CRISIS AT THE KINGDOME
"DEFENCE....DEFENCE.....DEFENCE...." Not even Rodney O, who made a return to the microphone , could keep Sydney from being belted by the Hawks. People waiting for over two years to see their beloved Kings team be reinstated to the NBL have been let down by poor on court performances.
A real Sydney fan would have known once the team was assembled that on court performances were going to be below par when compared to the Championship teams of the past. I seriously do not understand what planet Mr Turner was on when putting this team together. There were many good players the Kings could have picked up when every single player was on the free agency. This obviously wasn't on Turners' agenda! He waited and waited and then announced a seven man roster with a few spots to be filled by imports. Now of those spots I would say only Ben Knight and Julian Khazzouh are starters, the rest are just role players and not bad ones either. However Moose, if that's what everyone likes to call him (I have other names), gives them extended minutes. These minutes most of them have not seen in their playing careers and it is showing in the results.
Here is my breakdown of the current roster:
Luke Cooper: I didn't know much of Luke but heard a little about him in his time in the Waratah League this season. I was in Europe and never got to play against him. What I did read though was that he was a superb pickup. What didn't make sense was that they already had Luke Martin who isn't a starter. Now you are stuck with two backups. There was the first mistake. Luke proved to be a young star in his first few games and contributed more than what I was expecting. However a season ending injury has put that to an end. Hopefully he can recover in time for the ABA season.
Graham Dann: I've known Graham for a long time now and he is a great player. However he is not a starter. I think he provides good minutes off the bench for any NBL team. His numbers so far are not what you'd expect from an import swingman that the Kings have had in the past. His horrific injury against the Breakers may keep him on the bench for a while but I hope he comes back stronger and puts up some good numbers.
Blagov Janev: Blogs is another good role player that can hit a perimeter shot with ease. It seems as though his confidence has been shattered by the limited minutes he is receiving. I would rather have Blagov on then Jared Scoines who provides absolutely nothing at this level. The Kings need his size in the key as Khazzouh and new import Gilder have arms the size of mine! If blogs can find some confidence he could be good for the team. Give him a go, MOOSE!
Julian Khazzouh: The shining light for the Kings so far. The guy is racking up some seriously good numbers this season. I'm glad he has worked hard at his game and is now seen as a go to guy for an NBL team. I do have one problem with him. He has no size!! Larry Davidson muscled him all around the key last Sunday and Khazzouh could do nothing about it. I spoke to a few people who maybe suggested his work ethic in the gym must be horrendous. I can see their point. He has been playing professional basketball overseas for a season or two now and played for the Sydney Spirit when they were around. He should be the size of Barry Hall by now! After watching the game on Sunday and witnessing the two new imports take all the shots, I am predicting Khazzouh may soon become a little frustrated. He was taking up to 18 shots a game before Sanders and Gilder have come in, now a measely seven against the Hawks. I can imagine that Julian is itching for Dickle to get on the court and direct traffic his way.
Ben Knight: I was in Knight's Kings team a few years back now and he is a great guy, player and captain. It has taken him a couple of months to get in the starting lineup but now that he is in it he will cement it as his. He will be a leader and won't stop even when the times are tough. The one thing that is worrying for me is that he is not fully fit and don't think he will ever get to 100% again. I hope he does for the team and fans sake. The first couple of games watching him hobble around was painful as a viewer let alone what he was going through.
Ben Magden: Another unknown identity for myself when he was announced in the roster. He is a scorer and he is starting to come along quite nicely. However he can't stop a parked car. So really he may be scoring 15 but he is letting in 17. If he can fix that part of his game up he could be a role player the Kings rely on down the stretch. I also like his passion and desire to win a basketball game. I don't really see it from many of them.
Luke Martin: Luke is probably the best back-up point guard in the league and he showed that when he played with the Gong last season. A horrible injury helped him take a back ward step this season and he hasn't looked his usual self since. So this is the problem! Luke is running the show at the moment which is allowing rival point guards to apply a lot of heat on him. I don't think the Kings ran many sets last week because Luke couldn't get the ball across the court without having to pass it off. I like the Luke Martin who comes off the bench gives 10 hard minutes, scores a few points, grabs a few steals and electrifies a crowd with an awesome dish. This is where the Kings went wrong at the beginning of the season. They should have brought in a legitimate point guard like Gary Ervin or Corey Williams. Luke would have fed off them and everything would have been much rosier. However now they bring in 35 year old Mark Dickle, former New Zealand international who has played no basketball for a year and has taken up a role in coaching overseas. COME ON MAN!!!!!! I hope to see Luke show his true colours over the next few weeks. I believe in him and he will show us that he belongs in the NBL.
Damien Ryan: I'm sorry Mr Turner but can you please explain why this man is playing for the Kings. He is a 31 year old has been for goodness sake. He is out there to shoot three's but can't hit them. BJ Carter would have been a better pickup. He brings more passion for his jersey than Ryan ever will and plus he is dead eye from any range. He better pick up his game or give him the boot, he is tearing up salary cap space! At the moment he is just an oxygen thief!
Jared Scoines: Refer to Blagov Janev's spiel. The bloke just isn't up to the NBL and can't believe he is playing ten minutes a game. He is an ABA level player.
Patrick Sanders: Can hoop! I think the Kings have found an import who can play and loves doing it. The guy is of decent size and can hit a jump shot. The only thing that I don't like is that he seems very one out and doesn't involve his teammates. He is a black hole (if you give him the ball, you ain't getting it back). He scored 27 points against some good defense in Campbell and Saville which gives Sydney fans some hope of witnessing more than one win this season, sorry we haven't yet! That one was down in Melbourne.
Joel Wagner: Brought into the roster in place of injured Luke Cooper. What a great pickup......NOT! The guy is smaller than Luke Martin and can't score. The only reason he is in the team is because of Connor Henry (Sydney Assistant Coach) who was the assistant coach of the Perth Wildcats where Wagner was found. He has been seeing more minutes than Luke Martin which is ridiculous. I don't think we will see much more of him when Dickle starts playing, which could mean a flight home for Wagner is on the cards.
Trey Gilder: I watched the game last week and he was disgraceful. He has zero size which is exactly what the Kings did NOT need. The Kings needed someone to work with Khazzouh in the paint. Now the Kings have mini me point guards and stick men centres. COME ON MAN!! Gilder's body language throughout the match was disgraceful and his little dummy spit after getting fouled when the basket waved off was a joke. Grow up mate! I don't know how they play in the D-League in the states but we are a bit tougher down under. You may want to get used to it buddy. I've spoken to a few people and they are giving this guy 2 weeks max. I'm going to give him more of a run but if he performs anywhere near the standard of last week he will be getting flown out razor sharp. By the way Trey, just a quick heads up, Shane Heal's number 23 was retired, don't be showing disrespect for the man who led the Kings to their first championship. I'm guessing he demanded that he either wear it or not play! MOOSE would have given in because he is a pussy.
Finally MOOSE: Our head coach is past it! We need someone fresh. His ideas and rotation are atrocious. Is it because his team isn't as talented as the rest of the field or is it his techniques. Look at Joey Wright, Rob Beveridge and Marty Clarke. They have all come into the league and showcased their coaching talent. This is a case of Mr Turner being cheap. I'm sure there would have been someone out there that could be doing a better job. He lets Connor Henry do all the talking in timeouts. I absolutely hate that! Get in their MOOSE. Run the show and get your team organised. Mr Henry if you get another technical foul you should get the flick. It is down right embarrassing!
TURNER: Sharpen up or get out of the office. Your marketing tactics are disgraceful. If you weren't a basketball fan you still wouldn't know the Kings are playing. Please stop thinking that you are going to continually bring in opening night crowds when:
A: You don't win
B: You provide the same entertainment week in week out. I think the same thing was done for the last 20 years. I was there the other week and I said to my girlfriend this new hip hop boys crew, who definitely weren't in time, (I'm positive I saw them dancing around central station one week for money) is something different. She turned and said mmmm yeah they are OK. Then another of my mates told me this is the 4th time they have performed. Fans don't want to see the same thing every week. They will stop coming back.
C: The Lions routine is outdated, enough of the Michael Jackson mask and same music every week.
D: It's about time you brought back Rodney O. The next thing you need to do is bring back the BAND! They will bring back the younger adult crowd. Have them play before and after the match so people can mingle and have a few drinks. This will lead to people chanting and being a little more passionate than most of the people I witnessed when I was there against the Breakers.
E: Pay someone to market the team much better than what is happening at the moment. It's a farce! Don't worry I won't forget you asking me to work for free!
There is much needed improvement over the rest of the season. I hope things come together for the Kings as the league needs them to be doing well.