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UCLA Bruins to tour China this summer

May 8, 2012

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The UCLA men’s basketball team will follow in the footsteps of Duke and Georgetown by embarking on a basketball tour in August in preparation for the 2012 season.

The Bruins, members of the powerhouse Pac-12 conference, are the first team to travel to China under the conference’s initiative to expand its brand into the Asian market.

“UCLA will represent the Pac-12 and plant a flag for the conference,” said Pac-12 commissioner, Larry Scott. “We expect this to be an annual basketball trip by our schools, playing future collegiate teams and the Chinese national team.”

Although it’s unclear where and against whom UCLA will play, Scott indicated that they will play the “equivalent of NCAA competition.” Duke played the Chinese U-23 Olympic National Team in Shanghai and Beijing last year.

UCLA is the most successful collegiate basketball program in America, having won a record 11 national championships in addition to 25 Final Four appearances. However, their team hasn’t had as much success in recent seasons and went 19-14 in 2011 en route to missing the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in eight seasons.

But that looks to be changing. UCLA secured the number one recruiting class in the country this spring and Chinese fans will have the opportunity to gawk at incoming freshman Shabbazz Muhammad, who is widely considered as next year’s top overall pick in the NBA Draft.

Last summer, Georgetown’s summer tour of China made international headlines after the team got into a violent, bench-clearing brawl with the Bayi Rockets, who play professionally in the Chinese Basketball Association.

Follow Edward Bothfeld on Twitter @bothfeef

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Tuesday Afternoon Jianbing

August 23, 2011

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Showing you that jianbing can be enjoyed 24 hours a day while keeping your day going with China’s favorite and most versatile street snack and a batch of links.

 

  • An easy tip for people who want to learn more about Chinese basketball: Read anything that Brook Larmer writes. Keeping that creed in mind, go over right now and read his take on the Georgetown- Bayi brawl he wrote for the Washington Post.
  • Amazing, but true: Thursday’s fight might not have been the worst on-court incident in China this summer. As we mentioned in yesterday’s post about all of the different factors that led up to both benches clearing, the National Basketball League, China’s second tier professional league, witnessed a scene where an American player, Justin Gray of Guangzhou FM, chucked a chair into the stands at a fan after the fan hurled two full water bottles at Gray’s girlfriend seated courtside during an on-court scuffle between his American teammate, Jartavious Henderson, and an opposing Chinese player.
  • Keane Shum, writing for SLAMonline, eschews making grand-scale sweeping conclusions about the fight to talk about the social consequences in both China and America: “But here’s what the historians and the experts don’t know about sports: they don’t know that the next time I want to go play some pickup ball in Beijing, I’m going to think twice about wearing the Hoyas t-shirt I bought the day I graduated from Georgetown, and that if I’m ever back in a Georgetown gym, I’m probably not going to wear some of the China gear I picked up at the Beijing Olympics. They don’t know that Chinese national basketball teams have in recent years gotten disturbingly thuggish; they have literally pulled some of the same chair-throwing and kick-em-while-they’re-down tactics against Puerto Rico, Brazil, and now Georgetown. And that in this day and age, Georgetown fans and American basketball players everywhere are going to point to the incontrovertible YouTube evidence of this and assume that most Chinese basketball players are cheap and dirty.”
  • Duke guard Andre Dawkins talks to ESPN.com about Duke’s three-game exhibition tour in China, which ended last night in Beijing with a win against the Chinese U-23 team. Interesting that he says the team came with the understanding that Chinese basketball is physical, but definitely not surprising — after all, Coach K played against China in the 2008 Olympics and is thus very familiar with the playing style here. Just wish he had given that memo to Georgetown…
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Monday Morning Jianbing

July 25, 2011

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Starting your day right with China’s favorite street breakfast and a bunch of links…
 

After another long hiatus from dependable internet (basketball tournament in Yunnan, yes there’s a post in the works) NiuBBall is back in action, and this time for good. Even though we’re in the midst of a classic dirty, smoggy, hot Beijing summer, we’re not planning on going anywhere too crazy for a while. So let’s get it started back up again with  some familiar Monday morning links to munch on.
  • While U.S.-based writers have been writing about Yao’s immeasurable legacy on NBA and international basketball, Dan Levin for the New York Times uncovers the bleak post-Yao reality on the ground in China. We don’t think the National Team is a total lost cause — Donewald has done a good job starting the transition — but, with no other NBA talent outside of Yi Jianlian, the Chinese may on the way down. Here’s a pretty good recap of what’s being said in China about Yao’s retirement from over at Bloomberg. Here’s my take on the situation over at City Weekend Shanghai.
  • Dee Brown, who played last year in China with Qingdao Double Star, is off to Italy.
  • The Jordan Brand Flight Tour is set to go off in Hong Kong on Tuesday. The four-city tour will feature appearances by Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony. And as part of the tour, Nike will be introducing three new special China Tour kicks for Chinese sneakerheads’ shoe-buying pleasure.
  • Assuming Mamba loses, and assuming everyone’s eardrums are still intact, what would be the rubber match for the Jay Chou-Kobe Bryant competition? We suggest the two settle the score like real Chinese men: Sitting outside bareback with lots of yangrou chuanr and lots of beer. Last man standing wins.
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Monday Night Chuanr

June 20, 2011

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Nighttime links served up proper with a hearty helping of lamb on a stick.  The beer is on you, though.
  • Great stuff by Sam Amick over at SI.com on Antoine Wright, who played this past season for the Jiangsu Dragons.  The brutally honest Wright touches on a number of subjects, including his own failure to live up to the hype that surrounded him when he went into college and then the NBA.  But the most eye-opening of all is his choice words for his last NBA team, the Sacramento Kings.  Wright also talks a bit about his stay in Nanjing, which he claims helped him put things more into perspective.  We caught up with Antoine last Febuary in Nanjing — if you haven’t read that yet, go here.
  • Speaking of brutally honest, you know Stephon Marbury is always going to speak his mind when presented the opportunity.  Speaking to the New York Post’s Marc Berman, Marbury confirms that he’s happy in China and will be back for another season next year.  Also worth checking out for his pretty spot on appraisal of LeBron James. Is it just us, or does it seem like Steph really knows what he’s talking about when it comes to the League?
  • After months and months of anticipation over who the Duke Blue Devils will play when they come to China this summer for an exhibition tour, the school has announced their official schedule.  And their opponent will be… the Chinese Men’s National Second Team! No official dates have been set, but the Dukies will arrive sometime in mid-August and will play a three-game series against a second-tier National Team that will include everybody who’s not good enough to play on the Senior National Team.  Which means Duke is going to win by a lot.  Why not play against the Senior Team, you ask?  Because the Senior team will be gearing up for the September FIBA Asia World Championships, and a loss to an American college team ahead of the big tournament would probably be a big face-loser for the Chinese.  There’s just not a whole lot to gain from the process.  At least, that’s our take on it.
  • If you’ve always wanted to follow an NBA cheerleading team as they hit the road in China, the Philadelphia 76ers dancers are in Chongqing… and they’re blogging about it.
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Monday Afternoon Tanghulu

March 21, 2011

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Sweetening up your afternoon with a stick of Beijing’s timeless sugar coated snack and some links…

  • A really nice consolation for John Lucas III, who is headed back to Chicago to play for the Bulls after missing out on the playoffs this year playing for Shanghai.
  • Is Orien Greene’s move to one of the biggest markets on the planet a smart long-term move?  It can’t hurt I suppose, but about “if he wins” thing… there’s simply no way that Beijing is beating Xinjiang in the first round because simply, there is no parity in CBA basketball.  Xinjiang went virtually unchallenged the whole year, going 31-1 in the regular season, and is 99.999% guaranteed to sweep Beijing.  If he puts up some big numbers and contains Quincy Douby, then he’ll possibly get some interest from CBA teams for next season, but being that he’s going to be back in the United States by April 1st, expecting any added off-court opportunities would be far-fetched.
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North Carolina – Duke rivalry hits China

February 28, 2011

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North Carolina – Duke.  Duke – North Carolina.  To almost all Americans, its the pinnacle of U.S. college basketball.  To some, its the pinnacle of U.S. sports.  And with several recent efforts to expand each school’s reach into China, the two schools are hoping that the Chinese will feel the same way, too.

The Dukies took the first official step into China in January when their game against Virgina became the first ever NCAA basketball game to be broadcasted live in Mandarin.  Not to be outdone, the Tar Heels put their game against in-state rival, North Carolina State, on Shanghai television to make it the first NCAA game to ever be broadcasted live on TV in China.

Like last year’s national title, however, it appears as though Duke will have the last laugh, at least for now.  Shortly after North Carolina announced their TV deal, Duke announced that the Blue Devils will go on a world tour this summer that will include three games in China.  The four-time NCAA Champions will play on August 17th in Kunshan, August 19th in Shanghai and August 22nd in Beijing.  They’ll also play a game in Dubai.

Keep an eye on that first date.  Though the trip is at least somewhat aimed at gaining some traction with Chinese fans, the real reason Coach Krzyzewski and the gang are coming over is to help promote the school’s new Duke-affiliated Fuqua School of Business in Kunshan, a city which is about 50 miles northwest of Shanghai.  The school is slated to officially open up in 2012.

If there is one thing that the Chinese like more than basketball, it’s academics, which in our opinion makes this basketball/academics combo a smart move for the university.  But, like any American business that has dreams of entering China’s huge market,  there are some issues that will need to be seriously thought about before China is filled with Cameron Crazies.

Though the Chinese are certifiably stir crazy over basketball, when it comes to consuming the sport, it’s strictly NBA. But, that’s not to say there is no coverage of NCAA basketball out here. hoopCHINA, one of the online go-to basketball news destinations for Chinese fans, has a NCAA news section that it updates frequently throughout the day, as well as a BBS forum that fans can interact on.

After that, however, there isn’t really anything else.  Games aren’t broadcasted, recapped or highlighted over any mainstream medium, and merchandiser, real or fake, is hardly, if ever, available for purchase in stores.  (Yeah, it’s tough to be an alumni out here.)

Like we said though, the Chinese are way into their academics, which is a topic that is often filled with talk of American universities. Though mentioned in the same breath as Harvard, MIT, Yale or Stanford, Duke is a well known institution on the mainland.  That awareness will help with Fuqua’s development in years to come.  North Carolina, though not to the extent of Duke, is also known for its strong academic standing.

But, in the quest to convert Chinese basketball fans into Dukies or Tar Heels, both schools will need to rely on more than just books.  And fortunately for them, both have solid pitches:  Duke, because of Coach K’s experiences as head coach of the U.S. National Team in Beijing 2008 and Turkey 2010, is known to pretty much everybody who follows the sport.  North Carolina, because of Chinese demigod, Michael Jordan, is known likely by every single person in the entire country.  And both win a lot, which helps their potential to grab large numbers of Chinese fans, being that Chinese are typically drawn to winners.  But, that’s also important when remembering one key potential roadblock in selling NCAA basketball to China: Nobody in China has ever attended these schools, so loyalty will have to come by convincing fans through winning ACC and NCAA championships, something both schools excel at.

So who is going to prevail in this showdown in the PRC?  With a campus set to open and the team scheduled to come out to help give it a nice start off the block, we’d say Duke has the clear upper hand against their hated rivals in China so far. We just wonder who the heck they’re going to play. As somebody who’s watched a lot of CBA basketball this season, a game against anybody other than the Chinese National Team would be a massive blowout, unless you think Coach K would tell his players not to play their hardest. Knowing the way Duke does things, we don’t think that’s likely.

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