Much debate over my thoughts on how to improve the game time for Irish players

Much debate over my thoughts on how to improve the game time for Irish players

Team coach Mark Scannell, The Address UCC Glanmire on the line against Trinity Meteors . The Address UCC Glanmire vs Trinity Meteors in the Paudie O'Connor National Cup at Neptune Stadium on Saturday 5th November 2022. Pic: Larry Cummins

MY recent article about my thoughts on Irish players involvement or lack of involvement in SuperLeague games brought quite a debate on social media with various opinions for and against what I suggested going forward as a way of seeing more Irish players on the court at all times.

Some of tweets were constructive and supportive to my idea and some were not to put it mildly.  But such is life.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

First of all, as I said the copy was about my opinion how Basketball Ireland should structure the leagues for next season and nothing personal against any clubs.

I had a good conversation with the NUIG Maree coach Charlie Crowley who is a decent guy and he pointed out that his team had three professionals like many more in the league.

Coach Crowley is part of a club who have put a lot of work in at underage level and deserve lots of credit just like their neighbours Moycullen.

Sean Conroy, also a member of the Maree, who touched base by phone, and we had a good discussion on the state of Irish basketball.

No disrespect but the standard of American and European players now taking to the court is not at that same high level in comparison to the golden era of the eighties and while there are some talented Irish players, the supporting cast and strength in depth is not as strong as it once was.

We now have more teams but is there an argument to be made that it’s very much a case of quantity over quality.

Neptune coach Colin O'Reilly delivering a team talk against DCU Saints during the Mens Super League at the Neptune stadium. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Neptune coach Colin O'Reilly delivering a team talk against DCU Saints during the Mens Super League at the Neptune stadium. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

With the exception of a few of American colleges that young basketball players attend, it would be fair to say the standard of education here in Irish colleges is far superior.

The vast majority of these young players come back to Ireland to play and in turn have to go back to college for another year to have their American degree qualifications fully recognised and to ultimately obtain employment here in this country.

It should be said that to be fair and provide a balanced view that several clubs have long been ploughing a lone furrow and fighting a constant battle to keep the game alive in locations outside the traditional basketball hotspots and in particular in the big cities of Cork, Dublin and Belfast.

All clubs rely heavily on volunteers and club coaches which are at the real heartbeat of the Irish game.

Just to readdress my point, in the men’s game I believe we should have three Irish players on court at all times, with maximum of two imports / non- Irish players on court with them as the odds are clubs will still have more than two non-Irish players but having three Irish players on court will begin to readdress a balance to the game which is missing at present.

There is little doubt the standard of Victory Scholar players from America is not what it should be and must improve if it’s to continue as a viable option for players for clubs.

Several of those players are barely playing with teams at present which backs up this point.

The Women’s game should also revert to a situation where there’s a maximum of two foreign players on court at all times.

Several Women’s teams have two Americans and a European on their roster and on court and I ask how will all of this aid the ongoing development of Irish players?

Irish players train as hard as their professional counterparts, and all want to play.

Having too many Irish players ultimately sitting on the bench will not alone negatively impact their development but more importantly ensure we lose more of them to the sport given the levels of sacrifice and dedication involved to make it to the top.

Afterall, there’s no fun sitting down and watching others playing the game you want to play!

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