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Big West joins other western conferences in men’s basketball officiating

File Photo/The Sundial Photo credit: Trevor Stamp

The Big West Conference announced Tuesday that it will enter into the men’s basketball officiating alliance with the Pac-12, Mountain West, West Coast and Western Athletic Conferences starting with the 2015-16 season.

According to a statement by the Big West Conference, the regional approach matches the trend nationwide for using the best officials in multiple conferences throughout the year, and is designed to promote consistency in training, development and evaluation of basketball officials, as well as provide a larger and more diverse pool of officials.

“This regional collaboration represents a great step forward in our goal of attracting the top officials to the West Coast, and will help us achieve the consistency and accountability our excellent basketball programs deserve,” the commissioners of the Pac-12, Mountain West, Big West, West Coast and Western Athletic Conference said regarding the significance of the expanded alliance.

Bobby Dibler has also served as the Coordinator of Officiating for the Western Athletic Conference for the last 23 years and for the Mountain West Conference since its inception in 1999. He will be the officiating coordinator of the entire consortium and manage a top-level roster of regional and national officials.

The major focus of the expanded alliance will be training. Dibler and staff will host a training clinic for all roster officials to review mechanics, game situations, rules knowledge and other key factors to ensure they are among the best trained in the country before the season in which officials from all five of the conferences will participate.

“This alliance will also centralize our shared commitment to further develop a rigorous training, evaluation and development program needed for the next generation of elite officials,” the commissioners said.

The Pac-12 and Mountain West Conferences have operated under this alliance for the last two seasons with Dibler being the coordinator of officials. He worked 11 NCAA Tournaments, three NCAA Final Fours, and several National Invitational Tournaments during his 20-year career as an official.

Men’s Basketball: CSUN names three new hires

Head Coach Reggie Theus during the Matadors' game against UC Riverside on Feb. 28, 2015. File Photo/Sundial Photo credit: Trevor Stamp

Head coach of CSUN Men’s Basketball team, Reggie Theus, announced the hirings of Vicky Sun as Director of Basketball Operations Jeff Theiler as Assistant Coach, and Andre Mazire as Team Coordinator on Monday.

Sun is a Torrance, CA native and Syracuse University alumna, who is also an award-winning sports writer that has worked for the Associated Press, Riverside Press-Enterprise, Cincinnati Post and Las Vegas Sun, where she first worked with Theus through his ties to the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Theiler, pronounced Tyler, has more than 20 years of basketball coaching experience, and will assist with recruiting, on-court coaching and all aspects of the basketball student-athlete experience.

Mazire worked with the Atlanta Hawks as a regional advance scout. He worked with Theus as a basketball operations assistant and video coordinator for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

CSUN men’s basketball head coach Reggie Theus said in his announcement that, “These top quality additions to our staff will help reinforce CSUN basketball’s position as one of the premiere Division I programs in Southern California.”

Sun has worked in sports for more than 18 years and was special assistant to Florida State University men’s basketball head coach Leonard Hamilton before coming to CSUN. Prior to that she was the Director of Basketball Operations for the Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball program.

“Vicky has a super knowledgeable basketball mind and is someone our staff can really depend on,” Theus said. “She has an incredible background in sports and has worked at the highest levels.”

Among handling numerous duties such as managing the operating budget, coordinating team travel, charting player performance, Sun was the men’s basketball liaison to other campus departments.

“I’m looking forward to helping Coach Theus and his staff transform the men’s basketball program,” she said. “We are all dedicated to making a positive impact at CSUN and turning the Matadors into a championship contender.”

Theiler was most recently the men’s basketball head coach at Middlebrooks Academy, as well as a basketball coach and assistant coordinator for the prestigious Compton Magic AAU team. He coached at Northern Arizona University, Cal State University, Hayward, College of Southern Idaho, Oxnard Community College, Ventura Community College and University of La Verne, among other schools.

“Jeff is an experienced coach who is very deep rooted into Los Angeles basketball,” Theus said. “He will give us a high profile locally, and combined with his great basketball mind, he’s the perfect addition to CSUN basketball.”

Theiler replaces former CSUN assistant coach Jay Morris, who took the same position on the University of Nevada Wolfpack’s men’s basketball staff, under newly hired head coach Eric Musselman. Theiler has a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from University of La Verne and a Master’s in Physical Education from Azusa Pacific University.

“I’m very excited to join Coach Theus here at CSUN,” Theiler said. “I grew up in, and am very familiar with Southern California and there’s a tremendous amount of potential here with the style of play and student-athletes they’re bringing in.”

“Reggie and his staff are doing exciting things that are going to make the CSUN men’s basketball program successful and I’m ready to be a part of that vision.”

Mazire worked as a regional advance scout for the Atlanta Hawks and an advance scout for the Orlando Magic and a graduate assistant coach for New Mexico State men’s basketball.

“Andre is incredibly talented and has a vast knowledge of statistical analytics,” Theus said. “His passion for college athletics coupled with his extensive experience with video and advance scouting in the NBA will bring an interesting perspective to how we look at the game.”

He has also worked with Nike, the NBA and the D-League Albuquerque Thunderbirds. He has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Syracuse University.

“When the opportunity to reunite with Reggie arose, the decision was easy,” Mazire said. “The additions of Coach Tyler and Ms. Sun coupled with Coach Levy demonstrate our commitment to the success of not only our student-athletes on and off the court but to our university as well.”

Mazire said the “potential here that exists is unparalleled and I am excited to be a member of the CSUN basketball staff.”

 

Review: The Offspring gives life to the Hollywood Palladium

Photo courtesy of BB GUN Press.

Thousands of young and old diehard punk rock fans dressed in band tees lined up outside the Hollywood Palladium to watch the Southern California ‘90s band The Offspring perform.

Vocalist Brian “Dexter” Holland, bass guitarist Greg K., lead guitarist Kevin “Noodles” Wasserman and drummer Pete Parada proved their group is no one-hit wonder.

The black and white fire skull logo off their album “Conspiracy of One” lit up on the stage as the patient, sold out crowd began to cheer.

The group opened up with “Bad Habit” and the aggressive mosh pit followed quickly after the first rock song started.

“You look like the type of crowd that knows the words,” lead-singer Holland said.

The audience knew every word and transitional break. They sang along in unison and threw empty beer cups into the crowd to songs, “Gotta Get Away,” “Why Don’t You Get a Job,” “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)” and “Gotta Get Away.”

Hometown shows in Orange County is something that the band enjoys, however Noodles said that playing for a Hollywood crowd is exciting because of the hectic vibe.

“That was like one giant slam fest…A little different than last night…Hollywood is chaotic,” Noodles said. “It’s the kind of chaos where creativity develops. I want to thank Hollywood…thank you for being a creative audience.”

Other highlights included “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid” from their 2008 album and “Staring At The Sun” from their 1998 album.

A crowd favorite was “Come Out and Play,” the band had edgy power chords accompanied with Holland’s strong vocals.

After an hour of performing, the group said their goodbyes and walked off stage.

The audience roared and repeated “one more song.” Holland walked back on and the fans went wild.

“I’m glad you guys stuck around…I’m so glad you didn’t leave because we’d like to play a couple more songs,” Holland said.

They closed with “Self Esteem” and when Holland sang “oh wey oh..yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,” multiple fans began to crowd-surf while the standing audience showed their love for loud, pounding music.

The Offspring performed an iconic concert and showed why the group is one of the biggest bands in alternative rock.

The Offspring has sold more than 36 million albums and performed thousands of shows across the world. Being able to see them play in an intimate setting such as the Palladium was memorable.

Gaining success and involvement as a CSUN commuter

Courtesy of Morguefile.com

For Associated Students Vice President Sevag Alexanian, getting involved on campus wasn’t just a desire. It was a priority. What is a challenge for many was one of his greatest incentives – a commute to CSUN.

With a 25-mile drive to campus, he joins approximately 93 percent of students who attempt to balance academics and travel, while deciding how and if they will make their mark on campus.

“There’s a mix of [students] who are involved, and others who just come to class and leave,” Alexanian said. “The ones who are involved have a greater sense of school spirit towards CSUN.”

Alexanian said that involvement in student government has increased his knowledge and enjoyment of college life. He is also a member of the Armenian Student Association and Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

Tim Trevan, director of Student Housing and Conference Services, said between seven-to-eight percent of students live on campus – 10 percent residency is needed to consider a college a residential school.

However, many students live within a mile radius of CSUN, giving the college an unexpected residential feel.

Although commuters lack specialized programs from housing, he said that on-campus opportunities coming from AS, University Student Union, Athletics and the Valley Performing Arts Center help students enliven campus life.

This involvement provides many benefits for students in their connection to CSUN.

“[Students involved] are more likely to persist over time,” Augie Garibay, Matador Involvement Center activities coordinator said. “They’re more likely to graduate in a manner of four-to-five years – to have a positive experience or an outlook of their overall undergraduate experience here.”

AS Lower Division Senator Christian Rubalcava remembers the burden of commuting his first semester, which is now overlooked since he is involved.

“[It was] full of days where I would go to class and go straight home,” Rubalcava said. “I made the decision to take it easy my freshman year, to learn the ropes of college life. It was always my plan to be involved in AS, and I told myself that no commute would stop me from joining this organization.”

Ultimately, it’s up to each student to decide to get involved.

The Matador Involvement Center offers clubs, fraternities, and sororities and volunteer services. It hosts Meet the Clubs Day each semester.

With over 300 clubs and organizations, Rubalcava suggests to first organize your current schedule, then join things that connect to individuals, their majors and interests.

“Not only do you feel a connection to the campus, but you feel a deeper connection to what you really are,” Rubalcava said.

In addition to AS, Rubalcava is part of the GE Honors program.

A commute does mean extra sacrifices and planning. Sophomore sociology major Kimberly Newton dreamed of being on the cross country team, but has to leave her house at 6 a.m. for 7 a.m. practice.

“Thankfully I am able to miss a majority of the traffic on the 5 and 405 freeways,” Newton said about her 30-mile commute.

Newton notes that being on the team overrides the burdens of driving.

“I love being involved at CSUN because I feel like I am not alone in my journey through college. I am also thankful for all the benefits that come with being an athlete,” Newton said.

For others, a commute means being choosy with activities. Senior English major, Cat Cherish, who lives 25 miles from campus, has made work on campus her top priority.

CSUN offers work with various employers. Kristen Pichler, University Student Union human resources and professional development officer, believes that the USU was the largest employer of students as of spring 2015, with over 300 employees in departments such as events, fitness and wellness, administration, the Games Room and marketing.

Students can also volunteer at events such as the Matador Nights carnival held each semester.

Cherish joins students in such departments as peer education, web development event services at the CSUN Career Center as a Pathways Program Assistant. She also works in the Learning Resource Center.

She works on campus for its convenience.

“If I had to boomerang between home, campus [and] another job, I think I would go insane with L.A. traffic as a deterrent,” Cherish said.

Cherish said she gains quality experience that prepares her for her goal of becoming a college professor.

“If you are fortunate enough to not need to work, then I would say getting involved is essential to your time at CSUN,” Cherish said. “It can be hard to make memories alone, and equally difficult to make friends in large classes, clubs or groups can be vital to making lasting memories.”

CSUN to welcome 80 new faculty in fall semester

The Sundial / File Photo

As CSUN prepares to welcome a freshman class of students, the university’s other group of freshman also await the fall semester’s first day of instruction.

The university’s new faculty hires, about 80 in total, were brought on as part of the CSU’s plan to increase tenure faculty in the years following some of the most severe cutbacks in the state’s history.

“It looks very good this year,” said Vice Provost Michael Neubauer. “We made a very concerted effort to ramp up hiring this year because you never know whats gonna happen next year.”

All of the new faculty positions are tenure and tenure-track. Most of the teaching positions will start at the entry level as associate professors.

The new faculty members are spread over the university’s colleges and departments, including the library and counseling center, with an average of three hires per department. Colleges that are impacted, such as psychology, merited more faculty hires.

“I think 80 faculty is a large group but it’s justifiable, and we have a lot of other components and factors that influence that number,” said Daisy Lemus, Senior Director of Academic Personnel.

Solid enrollment and the availability of state funds in the university’s budget are two factors which influenced hiring decisions.

“This year we’re getting a lot of support from Sacramento relative to some other years,” she said. “People are really paying attention to what the CSU’s are doing and it all boils down to little changes in our budget, little changes in our system that end up supporting us in meaningful ways.”

Although the news from Sacramento is encouraging, Lemus says the university faces other challenges in its efforts to recruit highly-sought after faculty.

The high cost of living in Los Angeles coupled with modest entry level salaries for new faculty makes it difficult to attract new faculty. Candidates who have multiple job offers may end up choosing to go out-of-state, where pay is higher relative to the cost of living.

CSUN’s teaching-intensive curriculum, which may not appeal to faculty who prefer research, presents another barrier to recruitment.

But Northridge is evolving beyond its identity as a teaching-only institution, says Lemus, and the ideal faculty member should understand how teaching and research inform each other to result in student success.

“Attracting people that have that philosophy is a good challenge because we know who we are,” Lemus said. “We’re teaching focused and we value research, so now lets go find people who can balance that.”

For all its challenges, Northridge is also uniquely positioned as one of the most diverse campuses in the nation. The demographic shifts seen nationally mimic the trends first experienced in California. Neubaur thinks should make CSUN attractive to the right kind of candidate.

“I see this as sort of ground-zero of what the country will look like in 50 years,” Neubauer said. “People have other considerations but I hope that’s one they keep in mind – that this is just a really interesting place to be right now.”

On the drawing board of being an animation student: Adriana Lee Park

CSUN student Adriana Lee Park is an animation major that hopes to work for Pixar Animation Studio or Dreamwork's. Photo credit: Alyson Burton

Animated films such as “UP” and “Finding Nemo” have touched millions of children and adults all over the world with the portrayal of emotions and heartfelt story lines.

For Korean-Paraguayan animation student, Adriana Lee Park, 25, growing up in Paraguay and watching Walt Disney films “The Lion King” and “Mulan” sparked her interest in animation.

For Park, the films left the impression of being more than just a two-hour cartoon.

At eight years old, she had grown accustom to drawing the characters of films, paying close attention to their emotion, impressive movements and expressions in each scene.

“I really liked [animation] and wanted to be a part of the industry,” Park said.

Her passion and love of animation motivated her to immigrate to Southern California, with the hopes of receiving a better education in the arts, something she said Paraguay could not offer.

She moved to L.A. in 2012, two years before her brother moved here on his own, and attended CSUN to study animation.

“I think CSUN is a great place that gives you all the resources necessary for a student to succeed,” Park said.

Park is now enrolled in one of the top animation schools in the country.

CSUN was ranked No. 15 in the nation by Animation Career Review, an online website for aspiring animation professionals seeking information on schools and careers.

“She is a very dedicated and talented student,” wrote Professor Mark Fahrquar in an email.

Park gains her work experience at the CSUN Career Center as an animator and has an internship at Wonder Grove, a website that helps teach kids through animation.

“Because I’m interested in animation I look at more of the movement [in animated films],” Park said.

A few of her favorite films are “WALL-E” and “How to Train Your Dragon.” She also enjoys the animation companies DreamWorks and Disney.

Park’s passion for animation has made her see films in a different light. Her analysis of the film starts with looking at the character’s movements and emotions the animators have produced, then she expands it to the actors on how the characters use their lines with the character’s movement, moving next to the storyline.

“The story is important to understand the acting of the characters,” Park said.

And the story’s significance can be seen in Pixar’s recent film “UP,” particularly an eight minute scene of that goes well with the musical score.

Park said the editing made the audience feel emotions without words and showed good animation that made people cry.

8332882_orig.jpg
Adriana Lee Park’s original art work from her website. Photo credit: http://adrianakjlee.weebly.com/character.html

“I think most animators are really focused on the line of the character’s death, but it’s how you act – the emotion from the eyes and body language,” Park said. “‘UP’ was a perfect example of how good animation can be.”

Park strives to inspire audiences with animation just like Disney and DreamWorks.

“I am sure that many animation students choose CSUN because it is not as expensive as other art schools,” Park said. “[CSUN] has talented professors that are there to help each student.”

Before majoring in animation, Park’s wishes she had drawn more people, animals and objects that were moving.

Park said for students that want to study animation, it will be hard at first to learn the mechanics of animation. Once they get through the basics it becomes fun, she said.

“[CSUN] has many courses that help students improve and learn animation,” she said. “I think that if I dedicate my time on learning at school, I will graduate with a decent portfolio to get a job.”

 

Infographic: The power of the CSUN ID

CSUN dorms are located on the north side of campus along Zelzah Avenue. Students have available to them lounging areas, swimming pools, and the fitness club. The CSUN ID can be used on and off campus for many things. File Photo/

The CSUN student ID is more than a card required for most campus transactions – it can save students money.

For $5, students can buy an ID online from the myNorthridge Portal located on the
university website or at the Student Services Center in BH 100 on the first floor of
Bayramian Hall.

Students then bring their receipt and have their photo taken at the Admission and Records booth.

Here’s how a piece of plastic can save money.

Infographic by Alyson Burton
Infographic by Alyson Burton

CSUN expectations versus reality of a college senior year

The fourth and final year of high school was spent chatting with friends in the cafeteria, talking about future plans of schools and dreams of starting a career after college graduation.

Ozzie Saldivar is now a CSUN graduate student working on his Master’s in social work after earning his Bachelor’s Degree on the same campus. But his mentality now is far different than how it was when he first stepped foot on campus as a freshman straight out of high school.

“My reality was that [college] wasn’t high school anymore,” Saldivar said. “It was more of a new challenge and new journey in regards to more responsibilities and the likelihood of making it and not being part of a statistic of being caught up with a nine-to-five job.”

Though Saldivar didn’t want to correlate his college experience with that of the high school experience, other students do. Once the high school graduation caps are tossed, freshman college students look forward to a second senior year, but more of an adult feeling.

The American-coined staple of “senior year” is a term used to describe students in their fourth year of studies, generally tied to a high school or college.

Yet at CSUN, the four-to-six year plan has eluded the feeling of a senior year. According to College Navigator, CSUN’s average six-year graduation rate is between 41 and 48 percent.

With the college graduation rate increasing to a four-to-six-year plan, the time spent on college grounds is not like other campuses like UCLA or USC.

At CSUN particularly, the senior year has expanded over, the years based on the student’s major and time spent on campus.

Students said there are plenty of ways to get involved on campus that will enhance the CSUN experience and make a memorable senior year.

“It’s not all hyped up as it is,” Yvonne Nguyen, a third year computer information technology major, said. “I guess [it’s] because I never joined a sorority or anything of that nature. People who tend to go into sororities probably expect a more active college life.”

Nguyen didn’t have any expectations on what college would be like. Nguyen’s college experience is made up of going to class, studying, meeting classmates and going to work.

But not everyone’s college experience is the same. Films often paint a picture of what that experience is and this college fantasy in films isn’t what was expected for music education sophomore Roberto Muz said.

“I watch too much TV,” Muz said. “I’ve seen these jocks and those frat boys pick on the nerds. I always thought people were gonna be mean here.”

Muz said his experience on campus is the complete opposite. He said he was afraid to interact with new people at first.

“If you branch out and you talk to as many people as you can, you never know what you’re going to learn from that person,” Muz said. “You never know what they can teach you about yourself.”

Many students said the expectation versus the reality of college is that students either get involved on campus or float around in classes until graduation.

CSUN psychology junior Samantha Marron said she is not as involved on campus due to her busy schedule of school and work.

“You’re here for four years or five years and then you’re out,” Marron said.

Though students may feel like they are missing out on the feeling of being a senior or even “senioritis,” the extra years in school can spark an interest in being active on campus. Maybe, then, when the time comes to graduate, they will fully experience the senior year.

Fraternities and sororities commence rushing for the Fall Semester

Only a week after the economically unstable Greece was bailed out, CSUN’s Greek system has a bailout plan of their own.

On Wednesday, July 22, representatives of the Greek community and the CSUN New Member Intake Committee met at the Northridge Center in the University Student Union to discuss the proposal of new regulations which will allow the re-opening of Greek recruitment.

In the 2014 school year, the CSUN Greek system was plagued by a number of hazing incidents notably the death of Pi Kappa Phi pledge Armando Villa last July. The hazing incidents prompted a freeze on the CSUN Greek community requirement for Spring 2015.

“A team of staff and students in the Greek system have put together joint resolutions, which have allowed us to put a green light back on recruitment,” Dr. William Watkins, vice president of student affairs said. “We have emphasized the need for education, which is integral for long- term prevention.”

The guidelines underline the importance of education to the harmful effects of hazing and the expectations associated with being a Greek member on campus.

The new pledges will go through an online pre-recruitment program, helping them understand the risks incumbent on the hazing practice and CSUN’s expectations about pledging.

A Greek 102 course will be created in conjunction with the Greek 101 course, which is already in place.

According to the regulation proposal, the seminars are intended to “provide prevention education, teamwork, leadership skills and value-based community building experiences.”

Section Six of the new guidelines stipulate that 90 percent of active members within each Greek organization must attend the seminars before they may begin recruitment.

CSUN has accepted the regulations proposal, with the exception of the “retreat guidelines.”

“At this point in time there is a moratorium on sorority and fraternal retreats,” Interfraternity Council President Josh Stepakoff said. “This will continue until we get to a point when we can have absolute assurance that nothing bad will happen [on the retreats].”

Stepakoff recently returned from a retreat of his own at the Novak Institute for Hazing Prevention, alongside other members of the Interfraternity Council.

This trip undoubtedly influenced a lot of the recommendations, which Stepakoff helped to draft.

“We are taking a revolutionary approach to affecting positive change within the system,” Stepakoff said. “The Greek 102 seminar is going to allow the whole Greek community to interactively deal with issues and concerns that they may have.”

Many of these changes have been met with dismay from members of the Greek community who believe they are being unfairly persecuted by the regulations.

“I love being in a frat and I have never been involved in any hazing,” fraternity member Miguel Maldonado-Velasco said. “These changes are really big and sudden. They are going to affect fraternity traditions that have been around a long time.”

Watkins empathizes with these grievances, but he believes that the changes are necessary for the Greek community to grow.

“We understand that not all members of the community are perpetrators of these problems,” Watkins said.

He said that these changes will not infringe on the core values the organization claim to live by.

“Most of these organizations are already doing the right thing. We plan to build on this and keep our Greek community moving in that direction,” Watkins said. “The key elements of philanthropy and bonding will continue. We are eliminating things we do not need.”

Visualizing Title IX’s impact

Dr. Bernice "Bunny" Sandler was an integral part of the creation and passage of Title IX legislation addressing discrimination against women in education and collegiate athletics. (J.M. Eddins, Jr./MCT)

Title IX turned 43 years old this past June. The federal initiative, which sought to incorporate equality within every facet of collegiate life, has indeed improved opportunity and diversification on college campuses nationwide.

Schools must prevent and respond to all forms of gender-based violence and discrimination. Even with so much progress within women’s athletics and academics, issues of LGBT rights and sexual assault have recently been thrust into the forefront for Title IX administrators. Schools cannot discriminate against trans or genderqueer students on the basis of gender identity.

Also, schools must provide equal opportunity to women in STEM (Science, Technology, Education, Mathematics) fields of study. These are a few examples of Title IX’s vast coverage, many protections unknown by the very students it protects.

Take a look at The Sundial’s chart laying out what Title IX can do for you on CSUN’s campus and how it has helped greatly within spreading equality and opportunity nationwide.

Untitled Infographic.jpeg
Title IX protections cover many areas of equal opportunity within college campuses, from education equality to LGBT rights. Infographic by Thomas Gallegos / Staff Photo credit: Thomas Gallegos

Women’s Basketball: Tessa Boagni earns spot on New Zealand National team

File Photo / The Sundial

Sophomore forward/center Tessa Boagni was announced as one of 14 members named to the New Zealand Tall Ferns on Sunday night.

The 19-year-old sophomore and member of the 2015 Big West Conference All-Freshmen is the youngest member on the team and now joins the lineage of Tall Ferns like her mother, Jane McMeeken, and older sister Kate McMeeken-Ruscoe, who played and were captains when they played.

Tall Ferns coach Kennedy Kereama made the decision after four days of trials and the 14 players will attend a preparation camp ahead of international play.

“The team has a good blend of youth and experience and I have been delighted with the enthusiasm, commitment and attitude of all the players and it is always difficult to advise players that haven’t been selected on the team; however, I am confident that the players remaining in camp form the strongest group available to the coaching staff,” Kereama said. “We are approaching the upcoming international programme [program] with great optimism as we build towards the Olympic Qualifying series and beyond.”

According to the Tall Ferns website, the team will remain in South Auckland in camp until Saturday before the 12-player team is announced later in the week. The Ferns leave on Saturday to play in the William Jones Cup in Taiwan followed by a three-game series at home against Japan.

Of the 14 retained, six of the players are college students in the U.S., seven players are contracted to Australian clubs and point guard Jordan Hunter as the sole New Zealand based athlete.

After the Japan series the team will play in the FIBA Oceania Series against Australia, in Melbourne on August 15 and Tauranga on August 17, 2015. The winner of this series will earn a trip to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

BFF’s: Basketball Friends Forever

The Los Angeles Clippers' DeAndre Jordan, left, and Blake Griffin meet with the Sacramento Kings' Darren Collison following the Clippers' 116-105 win on Wednesday, March 18, 2015, at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, Calif. (Jose Luis Villegas/Sacramento Bee/TNS)

The NBA has entered an era where “Big Three’s” and “Dream Teams” are king and that makes some purists sick to their stomachs; however, players have autonomy over the NBA landscape like never before.

NBA players relationships nowadays embody the old elementary school adage known as the “buddy system.” It’s cliche but there is strength in numbers and the culmination of super teams in this era of basketball didn’t start in the NBA.

Amateur Athletic Union, (AAU) started a trend of grouping the best players in the country together on traveling teams and playing against the best of the best.

A lot of these players are looked at as glorified superstars and have been recruited to play in some cases since the fourth or fifth grade, a la LeBron James Jr., the son of NBA superstar LeBron James.

This mindset of playing with elite players for years even if you end up going elsewhere means a lot when you get to the NBA. During free agency plenty of players hang out with one another and are great friends.

All you have to do is look at social media or go to the hottest night clubs and you’ll see sworn rivals from other teams during the season yucking it up and having a great time.

So when the infamous free agency feeding frenzy began and played out like an episode of your favorite daytime soap opera and or spanish novela between the Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas Mavericks and all-star center Deandre Jordan, the sudden change of heart by Jordan wasn’t surprising at all. It’s par for the course to be honest.

The NBA used to be about crushing your rivals, not joining up with them to create a monopoly. Michael Jordan, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and Larry Bird are some of the greatest to ever play basketball on any level and all have said on the record they would’ve never played on the same NBA team to win a title.

That generation had the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair mentality in regards to being the best. Flair said, “To be the man, you got to beat the man.”

Luckily, this power struggle between the owners and players has created a skism in the NBA that has made it’s players more autonomous than ever.

James has forced the hand of Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert by handing out a $110 million contract to power forward Kevin Love, a $40 million contract to guard Iman Shumpert.

This new age of players being the de facto general managers is not going anywhere and best believe that birds of a feather flock together.