12/5/12

Join the club, CJ

The Adelaide 36ers today announced that they had released import CJ Massingale from his contract. They are currently look at options to replace him.

CJ joins Craig Winder, Tony DeVries, Ron Howard and John Williamson as imports let go by the club without seeing out their contract. Overall, CJ is the eight import to play for the club in Marty Clarke's tenure. Chris Warren is the only import to play a full season for Clarke. Diamon Simpson and Eddie Shannon are the other two imports who finished off seasons as replacements but were not brought back.

Going into 2012-2013, Marty Clarke was keen to get the best available Australian talent first and then bring in imports as necessary to complement the team. Schenscher and Cadee were the first two signings, followed by Adam Gibson and Anthony Petrie when the Gold Coast Blaze folded. That left two roster spots which could have both been used on imports but as Gibson and Schenscher wouldn't have come cheap, they had to look at more "economical" options. That probably also worked out well for Clarke considering his success with imports. Massingale was a good option as he'd come cheap, he knew the country and league well and was potentially a good fit as a combo guard off the bench with a reputation for scoring. Considering the local talent assembled, you'd have to say in the end it was an understandable move once they'd settled on the direction they were going.

Side note: What hasn't been written about much is Clarke's preference for quiet, subdued imports. All of the imports were "character guys" which is a good thing if you're playing in a church league but not if you're after the best available talent. I'm not saying we should recruit morons but can you imagine Clarke ever bringing in a character like Kevin Brooks or an assassin like Rob Rose? Clarke clearly only goes for certain guys. I remember when the name "Homicide Williams" came up as a possible recruit and you just knew that would never, ever happen with Clarke in charge. I went to a training early in the year and CJ barely said a word to anyone. He's clearly a quiet guy.

In his first few games he was clearly nervous and his confidence looked low early on. Fans were feeling for him and were willing him to score like he was Jason Williams or Blake Truslove. He didn't score until round 4, and that was just 2 points, albeit off a nice steal in one of Adelaide's best quarters of the year against Wollongong. He only played a couple more minutes after that basket and logged just 5.21 for the game. 

In the next 36ers game against Sydney, CJ again saw time in the first quarter and this time found ways to get to the line, scoring four quick points from the charity stripe. He started the second quarter on the bench despite the encouraging start again and only came on again late in the second, scoring two more free throws and a three. They were his last minutes for the game. Probably deserved more seeing he'd piled on 9 points in just under 6 minutes.

The Round 6 blowout loss to Melbourne resulted in him seeing 17 minutes of court time, scoring 5 points on 2/5 shooting with 4 boards. He was hardly our worst for the game. It appeared he was building some momentum and improving (read my game review here) . The loss was so bad though that fans were starting to get anxious and it was clear the team couldn't afford many more games like that without some changes. CJ needed a big game against Perth two days later. He delivered big time.

In 18 minutes of court time against Perth, CJ tallied 18 points. He was almost just as good on defense, coming up with some key plays. He pretty much won Adelaide the game in the 4th, scoring at will and providing Adelaide with someone willing to attack the basket and consequently get to the line. All of a sudden it appeared we'd found ourselves a player.

Round 7 saw us go back to Perth and this was always going to be a test for Adelaide. It was unlikely the Wildcats, a team that takes huge pride in it's defense, would let CJ go off like that again. He played 11 minutes, scoring just 3 points on 1/3. Round 8 was a bye, followed by two games in three days in Round 9.

Adelaide started the round against the winless Townsville. CJ logged 9 minutes in another disappointing 36ers loss. He scored 4 points on 2/6. As has generally been the case with him though, if he doesn't produce early in games he rarely sees the court in the second half. Game two of the round was against the Kings. He saw just under 4 minutes of action, going scoreless without taking a shot. 

Three days later he was sacked.

Fair?

The case for
CJ had started poorly and it didn't look like he was quite up to the league. At the end of the day he averaged 4.1pts...not quite what the team was after from it's key scorer off the bench. He only scored 7 points over his last 3 games, two of them being bad losses. 

The case against
24 days ago he won us a game pretty much off his own hand. He'd also been an important contributor in the Sydney win. He'd only played 93 minutes for the season and had too many games where he didn't get a crack in the second half. Unless the team plans to open the cheque book or bring in Dr Ng, it looks like shifting of the deck chairs to me. It seems Clarke was challenged to do something and this was his response.

Despite the reports, it's clear he is being made the scapegoat for Adelaide's disappointing season so far. Clarke has struggled to get the guard rotations in particular right all year (ie playing Cadee and Crosswell together regularly). The 36ers have had some success with a small ball line up of Crosswell, Massingale and Gibson but they haven't been used enough.  

He hasn't produced what was expected but he certainly hasn't been handled correctly ever since the signs of life he showed against the Kings. Time will tell if this was the beginning of the end for Clarke or if it allowed Adelaide to bring in a key contributor.


Read more thoughts on the Massingale departure @

Boti Nagy- Adelaide Now

Hoops Forum- Hoops.com.au

Hoop Diary- Hoopdiary.com

And The Foul- Andthefoul.net

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