz. — The Phoenix Coyotes have assigned veteran forwards Tim Kennedy, Brandon McMillan and Brandon Yip to the Portland Pirates, their AHL affiliate.

Between them, the three players have played a total of  419 NHL games.

Kennedy, a center who has played for the San Jose Sharks, Florida Panthers and Buffalo Sabres, scored 18 goals and had 49 assists during the 2008-09 season while playing for the Pirates.

McMillan, a 23-year-old left wing, played parts of three seasons with the Anaheim Ducks.

Yip, a 28-year-old right wing, spent the last two seasons in the NHL with the Nashville Predators.

via Coyotes assign three veterans to Portland Pirates | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Jeremy Lin humble but predicts Houston Rockets will contend – ESPN

Img359561768Though Jeremy Lin conceded he has “a lot of holes” in his own game, the Houston Rockets’ point guard said he believes the free-agent signing of Dwight Howard makes the team a dangerous threat as an NBA championship contender.

Reminded that Hakeem Olajuwon told Fox 26 in Houston the Howard-Lin tandem on offense could be “very deadly” after the former Rockets great worked out both in Colorado, Lin said, “I think our team can be deadly,” in a taped interview to be aired on ESPN Radio’s “The Ian O’Connor Show” on Sunday morning.
“I think Dwight Howard himself is already pretty deadly of a player,” Lin said. “For us, it’s just a matter of getting on the same page and buying into the system, and I think adding [Howard] as a piece to the puzzle, it’s incredible. I think we’re all extremely excited and we know what we have, and he looks healthy, he looks explosive, and he’s looking better and better in terms of recovering from his [back] surgery.”

Howard left the Los Angeles Lakers in July to sign a four-year, $88 million deal with the Rockets, which gives the center the ability to opt out of his contract after three seasons. With James Harden an established perimeter star, the Howard acquisition is expected to elevate Houston — a first-round playoff loser to Oklahoma City last year — into the upper tier of Western Conference teams.

“We don’t have the [postseason] experience,” Lin said, “so we’re going to have to make up for that somehow, some way. And we don’t really want to wait around and wait three years down the line to be able to compete for a championship; we want to do that now. … If everything jells together in an ideal situation, I think we can be a championship contender for sure. But that’s a big ‘if,’ and we understand that, and our coaching staff understands that.

“And I think our players right now, we’re all talking about being committed to winning a championship, and being able to sacrifice. I think sacrifice is going to be a big, big word for our team.”

In his workouts with Howard, Lin said he has been surprised by the big man’s touch from the foul line. Howard shot 49 percent from the line in his final season in Orlando and in his one and only season with the Lakers, inspiring some opponents to intentionally foul him.

“One thing that people don’t really see, [Howard] can really shoot free throws,” Lin said. “When we were shooting, he was shooting really, really well. And I think for him it’s just a matter of getting more comfortable in a game. It’s definitely there. Sometimes you’ll see players who might not be able to shoot the free throw that, well, you can understand. … But he can really shoot, and that’s something that really caught me by surprise.”

Undrafted out of Harvard and cut by three teams, including Houston, Lin caught the basketball world by surprise during his brief but wild Linsanity run with the New York Knicks in the middle of the 2011-12 season, when he suddenly became one of the more recognizable athletes in the world.

jeremy-lin-shoppingAfter the Knicks declined to match the three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet Lin received from Houston, he averaged 13.4 points and 6.1 assists and started all 82 regular-season games before getting hurt against the Thunder. Lin acknowledged that he was burdened by expectations, and that he got down on himself while failing to duplicate Linsanity in Houston. But Olajuwon said Howard’s presence would allow Lin to play pressure-free basketball this year.

“I agree with that, more so now than ever,” Lin said. “The majority of the pressure is leaning on other guys, and it’s going to give me a little bit more space and a little bit more freedom to be able to just be myself, and I think that’s something that I’m looking forward to for sure. For me, I have high expectations for myself, and in no way was I satisfied with my year last year. But the fact that other people think it was a disappointing season to me is somewhat of a compliment that they think I might be able to do more.

“One thing I have to remind myself is I just turned 25 years old, and to be honest I really have only been playing consistent basketball in the NBA for a season and a half, if that, and so I’m very young in my career. And because the expectations of Linsanity are so big and the shadow is so large … sometimes I have to take a step back and remind myself the journey has just begun.

“I don’t have as much freedom or the usage rate that I had in New York. I have to learn how to play a little more off the ball, how to cut better, how to shoot better, how to defend better. There are a lot of holes in my game, and I’ll be the first one to admit that. … It’s just a matter of trying to become better and repair and improve. Teams know what my strengths and weaknesses are now, and I don’t have that element of surprise anymore.”via Jeremy Lin humble but predicts Houston Rockets will contend – ESPN.

Videos: Yao Ming’s Top 10 NBA Moments

Thirty-three years ago, a man-child was born in Shanghai, China. Yao Ming, arguably one of the most dominant centers (during his relatively short career), celebrates his birthday today. Though his career ended rather quickly (the stress of being a 7-6 big man took its toll on his feet in particular), he helped change the NBA landscape and opened the NBA to a brand new fanbase in China.

Yes, China loved Jordan and Kobe, but Yao was the first Chinese player to be relevant in the NBA. His career averages may not scream “wow!” (19.0 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.9 bpg), but during his 8-year career, Yao Ming was the first (and probably last) of his kind. Will we ever see another 7-6, 310-pounder with a soft shooting touch and above average passing ability in our lifetime?

Jeff Van Gundy, Yao’s former coach, once told Grantland’s Jonathan Abrams the following about Yao: “People are saying he was pretty good. No, he was dominant. He could play. You could make the case he didn’t do it for long enough to be considered an all-time great. But this guy was dominant when he played. In his age group, he was the best center — when healthy.”

With all that considered, it felt necessary to take a look back at some of the best moments of his career in honor of the big man’s birthday.

click here to see the top 10 moments in videos: Dime Magazine (dimemag.com) : Daily NBA News, NBA Trades, NBA Rumors, Basketball Videos, Sneakers » Blog Archive Yao Ming’s Top 10 NBA Moments.

Jeremy Lin Compares Rockets’ Kevin McHale and Lakers’ Mike D’Antoni (Video)

At one point in time, it was controversial to suggest that Jeremy Lin struggled in his inaugural campaign with the Houston Rockets. Even if you prefaced that statement with the admission that he was still a solid player, and that he admittedly got thrust into circumstances that he wasn’t entirely prepared for, just noting that he didn’t perform to expectations in 2012 was considered some sort of slight against Lin’s ability to play basketball at a high level.

Thankfully we’ve moved past that. Now, even Lin’s most rabid fans will acknowledge that things didn’t go according to plan last year. The reason why that’s important is because, until you admit there was a problem, you can’t determine why the problem existed in the first place. And if you can’t determine why the problem existed, you can’t fix it.

A lot of theories have been floated over the past month about why Lin struggled in his first season with the Rockets. During his Reddit AMA, Daryl Morey said it was because of injuries. That’s a pretty popular theory. Lin himself blamed it on the injuries at various points, as well as the pressure of having to constantly perform at a high level finally getting to him.

It’s hard to argue that injuries and pressure weren’t major stumbling blocks for Lin last season, but it’s important to remember another pretty major one: Kevin McHale.

From the moment that the Rockets acquired James Harden, McHale did everything in his power to tailor the offense towards him. That left Lin, who has a very specific set of skills that need to be utilized in a very particular way, out in the cold. No reasonable person will make the case that Patrick Beverley is a better player than Lin, but he played better when it mattered most last year. Why is that the case? Because he is more malleable. Houston needed someone beside Harden who didn’t need anything drawn up for him; who could just stand and wait – something Lin couldn’t do.

The biggest reason why Lin struggled in 2012-13 wasn’t his injuries or the pressure, it was McHale’s inability to put him in position to be successful.

During a recent interview with China Central Television, Lin was asked about the difference between McHale and Mike D’Antoni. Lin’s analysis was fascinating.

The whole interview is worth a viewing, really, if you have the time. Check it out below.

via Jeremy Lin Compares Rockets’ Kevin McHale and Lakers’ Mike D’Antoni (Video).

Li Na becomes first Chinese to reach US Open semis

NEW YORK: Li Na became the first Chinese player to reach the semifinals of a US Open when she beat Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2 in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.

Li, seeded fifth at Flushing Meadows, reeled off the last four games to seal victory after nearly two and a half hours at Arthur Ashe Stadium, raising both fists in the air as the New York crowd roared its approval.

“This is my first time in the semifinals so I’m very proud of myself,” Li, already the only player from the world’s most populous country to win a Grand Slam singles title, said in a courtside interview.  “After losing the second set, I was feeling a little bit sad … so I just told myself to play point by point and try my best.”

Li’s semifinal opponent will be either world number one Serena Williams or Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro after they were scheduled to meet in Tuesday’s feature night match. The 31-year-old Li was not at her absolute best against the left-handed Makarova as both women struggled in the gusting winds.

Li has been at the forefront of China’s rise in women’s tennis. Although Zheng Jie was the first Chinese player to reach a semifinal, making the last four at Wimbledon in 2008 and the Australian Open in 2010, Li has enjoyed greater success.  In 2011, she became the first Chinese to make a Grand Slam final when she finished runner-up in Australia.  A few months later, she won the French Open, and earlier this year she made another final Down Under.

via Li Na becomes first Chinese to reach US Open semis – Times Of India.

Beijing throw rugby sevens match

The 12th Chinese National Games were rocked by a scandal on Tuesday after the Beijing women’s rugby sevens team threw their rugby sevens final against the Shandong team in protest against controversial refereeing in Shenyang, Northeast China’s Liaoning Province.

Beijing had been widely considered favorites to win the gold, but Shandong scored two tries to quickly gain 10 points soon after the start of the match.

The game finished at 71-0.

The astonishing score was the result of the Beijing team giving up the match at the second half.

The seven players formed a ring on the field and did nothing despite Shandong’s continued attack as the scoreboard showed 15-0.

With little over five minutes to go, the Beijing team began insisting the referee’s judgments were “wrong” and that there had been a fault before Shandong reached the end zone with their third touchdown, so Beijing should be ­awarded a free kick.

Shandong expanded their lead ­during this time, while Beijing’s head coach ­Jiang Xuming, shouted “Change the ­referee and then we will go on ­playing” at the dugout.

But the jury committee made an announcement after the match, saying the referee, who comes from Spain, made the right decisions which were “accurate and fair,” and the Beijing side played “negatively.”

Liu Jingchao, a sports reporter with the Shenyang-based Chinese Business Morning News newspaper, said on his Sina Weibo after the match, “Most of the Beijing players wanted to continue to play, and some of them even cried when the head coach decided to throw the match.”

Luo Le, a sports commentator with the Hunan-based Titan Sports ­news­paper, said that the Beijing team had made the wrong choice.

“Sports games are doing their best to become fairer, even though in sports there is no absolute level of fairness. ­Refusing to play a game is just conducting themselves in a manner which is abusive to the sport itself and goes against the spirit of sports,” Luo told the Global Times.

Xu Jiren, head of sports at the ­Xinhua News Agency, said on his Sina ­Weibo, “We cannot ignore the incentives ­involved in the scandal while at the same time criticizing the players for throwing the match.

“We also cannot ignore such spirit-violating behaviors in sports as there might be something unfair.”

The women’s rugby sevens games at the National Games saw only six teams competing for the gold medal. Aside from Shandong and Beijing, the teams included Anhui, Jiangsu, Hong Kong and the hosts Liaoning.

Rugby sevens is now recognized as an Olympic sport and will make its debut in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

via Beijing throw rugby sevens match – SPORTS – Globaltimes.cn.

Jeremy Lin of Houston Rockets eager to try pick-and-roll with Dwight Howard

BEIJING — Jeremy Lin said Sunday he’s looking forward to pairing up with newly acquired Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard.

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AP Photo/Andy Wong

Jeremy Lin is in China to oversee a basketball camp.

The 25-year-old Lin, in China to oversee a basketball camp, told reporters that, although he hasn’t yet trained with Howard, he sees a natural affinity in the pair’s affection for the pick-and-roll game.

“He really likes to play pick-and-roll and I really like to play pick-and-roll, so I hope we can work really well together and really happily learn how to play with each other.” 

Lin said it was too early to talk about his future in Houston after his first season in which he started all 82 regular-season games and averaged more than 13 points and six assists.

“Right now I know there’s always speculation about what might happen, but I haven’t made any decisions I haven’t thought about it and I’m going to approach that question when the time comes,” Lin said.

The Rockets went 45-37 during Lin’s first season with the team and lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs. 

via Jeremy Lin of Houston Rockets eager to try pick-and-roll with Dwight Howard – ESPN.

The Jeremy Lin movie, Linsanity, comes out to theatres in October

All right, Jeremy Lin fans. After premiering at the Sundance Film Festival and making its way through the film festival circuit, the feature documentary Linsanity gets its theatrical release this October. Directed by Evan Leong, with exclusive access — Evan and his team were following Jeremy long before he was a household name — the film follows his unlikely, underdog rise to NBA stardom.

via angry asian man.

 

Yi Jianlian storms back to help China crush Bahrain, Philippines tops Group E

MANILA, Aug. 7 Xinhua — In the last day of the second stage at the 27th Asian Mens Basketball Championship, defending champions China bounced back from its awful 1-2 record in preliminary stage to win all three matches after their dominant 88-66 win over Bahrain here on Wednesday.In the other group, Chinese Taipei was edged by Qatar to suffer its first loss in the tournament, which gave Philippines the chance to top the group.

After missing previous four matches, Chinas top player Yi Jianlian was back on court and took seven of his 12 points in the first quarter, in which China only conceded five points to Bahrain.Yi didnt play in the second half but still took a second team-high 12 points, along with six rebounds.”My injury is still hauling me but I feel good tonight,” said the former NBA center. “Tomorrow will be an important day for the team to prepare for the knockout stage. The most important games are coming soon.”China enlarged the lead to 22 by halftime.

Bahrain were able to bring down Chinas lead to 14 points, but two free throws from Chen Jianghua and a last minute tip-in from Wang Zhelin bumped the lead back up to 18 at 61-43 entering the final period.Hussein Altawash scored back-to-back jumpers for Bahrain to cut the lead down to 16 but Wang Zhizhi and Chen Jianghua’s triples secured Chinas big win.China will play against Chinese Taipei in Fridays quarterfinals, against whom the defending champions kept an unbeaten record.

Chinese Taipeis unbeaten record was ended by Qatar, who bounced back from the loss to the Philippines, beating Chinese Taipei 71-68 in a bruising matchup.After a 15-all first quarter, Qatar was able to slip ahead by a point following the second and third quarter, 29-28 and 49-48, respectively.In the final period, Jarvis Hayes forged a game-high 12-point lead for Qatar but a late run from their foes cut the deficit to three with less than two minutes left.

Tian Lei‘s layup tied the score at 68-all, but Daoud Mosa Daoud put Qatar in lead again. Chinese Taipei could have forced overtime, but Tseng Wen-Ting’s attempt failed. Chinese Taipei suffered their first loss of the tournament.After beating Hong Kong, China 67-55, the Philippines tied Qatar and Chinese Taipei with a 4-1 record but still got the top seed as they had more score differences among the three teams. The host will take on Kazakhstan on Friday, who was thrashed by Iran 85-53. Iran now is the only team stay unbeaten.In Wednesdays other matches, Jordan beat Japan 65-56 to book the last berth in quarterfinals while South Korea defeated India 95-54.

via Yi Jianlian storms back to help China crush Bahrain, Philippines tops Group E – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

7’9″ Sun Ming Ming marries 6’3″ Xu Yan to build the world’s tallest married couple

 Sun Ming Ming  Last night wedding, the wedding has appeared on another bride.

Last night, 2.36 meters tall basketball player Sun Ming Ming, and height 1.9 m handball player Xu Yan held a wedding. Both the total height of 4.26 meters to become the world’s tallest pair of husband and wife.

CCTV host Zhang Bin, former world champion Sunland  and other sports celebrities offered his congratulations via video some of the actress also sent a blessing.

Halfway through the wedding held in the morning when the bride had just arts actor who accidentally Sun Qian also holding a large bunch of lilies arrived on the scene, bless Sun Ming Ming, XU Yan tied the knot. Sun Ming Ming Sun Qiante Do not praise enough loyalty groom, thank him in his busy preparing the wedding morning also found time to go to her wedding. Sun Ming Ming is moved to say, I did not expect Sun Qian Gu did not even bridal motivated, they first went to his side to get a blessing.

It is reported that after the team left Beijing Shougang, Sun Ming Ming’s life is very rich, with the help of friends to complete the wedding. Stage, Sun Ming Ming promises more than willing to play after marriage, wife Xu Yan never wrong. Xu Yan said that if they have children, I hope can play basketball, because sports people physical and mental health.

via 2 m 1 m 91 36 Sun Ming Ming Xu Yan to build the world’s tallest married couple (Figure) _ Basketball-CBA_ storm _ Sina Sina Sports.

Mighty Chinese tower over Fiba Asia Tournament roster

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CHINA might have lost seven-foot grinder Wang Zhizhi to retirement but the defending champion will still tower over other teams in the 27th Fiba Asia Championship slated Aug. 1 to 11 at MOA Arena.

Led by 7-foot-3 Li Muhao, seven-footer Yi Jianlian and Wang Zhelin (6-11), the Chinese are truly the epitome of the basketball adage “height is might” in their quest for a second straight Asian championship.

The triple towers of China’s Great Wall will be complemented by point guard Sun Yue and power forwards Zhou Peng and Li Xiaoxu, who all stand 6-foot-8, pushing the team’s average height to 6-foot-6, the tallest among the 16 countries in the fold.

Veteran guard Liu Wei and Chen Jianghua, both 6-foot-2, are the shortest players on the floor for the 2011 Fiba Asia champions.

Iran, the 2007 and 2009 champion, is not far behind in terms of length with 7-foot-3 Hamed Haddadi, seven-foot Rouzbeh Arghavan and the stocky 6-foot-9 Asghar Kardoust manning the paint.

The Iranians also have a trio of 6-7s in power forwards Hamed Sohrabnejad and Oshin Sakahian and shooting guard Saman Veisi. They have an average ceiling of 6-5.

Gilas Pilipinas is seventh as far as elevation is concerned. Naturalized center Marcus Douthit (6-10) will protect the shaded area along with the 6-9 Japeth Aguilar and 6-10 June Mar Fajardo.

Gilas, a collection of stars in the PBA, stands 6-foot-3 on the average but has an undersized set of guards in Jimmy Alapag and LA Tenorio, both 5-7, and 5-10 Jason Castro.

Jordan is the third tallest squad at 6-foot-5 average with Ahmad Hekmat Aldavairi (6-9), Mohammad Shaher Hussain (6-8) and Ali Jamal Zaghab (6-8) patrolling the shaded lane.

Qatar averages 6-foot-4 ½ followed by Japan (6-4) and South Korea (6-3 ¾). Thailand is the shortest at 6-1 average.

via Mighty Chinese tower over Fiba Asia roster | Inquirer Sports.

Korea stuns China in FIBA-Asia

MANILA, Philippines – Korea leaned on a near-flawless game by forward Joo-sung Kim to pull off a 63-59 upset over defending champion China in Group C of the 27th FIBA-Asia men’s championship Thursday night at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

The six-foot-eight Kim hardly missed as he went six-of-seven from the field, hitting all of his six shots from the two-point area en route to a team-high 15 points.

“We practiced a lot for this game. China got taller guys than our team. We’re happy because we overcame China’s height,” said Korea’s coach Jae Hak Yoo.

China’s star big man Yi Jianlian recorded a double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds and single-handedly carried his team back in the game late after Korea threatened to blow the game open.

“He’s a good player. He’s tall and fast,” Kim said on Yi.

Down two, Zhou Peng muffed a gimme before Sungmin Cho gave Korea a four-point cushion 61-57 at the stripe with only 21.5 seconds remaining.

Young point guard Xiaoyu Liu scored on a quick two in the ensuing play plus the foul but missed the crucial free throw as Korea’s Donggeun Yang clinched the game on two free throws with only 13 ticks left.

Korea tries to go for another stunner when it faces Iran Friday while China looks to vent its ire on listless Malaysia, who got whipped by Iran, 25-115, in the opener.

via Korea stuns China in FIBA-Asia | Inquirer Sports.

6’2″ Guard Kim Sun-Hyung dunks on the fast break:

Brandon Yip Signs With Phoenix Coyotes

Phoenix Coyotes announced today that they have signed UFA  forward Brandon Yip to a one-year, two-way contract.

Brandon Yip was originally drafted by the Colorado Avalanche

Brandon Yip played last season in the National Hockey League for the Nashville Predators.

The 6-foot-1, 195 pound winger played in 34 games this past season recording 3 goals, 5 assists for a total of 8 points with 26 penalty minutes (PIM) anda plus/minus of -3.

In parts of four NHL seasons with Nashville and the Colorado Avalanche, the 28-year-old native of Vancouver, British Columbia has played in 172 regular season games, recording 29 goals, 27 assists for 56 points along with 130 PIM.   He has also appeared in 16 Stanley Cup playoff games, totaling 3 goals, 3 assists for 6 points and 12 PIM.

Yip was originally drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the eighth round (239th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry

Last season Brandon Yip made $750,000.

via UFA Brandon Yip Signs With Phoenix Coyotes – Arizona Hockey Talk.

Golden moment for Chinas Zou Shiming in second professional victory in Macau

Zou Shiming won his second professional fight at Fists of Gold II with a unanimous decision over teenager Jesus Ortega at the Venetian CotaiArena last night. But fans were still left wondering when the two-time Olympic gold medallist will really step it up and win inside the distance.

Zou certainly looked sharper and faster as he landed punch after punch against the gritty 19-year-old, who did not seem intimidated by his much more heralded opponent.The battle started fast and furious and ended with a slugfest, but there was still no knock down or knockout by the 32-year-old, who just was not able to land the killer punch.

In his first bout since his successful professional debut in April, Zou was moving fast and furious in the first round. There was no showboating or hands down, as he began aggressively and never let up in the six-round flyweight contest.But Ortega, who was carefully handpicked by promoters Top Rank and lost his second professional fight from five bouts, was a surprise.

Unlike his last fight against Eleazar Valenzuela, Zou this time did not finish the fight with his face unblemished.Ortega managed to connect several good punches to Zous head and the Olympic champion was sporting a bruised left eye even before the third round.

Mexican Juan Estrada also made a successful defence of his WBO and WBA titles, defeating gritty Filipino Milan Melindo by a unanimous decision. Estrada handed Melindo his first defeat in 29 fights, winning the last two of the 12 rounds in superb fashion.

Filipino Dave Penalosa knocked out Thailands Ngaotawa Sithsaithong in a super bantamweight contest.Penalosa extended his win record to 6-0, 4 KOS after finishing with a huge uppercut that floored his opponent in the third round.

via Golden moment for Chinas Zou Shiming in second professional victory in Macau | South China Morning Post.

Chinese diver He Chong wins third springboard world title in a row

BARCELONA, Spain — He Chong won his record-tying third consecutive world title in the men’s 3-meter springboard on Friday, giving China its seventh gold medal in eight diving events.

He Chong’s latest springboard title on Friday came a year after the 26-year-old from China was dethroned as Olympic champion.

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Trailing heading into the fifth and next-to-last round, He nailed an impressive dive to ultimately finish with 544.95 points. It was He’s second gold this week after dominating the synchronized 3-meter springboard with Qin Kai on Tuesday.

He’s victories in 2009, 2011, and 2013 match American Phillip Boggs’ record of three titles from 1973-78.

“I don’t think records exist in diving,” He said. “I had never thought about it. But I am very happy now that I have it.”

He finished with 544.95 points through six dives.

Evgeny Kuznetsov, of Russia, took silver with 508.00 points, his second at these worlds, while Yahel Castillo, of Mexico, claimed bronze with 498.30.

The 26-year-old He’s latest title came a year after he was dethroned as Olympic champion in this event. He said that the adversity had made him work harder.

“It is normal there are some doubts, nobody can be on top all time,” He said. “I failed and made mistakes, but I grew from those mistakes and faced the future.”

The final was billed as a two-man battle between He and Qin, given their run of titles in recent years and the elimination of Olympic gold medalist Ilia Zakharov, of Russia, in the semifinals.

But Qin never recovered from a poor start. A blown third dive, when the 2007 champion entered the water at a strange angle, doomed him to a fifth-place finish.

Instead, the steadier Kuznetsov emerged as the leader. But He executed a tough forward tuck with 4 ½ somersaults after launching himself from a running start to total 102.60 points and overtake the Russian.

Earlier at the Montjuic Municipal pool, Chinese duo He Zi and Wang Han topped the semifinals for the women’s 3-meter springboard.

He led the 18-diver field with 370 points. Wang was next with 362.40, and Canada’s Jennifer Abel was third with 344.10. The final will be held on Saturday.

He took gold in the women’s 1-meter springboard by 0.10 points on Tuesday, the smallest margin of victory in diving world championship history.

The swimming competition begins Sunday.

American Missy Franklin will take on a Phelpsian-like workload by swimming eight events – five individual races, plus all three relays.

via Chinese diver He Chongwins third springboard world title in a row | The Augusta Chronicle.

Jeremy Lin is the Perfect Point Guard for New Houston Rockets

The Houston Rockets have made waves during the 2013 NBA offseason, signing All-Star center Dwight Howard to a four-year deal worth $88 million. In the days since the agreement was reported, trade rumors have surfaced in reference to point guard Jeremy Lin and center Omer Asik.

While there may be attractive options, Lin is the perfect point guard for the new-look Rockets.

Chris Broussard of ESPN was one of the numerous journalists to report a potential Lin for Josh Smith sign-and-trade with the Atlanta Hawks. With Smith signing with theDetroit Pistons, however, that possibility has been eliminated.

Rather than contemplating alternate trade scenarios, the Rockets would be best to stand their ground with their mercurial point guard.

Pick-and-Roll Specialist

Hi-res-166439905_crop_exactScott Halleran/Getty Images

Jeremy Lin has holes in his game that he must address to make the leap to the ranks of the elite point guards. His jump shot is inconsistent, his three-point range is limited and his all-around defensive abilities are less than desirable.

If there’s one thing Lin has mastered, however, it’s running the pick-and-roll.

Lin has the perfect build to serve as a pick-and-roll facilitator at 6’3″, giving him the size to survey the passing lanes and make a variety of entry passes. Once the dive man attacks the rim, Lin does an excellent job of hitting the perfect angle to draw both defenders’ attention.

It’s then that Lin can either take his man off of the bounce or make the feed for an assist.

Working with Omer Asik, this wasn’t a strength that Lin could make the most of, as the big man displayed hands of stone. Without an athletic dive man to take passes and finish at the rim, Lin’s game was thus limited.

With Dwight Howard, that wouldn’t be an issue.

Lin-to-Howard Connection

Hi-res-6817414_crop_exactUSA TODAY Sports

During the infamous period of Linsanity, Lin used a variety of different athletic big men to maximize his pick-and-roll facilitating abilities. From Tyson Chandler to Amar’e Stoudemire, the Knicks employed multiple athletes to finish around the rim.

Who better to help Lin return to glory than D-12?

Offensively, Howard makes his money as a pick-and-roll finisher that can set power screens and finish in traffic. While he’s not particularly skilled outside of the paint, Lin can work with James Harden to run a dual ball-handler set with the high screen game.

Something teams such as the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat have done to perfection.

Lin will need to improve his jump shot to keep opposing defenses honest, but if he’s able to, he and Howard would form a close to unstoppable chemistry. Lin naturally looks to high screens, while Howard is more inclined to step out to the perimeter and dive than he is to set up out of the post.

If you’re really hung up on Lin’s deficiencies, however, there is something to keep in mind.

He’s Only 24

Hi-res-163781553_crop_exactScott Halleran/Getty Images

Jeremy Lin became a superstar in a matter of weeks, taking part in a period ofLinsanity that will forever live on in the NBA record books. Since then, he’s been compared to players such as Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo as the community looks to maintain his supposed superstar status.

Oh, how quickly we forget how young and inexperienced Lin truly is.

Lin is currently 24 years old with 107 career starts under his belt. Prior to playing from the opening tip in all 82 games for the Houston Rockets in 2012-13, he’d made just 64 total appearances and 25 in the starting lineup.

So why is it that we’re expecting him to be elite?

Lin is at least two years away from his prime, which is quite encouraging considering he averaged 13.4 points, 6.1 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. This is nothing short of surprising, as Lin simply wasn’t trusted to run the show in Houston.

Lin saw his usage rate drop a full 7.0 percentfrom 2011-12 to 2012-13.

After the All-Star break, Lin showed just how rapidly he’s improving, averaging 14.9 points and shooting 37.5 percent from beyond the arc. This comes on 3.6 attempts from distance, thus displaying Lin’s most underrated trait.

His work ethic.

Lin continues to improve, and if Houston is patient and displays more trust in his abilities, it will pay dividends. Even as he struggled to adjust to a new system, he put on a strong season with minimal weapons surrounding him.

With Dwight Howard in the mix, why trade a player with elite pick-and-roll potential before his prime arrives? At this stage, there truly is no reason to do so.

via

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1697851-jeremy-lin-is-the-perfect-point-guard-for-new-look-houston-rockets

Yao Ming will be in Houston to attend Dwight Howard’s press conference

Yao Ming has planned for awhile to fly from Beijing to Houston on Air China’s inaugural non-stop flight between the two cities, only the 4th U.S. city that Air China now flies non-stop from Beijing, behind New York, L.A. and San Francisco. So it’s kind of a big deal.Since Yao is a goodwill ambassador for Houston, it made sense for Air China to invite him to fly on their first flight to Houston from Beijing. So this trip has obviously been planned for quite some time. But it’s great timing since Yao will be able to attend Dwight Howard’s first press conference on Saturday welcoming him as a Houston Rocket. That should be a pretty cool press conference since we understand Hakeem Olajuwon will also be there. Nice touch by these Rocket legends to be there to welcome Dwight to Houston.

via Yao Ming Mania! All about Chinese basketball star and NBA All-Star Yao Ming.

Movie trailer for Amazing Basketball featuring Yi Jianlian, Wang Zhizhi and other NBA stars

It’s been a year since we last heard anything about “Amazing,” the feature film produced by the NBA and the Shanghai Film Group featuring the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Scottie Pippen, Yi Jianlian and Wang Zhizhi, billed as “the first NBA-themed motion picture outside of North America” and built around a virtual reality basketball video game with visuals reportedly akin to “Tron: Legacy.” Given that lag in updates, and the fact that it’s been plodding along in development since before 2010, you might have thought that the project — which, clearly, sounds 100 percent bonkers — had been shelved or even scuttled altogether.

Well, it hasn’t. “Amazing” premiered at the Shanghai International Film Festival last week and a new trailer for it has just been released, and I have good news — it looks just as crazy as it did last year. Behold:

TRAILER: Don’t worry, that Chinese NBA movie with ‘Melo, Dwight + Scottie Pippen is still coming out (Video) | Ball Don’t Lie – Yahoo! Sports.

Su Bingtian and Wei Yongli bag 100m golds at Asian Athletics Championships – Times Of India


PUNE (India): China’s Su Bingtian and Wei Yongli emerged the fastest runners at the Asian Athletics Championships in Pune with emphatic wins in Thursday’s 100m finals.

Su retained the men’s title he won two years ago, finishing in 10.17 seconds which was slower than the 10.06 he ran at home in Beijing in May.

But his effort was enough to keep him ahead of Asian record-holder and favourite Samuel Francis of Qatar, who was second in 10.27 seconds.

Barakat Al-Harthi of Oman picked up the bronze with a time of 10.30 seconds.

Su and Francis were the chief contenders for the title after Japan’s teenage sprint sensation Yoshihide Kiryu, who clocked a junior world record equalling time of 10.01 seconds in April, opted to skip the meet.

via Bingtian and Yongli bag 100m golds at Asian Athletics Championships – Times Of India.

Jeremy Lin Gets a Chance to Shine in San Francisco Pro-Am Game

Some people need a regular basketball fix, and with the NBA out for the next four months, following free agency and trade news just isn’t enough. That’s why summer leagues have gotten such a boost in recent years, including the San Francsico Pro-Am game, with Jeremy Lin getting a chance to do a little bit more than he did for the Houston Rockets this season.

The fact that Lin scored 45 points doesn’t really matter. This is a game about fun, without too many noteworthy talents tagging along: Scott Machado(NBA Warriors Player), Drew Gordon, Steven Lumpkins. That’s about it. Lin could probably have ended with a whole lot more.

But it brings back the questions of Lin’s role with the Rockets. Obviously, he’s not going to score 45 points a night in Houston, or for any other NBA team. But he has had some big games during his third NBA season, including 38 points (without James Harden playing next to him) in a loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

In all, he scored more than 20 points 16 times last season, most of them without going off in a unique way from beyond the arc. He’s capable of having these big nights, for himself and for his team, if the ball would just be in his hand a little bit more, instead of James Harden getting most of the possession.

Lin is a point guard, and nothing will change that. He isn’t an exceptional three point shooter to warrant him becoming a spot-up kind of player (33.9% from beyond the arc last season). He does his best work on the move, and when he needs to make his decisions that also involve finding other players open, instead of thinking about scoring first and second.

For those in a need to see Lin get some sort of superstarish time on the court, the summer leagues, at the moment, are the place to be, because as long as he’s playing next to James Harden (although the arrival of Dwight Howard might change things), he’s going to continue to feel that he’s not being used the right way.

via Jeremy Lin Gets a Chance to Shine in San Francisco Pro-Am Game | Sportige.

FIBA U19M – China win thriller over Russia with 7’2″ phenom Zhou Qi

China star center Zhou Qi put up an impressive all around showing with 28 points, 17 rebounds, nine blocks and two assists in leading his team to a 61-59 win over Russia in Group D.

The Chinese wasted a 15-point third quarter lead as the Russians went on a 22-6 run to take the lead with less than two minutes left. But Zhou nailed a turnaround jumper with 28 seconds to give his team the lead and then blocked Rotislav Karenin’s shot with 16 seconds to play before Wu Qian  made three foul shots in the final 14 seconds to secure the win.

The top scorer of the day was Kang Sang Jae of Korea, who tallied 35 points. But it was not enough as Dario Saric produced a monster triple-double of 32 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists in Croatia’s 106-89 win in Group B.

via FIBA U19M – Lithuania, China win thrillers, USA and Australia roll | FIBA.COM.

Jeremy Lin’s future in Houston is unclear

While the Houston Rockets are planning to re-load this offseason, Jeremy Lin also finds the painful reality that he could be traded away anytime.

The Rockets are reportedly looking to shell out some serious money to sign top free-agents guards like Chris Paul or Brandon Jennings – a move that puts Lin in odd position to continue playing in Houston.

Lin averaged a solid 13.4 points, 6.1 assists and 1.6 steals per game in the first season of his three-year $25 million deal. Though it’s a backloaded contract, Lin has suddenly become dispensable mainly because of his poor postseason output and the emergence of Patrick Beverly at the point guard position.

There are also reports circulating about the Rockets waving Lin’s contract this offseason to create some room to sign Paul to a max contract. There are also speculations the Rockets will include Lin in a package to land All-Star center Dwight Howard.

In short, there seems no possible future ahead for Lin but out from the Rockets this offseason, a scenario that could deal a huge blow on a player that bobbed out of nowhere and took the entire sporting world by storm just a year ago.

So what exactly went wrong to the Rockets’ Lin experiment? It needs just two words to explain it – James Harden.

Yes, Lin came out of last year’s training camp still struggling to familiarize Kevin McHale’s run-and-gun offense. However, the eccentric nature of Harden to control the ball made things tougher for Lin to create his own plays and be a factor that he was with New York City.

Remember when Lin piled up at least 20 points and seven assists points in five straight games and continued the Linsanity that it was?

The reason behind it was plainly great ball movement with Lin using his incredible court vision to hit open players. When Lin is on the court, there’s going to be great floor spacing and offense will be much more efficient. The Knicks had success in running the Linsanity-centered offense for that stretch, but things started to become awry when Carmelo Anthony returned from injury. Melo plugged out the Knicks momentum by playing one-on-one basketball game, and all of a sudden team play was out of the picture. All of a sudden, Linsanity came to its demise.

As for Lin’s tenure in Houston, he unfortunately found an alter-ego of Anthony in the person of Harden. Lin could not anymore play his own brand of efficient basketball because Harden held the ball too much in his hands and even assumed Lin’s ball handling job. Yes, Harden is helluva ballplayer with an incredible ability to score. However, Lin is a way better point guard in a sense that he always looks to get his teammates involved. Unfortunately, McHale went with the other guy and the rest is history for Lin, who hasn’t found his groove since then.

This coming free-agency period, it will be interesting which team Lin will play next. The Los Angeles Lakers sound as an ideal spot for him, allowing him to reunite with Mike D’Antoni and learn under the tutelage of Steve Nash. But until then, it remains unknown what lies ahead of Lin.

via NBA News : Sports : Latinos Post.

Zach Yuen will re-enter the draft in the 2013 NHL draft

In 2011, the Winnipeg Jets returned to the NHL after relocating from Atlanta.  The buzz surrounding the team was almost palpable.  Having struggled through many years of piss-poor management, lackluster attendance, and atrocious team results, Atlanta surrendered the reigns to True North Sports and Entertainment to bring the team back to Canada.At the draft, general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff selected Mark Scheifele as their honorary 1st pick since 1996.  Another player they were pining for was defenseman, Zachary Yuen.

The Jets decided to move up in the draft by trading a 5th and a 7th round pick for a 4th round pick 119th overall to select Yuen.  After coming off an impressive season with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, it looked like Winnipeg wouldn’t rush him, let him develop in juniors, and sign him when he was willing to make the next step to the professional level.

Two years later, the Winnipeg Jets don’t have their 4th, 5th, or 7th round picks from 2011.  Zach Yuen was released by the team and was never able to come to a contract agreement.  He no longer has a team and finds himself in the same position he was in two years ago.  But there is hope.

Since he was not signed by Winnipeg to an entry-level contract with him by 4:00pm on June 1st, Yuen will be re-entered into the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.  The Philadelphia Flyers should take notice.

Zach Yuen Overview

Yuen’s inclusion in this year’s NHL draft on June 30th has just upgraded the quality of defensemen able to be selected.  He’s a prolific two-way defenseman with some of the most fluid skating you’ve ever seen.  Growing up, he was a figure skater, so his edge-work, agility, and explosiveness are nearly flawless.

A distinguished player in his own end, you likely won’t notice him much in the defensive zone, which tends to be a good thing.  He plays a simple style of hockey and with very little mistakes.  Yuen doesn’t rush the puck up ice, but his transition game is very apparent. He makes smart plays, not flashy ones.

Physicality is an aspect every defenseman should have in their repertoire.  Yuen’s game boasts it.  With his positional play, separating a player from the puck doesn’t take much.  His board play stands out and will entertain throwing some fisticuffs (seen below):

 

His defensive positioning and awareness has been his backbone.  Leading up to the 2011 draft, the term “shutdown defenseman” was being thrown around in regards to his style.  But it seems his offensive game has rounded out just as well.

Yuen mentioned his biggest asset was his “two-way game. I think I’m an all-around defenceman who can do a bit of shutting down other teams’ top lines. I can rush the puck well and move the puck well.”

Zach has a heavy shot from the point (and more importantly, accurate).  He can run a powerplay, if need be.  His passing is crisp and his hockey IQ is through the roof.  The Winnipeg Jets could have made a very bad decision by letting him go.

A 6’0″, 205 lbs defenseman is not prototypical in today’s NHL.  However, Zach shows all the signs that he will be a capable defenseman at the next level.  This is a pretty bad scenario for the Jets, but a potentially key acquisition for general managers in desperate need of a matured, technically sound, efficient blueliner…

via Zach Yuen: Flyers Get A Second Chance to Draft Him.

Winnipeg Jets decides not to sign Zach Yuen

The even bigger news, though, is Winnipeg not signing Zach Yuen.  Yuen was a fourth-round draft pick.  What is worse is that the Jets traded a fifth and seventh-round selection in the 2011 draft to the San Jose Sharks just to get Yuen at the 119th overall pick.  The question remains as to why they threw away two picks not to sign Yuen to an entry-level contract just two seasons later.  Nothing is official and there is certain to be two sides to the story; however, it does not look good for Yuen.  Or does it not look good for the team?  Could it be that Yuen decided he would rather take his chances in another draft rather than play for the Jets?  Either way, regardless of what the reason, it just is not good.

Reaction around the internet seems to be the same, everyone is surprised that Yuen was not signed by the Jets and some believe that he could even go as soon as the second or third round in this year’s draft.

via Winnipeg Jets: 2011 Draft Pick Signed.

Long Tan scores goal to help Orlando City beat Sporting Kansas City and advance to the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup

Kansas City, Kansas— A quick score by Forward Long Tan was all Orlando City SC needed Wednesday night at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas, topping Major League Soccer affiliate (MLS) Sporting Kansas City 1-0. The win advances Orlando to the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup, the first time the Lions have done so in franchise history.

Orlando didn’t take very long to take the lead, with Forward Long Tan capitalizing on a well-played takeaway from Midfielder Adama Mbengue. In only the 2nd minute of play, the former Orlando City U23s star took possession away from the Sporting KC backline- finding Long Tan in stride behind the Sporting defense. The former DC United striker slotted it past Goalkeeper Eric Kronberg in the bottom-left corner to give the Lions the 1-0 advantage.

via Orlando City Soccer Club: News.

Interview: Michael Chang on Teenage Stardom, Jeremy Lin and Tennis in China

 Michael Chang shocked the tennis world when, at age 17, he won the 1989 French Open, becoming the youngest male player ever to win a Grand Slam event. Chang went on to have an excellent career, winning 34 singles titles, more than $19 million in prize money and achieving a world No. 2 ranking in 1996. Chang, who was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, played for the U.S. team in David Cup competition and competed in the 1992 Summer Olympics. He retired from tennis in 2003 and today is active in The Chang Family Foundation, a religious organization which, according to its website, focuses on sports and Asian outreach. Asia Society spoke with Chang via email.

As a teenager, how did pressure to represent the Asian American community affect you?

I did begin to feel a fair amount of pressure, especially when I competed in Asia. It wasn’t always easy. The crowds and attention were tremendous at times and it was hard to not want to do well when I was there. That being said, I did extremely well in Asia and because of the support I received, it was very difficult to play against me with the crowd always cheering so loudly for me. I do think all top players will feel this kind of pressure, though, and it just goes with the territory and you learn to embrace it and enjoy it.

What advice would the 41-year-old Michael Chang give to the 17-year-old Michael Chang (or any other young Asian American athlete on the brink of stardom) about handling success and being a role model?

I think that everything needs to be taken in stride. Sometimes success can be a burden but when you look at it properly, it can also be an incredible platform to influence, touch and inspire lives! I did take some time to share with others when I was on tour but I wish I had taken advantage of it more. It’s not an easy balance to find with such a demanding tour schedule but it would have been nice to have done it a little more.

Michael Chang
Winning the French Open in 1989. (Getty Images)

You were one of the first Asian American male stars in pro sports, but 25 years later the media and others still make a big deal over Jeremy Lin. Has perception of Asians in American sports and in society changed over the last generation?

I think the perception had changed some but the media will still give a lot of attention to Asian Americans doing well in professional sports as it still is a rarity for the most part. After all, how many Asian Americans have done really well in professional sports over the past 10 years? And Jeremy’s success is unique because he is the first Asian American to break thru in the NBA, so the attention is well deserved. Hopefully in the coming years, it will be more commonplace and I actually believe it’s starting already in junior tennis here in the U.S.

You are best remembered for your 1989 match in the French Open final against Stefan Edberg, but what is your most memorable match?

I’m not sure if that match was more memorable or myround of 16 with Ivan Lendl. My guess would be the match with Ivan, since he was the current world No. 1 and I had to come back from two sets down and was severely cramping in the fifth set. I’ll be honest, though, and will tell you that I felt like I had a lot of divine intervention in that match and tournament! I shouldn’t have won but somehow the Lord brought me through each and every difficult match and situation. I will remember those two weeks for the rest of my life!

What do you think about the rise of tennis in China? When do you think we will see a Chinese man make it to the top 10?

I think the interest in tennis in China is so exciting and no doubt Li Na‘s recent success has had a wonderful impact over there. I hope it only continues! As far as another Chinese man in the top 10, I can’t say I see any particular players right now but obviously, when and if that happens, it will really be something special and I believe tennis will go to another level very quickly in China!

What are your thoughts on the state of American tennis today, and the lack of American men in the top 10? Is there someone up and coming that we should watch?

Tennis has been tough for American men the past few years and although we have some good young talent, I don’t see any particular players being able to challenge Djokovic, Nadal, Federer or Murray right now. I’m hoping that will change, but those four players are playing at a level way above everyone else right now. And that just makes it even more difficult for the young Americans. Hopefully in time, though …

Preeti Bhuyan and Michael Zhou contributed to this report.

via Interview: Michael Chang on Teenage Stardom, Jeremy Lin and Tennis in China | Asia Society.

China long jump hope Li Jinzhe wins again

BEIJING: Long-jumper Li Jinzhe boosted his reputation as one of China’s greatest track and field hopes with his second victory over a strong field in three days at the IAAF World Challenge in Beijing Tuesday.

Li beat 2008 Olympic Champion Irving Saladino at the scene of the Panamanian’s greatest triumph, leading the field with a jump of 8.31 at China’s iconic National Stadium, which is also known as the ‘Bird’s Nest’.

Saladino could only manage a jump of 7.44m, which left him nine places behind Li, with Ghanaian Ignisious Gaisah in second and Zimbabwe’s Ngonidzashe Makusha third.

Three of the last four IAAF World Indoor Championships gold medallists were also competing against 23-year-old Li, including Gaisah (2006).

Victory for the Beijing-born jumper came after he claimed another Olympic scalp, when he won at the Shanghai Diamond Athletics meet on Saturday, pushing London 2012 gold medalist Greg Rutherford into third place.

Saladino finished eighth in Shanghai, while 2004 champion, the USA’s Dwight Phillips came 10th, after Li jumped a season’s best 8.34m.

But there was success for another Beijing Olympic champion, with 400m gold medalist LaShawn Merritt winning on his return to the Bird’s Nest in the 200m event.

He finished ahead of compatriot Jeremy Dodson and Chinese star Xie Zhenye.

In the 110m hurdles, the USA’s David Oliver claimed victory after the 2008 bronze medallist could only manage fourth in Shanghai.

“China has great fans and great atmosphere,” Oliver told Xinhua news agency, moments after he won the race ahead of Jamaica’s Dwight Thomas and the USA’s Jason Richardson.

In the men’s 100m, the USA’s Justin Gatlin crossed the line first in 9.91secs, ahead of compatriot Michael Rodgers and China’s Su Bingtian.

Su finished on 10.06secs, marginally off the 10.04secs national record set last month by Zhang Peimeng, who came fifth in Beijing.

via China long jump hope Li Jinzhe wins again – Times Of India.

NBA’s Search for basketball’s next great 7-foot center leads to India and China

BRADENTON, Fla.– Inside a gym, at a sports school first built for the minting of young tennis prodigies, a group of basketball coaches conduct an experiment of sorts. This is not an experiment like most experiments, with charts or doctors or a system of controls. Instead it is the testing of a vision, the affirmation of the coaches’ belief that there is a right way to build a certain basketball player today.

The two subjects of this experiment stand over 7 feet tall. In basketball language they are “super bigs” – men who loom like sequoias above the rest of their teammates. Only these super bigs aren’t men but rather 17-year-old boys. The tallest of them, Meng Xiang Yu, is 7-foot-2 and from China. The other, Satnam Singh, is 7 feet. He is from India. And since they are young and raw and from places where basketball is new, they are blank canvases for the coaches at the IMG Academy, where Meng and Satnam have come to learn basketball.

Because inside this gym the coaches are determined to bring Meng and Satnam along in a way no one has before. They will not push their boy giants. They will not shove them hard toward a college and NBA future many want to project. Not right away. Not while their bodies are young, their bones are still growing and overzealousness can destroy a career before it ever begins.

“What do you do with these big kids at these sizes at these young ages?” asks Nate Vander Sluis, IMG’s national varsity team coach. “How do you develop them from a basketball standpoint and from a physical standpoint? Developing a 7-2 Chinese kid is not the same as trying to develop a 6-foot, 16-year-old kid. Those two muscle groups are two different things given how much growth they have already had.”

Meng Xiang Yu and Satnam Singh tower above their teammates. (Special to Y! Sports)The answer:

“Very slowly,” he says.

Which goes strong against human nature. For the temptation is to look at 7-foot teenagers with their snowshoe feet and monster truck voices and consider them invincible even when they are the most vulnerable players on the court. Their bones aren’t ready for their size. In the high school and AAU world they are forced to play dozens of games on fragile feet, almost assuring them of serious foot problems later in life. In Europe they are hurried onto top-level professional teams to play with men in their 20s and 30s long before they are socially ready for such a lifestyle.

Breakdowns and burnout are common. Many get hurt before they get to college, let alone the NBA.

“I think it’s learning from mistakes,” says Dan Barto, the head skills trainer at IMG. “Think about a triathlon runner or a marathon runner. You don’t go out and run 26 miles, you run 10 one day and 18 another. It’s the same thing here. We are taking our time.”

So the coaches study. They look at what has worked in building super bigs in the past. They draw up workout plans designed to open new skills. They emphasize growth over victories. They build in long stretches of rest for Meng and Satnam when their feet get sore. They save them now in the hope of strengthening them for the future.

The coaches are confident in their approach. Barto has been preparing prospects for the NBA in predraft camps for a decade. Vander Sluis, at 6-foot-10, is pretty close to a super big himself. And the program’s director, Kenny Natt, was also the coach of Satnam’s national team in India, as well as a longtime assistant in the NBA. For 58 games in the 2008-09 season, he coached the Sacramento Kings. They have worked with giants before, many from other countries.

They also have seen injured American super bigs and unprepared Europeans. Barto has worked with enough Chinese prospects to know there’s a reason more haven’t flooded to the NBA after Yao Ming. Now they have two fresh, untested, uncorrupted players they can mold.

“There is not a next project, and I have a fascination with training the human body to get guys to move better,” Barto says. “To take a kid who was 15 and now he’s 19 and he’s not injured and he’s performing at a high level?”

Barto stops. He is an enthusiastic man with a wide face and eyes that pierce when expressing a point that he is sure is right.

In Meng and Satnam they have the next.


Satnam stands 7-feet tall and weighs nearly 300 pounds. (Special to Y! Sports)Late on a spring afternoon, Meng and Satnam are practicing with IMG’s top national travel team. They do layup lines. They do rebounding drills. They help run pick and rolls. For much of the time they stand together: “the IMG twin towers,” Natt likes to call them. They seem to lean on each other as if each is the only person who can understand the other’s predicament in life. But as they stand together, like enormous bookends on the edge of the court, there is something else that becomes clear. They are nothing alike.

Satnam is strong, with arms and legs that are the thickness of small trees. The basketball in his hand almost looks like a softball. He has size 22 feet that require specially made shoes. He weights almost 300 pounds. His head is enormous and his forehead juts menacingly. When he talks, his voice sounds like a muscle car starting on a cold winter morning.

His English is not strong. The words get lost in the depths of his voice. But his dark eyes are bright. Inside the weight room he is the loudest of everyone, his chuckles booming in a low throaty roar. He is the funny one, they say, even as his scowl could send shivers through a room.

 

He looks at Meng, who has barely grown into his frame, ponders his teammate’s slender arms and spindly frame spread over 230 pounds and smiles.

“I could bench-press him,” he says.

Meng is finesse to Satnam’s power. His feet are smaller, which makes him more agile. His game is born of China’s more open style of play, almost a European form of the game in which big men hang on the perimeter, avoiding the scrum under the rim and shooting 3-pointers.

“I like jump shot because I am not strong,” he says in a broken English that he has diligently learned in his 15 months in the U.S. “That doesn’t mean I am scared. My jump shot is better than the post because I am not that strong. When I first come here I don’t like any physical [contact]. Right now I get better.”

 

Each is burdened by a man neither has met. The visage of Yao Ming looms large in their lives. Meng grew up idolizing China’s great center who became the country’s lone NBA star. He says Yao is his favorite. And like many young players in China he wants to be like him. He wants to be China’s next Yao Ming.

Oddly, a similar line is used to describe Satnam. When he first arrived at IMG in the summer of 2010, a swarm of Indian journalists descended upon Florida. Satnam was news. Despite its 1.2 billion people, India has never produced an NBA player. And because Satnam was so large, wasn’t it a certainty that he would be the first? No one mentioned his awkwardness, his difficulty getting into a defensive crouch or the fact he can’t move from side to side. They all spoke of the same lofty goal no matter how distant. Satnam was their basketball hope. They called him India’s Yao Ming.

Meng grew up idolizing Chinese star Yao Ming. (Special to Y! Sports)Neither Meng nor Satnam speaks much of Yao. They are so far away from their homelands now that the comparison rarely arises. Meng likens his game to Lakers forward Pau Gasol – someone who can play both inside and out. Satnam relates more to true power centers like Dwight Howard and Shaquille O’Neal.

They are oddities at a school where most of the kids are some kind of oddity. They walk around the campus with backpacks, dodging 10-year-old tennis stars and relatives of famous athletes. They lunch with future Olympians. Yet they can’t help but stand out the most. Satnam needs a whole side of a classroom in which to spread his legs from a desk that looks like it could have come from a toy house once he settles into the chair. Meng tries to blend in, sitting with a group of kids in the front of a class, but all this does is emphasize the fact the top of everyone else’s head is at his shoulder height.

“They understand, they’re not stupid,” Barto says. “They know they can be the next big thing. They’ve heard the conversation lots of times. Every kid in China wants to be the next Yao Ming or Yi Jianlian. Basketball needs it. The whole hemisphere over there needs it. Someone has got to break through some time.”

More and more they have to wonder if it will be them.


Were Meng or Satnam from anywhere but India and China, they probably wouldn’t be here. Basketball players this tall, holding this much promise, rarely slip from the grasp of European professional leagues or the American AAU system. In a place like Lithuania or Spain, a player like Satnam would have been snared by a club team and forced to play for the country’s national team system. In the U.S., a lanky player like Meng might have been snared by hustlers and handlers. China probably wouldn’t have allowed Meng to go to IMG had he been on the country’s sports radar.

“They don’t know me,” Meng says with a shake of his head. “I was just a high school normal player.”

Had he stayed home, who knows what could have become of Meng? He would have been used by the local club teams simply because of his height, but he wouldn’t have been encouraged to lift weights or get heavier. No one would have taught him defensive rotations or showed him how to use his size to his advantage. He would have been locked to a club team. He might have been invited to try out for the national team, but the bigger possibility is that he wouldn’t have become anything, just another kid lost in the labyrinth of China’s sports machine.

[Also: Voter defends Carmelo Anthony MVP vote]

“They turn these guys into pro machines like Ivan Drago,” says Barto, who once trained Yi, a 7-foot forward in the NBA from 2007-12. “They leave their family and go to this training regimen rather than intrinsically love the sport. It becomes a job. That job gets you a [big] paycheck that you never thought you would see.”

And who at 16 years old needs an adult job?

“We are wondering if patience and vision will change the culture of basketball everywhere,” Barto says. “That’s the goal. If we do it in the two biggest countries of the world, why can’t we do it in Europe? Why not do it in the United States? What if [NBA commissioner] David Stern allows guys to go straight to the NBA again? You have to have a plan for a kid. You can’t send him to the local high school and score 30 a game. He won’t be psychologically ready.”

Satnam first arrived at IMG in the summer of 2010. (Special to Y! Sports)So the IMG coaches obsess about their players. They worry about Satnam’s feet. They see his development into a professional as a five-to-seven-year plan. They remind him he is only in his second year of a lengthy project. Then they sit him for long stretches, sometimes 10 games in a row. They tell him this is for his own good.

“There is a scientific plan and reasoning behind him being here instead of some high-level American high school where he would play with great teams and get a Division I scholarship,” Barto says. “He needs to take care of his body so if he does two years of college and goes to the NBA, his body is ready to go as opposed to breakdown, breakdown, breakdown.”


The video was a mess; dark and grainy like something shot 40 years ago on a home camera. A gigantic boy clad in a green training outfit hovered in the shadows. He stood beside a half-bent basket in what is clearly China, towering over a group of children almost a foot and a half shorter. Across the picture appeared the words: “I am Meng. I am 16 years old.” The letters were crooked. The words misspelled.

Meng’s mother, Jingling He, shot the video with her phone early in 2011. Meng added the text with the help of Google translator. They made the film with the hope that Meng could be seen, that he could leave his club team in the Chinese city of Chaoyang and be able to attend school while also playing basketball – something China’s basketball system didn’t allow.

They passed the video to a cousin who lives in California and the cousin handed it to people he thought might have basketball connections. Eventually a friend of Barto’s who works with Chinese players forwarded the clip to the trainer. Barto’s excitement grew as he watched the video, which ran barely more than a minute.

“Even if the basket was 9-foot-7, you could see he was a legit 7-1, 7-2,” Barto says. “It showed him running and it showed him taking some steps, and at 16 years old, I can project out what that body can do at 22 with the right kind of training.”

Meng is the only child of parents who are tall by Chinese standards – his father, Fanping, is 6-4, his mother 6-2 – but the real height comes from his grandfather, Quingzhu, who stands 6-7 and played professionally for a time in China. Since Meng’s parents both worked, he spent much of his childhood living with his grandparents.

When Meng was 6, Quingzhu took him to a court to show him the game he adored. At first Meng didn’t like basketball, but Quingzhu forced him to keep playing. The grandfather loved Michael Jordan. He had, in his home, a small collection of Jordan videos he played endlessly. Meng watched as Quingzhu played Jordan’s shot over Bryon Russell in the 1998 NBA Finals so many times the boy had memorized it. Slowly, Meng came to like his grandfather’s game. At 14, he decided he wanted to play basketball for a living. Two years later, he and his mother made the tape.

Nate Vander Sluis has worked with Satnam and Meng as IMG’s national varsity coach. (Special to Y! Sports)“Before I came here I was in China. I was scared because nobody is there, no family,” Meng says. “Also you can’t speak any English. If you want help you want to say, but you can’t say clearly. It’s scary.”

He looks down for a moment.

“The Chinese, we have a different culture,” he says. “But America is the best basketball nation in the world. I come here because I want to learn the American way to play.”

When Meng arrived in Florida, Satnam had already been at IMG for more than a year.

While Meng found IMG, it was IMG who found Satnam. In 2010, the basketball federation of India partnered with an IMG joint venture, IMG Reliance, to grow the sport. It worked to identify talent, hire coaches and oversee the national team’s operations.

Then Natt, in his first days as the Indian national coach, stood before a line of prospects in a New Delhi gym. The local organizers had lined up the kids in order of their height, and so the row stretched from small to modest-sized players to the last, who loomed like Sasquatch.

“How old is he?” Natt asked.

He was told Satnam was on the under-16 team.

“This guy, we definitely need him on our senior national team,” Natt remembers saying.

Over time Natt would learn Satnam’s story. He would hear of a father almost as big who owned a rice and cotton farm in a small village in the region of Punjab, which is in the far north of India, tucked up against Pakistan. He would be told that the father introduced Satnam to basketball despite knowing little about the game himself. He heard how the boy grew and grew as local clubs began to notice.

What surprised Natt most was how fundamentally sound the giant seemed to be and how well he could catch passes and hit hook shots. Yes, there were holes in Satnam’s game. Huge holes. But holes could be fixed. Desire couldn’t. His favorite moment came when he shook Satnam’s hand and his palm felt like it was sliding into a human catcher’s mitt. He looked with wonder upon one of the biggest 16-year-olds he had ever seen.

“He was so strong and he had no idea how big he was,” Natt said. “I could see he had the body of an adult man, but his personality is so genuine in the way he said ‘yes, sir’ and ‘no, sir’ and ‘can you really help me, coach?’ That’s how he presented himself to me. I cherished the opportunity.”

Meng has had plenty of room and time to grow his game at IMG. (Special to Y! Sports)When IMG decided to bring a handful of Indian athletes to train in Florida, Natt wanted Satnam. So did Barto, who had worked with him at a camp even before Natt saw him. How could they not? Here was a blank canvas, a player they would otherwise never have, someone already tall and strong. Maybe, just maybe, with the right training, he could be his country’s first to play in the league that so desperately wants India to love it.

Sitting in a room outside the gym, Satnam turns to his translator and says a few words. Then he smiles. It is a wide smile filled with gigantic teeth. If you held a basketball to his face, the smile would be bigger than the letters on the ball.

“He believes because he has the strength, the power and the advantage of training here, he thought he would be picked for the national team,” the translator says. “He was satisfied with the way he worked. Also Coach Kenny saw his performance over a period of time.”

So where does this experiment go? How does it end? IMG’s coaches say they believe Meng and Satnam can play Division I basketball. They say the goal is to get both to the NBA or at least a professional team overseas. They also figure both can play for their national teams – something Satnam has been doing for years.

Without saying the words, they seem to suggest both have a chance to be the next Yao Ming.

But that is in the future. They seem divided on what level Meng and Satnam could play if they suddenly had to go to college today. The general consensus is a low Division I school as long as the coaches there play Satnam around the basket and monitor his workload while also resisting the temptation to make Meng a center.

“It’s just difficult sometimes,” Natt says. “[People] say: ‘Why aren’t they dominating? They should be dominating.’ But as we learned, even at the pro level, you find it’s very difficult. The game has moved away from the tall guys. The best teams are average-height teams with quickness and athleticism. Those are the teams that are really succeeding. The big guys are really fading away; just like everything, it’s an evolution where it comes back.”

NBA Hall of Famer and Detroit Pistons general manager Joe Dumars, who is prohibited by league rules from discussing high school prospects, says that, in general, NBA teams continue to look for 7-foot players, but there are fewer prospects coming along. Some of his colleagues have said they won’t even draft American 7-footers, believing the high school and AAU system has ruined them.

That’s what makes the IMG experiment so important.

The IMG people don’t talk a lot about statistics. Press for Meng’s and Satnam’s statistics and the best that comes back is Satnam had 24 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots in the recent Philadelphia Jam Fest AAU tournament. Satnam himself boasts of playing 40 minutes a game in a series of games for the Indian national team in December. The focus isn’t on numbers. It isn’t on wins. The experiment isn’t about results right now.

Standing inside the gym at IMG, Barto shakes his head. He thinks about Meng, about the things he hears from other coaches and observers who tell him Meng is too fragile to play Division I basketball or that he’ll have to be a four-year player if he does.

“I’m seeing the vision [where] you have no idea what he will become when he gets into a college system or a pro system because he has things you can’t teach,” Barto says. “Yeah, he’s one-second slow as a 17-year-old and he’s one step behind and he gets dunked on by a super athletic 6-6 guy, but two or three years from now those mistakes will be gone.

“His English will understand the teaching. His body will have caught up. It will make up for those deficiencies. Most coaches aren’t patient. They are ‘win, win, win.’ They aren’t patient enough to see the project through.”

Barto crosses his arms and sighs. Outside, on a small artificial turf field under an awning to block the sun, Meng and Satnam are pulling steel sleds with ropes that are tied around their waist. They grunt. They sweat. They exhale.

It is a sight to behold: two teenagers in the bodies of giant men tugging these sleds that are big for most but look like toys behind them. There is no rush. No hurry to practice. A small breeze rustles under the awning. They are children still learning a super big man’s game. There are no clocks anywhere.

They have nothing but time.

via Search for basketball’s next great 7-foot center leads to India and China – Yahoo! Sports.

7’0″ Tao Xu bringing attention to San Francisco

Tao Xu’s basketball career at San Francisco may be just beginning, but the native of Qingdao City, China has already become quite popular in the Bay Area.

Head coach Rex Walters was recruiting another player when he heard about Xu — a 6-foot-11 post player — who was attending the Haverford School near Philadelphia for his senior year of high school.

Xu was turning heads at the prep level, and already had international experience as a member of the Chinese National Team at the 2010 U-18 Championships and the 2011 U-19 World Championships. When Walters had a player leave unexpectedly last spring, he recruited Xu to fill the roster spot.

“We had a big need for a post player,” Walters said. “I watched a lot of tape of Tao playing for the Chinese U-18 National Team, and I was impressed with what he did.”

Xu

Xu had taken the opportunity to play high school basketball in the U.S., because of the educational opportunity, and jumped at the chance to be a collegiate student-athlete.

“In China, basketball players couldn’t get a really good education, and I thought many of the Chinese professional basketball players had no job skills when they were done playing,” Xu said.  “I wanted to get a good education so I could find a better job after my basketball life was over.”

Xu and his heritage were also a great fit for the school and the community. USF Athletic Director Scott Sidwell believed the youngster would appeal to the large Chinese population (1.4 million) in the Bay Area. He had seen the popularity of NBA players like Yao Ming and Jeremy Lin in recent years, and believed Xu and basketball were a way to make a connection to the Asian community.

“It sparked a little something, and we’ve been able to connect ourselves to the Chinese community in the Bay Area and it is something we want to continue to grow,” Sidwell said. “We have a very vibrant international student population, and the majority of our international students are from China. I reached out to KTSF-TV, which is the oldest Mandarin Chinese station in the United States, and started to them about ways to market the school beyond athletics, but with athletics being at the forefront of that.”

The athletics staff began working with a couple of Chinese-American students in the school’s sports management program, specifically to deal with ticket sales and media relations for Xu.

“We have a web site dedicated to the Mandarin and Cantonese languages and a dedicated phone line, and we have done some promotions in the surrounding Asian communities,” Sidwell said.

But by far the biggest undertaking was the live broadcast of the USF vs. Gonzaga game on Feb. 16 on San Francisco’s KTSF Television — in Mandarin Chinese.

“The culmination of those efforts was a Mandarin broadcast, which we think is really, really cool,” Sidwell said. “As far as we know, it’s the first in the history of NCAA Division I Basketball.”

Sidwell had reached out to Mike Sherman, the general manager of KTSF, originally to find ways to promote USF basketball through advertisement, and eventually the idea for a live broadcast in Chinese was born.

 

“We worked with the Golden State Warriors a lot when Yao Ming was playing for the Houston Rockets,” Sherman said. “He was a big name in the NBA and Chinese community. That’s when our interest [in basketball] started. We started the first Chinese newscast in the United States 23 years ago, and sports were not a big part of it, but over the years we’ve seen a greater interest in the sport, especially in basketball. Broadcasting a game in Chinese was something I’d wanted to do for a long time.”

With the Asian population at 23-percent in the San Francisco television market, it was truly a way to reach a large fan base. The interest from sponsors like Toyota and McDonald’s was immediate, but the challenge was finding Chinese-speaking basketball play-by-play announcers. Sherman called on KTSF news reporter John Lee, a veteran Chinese sportscaster, and Job Hung, a former Taiwan National Team player.

“I’m an Asian-American, and I do understand San Francisco and the Asian population we have here,” Rex Walters said. “It’s great for our Asian community to see someone like Tao out there, and Tao is only going to get better with time and hard work. He’s having a decent freshman year for a guy who speaks English as his second language and loses some things in translation. He’s a really good kid, and does have the opportunity and the upside to be a heck of a player for us. As a freshman, it’s a lot for a kid to handle and he’s handled it well.”

Xu is averaging 14.3 minutes per game, and has started 16 times this season. While he has contributed only 3.3 points per game, Walters feels Xu has great potential.

“I think post players develop late, and the speed of the game for all of our post players is really fast,” Walters said.  “I think it will come down to working to get the strength he needs to finish the post moves he’s making.  He’s making good moves, but he’s not strong enough to finish the play.  I think he can get stronger with some work in our strength and conditioning program.”

“There is a really big difference between high school and college,” Xu said. “College players are more aggressive. In high school, they just shoot and run up and down the court. College is much more aggressive.”

Sidwell is hoping to plan future Chinese-language game broadcasts, especially as Xu develops as a player.

“We’re committed to working with KTSF and Mike Sherman to look at a segment of the market that we, quite frankly, haven’t ever marketed to from an athletic standpoint.”

The humble Xu is happy to oblige media requests, and realizes it is for the greater good for the program, rather than individual attention.

“I just want to try to help my team,” Xu said.

via Xu bringing attention to San Francisco – NCAA.com.

Jessica Gomes interview on being the face of David Jones and racism

Model Jessica Gomes replaced Miranda Kerr as the face of David Jones in March. The Sports Illustrated model touched down in Sydney this week to attend the department store’s black-tie 175th birthday celebrations. Kate Waterhouse caught up with the 27-year-old to talk about filling Kerr’s shoes, finding success in her home country and having her sights on Hollywood.

Congratulations on your new role. Did you have any idea you were going to be the new David Jones ambassador?

No, but it was always a dream of mine, so it was very exciting when I found out. I still can’t believe it; it really is huge. It is a big deal in Australia and it’s a great gig for a model. Obviously we have seen what it has done for Megan [Gale] and Miranda [Kerr], so I definitely feel very lucky. And I’m proud of myself, too – I’ve worked really hard to get where I am today.

You are a household name in South Korea and in the US. Is it nice to finally be finding that success in your home country?

Yes. I’ve worked with people like [famed photographer] Mario Testino and had my own TV show in Korea and they are amazing achievements that I’ve conquered overseas. But conquering this achievement in my own country is the most rewarding because I’m proud of being Australian, so it’s really nice to be recognised for what you do in your home town.

You are becoming recognised in Australia. Have you found the spotlight more intense since you arrived back in Sydney this week?

Yes, when I arrived at the airport and there was paparazzi and everything. I was like, ”Oh my god, this is so funny!” It felt like I was Madonna or something. I was laughing to myself. It’s a great feeling to be supported by your home country and for people to recognise you for what you’re doing.

You were once told you would never be the face of David Jones because of your ethnicity. How do you feel about that now?

Yes, and there has been a lot of talk about the whole racial thing and how ”she overcame racial taunts” and I think, oh, how dramatic. Yes, it was pointed out to me because obviously I’m ethnically ambiguous – I’m half Asian and half Portuguese. I had been told that it would never happen because it wasn’t the ”Australian aesthetic” and I thought, OK, cool. I started modelling 10 years ago and it was just different then and I had to go to Asia [to find work] and that is all good; I’m happy with the journey I had to take to get to where I am now. I’m really happy that Australia is now embracing all these different cultures because that is what the world is coming to now. Look at America, they have conquered a lot of racial problems; they now have a black president. It’s great that we are embracing and becoming more open-minded about cultures.

via Date with Kate: Jessica Gomes.

 

Jeremy Lin thinks Rockets will be more comfortable together next season

After a series of marathon exit interviews with everything from the Rockets coaches to trainers, front office decision-makers to directors of strength and conditioning, Jeremy Lin was asked how he could improve. He seemed to think it would take another three hours.

“I’ll keep you guys here longer if I go into all that,” he said.  “Just becoming a better offensive and defensive player, looking at my turnovers, missed shots, my defensive breakdowns. I have it all right now. I spent a lot of time talking about all that, what the percentages were and the advanced stats behind it. I haven’t wrapped my head around it all.”

When asked, Lin said he did like his improvement through the season. He said his chest injury would need only rest and that he had had come to grips with his playoff struggles, saying it was “rough,” while trying to play with it. He said he would take about three weeks before heading back into training.

“I’m happy with everything we did,” Lin said. “Now, three days removed, I’m less emotional, more objective about the playoffs. I think overall this season surpassed a lot of people’s expectations so we’re happy with that. One thing we did realize, we still have a long way to go. I think we’re hungry because we’ve gotten just a little taste of what we can accomplish.

“We need to get better defensively and offensively and we will be naturally in our second year just because it’s our second year. But also, along with that, just building the chemistry, just building the trust that you need to close out close games, to be able to win games on the road when it’s your fourth game in five nights, or Game 6 at home to push to Game 7.”

via Ultimate Rockets » Lin thinks Rockets will be more comfortable together next season.

Jeremy Lin promises improvement


Be it in 140-character increments or in post after post on page after page of website after website, there was no lack of opinion in the wake of the Rockets’ playoff departure that Jeremy Lin is a poseur, a disappointment, a weakling, an incomplete product, a failure, a flop.

In some ways, Lin would concur. The difference between Lin and his detractors, though, is that Lin has firsthand knowledge of what he has to do to improve his game and his contributions to the Rockets’ success and has, he believes, the time, determination and support to get it done.

“I have a long way to go. I have a really long way to go,” Lin said in the wake of his three-point, 13-minute stint off the bench in the Rockets’ 103-94 loss Friday night.

“I’m really excited for the offseason, just because I can get better, not that I wanted it to start. There are so many things I wish I was better at after playing my first whole season and realizing this is what separates good players from great players.”

Given the harsh formula of hype, expectations and potential with which he began the season, Lin could hardly help but fall short. He arrived in July, fresh off his “Linsanity” debut in New York last season, as the new face of the franchise, only to be supplanted in that role with the October acquisition of James Harden.

Still, along with center Omer Asik, he was the only player on the roster to start in and play in all 82 games, ranking third on the Rockets behind Harden and Chandler Parsons in minutes played. He improved after the All-Star break in scoring, shooting percentage and 3-point percentage and remained steady in most other metrics.

But then he ran into Russell Westbrook, figuratively, in the opening game of the Thunder series and into Thabo Sefolosha, literally, in Game 2, suffering a bruised chest muscle that sidelined him in Games 4 and 5, both of which the Rockets won, and limited him in Game 6.

And in this most devoted of football towns, Lin also faces a phenomenon with which fans are all too eager to subscribe: the backup quarterback syndrome – represented, in this case, by midseason acquisition Patrick Beverley, whose defensive intensity was valuable down the stretch, and Aaron Brooks, the former Rockets fan favorite who returned to Houston for the stretch drive.

Both had their moments in the playoffs in Lin’s absence, and the presence of each raises questions among Lin’s detractors about his value to the team

Lin, however, has coach Kevin McHale in his corner, and he knows where he has to improve to become a fully rounded point guard.

“I’m not even close,” he said. “I can talk about anything, and it would be something that I would want to be better, whether it’s defense, jump shots, making decisions, being quicker, being more explosive, being more consistent. I think I’m as motivated now as I’ve been my whole life.”

Lin was a rarity in that so much was expected from him, based on his brief flash of brilliance last year with the Knicks, while so little was expected collectively of the 2012-13 Rockets.

He said a friend told him the Rockets were a solid pick for mediocrity among the Las Vegas oddsmakers, “and for us to be here in Game 6 of the Western (Conference) playoffs against the No. 1 seed, when I look at it as a whole I’m thankful.”

“There are a lot of players who got a lot better and a lot of players who opened a lot of eyes, and the future is bright.”

That season of doubters may play a role in Lin’s outlook for next season amid conversation that the Rockets still need to make acquisitions, up to and including Dwight Howard, to be realistic contenders.

“I know a lot of people say we might need another this or another that, but we’re pretty darned good, and we’re young as heck,” he said.

When it comes to roster moves, he added, “We will do whatever we need to do to get better, but I fully believe in the guys that we have in this locker room, on this team.”

via Rockets’ oft-criticized Lin promises improvement | Ultimate Rockets.

2013 Masters — Tianlang Guan shoots 75 after penalty for slow play

AUGUSTA, Ga. — China’s Tianlang Guan, the youngest player ever to tee it up at the Masters, made the cut on the number Friday despite being assessed a one-stroke penalty at the 17th hole for slow play.

At 14, China’s Tianlang Guan is the youngest player ever to compete in the Masters. He hardly showed it, carding a 1-over 73 in his opening round. That bested the first-time scores of three legends who led off Thursday’s festivities at Augusta with the ceremonial tee shots. Here’s a look:

Debut Player Age Score

2013 Tianlang Guan 14 73

1955 Arnold Palmer 25 76

1959 Jack Nicklaus 19 76

1954 Gary Player 18 77

– ESPN Stats & Information

The 14-year-old eighth-grader shot 3-over 75 at Augusta National and is 4 over for the tournament. The cut line came at 4 over based on the 10-shot rule. Jason Day leads at 6-under overall.

At 14 years, 5 months of age, Guan is nearly two years younger than any other player in the modern era to make the cut in a major championship. The old record was held by Matteo Manassero, who was 16 years, 2 months when he made the 2009 Open Championship cut.

Guan made par-4 at No. 17 but had to put a 5 on his card.

John Paramor, a longtime and respected European Tour rules official, was involved in the decision to penalize Guan. Paramor said he issued a warning on the 10th green, advised Guan on the 12th tee, and then again at Nos. 13 and 17 before issuing the penalty after Guan played No. 17.

“I feel like that in those situations, any time they happen, that’s my job,” Paramor said. “That is what I do.”

The Masters follows the Rules of Golf as written by the U.S. Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient. Like all tournament committees, the Masters can supplement those with local rules.

Fred Ridley, competition committees chairman at the Masters, issued a statement on Guan’s penalty later Friday.

“Guan was assessed a one-shot penalty for violation of Rule 6-7 of the Rules of Golf and the Tournament’s Pace of Play Policy,” Ridley said. “His group, which included Ben Crenshaw and Matteo Manassero, was deemed out of position on No. 10. Guan began being timed on Hole 12 and received his first warning on Hole 13 after his second shot. In keeping with the applicable rules, he was penalized following his 2nd shot on the 17th hole when he again exceeded the 40 second time limit by a considerable margin.”

Guan told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi that because of Friday’s weather, he had to change his mind on which club to hit on a particular shot and that he was aware he was taking time when doing so. Guan said he respected Paramor’s decision to assess a penalty.

“I think I just changed my routine before the Masters, and the routine is good, but I think today is pretty hard because if you’re timed only 40 seconds, it’s pretty hard because you need to make the decision,” Guan said. “The wind switched a lot, but that’s [the same] for everybody.”

Crenshaw felt badly for Guan.

Fourteen-year-old Tianlang Guan said he respected an official’s decision to penalize him for slow play.

“Well, the way I understand it, he was warned after he walked off the 16th. And he had obviously the most diabolical putt you could face, and he made a brilliant two-putt,” Crenshaw said after the round. “And, you know, I’m going to say this: Anybody would take time in order to get up and hit that putt.

“And this isn’t going to end up pretty, I don’t think. I’m sick. I’m sick for him. He’s 14 years old, we’re playing when you get the wind blowing out here, believe me, you’re going to change your mind a lot. I’m sorry. I’m a player, but it is not easy to get around this golf course the way it’s set up for [these] two days.

“We’re playing threesomes. We used to play twosomes on the first two days. So everybody is taking their time. It’s difficult.

“I am so sorry. I’m so sorry this has happened. It’s not going to be pretty.”

Manassero, who was keeping Guan’s card in the group, was told by officials to write down a 5, even though Guan had scored a 4 on the hole

“I think it’s the biggest thing he needs to be careful about, because I think he’s ready. When the caddie pulls the club for him, I think he’s ready,” Manassero said. “But he just sometimes … takes a little too long, he just asks questions [of his caddie] that I think he knows [the answers to], as well, but just to be sure, just to be clear in his mind.

“And so I think that’s an important thing, and John Paramor was saying that, as well. We all feel sorry, but this is the way professional golf goes.”

Guan, the youngest player at any major in 148 years, wasn’t even born the last time a penalty was issued for slow play, against Glen Day at the 1995 Honda Classic.

via 2013 Masters — Tianlang Guan shoots 75 after penalty for slow play – ESPN.

China’s Zou Shiming wins decision in pro boxing debut. The next Manny Pacquiao?

Zou Shiming won a unanimous decision in his professional boxing debut Saturday, dominating all four rounds against Mexico’s Eleazar Valenzuela at Macau.

In what amounted to an impressive and entertaining night of boxing in Macau, Brian Campbell touches on five things we learned about the card. Blog

Zou’s high-profile flyweight debut was the centerpiece of a show at the Cotai Arena at the Venetian Macau casino. The two-time Olympic gold medalist didn’t disappoint the crowd, which waved flags and cheered for the most successful amateur boxer in Chinese history.

“I know I am a rookie, but I am confident I will improve,” Zou said through a translator. “I hope I delivered a good show, because that is what I wanted. Thank you to China for supporting me as an amateur and as an Olympian. No matter where I go or where I fight, I will always be Chinese.”

Zou won China’s first Olympic boxing medal in 2004 and its first gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Games, adding a second gold last year in London. The 31-year-old flyweight then signed with Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who teamed him with veteran trainer Freddie Roach.

Zou’s pro debut was broadcast to nearly every home in China. While other Chinese fighters have turned pro in recent years, none has Zou’s amateur success or fame.

Zou had little trouble catching Valenzuela with big shots, but didn’t manage to stop his 18-year-old opponent. Zou’s defense was intermittently successful, part of his transition from the amateur game to a pro style.

“At times Shiming reverted back to his amateur style, but that’s to be expected, and I’m not too concerned,” Roach said. “It’s a process to learn the professional style of fighting, but he is a very quick study.”

Arum plans to put Zou in a world title fight within a year, and Top Rank is in discussions about another show at the Venetian Macau in August with Zou headlining in a six-round bout.

via China’s Zou Shiming wins decision in pro boxing debut – ESPN.

Timeline of Jeremy Lin’s Up-and-Down 2012-13 Season with the Houston Rockets

There’s no quick, easy way to characterize Jeremy Lin’s first season with the Houston Rockets. His overall numbers (13 points, 6.1 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 1.8 steals, .443 from the field, .332 from three) aren’t half bad, though they’re hardly what one would envision for a guy who inked a $25.1 million deal this past summer.

Of course, James Harden’s arrival and subsequent All-Star ascendancy has had plenty to do with depressing Lin’s individual productivity. Then again, without the Beard’s brilliant, basket-attacking efforts, the Rockets are probably wallowing in NBA draft lottery “tank mode” right now, as opposed to gearing up for the franchise’s first playoff berth since 2009.

Like that of Houston on the whole, Lin’s trajectory has him on the up-and-up. Still, life in the NBA has been nothing short of a roller-coaster ride for Linsanity since he left the New York Knicks for a new life in Space City.

July 14, 2012

Lin all but jumps the Knicks’ ship when he inks a three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet with the Rockets. The contract is of the “poison pill” variety, which means that if New York chooses to match it, the team would be on the hook for approximately $13 million in Lin’s salary during the 2014-15 season.

The Knicks, deterred by the luxury tax implications of such an undertaking, decline to retain Lin’s services.

July 19, 2012

Lin is officially introduced as a member of the Rockets at a press conference in Houston.

Oct. 10-26, 2012

Lin stumbles through much of the preseason. The lingering effects of offseason knee surgery, when coupled with the ongoing attempt to acclimate himself to new teammates in a new city, appear to hinder his effectiveness on the court. Through his first five exhibition games, Lin averages 5.0 points, 6.2 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 2.4 steals with 3.0 turnovers while shooting 22.2 percent (8-of-36) from the floor.

Lin finally shows some signs of improvement in Houston’s preseason finale against the Orlando Magic. He tallies 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting along with three rebounds, two steals, five assists and no turnovers.

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Oct. 27, 2012

The Rockets send Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks and a second-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for a package built around reigning Sixth Man of the Year James Harden. On paper, Houston’s backcourt of the future is now complete.

Oct. 31, 2012

Lin puts forth a solid effort in Houston’s season-opening Halloween win over the Detroit Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills. He chips in 12 points, eight assists, four rebounds and four steals in his regular-season debut with the Rockets.

But the night belongs to Harden, as so many do during the months to come. The Beard puts up a rather ridiculous line—37 points on 14-of-25 from the field, 12 assists, six rebounds, four steals and a block in 44 minutes—to catalyze Houston’s victorious effort.

Nov. 2, 2012

Lin looks more like the Linsanity of old against the Atlanta Hawks. He shoots a subpar 6-of-16 from the floor, but still winds up with 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in a 109-102 win.

Once again, though, Harden is the star of the show. He pours in a career-high 45 points on 14-of-19 from the field and 15-of-17 from the free-throw line. The effort unofficially thrusts Harden to the forefront and lands Lin on the back burner in Houston.

Nov. 12, 2012

Lin faces the Miami Heat for the first time since Feb. 23, when the then-eventual champions locked him down on the way to an eight-point, three-assist, eight-turnover nightmare of a game. Lin’s struggles aren’t so pronounced this time around, though his nine points and six assists in the three-point loss are hardly worth writing home about.

Nov. 16, 2012

Lin tallies his first double-double as a Rocket (11 points, 11 assists) in a two-point loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Rookie Damian Lillard, Lin’s counterpart for the Blazers, explodes for 27 points, five assists, five rebounds and two steals, often at Lin’s expense.

Nov. 23, 2012

In his first game against his old team, Lin logs 13 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals, but is once again outshone by James Harden (33 points, nine assists, four rebounds) in a 131-103 blowout win over the Knicks.

Nov. 28, 2012

James Harden is at the center of the Rockets’ 22-point loss to the Thunder in OKC, but Jeremy Lin doesn’t exactly escape unscathed. Lin winds up with six points, eight assists, three rebounds and four steals in 41 minutes while being hounded by Russell Westbrook much of the time.

For the month of November, Lin averages 10.2 points, 6.4 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals while shooting a forgettable 37.3 percent from the floor.

Dec. 10, 2012

With Harden sidelined by a sprained ankle, Jeremy goes off for his finest performance since the salad days of Linsanity. He winds up with a career-high-tying 38 points on 11-of-21 from the field and 12-of-12 from the line, seven assists, three rebounds, two steals and two blocks in 42 minutes.

Lin’s efforts help the Rockets to push the San Antonio Spurs to overtime in the Beard’s absence. However, the Spurs eventually emerge victorious behind Tony Parker’s first career triple-double.

Dec. 17, 2012

Lin plays like the “man of the hour” as he makes his hotly anticipated return to Madison Square Garden. Not even Harden’s 28-point, 10-rebound showing can take away from Lin’s evening, wherein he piles up 22 points, nine assists, four rebounds and two steals in Houston’s 109-96 win over New York.

The combined brilliance of Lin and Harden against the Knicks helps to quash an emerging narrative regarding whether or not the Rockets should be starting two young, ball-dominant guards alongside one another.

Dec. 28-31, 2012

Jeremy Lin ends his whirlwind of a year with two strong performances in his last three outings. He piles up 21 points, eight assists and four steals in another loss to the Spurs, and registers 16 points, eight assists, four steals and two blocks in a 19-point win over the Hawks.

In between, Lin once again flounders opposite Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. Lin finishes the game with seven points, seven assists and four turnovers while Westbrook explodes for 28 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and three steals in a 30-point pounding of Houston.

For the month of December, Lin averages 13.8 points, 6.3 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals while shooting a far more respectable 48.9 percent from the field.

Jan. 9-19, 2013

The Rockets stumble through a season-worst seven-game losing streak, during which Lin averages 11.6 points, 5.0 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 2.3 steals, and shoots 36.4 percent overall and 27.3 percent from three.

Jan. 17, 2013

The NBA announces the starters and top vote-getters for the 2013 All-Star Game at the Toyota Center in Houston. Lin falls less than 50,000 ballots short of election, but nearly doubles James Harden’s tally in the process.

Jan. 21, 2013

The Rockets finally stop their seven-game skid, albeit without many thanks to Jeremy Lin. He cobbles together an unremarkable four points and three rebounds in a 100-94 win over the Charlotte Bobcats. That same game sees James Harden go off for 29 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and two steals.

Jan. 24, 2013

The league reveals the All-Star reserves. Lin is (rightfully) left out. Harden, on the other hand, earns his first All-Star selection to represent the host Rockets at the game. However, Lin was later chosen to partake in the Skills Challenge during All-Star Weekend.

Jan. 25-30, 2013

Lin ends January with four straight double-digit scoring efforts, capped off by 22 points and five assists in an eight-point loss to the Denver Nuggets.

For the month of January, Lin averages 12.4 points, 5.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.3 steals while shooting 42.2 percent from the field and 32.7 percent from three.

Feb. 5, 2013

Lin plays a major role in Houston’s 140-109 dismantling of the Golden State Warriors. Lin hits five of the Rockets’ NBA-record-tying 23 three-pointers as part of a 28-point, nine-assist night against the team with whom he first played as a pro.

The big story, though, centers around Warriors coach Mark Jackson, who instructs his players to prevent the Rockets from breaking the single-game three-point record at all costs.

Feb. 12, 2013

The Rockets prevent the Warriors from exacting their revenge by way of a 116-107 win over Golden State. Lin contributes a double-double (14 points, 10 assists) to the cause.
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Feb. 13, 2013

Lin’s second game without James Harden doesn’t go quite as well as the first, to say the least. While Harden is busy resting up for All-Star Weekend, Lin leads the Rockets into battle against the Los Angeles Clippers.

The result? A 106-96 loss in L.A., in which the Rockets fall behind by as many as 22 points while Lin chips in 14 points, seven assists, two rebounds, two steals and a block.

Feb. 16, 2013

Jeremy Lin represents the hometown Rockets as one of three members of the Western Conference squad in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge. Lin finishes the first round in 35.8 seconds, but fails to advance ahead of eventual winner Damian Lillard.

Feb. 20, 2013

The Rockets return from the All-Star break with a resounding 122-119 win over the visiting Thunder. As expected, the headlines belong to James Harden, who scores a career-high 46 points (16 in the fourth quarter) on 14-of-19 from the field, 7-of-8 from three and 11-of-12 from the line, to go along with seven rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block.

But Jeremy Lin’s efforts, while not nearly as celebrated, are nonetheless crucial to Houston’s success. Lin scores nine of his 29 points during the final 3:05. He also collects seven assists, six rebounds and two steals in the effort.

Feb. 22-27, 2013

Lin ends February with a trio of duds as Houston loses two of three. Those three games see Lin score a total of 24 points on 10-of-31 shooting with nine combined turnovers. On the positive end, he dishes 19 assists across those three games.

For the month of February, Lin averages 14.5 points, 6.6 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals while shooting 43.4 percent from the field and 42.4 percent from three.

March 1-20, 2013

Lin extends his streak of double-digit scoring games to a season-high 10 straight, topped off by three straight 20-plus-point performances that invoke memories of Linsanity. Over that span, Lin averages 16.2 points, 5.6 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 1.2 steals with .518/.412/.800 shooting splits—arguably his best 10-game stretch with the Rockets thus far.

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March 24, 2013

Lin struggles to score against the Spurs, but contributes five assists, two rebounds, two steals and a block along with his six points in a thrilling win over San Antonio. Not surprisingly, it’s James Harden (29 points, 15-of-17 from the line, nine rebounds, six assists, two blocks, two steals) who comes away as the hero, as he has all season and likely will going forward, so long as he’s sharing a backcourt with Jeremy Lin.

via Timeline of Jeremy Lin’s Up-and-Down 2012-13 Season with the Houston Rockets | Bleacher Report.