Blaine’s about to get slammed.
The Bellingham Slam is scheduled to play against the Salem Soldiers at Blaine High School on Saturday, June 2, at 7 p.m.
If you haven’t heard of them, the Slam is a professional basketball team from, yes, Bellingham, that plays in the International Basketball League. Their playing season runs from April to July.
The Slam is comprised of mostly local players with six of the 10 having played college level at Western Washington University. While none of the players on the team are from Blaine, fans of high school and college basketball in the county will be familiar with most of the names.
The team’s head coach is Rob Ridnour, who coached Blaine high school basketball for 12 years before coaching the Slam. He’s the father of NBA player Luke Ridnour. As a father/son and coach/player duo they won the 1999 and 2000 state championships at Blaine. Luke went on to be drafted by the Seattle Supersonics in 2003, before signing with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2010.
“I am excited [to play in Blaine on Saturday], because my son might come, and that will be a huge bonus for the community,” Ridnour said. “I haven’t seen some of the faces for a long time, and it will be cool to see them. It’s good basketball, and I think a lot of people will enjoy it.”
Normally the Slam plays its home games in Whatcom Pavilion. “Last year we played a game in Lynden, and we decided to try one in Blaine this year,” Ridnour said. “We want to show the community the product we have to offer, instead of only playing at Whatcom.”
The major strength of the team is familiarity. A lot of other teams are comprised mostly of Division I schools, larger schools such as the University of Washington or Oregon State University. The Slam is unique in that it is made up of Division II schools, such as Western Washington University or Saint Martins and many of them have played together.
“We have great continuity,” Ridnour said. “That’s something that other teams always comment on. I think it’s a major factor in our success.”
The team so far has a 9-1 record, with the only loss coming from Salem at the home opener.
“I think that will be a great motivation for the guys to play against them again,” Ridnour said. “They’re a pretty good team, but we are playing a lot better than we were when they beat us.”
The game is faster than NBA or college basketball because there is only a 22-second shot clock and an 8-second backcourt clock. But fans will find familiarity in the 12-minutes quarters and the NBA 3-point line.Tickets are reduced for Saturday’s game in Blaine – $8 for adults, $6 for seniors/students and $4 for children. For tickets, visit the Slam at www.bellinghamslam.com.