Hodgson rated highly in US college basketball team
IT'S a rare opportunity when Ipswich gets to see one of America's leading college teams play at Booval.
It's even more valuable when that reputable US side includes an Ipswich product.
However that's the tantalising prospect tonight when Matt Hodgson suits up for the St Mary's Gaels against National Basketball League team, the Cairns Taipans.
The St Mary's contingent arrived in Ipswich yesterday on the last leg of its Australian tour, having won three of its four matches in Sydney and Melbourne.
With home town player Hodgson part of the elite side, assistant coach Adam Caporn had high expectations for tonight's 7pm game.
"He's got very high potential,'' Caporn said of Hodgson.
"Mattie has got a lot of talent and he's an exceptional defender at the moment.
"His offensive game is improving rapidly. He's a good shooter.
"He's got a lot to offer. He's going to have a long successful career.''
Caporn is in his fourth season with the Gaels, having worked with NBA stars such as other Australians Pat Mills and Matthew Dellavadova.
Having played in the NBL with the Wollongong Hawks and Perth Wildcats, Caporn knows what it takes to attract American interest.
"I think we do a lot of things well,'' he said. "I think it's our people first and foremost.
"We have really good guys and guys that like to work hard and come to get better and come to win.
"It's certainly our coaching staff and our program, and the head coach does a good job in a lot of ways.''
Caporn said improving on tours like the current Australian mission was an essential ingredient.
"I do think preparation is everything and we're a well prepared team,'' he said.
With a squad aged between 18 and 22, Caporn is excited about playing in Ipswich tonight.
"For us, it's a tough physical encounter, a chance for us to grow as a team,'' he said.
"We lost a big piece of our team in the seniors who graduated last year.
"We're a totally new identity and playing in these sort of games against men provides a challenging environment for us.
"It's a really true road game.''
The St Mary's assistant coach was encouraged by the earlier performances against Manly, Wollongong, the Dandenong Ranges and Melbourne Tigers.
The Tigers had a narrow win over the US visitors.
"We're improving,'' Caporn said.
"We started a little shaky but we're really happy with the way the tour has gone, with the way our guys have applied themselves and the way we are getting better.''
Caporn said coming to places like Ipswich was also beneficial off the court.
"The guys are having a great time,'' he said noting the Aussie language and Californian team's fascination with kangaroos.
Ipswich Grammar and St Edmund's play each other in today's curtainraiser at 5pm.