Semi-pro basketball group eyes West Sound

Kitsap County has semi-pro football and other minor-league sports teams. If Mikal Duilio has his way, semi-pro basketball could be headed to Kitsap County next year.

Duilio, an Iowa native who lives in Portland, Ore., presented his plan for minor-league basketball Tuesday morning at the Midway Inn in Bremerton. He said his experience stems from producing 5,500 basketball games per year for the last 12 years and studying other minor-league basketball operations. Now, he’s looking to start the International Basketball League.

“I started researching minor-league basketball and why it doesn’t work,” he said. “Fifty percent of your games require significant cost (with travel). It will not work.”

Duilio believes he has found the solution — cluster scheduling. The plan would place four to five teams within a region that wouldn’t require more than three hours of driving, eliminating the need for hotels. For example, Washington’s cluster could include Bremerton, Bellevue, Tacoma and Olympia. Duilio said the league, which would begin in April, 2005, will use a 20-game schedule during the first year and only will require staying overnight when one “cluster” travels to another. He said to mix up what he calls an “extreme schedule,” the Washington teams may visit California, but have and Ohio team come here.

“The difference in my model is I’ve made it affordable,” Duilio said. “A team can play 20 games ... but only have to leave town once.”

Duilio said he has received 13 commitments from owners in cities extending from Stockton, Calif., to Peoria, Ill.

He said the IBL’s game is different from the NBA.

“We changed two rules,” he said. “We allow coaches to have one timeout per quarter. The other is officials aggressively seek the ball during an inbound. Basketball is an athletic event and its become too formalized. Three hours is a long time to watch a 48-minute game. What the IBL wants to do is bring the game down to an hour and a half.

“Those two rules have changed the game significantly. We have four guys who can stroke the ball and run up and down the court.”

The only other rule difference from the NBA is the shot clock reduction from 24 to 22 seconds, Duilio said. He said that rule also helps keep the game moving. Duilio said his formula was tested in October in Portland, Ore., and nine of the 11 games had each team scoring at least 140 points.

Starting a franchise is $87,000. Duilio said breaking even would require an ownership group to sell 800 tickets at $7 for 10 home games. There also is a license fee — $20,000 due by Dec. 31 — and $5,000 per year from 2005-2009.

If investors can be found, finding a venue might be the next challenge. Two possible sites are the remodeled Kitsap Pavillion, which could seat 3,000 for basketball, and Bremerton High holds about 1,500 spectators.

Olympic College athletic director Barry Janusch, who said he might be interested in coaching the team, thinks attendance could be an issue.

“The problem would be putting 800 people in the stands,” he said. “That would be a concern. The people here, even though we are a little bit isolated, they do go over to Seattle and Tacoma for a lot of entertainment things.”

Janusch said he supports the plan, though.

“The general idea is good,” he said. “Similar to minor-league baseball, it can be a positive if it’s done right.”

Other West Sound semi-pro teams include the West Sound Saints, a football team, and the Puget Sound Tomahawks’ hockey team. The Bremerton BlueJackets, a minor-league baseball team, is slated to play at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds next year.

Those interested in getting involved with a possible West Sound basketball team should contact Janusch at (360) 308-9475.

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