Ex-NIOC player shines in huge Swish victory

Sean Caddell takes it strong to the hoop to put down two of his 13 points.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

After the first game this season, the Hawaii Swish said aloha to Lt. Mark Veazey, who departed the islands after two years of service at Pacific Command to pursue a post-graduate degree courtesy of the Navy.

While the local professional basketball franchise of the American Basketball Association (ABA) will definitely miss having Veazey’s towering 6-foot-11-inch presence inside the paint, the Swish aren’t short on firepower — especially when it comes to players with a tough military background.

In the team’s runaway, 139-79, win over the visiting Chicago Vipers on Jan. 26 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, the Swish didn’t have far to look to find another veteran to replace the departed Veazey.

At 6-feet-6-inches tall, former Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) star forward Sean Caddell may not have the height of Veazey, but his heart is just as big.

Caddell, who led NIOC to back-to-back Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam intramural basketball championships in 2012-13, checked into the game against the Vipers with 5:53 remaining in the first quarter and immediately made an impact with his strong inside play and hard-as-nails effort under the boards.

Less than a minute after entering the game, Caddell found himself at the front of a fast break, before finishing off a lay-up on a pass from team owner/player Geremy Robinson.

After scoring five points in the first quarter, Caddell went on to score at least one basket in all three remaining periods to finish with 13 points in the lopsided win that kept the Swish perfect with a record of 2-0.

The Swish opened with an unblemished 4-0 record in their inaugural season in 2017 and has yet to be defeated in the ABA.

“We practice how we play,” Cad-dell said about the team’s exciting win. “Our practices are real intense. We go at it three, four times a week and everybody is showing up every night and putting in hard work. It shows every time we step out on the court.”

Swish head coach Artie Wilson, a former basketball and baseball star at the University of Hawaii back in the early 1970s, has heaped praises on the team’s military players that also includes active-duty Marine Lance Cpl. Jarren James.

Besides maturity and discipline, Wilson said that the addition of armed forces members have helped the team become unified.

“Well, one, the guys have bought into a team concept and two, we just do what we do,” Wilson said. “There is a lot of work that still needs to be done, but I like the chemistry that we have. The guys are learning to play together and play hard. When we play hard and together we’ll have success.”

Caddell’s first basket of the game put the Swish up by 20 points at 27-7, then with 4:12 remaining in the second quarter, a thunderous two-hand stuff by Leon Ballard off a dime by Charlie Aslesen jacked up the lead to 30 at 58-28.

With the game well in hand, Wilson emptied the bench and freely rotated players in and out of the game.

A total of 10 players got on the scoreboard for the Swish, with Ballard leading the way with 26, Aslesen with 24 and Robinson adding 22.

Caddell said that with so many competitors on the team, the level of play never falls no matter who is on the court.

“It’s 15 guys challenging for playing time,” Caddell said. “When you’re on the court, you’ve got to produce or you’ve got to sit down.”

As a second-year player on the team, Caddell said that he hopes to play for the Swish for as long as he can.

Wilson said that if fans come out and support the team, they would be treated with an exciting brand of basketball that will keep fans entertained.

“I would like the people to just come out here and give it a shot,” he said. “Come out and watch the effort, style and level of play. It’s the kind of basketball, like the old days when I played, where you go up and down the floor. I think we play very exciting basketball.”

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Category: Sports