3rd Qtr, 2:23 left. Nathan Herbert misses an open 3. Eddie Gill grabs the rebound and goes coast to coast for the 2. Herbert fouls on the play and (according to the Fiba stats) is charged with an unsportsmanlike. Townsville hits all 3 free throws and the score in that sequence goes from 58-58 to 63-58. Once again an undisciplined act proves extremely costly (see the Cairns game earlier this year). But this time I don't think that was the total game changer.
Adelaide started the game well, with Mitch Creek ominously opening our account with an "And 1". Against Melbourne that attempt would have been air balled or he would have tripped over himself before taking off. Creek was on song tonight though and he and his team mates shot the lights out in the first quarter, getting 3's from Bartlett, Ng and Weigh (3 of 3). Our offense was hard to guard with the ball being spread around nicely. On the other end Townsville looked dangerous with Schensch drawing 2 quick ones on Diamon and Gill continually losing Chris Warren on pick and rolls. Luckily Townsville didn't give enough supply to their two best players and consequently relied on their other players to keep the offense ticking. Adelaide shot 56% for the half, including 66% on the 3. Weigh scored 9 on 3/4 shooting and Creek 15pts on 6/8 with 3 boards and 3 assists. We looked a different team having a legit slasher to complement our outside shooters and inside banger. For Townsville, Luke Schenscher contributed 10 on 5/5 shooting. He was way too much for Simpson early, mainly because Adelaide decided not to double team and to leave a player 8" shorter on him. To mess with a quote from Mickey on "Seinfed", Simpson was probably thinking "6"10 I can handle, 7"2 is a stretch".
Adelaide went into halftime up 48-43 and with plenty of reasons to think tonight was their night.
"One" commentators Shane Heal and Steve Carfino both predicted during the halftime break that Townsville would claw their way back into the game and pull of a win. Their reasoning was Townsville was a good team and Adelaide couldn't keep those %'s up. How right they were.
Schenscher opened the second half scoring with a layup and for some reason was again matched up 1-on-1 on Simpson.. Luckily he got his 3rd foul early and went off with 7:08 left in the 3rd. At this point Adelaide was up 53-52 with Simpson about to go to the line for 2. The Schenscher sub was a double whammy for the Crocs as it meant they had lost their most dangerous scorer plus had no-one really to guard Simpson. Simpson scored the next 3 for Adelaide before, annoyingly, he had to sub himself off due to fatigue. With Simpson off Townsville went on an 11-2 run, including the Herbert "incident" and the game was suddenly pretty much gone. Interestingly a similar thing happened in the Cairns game mentioned above, with an opposition going on a run while Simpson was off and a costly foul occurred. Slowly the rumblings about Simpson's energy and fitness levels are gaining momentum, especially when it's as costly as this.
Adelaide shot 56% in the first half, including 66% from the 3pt line. We ended up with 44% and 27%, showing how badly our shooting dropped in the 2nd half. Put a lot of it down to Townsville's D, a 2-3 which resulted in us taking lots of bad shots. Our two scoring stars in the first half, Creek and Weigh, contributed 24 to the half and both only added another 4 the rest of the game. Conversely, Townsville's stars powered on and the support act got going, especially from the 3pt line.
Again Adelaide loses a winnable game and comes home to play Townsville again after losing to them twice in the last few weeks on their home court. I don't know what Adelaide can do differently. Johnson gave nothing and Diamon could have done more if not forced to guard Schenscher on D. It will be tough though and the pressure will continue to rise.
During the game Shane Heal stated that Sydney would be a Top 4 side with Gill as their starting point guard and I'd have to agree. I'd even go as far as to say you extend that and say he could even lift the 36ers to the playoffs. Adelaide is crying out for a veteran floor leader like Gill. Look at the Top 4 and you'll notice they all have an experienced point guard, 3 of them being Americans. Ours is fresh out of college. Warren has had some good games and seems like a great guy but he's not hat we need, with or without Crosswell. Again, he's not all to blame for the team's woes but I think our first issue to address next year is getting a Gill/Wilson/Jackson type.
Weigh- 13pts (4/11), 6 reb, 2 ast, 4 to. Hit some nice 3's but did little else. Needs to work on those skip passes, so he cuts down on turnovers and doesn't face a potential law suit from a fan in the 7th row who'll one day get a broken nose from an errant pass. 5/10
Herbert- 2pts (1/6), 2 reb, 0 ast. Committed a costly foul, missed most of his shots....one to forget. 2/10
Ng- 8pts (2/3), 4 reb, 2 ast. Got 18 minutes and had a solid 1st half but did little in the 2nd once he got more attention. Did a few good things. 4/10
Helliwellreb, 2 ast. Got 12 minutes and did some good things. Probably deserved more time on Schensch. 3/10
Warren- 6pts (2/9), 0 reb, 0 ast, 2 to. Looked ok early but gave nothing when it mattered. 0 assists is unacceptable for an import PG playing 30mins. 3/10
Johnson- 6pts (3/9), 4 reb, 1 ast, 4 to. Had the luxury of generally not being guarded by Schenscher on offense and not having to guard him on defence but didn't capitalise. Got frustrated quickly and lost his way. 3/10
Creek- 19pts (7/11), 5reb, 3 ast. After friday's game the hoops.com.au forum featured a lot of people stating Creek was hopeless, shouldn't be in the league etc. Can't wait to see where they are and what they say after tonight's game. A huge confidence boost for him, was aggressive at both ends and gave us plenty. Performances like that are needed much more often for this team to go anywhere. 7/10
Bartlett- 5pts (2/5), 1 reb, 1 ast. Tries hard but is limited in what he can do. 3/10
Simpson- 10pts (4/7), 5 reb, 3 blk. Only played 15 minutes, mainly because of foul trouble but was good on offense. His sub off in the 3rd was costly and he was well beaten by Schenscher, who was just too big. Not sure why Johnson didn't get first crack at him or why we didn't double, or why Helliwell wasn't used on him more..... 5/10
Clarke- can't hang it all on him tonight. Got the matchups on Schenscher wrong and probably gave Herbert a little too much court time but other than that fixed some things from Friday and got the minutes pretty right. 6/10