Basketball: Pack mentality vital says coach
Saturday, 02 April 2016
By Anendra Singh
SO what is the mindset of the winless Hawks basketballers as they reload against the Southland Sharks in Napier tomorrow?
“Look, losing sucks and we’ve lost four,” says coach Kirstin Daly-Taylor of her Indigo-sponsored troops before they host the SIT Zerofees Sharks at the Pettigrew-Green Arena, Taradale, in a 5pm tip off.
The Aidan Daly and Chris Porter co-skippered hosts are coming off an agonising 99-96 overtime loss to the Canterbury Rams following defeats to the Wellington Saints, Mike Pero Nelson Giants and the Sharks at the arena.
From Daly-Taylor’s perspective, the Hawks need to bring a pack mentality to break that hoodoo in the National Basketball League.
“Some guys are playing well individually but that just won’t do it,” says the former Olympian, especially after returning from training late on Thursday night to discover the Sharks had beaten the Saints 95-87 in overtime at ILT Stadium, Invercargill.
The imposing trio of US import guard Jodair Jett (33 points), Nick Kay (23) and centre Alex Pledger (18) were the chief destroyers.
Therein kicks in Daly-Taylor’s edict of slipping on knuckle dusters, not individually but collectively against a Southland production line that is ensuring the NBL keeps shuffling its pack on who occupies the top rung on the ladder.
The former Tall Fern has impressed on her players to double mark the likes of Jett, Pledger and Kay although she’s aware Derone Raukawa will be another one to contain even though the Saints kept the elusive guard on a leash on Thursday for just eight points.
“When one of their stars takes on our one we want to have someone behind him.”
She reiterates the Hawks “are very deep” on their bench in the absence of “stars”.
Jett, a former St Louis Billiken player, is the toast of round three after the statistics he posted against the Hawks that make him just as adept in rebounding and making assists.
It troubles her that the Hawks have seen their 10-point lead erode to a two-point one on the foundation of something as basic as a block out.
“At the back of the court we can’t make too many mistakes.”
For Daly-Taylor it’s simply a case of making the Sharks feel increasingly uncomfortable in the arena, which must be under scrutiny for the number of losses on the trot at home in any NBL season.
The post-mortem examination against the Rams shows 43-40 halftime score received a boost from an Alonzo Burton bucket from downtown.
“And then we had some crazy shots, Aidan’s technical and we’re down 14 so that’s disappointing.”
Daly-Taylor is adamant the answer to the Hawks’ woes is employing “high-percentage” basketball in a “play-by-play” approach.
“We have to make sure we don’t flair out and do too much individual stuff.”
That translates to the Hawks playing to their strengths without fail to “put the right person in the right place”.
The Cantabrians alluded to possessing a sense of mental fortitude that saw them eclipse the Hawks in overtime and tomorrow the hosts can do with spades load of that. From where Daly-Taylor is perched on the sideline it’s simply a case of her men taking ownership of their portfolios.
“If you’re shooting the ball then finish it, don’t pass it down to someone else. Don’t over pass to someone who happens to be in a worse position to shoot a basket.”
She believes it is imperative the Hawks keep doing what they have been doing but, essentially, “keep it together”.
Unfortunately Hawks forward Darryl Jones is again unlikely to start because of injury.
“We’re also managing Aidan’s 37-year-old knees.”
However, Daly-Taylor reckons it’s an opportune time for some squad members to get on the court.
Everything said and done, she feels the Hawks know too well how the New Zealand Warriors felt until they broke their drought in the NRL last weekend with a win.
“You know, we’re just so stoked to be in the NBL right now,” she says, after the new Hawke’s Bay franchise quashed rumours to enter the league amid speculation the province wasn’t going into a hiatus this year.
Franchise board chairman Keith Price, in appointing Daly-Taylor, had stressed the need to reinstate a winning culture but also nurturing homegrown talent.