IBL Profiles: Wes Matthews Sr., Kevin Bloodsaw, Michael DutyMay 11, 2012 - International Basketball League (IBL)
Matthews reminisced about some of the lessons he learned from Riley, who he won back to back NBA championships with in 1987 and 1988, "Coach Riley instilled the work ethic to compete and taught with a winning attitude." The five-time NBA champ Riley passed on this lesson that Matthews still preaches to his own players today, "No one beats you but yourself."
Two games into their inaugural season, New Jersey sits a 1-1 but Matthews and his championship pedigree have big dreams, "We're looking to run the table for the next four or five games, keep competing, and become a powerhouse in the IBL." Matthews knows his leadership and experience are his biggest assets as a coach but relishes the chance to teach the players of this generation, "My passion is developing basketball players," said Matthews who's coached in NBA Summer League as well as at the legendary Rucker Park in New York before joining the G-Force this season. "I'm always grateful to get the opportunity to give kids a chance to play professional basketball."
Matthews has also had an opportunity to pass his knowledge on to his son Wesley Matthews Jr., currently a shooting guard for the NBA's Portland Trailblazers. "It's beautiful to watch my offspring do what he loves every night," said the proud father who recognizes the opportunity to play at the highest level isn't there for every player. "Every kid's dream is to go to the NBA but not everyone can make it." But with increasing opportunities overseas and in the IBL, Matthews said, "Kids can make a decent living and the more experience you have the better living you can have...The harder you work the more opportunities to play at the pro level there are."
Learn more about the New Jersey G-Force at www.ibl.com/jersey_g-force/.
After more than fifteen seasons of professional basketball, including stints in Germany, France, Mexico, and eight seasons in the IBL, the Vancovuer Volcanoes' Kevin Bloodsaw decided to retire after last year's championship season and join the coaching ranks. "It's tough coming off the season we had last year and go right in to a coaching role the following year," said Bloodsaw, now an assistant coach in Vancouver. "The hardest part has been not being able to check in to the game... [But] I'm happy to say that I went out on top with a championship."
"My passion for the game inspired me to coach and being able to share my experiences on and off the court," says Bloodsaw who draws his main coaching influence from his high school coach Ronnie Brown and University of Ozarks coach Johnny Johnson who he remains in contact with even today for tips and advice. Bloodsaw has used his leadership and familiarity within the Volcanoes organization to his advantage, "I was the captain last year on this team and it helps that most of the guys saw me play the game the way I do, so they know I can relate to the situation that they may find themselves in."
So far he's helped the Volcanoes to a perfect 4-0 record, but this coach isn't settling. "We have to improve on the defensive end so that we can get out on the break and use our athleticism to our advantage," said Bloodsaw. This year will hopefully be a springboard for the new coach. He hopes to gain valuable experience in the IBL and eventually become a head coach at a major university or overseas.
For now, the focus is on the Volcanoes and winning their second straight IBL title, "It's hard to win back to back championships in any sport, so I realize the challenge is in front of us," says Bloodsaw, "But that's also what makes me want it even more."
Learn more about the Vancouver Volcanoes at www.ibl.com/vancouver_volcanoes/
Many players have a difficult time adjusting to a role off the bench, but not Michael Duty of the Bellingham Slam. "I think a lot of people put too much emphasis on being a starter, myself included the past, but in this league, I think any given player can start for a certain team and be successful," said Duty who broke out last weekend averaging 22 points per game off the bench for the Slam in two games versus Orlando. "I actually like coming off the bench because when you come in, you have that extra energy that the other players have already spent, and that gives us an advantage."
Duty has acclimated quickly during his two seasons in the IBL after playing his college ball at Western Washington University - also in Bellingham. "The biggest difference is the speed of the game," Duty noted in reference to the 22 second shot clock compared to 35 seconds in college ball, but that doesn't bother him, "I like being able to play a slow paced, half court game but at the same time, being able to switch to a fast paced, up and down game."
So far this season the 6'6" forward is averaging 15.2 points per game through five games and is looking to continue that success into the playoffs. "Last year we lost in the semi finals to the eventual champion, and personally, I didn't like that feeling," said Duty, Long term, Duty hopes to move overseas and compete internationally, "Recent trends in the NBA prove how global the game has become, so I think being able to go and live in another country for part of the year would be a lifetime experience and opportunity."
Learn more about the Bellingham Slam at www.bellinghamslam.com/.
International Basketball League Stories from May 11, 2012
- G-Force Fall in Home Opener, 126-121 - Jersey G-Force
- IBL Profiles: Wes Matthews Sr., Kevin Bloodsaw, Michael Duty - IBL
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