Perth Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge will write a regular column for thewest.com.au during the NBL season.
I don’t know if redemption is the right word for this weekend, but we are playing two good teams who we lost to the last time we played them.
We know, though, that when we follow our game plan and are disciplined with what we do then we minimise mistakes and we are the best team in the league. Now we are ready for a big weekend and I'm excited to see how Michael Dunigan shapes up after looking exciting on the practice court.
Matty Knight is the best big guy in the league. He has just been so outstanding and our success has been because of Matty.
You are kidding yourself if you think that over a four or five-game period of time that you can expect our players to play with so much courage and so much heart without him. Sooner or later they are going to get worn down and at the end of the day, this club is about winning a championship.
We've set ourselves the goal to do that and I spoke to our leadership group about it, and they agreed that for this period of time we've got to keep things going.
We know that to win a championship you have to finish in the top-two, and we don't want to go on a slide over the next month and drop three or four games. That would put us only in that third spot because right now Wollongong and New Zealand have only lost two games each, so they are ahead of the pack. We cannot fall off over this period of time hence the reason why we made the decision to look for an import.
Mike has been here for two training sessions so far and has looked fantastic. We went out for dinner after he arrived on Sunday night and I just loved his personality instantly. He's just a real happy guy who has got massive dreams of playing in the NBA. Character-wise he is a competitor, but he's a good guy.
He has fitted in with the guys straight away and he's a fun guy on and off the court. He really competes and that's the great thing about our players, they have white line fever and off the court they are mates. He has gone out for dinners and lunches with the guys, and the guys are picking him up and dropping off everywhere. I'm very happy with how he's fitting in.
Straight away in the first session we saw that he gets out in his defensive stance and he has huge athleticism. I've coached a lot of players who are playing in the NBA now and he is right up there with the size and athleticism of guys in the big league. He's got an NBA body, an NBA wingspan and right now after two sessions he has shown that he could be a very special player of the future.
With saying that, though, so did Andre Brown. No disrespect to Andre, but I think the difference is Andre came out towards the end of his career and didn’t have the fire in the belly that we wanted and needed, but I do see that in Michael. He is going to bring so much energy, passion, athleticism and nastiness. That's what I've seen in his two sessions so far and hopefully he can transfer that into a game.
Already he changes our player's shots at training. Players don't go up against him because he's just so long and he is athletic.
He plays above the rim so he will definitely make it difficult for guys like Adris Deleon and Lance Hurdle on Friday, but when we played Wollongong last time that was the best a team has ever played against us. We gave up 52 per cent of their shots that were uncontested and that's totally unsatisfactory. I know our players are very focused to redeem themselves from that humiliating loss.
Our players have circled this Friday's date now ever since that last game in Wollongong and I know our players will be up for it.
Wollongong and ourselves are two very competitive teams up against each other, but what I find with the majority of teams is that everybody just wants to beat the Perth Wildcats. When that happens every week, that does become a little bit draining with the expectation of having to win every single game.
Wollongong raise to another level when we go play them over there, and last time no team in the league would have beaten them that game they were that good. Now here at home against them, we are a very proud club and like playing in front of our fans. That helps us to go to another level as well.
Then the next concern is Sunday's game. I'm disappointed with the schedule because we have to jump on a plane Saturday and play Adelaide on Sunday who for some reason always raise themselves to an incredible level against us.
They have got us 2-0 right now and have the whole week to prepare for us. They have lost their last two games and will be ready and primed against us. On paper they have a side that can definitely be a championship contender. They are a bit up and down, but against us they seem to always show their best. I would like to be 100 per cent ready to go against them, but that's the way the scheduling works. We will still be focused for them on Sunday.
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