Perth Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge will write a regular column for thewest.com.au during the NBL season.
It’s the halfway point of our 2012-13 championship campaign and what better time to take a look at what we’ve done well, and what needs to be worked on as we move into the back end of the season.
I’m pretty happy with where we are at the moment, people look at some of our losses and think ‘they could have won that game’, but the fact of the matter is we are 7-3 on the road - that’s 70 per cent wins away from Perth, and it’s just incredible. I think any other team in the league would be happy with a record like that.
I feel like that’s a really special achievement as in that time we have done over 80,000kms of travel and it has been tremendously hard on the players’ bodies. All the injuries that are recurring, there is hips, groins, tightness and it all comes from the amount of travel we’ve been doing.
I think the reason for this success is that the guys have now grown up; they’ve gone from young men, to men. They’ve become more mature as a group and under adversity they’ve shown their character, they’ve become very tight as a group and that goes a long way to winning games of basketball.
On the court I’ve been very impressed with our defence, we continue to pull down rebounds and cause turnovers and that’s a big part of Wildcats basketball.
However, I’m still not happy with what we’re doing when we have the ball. We are the worst three-point shooting team in the league, we have the second-worst field goal percentage and those percentages have dropped since last season, so I look at that and see we’ve regressed offensively, but we are still in second spot and that’s the exciting part.
With most of our games now at home I’m really looking for the team to come home with a wet sail, and less travel means more time to prepare. We will now have at least one extra session per week, which will be predominantly to work on the technical aspects of shooting. So we have a goal to improve in that area.
Stand out players in my eyes so far this season have been Greg Hire, Kevin Lisch and Matt Knight.
Greg’s improved in every area, his scoring, his rebounding, his leadership, it’s hard to explain on paper, but to me he stands out as one of our best performers this season.
While Kevin Lisch’s numbers are down slightly, I think he is a lot better than last year because he get’s double-teamed every game. He’s our focal point; everyone is trying to stop Kevin Lisch, but he still manages to get the job done.
Then there’s Matty Knight, obviously he missed five matches with a calf injury, but I have no question in my mind that he is the best big guy in the league. He came back on the weekend and with limited court time scored 13 points and got seven rebounds, as if to say ‘Hey, I’m back.’
I’m very thankful for everything Mike Dunigan brought to the club, he’s one of the best imports we’ve ever had, he ticked every box and we had a winner there, but Matty came back and showed he is the alpha-dog. Matty being back will make us better.
Our goal for the season was to finish top-four, now I’ve reassessed that and the goal has become to finish top-two but we really want that No.1 spot as we know a home court advantage come finals time can go a long way to winning a championship.
If I were to grade the first half of this season I would give us a ‘B’. Defensively we are an ‘A’, but at the moment offensively we are a ‘C’, however we are improving every week and I’m looking forward to Sunday’s game at Perth Arena.
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