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Get in the Game and get to know the athletes, coaches and personalities of the International Basketball League.

News from the International Basketball League (IBL)
Get in the game and get to know the athletes, coaches and personalities of the IBL: Mike Ward, Steve Sir and Price Johnson
 
 
In just three seasons, Olympia Reign guard Mike Ward has proven himself as one of the most dynamic and versatile guards in the league. “I can play the point where I can get my players involved.  I’m a great shooter which lets me play shooting guard where I can catch and shoot and create off the dribble, post up and attack in transition,” said Ward who is averaging 18.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 2.7 steals through seven games for Olympia this season. Ward’s ability to fill the stat sheet has earned him an IBL All-Star spot each of his first two seasons, with a third one on the horizon.

Ward doesn’t just do it all on the court, he also enjoys contributing off the court. “I’m currently working with the youth in the community creating programs teaching and training kids ages 3-18 years old basketball and life skill.” He hosts these camps for boys & girls each Tuesday and Thursday each week at Komachin Middle School in Olympia. Ward feels a strong connection with the community of Olympia after spending three seasons with the Reign after spending his college years at Evergreen State – also in Olympia. During his time there, he led the team in steals and helped them reach the NAIA Sweet 16 for only the second time in school history.

Ward is constantly working to improve his game as he has lofty goals for himself and his team. “I want to take my game to the next level as far as overseas, D-League, and NBA.” said Ward who also commented on how the IBL has prepared him to take that next step, “The new rules the IBL has added, such as the FIBA rules, [helps] us as players make that transition the next level very easy.”

And how long does Ward plan to keep playing the game he loves? “Long term goal is to be able to play this game as long as I can until I can’t tie my shoes,” he says.

Ward looks to continue his strong play as the Reign face the Portland Chinooks on Thursday, May 24 at the Skookum Creek Events Center at Little Creek Casino Resort.   


Learn more about the Olympia Reign at www.ibl.com/olympia_reign
 

 
Nothing changes the momentum of a game quite like a flurry of three-pointers, just ask any IBL player past and present who have competed against him.  And there may be no three point marksman in the IBL better than Edmonton Energy forward Steve Sir. Sir played one season at San Diego State before finishing his college career with Northern Arizona where he was one of the most prolific three-point specialists in the country. His junior year he led the country in three-point percentage, was third his senior year (making a nation-leading 253 threes), and finished his NCAA career second all-time with a .469 shooting percentage from downtown – making him a dangerous weapon for any team.

“My strengths as a player would definitely be shooting and scoring but I have worked hard since college to expand my game and find other ways to score when teams take away the three,” said Sir. His hard work has paid off, as Sir has played three seasons in the IBL, had stints abroad in Switzerland, Germany, and Mexico, and even got a tryout for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2010. He’s earned league honors every where he’s gone, including two IBL All-Star appearances. He’s having another strong year (17.5 ppg and 51% from three) despite coming off a knee injury which cut his season in Mexico short. “The Energy has been great for helping me get back into shape and feel comfortable on my leg,” said Sir, “A personal goal I have for this season is to get comfortable playing competitively again.”

From a team standpoint Sir is still looking for that elusive IBL championship,  after losing to the Vancouver Volcanoes in the finals in 2011. “This will be my thurd year with the Energy and it would really be nice to win that thing,” explained Sir.

Sir plans on playing a few more years before hanging it up, but as a player who has seen a great deal of success he has a lot of advice for those looking to follow their dream. “You have to approach it like a job. This means putting the time in on a daily basis to of course reinforce your strengths but spend sufficient time working on your weaknesses,” said Sir. “Also, make sure you enjoy every little bit of it as it does not last forever. If you have the chance to play abroad, go travel and see some things along with playing because there is so much more to life than just playing basketball.”

Sir returns to Edmonton this weekend after a grueling three-game roadtrip to the Pacific Northwest in which the Energy finished 1-2.  The team will host the Salem Soldiers on Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm at the Saville Centre.  

Learn more about the Edmonton Energy awww.ibl.com/edmonton_energy
 

 

The 2012 season has brought a lot of changes for the IBL, including the return of a team in Salem, the Soldiers.  At the helm is Price Johnson, whose not only in charge of the team on the court, but is also the owner of the team and their home venue, The Hoop, along with his son James, who serves as the Soldiers' General Manager. Johnson brings years of experience at the highest level to the new look Soldiers, playing their first year in the IBL since 2007.

“I’ve coached on all levels first grade to pros. I got into it because of the love of the game. My last pro gig was Special Assignments Coach for Nate McMillan with Portland Trailblazers and head coach of EA Sports College All-Star Team,” said the coach of the Soldiers who have started their season 2-4.

Johnson also has a very close relationship with current Denver Nugget coach George Karl, one of the most winning coaches in NBA history. “George is one of my best friends,” said Johnson, “He taught me that as coach to listen to everyone. You may not do it but always listen to ideas and learn every day.” Karl and Johnson even collaborated on a book, 101 Offensive Basketball Drills.

Johnson’s experience coaching players at the highest level has helped him prepare some of his IBL players for future opportunities. “To play at another level, you have to play the right way. You have to play hard and share the ball,” said Johnson. So far Johnson is happy with his team who is led by F Chehales Tapscott, the IBL’s leading scorer and rebounder. But he recognizes there is still work to be done, “Our weakness is our chemistry,” said Johnson, “We do our own thing when the game gets tight. We need to play more as a team.” Johnson hopes to be able to make the IBL playoffs and in the long term win an IBL Championship and grow as a team and franchise.

The Soldiers are coming off a tough weekend in which they split a pair of games against the Vancouver Volcanoes and lost a one-point heartbreaker to the Edmonton Energy.  The team hits the road for a pair of games in Edmonton over the holiday weekend, before returning to Salem to host the Nippon Tornadoes on June 1 at 7pm at The Hoop. 


Learn more about the Salem Soldiers at www.ibl.com/salem_soldiers.

 


About International Basketball League (IBL)
The International Basketball League (IBL) is a professional sports association based in Vancouver, Wash., that engages high level basketball talent. The league is dedicated to fostering international basketball talent and focuses on providing family friendly events as well as helping players find positions in international leagues such as the BJ League, Basketball Bundesliga (BBL), and the Portuguese Basketball League (LCB). The IBL is in its eighth year of operation with teams across the United States and Canada. To learn more about the International Basketball League visit: www.ibl.com.


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