Some will say Clarke now has to go. I'd say at half-time he was looking like a genius.
Some will say you should never lose a game when you've led by 20. I'd say it's always a chance when you're playing the defending champs who have a great mix of fight and confidence.
Put simply, I'd just say the team is "broken".
Adelaide led 28-14 at quarter time and 49-28 at half-time. The 36ers put away their outside shooting and instead repeatedly went to DJ and Schenscher. Big Luke in particular was awesome, cleaning the glass on the defensive end and finishing with ease at the other end. Hudson and Pledger had no answers for Adelaide's Twin Towers. Adelaide had tweaked a few things for this game, clearly getting Cadee and Crosswell to focus more on point guard duties and allowing Gibson to bother Ced Jax. It worked for the first three quarters, with Jackson having minimal influence and the Breakers unable to get any rhythm. A win looked almost certain with New Zealand's anaemic offense and the apparent lack of effort by several key Breakers.
The Breakers outscored Adelaide 19-12 in the third to trail 61-47 going into the last change. The momentum was clearly shifting and in the last few minutes Cedric Jackson had clearly realised a win would only come on the back of a dominant last quarter by him.
Mid-column flashback: Remember the last time these teams faced off in New Zealand? Jackson recorded 10pts, 2 assists and 3 steals in the first 4:57 of the last quarter to turn the game on it's head. Adam Gibson scored 2 and registered 2 turnovers in that same stretch.
It took Jackson a little longer to get the lead in this one. Here's Jackson's and Gibson's number for the 7 minutes it took New Zealand to grab the lead or the first time in the game.
Jackson- 7pts, 1 ast, 1 reb, 1 stl, 1 to
Gibson- 0pts, 1 fl
Jackson's game tally- 17pts, 5 reb, 7 ast
Gibson's game tally- 7pts, 4 reb, 1 ast
In short: the game plan was good..... until Jackson took over. And his team mates came for the ride. Gibson came up short...and most of his team mates went to water.
Make no mistake, this was an unforgivable loss. Clarke can't take all the blame for this one though- his players let him down and he had few options to go to (Petrie probably should have played more considering the physicality of the game but he'd had an average night).
It's time to go a little harder, so let's go through the team and address some problems. None of this is personal, just things that stand out to me that I think would make a difference.
Gibson- Did his job for nearly 3 quarters but struggled to contain Jackson down the stretch and was clearly fatigued. 7 points, 4 rebounds and 1 assist for the game. He needs more like-minded team mates.
Weigh- Scored 10pts (3/7) and had 6 boards. Was one of our better players for the night but did commit 5 turnovers. Again, needs some plays run for him to utilise his outside shot.
Cadee- Looked good early but gets intimidated too easily and does not handle the pressure well. Gave up too easily several times in fighting to get free to bring the ball up. Defers too much to Crosswell and Gibson and was intimidated by Bruton and Jackson tonight. Is losing confidence and he need to be built up and given some freedom. The boy can play- trust me. 2 points, 3 boards and 2 assists in 26 minutes.
Daly- Only got 18 seconds. Not a concern.
Schenscher- An awesome game but sadly his 25 points, 16 boards and 2 assists were all for nothing. Was played much better by the Breakers in the last quarter, being held scoreless. Very encouraging signs and the offense looks better when he gets the ball and some space to move inside. Needs to have Weigh set up across from him as a spot up shooter.
Petrie- Struggled to get into a game made for him. 2 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist. His body language at the end of the game on the bench was not good. Guessing he was as annoyed as the fans...and probably felt he deserved some/all of DJ's 4th quarter minutes.
Johnson- One of the most gifted offensive players in the league, but boy does he need some work. Here's some of my issues with his game that "came out" tonight.
1st Quarter Bully- Ever notice DJ often scores in double figures in the first quarter yet rarely goes onto score more than low 20's for the game? There's a reason for that. Poor performer down the stretch once the intensity rises and he can't take wide open 3's.
Fundamentals- Still makes too many junior mistakes. Look at his inbounding attempts during the last quarter. Somehow the stats people didn't register any of those as turnovers against him.
Focus- complains too much mid-play when he's not given foul calls. Many times this proves costly.
Physicality- Loses interest and goes missing once teams get physical with him.
Shot Selection- 5/18 tonight and at times clearly takes "I gots to get mine" shots that even Kobe would be embarrassed by.
Franchise Player- Is treated as a franchise player but the 36ers will never win a title if he's our best player and isn't surrounded with guys who can
Crosswell- His outside shooting was exposed again, especially down the stretch as the 36ers continually struggled to beat the shot clock and had Crosswell taking several buzzer beaters. More composed and better defensively than Cadee but he's a liability in the halfcourt. 5 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists for the night.
Marty Clarke- Besides the fact we were playing our 3rd game unnecessarily without an import (all losses)
and stuck with DJ in that brutal inbounding stretch (either sub him or get someone else to inbound!), I can't fault too much besides the usual. I'm watching the replay as I type and at the 5:36 mark of the last quarter we still led by 8. His players simply relented under the pressure of the Breakers.
As Andrew Gaze just said (summarizing) the Breakers just have to throw the ball to Jackson and he'll come up with something. Who do the 36ers go to?
New Zealand goes to Jackson
Perth goes to Lisch
Wollongong goes to Deleon
All money imports. The 36ers and likely Marty Clarke will probably pay in the end for the fact we don't have one. Gibson and Johnson can score but they have limitations. Christopherson was at the game tonight but obviously didn't play. He was interviewed for the crowd at 3 quarter time. Fair to say he's another Marty Clarke guy. Take from that what you will but I don't see him saving our season.