Preparations continue for ABA Finals at Hirsch; Mavs share NCAA Tournament insights

By Kirk Copeland
(318) 525-8853 cell

Friday, March 27th

(Shreveport, LA.) – With the American Basketball Association Championship Finals less than two weeks away, the Shreveport-Bossier Mavericks organization is diligently preparing for what league co-founder Joe Newman called a “very NBA-like” event at Hirsch Memorial Coliseum.

“What an event this is going to be - very NBA like - with all of the bells and whistles,” said Newman of the Finals. “For the teams competing, it will be the ABA at its best. For every ABA team, it would be well worth the effort to visit Shreveport, if at all possible, and take in some of the games.”

The Finals will be held April 7-13, with the final four teams facing off in a double-elimination format prior to a best two-of-three Championship Series crowning the champion.

Fervent activity surrounded the historic arena all week as new décor was being planned and put into place and expanded bleacher seating was added to the floor. Staff members and front office were tirelessly working to make the Finals one for the ages.

“We are going all out to make this the best ABA Finals ever,” said Mavericks owner Jerry Nelson. “Debra (Mavs general manager) and Gary Green (Mavs operations manager) and the Mavs’ organization have put together an extraordinary week of activities and events, and we hope for a large attendance.”

Tickets for the Finals can be purchased at or the Hirsch Memorial Coliseum box office. Call 318/631-4930 for more ticket information.

For further information on the ongoing ABA playoffs, visit and


***** The Mavericks will be honored Friday night at the Wyndham Appreciation Cocktail Hour at Endzone Sports and Spirits at 2711 Almay Drive. The event will run from 5:30-6:30 p.m. with several players and coaches on hand for meet-and-greet. There is no admission charge and there will be complimentary food and cocktail samples.

***** Saturday at 6 p.m., the Mavs will play their final intrasquad scrimmage prior to the Finals. The scrimmage will be at the Mavericks Training Facility, across Pershing Blvd. from Hirsch Coliseum, and is open to the public.

***** The Mavericks have conducted five practices in four days this week, and Tucker has been pleased with the work the team has gotten done. “We’ve done a good job this week,” he said. “Most importantly, we’ve gotten through it healthy.” The Mavericks will have another full week of practice next week in preparation for the Finals.

***** With the news breaking Thursday that legendary North Carolina coach Dean Smith had willed $200 to his former players to “enjoy a dinner out on Coach Dean Smith”, Mavericks coach Steve Tucker shared his memories of meeting the Hall-of-Famer in 1982:
“The way I met Coach Smith was special. I was coaching Athletes In Action in 1982, and we had just finished Training Camp at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. We had played an exhibition game vs. an All-Star Team. We had won pretty handily! Right after the game, one of the Officers from the Academy said someone wanted to meet me. We walked up to an upper corridor in the Arena, and there was Coach Dean Smith. He said he just wanted to meet me! We spoke briefly and then he left. He basically told me to keep doing what I was doing. I have. It was a special meeting for sure! I will never, ever forget that. Just another Memory of a Great Coach & Man!”

***** The two Mavericks with teams still alive in the Sweet Sixteen going into this weekend – Alex “The Ticket” Sanders and P.J. Couisnard – watched Couisnard’s Wichita State Shockers fall to Notre Dame together Thursday. The Shockers had made it to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since losing to LSU in the 1981 Elite Eight before dropping the 81-70 decision to the Irish. While Couisnard was upset that his alma mater, where he starred from 2004-2008, was eliminated, he felt good about this season’s success and the prospects for next year’s team. “We didn’t get the shots to fall (Thursday) night,” said Couisnard, the Mavs’ starting point guard. “But it’s been a good season, and as an alum of the school, I have to be happy with how we’ve played all season. If we get some guys like (Ron) Baker and (Fred) VanVleet back, we could go far again next year.”

***** Sanders was very pleased with the way his Louisville Cardinals have played to this point. The Ticket was a member of the 1997 Elite Eight squad that lost to Smith’s North Carolina Tar Heels. This year’s Cardinals face the surprising North Carolina State Wolfpack, who knocked off LSU in the tourney’s first round, at 6:37 p.m. Friday in Syracuse, NY. “I’ve been pretty happy with the way we’ve played, especially after losing Chris Jones,” said Sanders. “Quentin Snider stepped in for him as a freshman and has played really well. Our bigs, particularly Wayne Blackshear, have looked real good. If we can keep playing defense like we have, and hit some big shots, and get our bigs involved, we’ve got a legitimate shot.”

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