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PBL season winds down, playoffs approach

by Chris Munson
March 17, 2008 - Premier Basketball League (PBL)

2008 PBL Playoff Predictions

The first regular season in the Premier Basketball League is nearly in the books and overall the league appears to have done a solid job. Granted, there were ownership issues in Jacksonville and Dallas, but to its credit, the league stepped in and took over those franchises before they folded. Before playoff preview, here are some of the highs and lows of the season:

The Good

  • First off, the league did a very good job when it came to the ownership issues in Jacksonville and Dallas. Other leagues may have allowed those teams to simply fade into the sunset, but the PBL evaluated the problems, tried to work with the teams, and in the case of Jacksonville simply took over the team. In Dallas, the team is being run by owner Erin Patton but with assistance from the league.

  • Bonus points for thinking ahead by CEO Tom Doyle and Chairman of the Board Sev Hrywnak. When the ownership issues in Dallas threatened to cancel a scheduled game between the Defenders and Wilmington, the league formed the PBL Travelers. The Travelers are a team run by the league and are the designated fill-ins for teams that for one reason or another cannot make a game. The Travelers played in the Dallas contest and then filled in for the Razorsharks when yet another winter storm hit the northeast and the team could not fly out.

  • The "Triple S Scouting Showcase" event in Chicago accomplished its goals. Scouts from the NBA, D-League, CBA and overseas leagues were in attendance and saw some very good talent. As a result of the Showcase, Dallas guard Mike Dawson was signed by a team in Venezuela right after the Defenders' opening Showcase game. The games were broadcast through the PBL website and will be distributed to the Fanz Television Network.

The Bad:

  • The officiating in the PBL simply has to improve for this league to gain more legitimacy. In some games officials did not seem to know FIBA rules and didn't seem to appreciate the professional game. The pro game is much faster than the college game. There is more contact, but the players have to be allowed to play. Some PBL officials need to stop calling some of the ticky-tack hand checks and start calling some of the maulings that take place under the basket. One suggestion is that the league hold a seminar that is taught by FIBA sanctioned officials so the rules can be taught and the nuances of the professional game can be emphasized.

  • There are some teams that simply do not submit box scores to the league in any sort of timely fashion. Dallas has stats for five games, Chicago 12, and a couple of others have shown far fewer games than what they have actually played. Fans want stats, the media needs stats, and scouts depend on them. Teams should be required to send in their box scores along with a press release on the game no more than three hours after the final horn. Everyone is kept up to date which will lead to increased visibility for the league. The PBL may want to look at different stat software as well.

  • Finally, teams need to keep their websites updated. This is the 21st century where fans first look to the web for information on a team. There are sites that haven't been updated in weeks, rosters that aren't accurate, missing stats, etc. Kudos to Rochester and Maryland who are almost always up to date on things.

This is a solid league, one with real potential. There have been critics of the league who say the PBL could be like the ABA with teams folding, and constant ownership issues. Remember, this league was formed just ten months ago. When a league is put together in such a short period of time, there are bound to be problems. Expansion will happen, but according to CEO Tom Doyle it will be done in short spurts as opposed to 20 teams in a month.

Radio exposure is also important and should be an emphasis for the league next season. Exposure and visibility is key.

Okay, enough ramblings about the first year of the league, now to the playoffs.

In the first round of the Eastern Division playoffs, it will be Maryland taking on Wilmington and Jacksonville against Reading. In the Maryland/Wilmington duel, if Maryland can play the type of basketball it did in the Showcase, they can pull off the upset. Randy Gill has to get free and hit his outside shots, and the defensive lapses that have plagued this team just cannot happen against a team like Wilmington. But they'll still be hard pressed to beat the Sea Dawgs. In the Jacksonville/Reading game, Jacksonville looks good as an upset winner. This is a team that has had to overcome incredible obstacles with their ownership issues, not getting paid for a time, and seeing a total turnaround of its roster. The athleticism of Antonio Lawrence and the rebounding of Xavier Morton may make the difference. Golden Ingle has been hot from the outside and if he gets hot then watch out.

In the second round it would be Wilmington against Jacksonville for the right to play Rochester. Jacksonville looks good again here to wear the Cinderella slipper and then off to Rochester where they could get mauled by the Razorsharks.

In the west, the first round has Chicago taking on Arkansas and Dallas taking on Rockford. Arkansas is just too athletic with Jeremy Bell, Gabe Feagin and Kenny Langhorne. Arkansas looks good in a game that should be over in the first quarter. Dallas and Rockford is an intriguing matchup. Dallas has seen almost a whole new team come in, with some players doing double duty with the ABA's Texas Tycoons. Mario Kinsey is a flat out great ballplayer and Tayron Hill is a monster on defense. This is a team that can run, and coach Jean Paul Afif will be in the NBA as a coach one day. Rockford showed character in their come from behind victory over Arkansas on day two of the Showcase, and Frank Richards, Amir Major and Rashi Johnson were impressive. If Daniel Artest is back from an injury, this will be the best game of the Chicago games. Take Dallas in a track meet that very well could shatter the scoreboard.

In a Dallas against Arkansas matchup, Dallas is deeper on the bench and Kinsey and Hill give them they edge. The final would take place in Quad Cities where Dallas would have to go up against Ryan Edwards, the ageless one Willie Mitchell and Lonnie Randolph. With the fact Dallas will have played three in three days, I have to go with the rested Riverhawks in another tight one.

In the finals, which if the crystal ball is correct, would take place in Rochester, the Sharks would host Quad Cities. It may not be possible for Rochester to be beat, especially in an arena where they have won 45 straight. This team is just loaded with Steve Hailey, Sammy Monroe, James Reeves and the deadly three point shooting of Keith Friel. Sharks are the favorites to win the PBL title.

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Premier Basketball League Stories from March 17, 2008

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