I wrote this on December 15 last year after a gutsy 80-75 Townsville win over Adelaide. It was a memorable game for several reasons, probably most notably being the game that ended Mitch Creek's season. Besides that, Crocs import Gary Ervin had a blinder, scoring 15 in the first quarter and another 3 in the second before suffering a leg injury right on half time. Ervin's scoring slowed down after that but he kept playing hard and looked more for his team mates, who managed to pull off another win over Adelaide.
That was hardly the first time Ervin had made an impression on me but it hit home the desperate need Adelaide continued to have for an import point guard who could lead a team, get to the line, hit shots, get team mates involved and be the face of the franchise. He had a moment in that game that became one of my most memorable of the season. After a sequence of misses by centre Luke Nevill around the basket, Ervin and Peter Crawford went up to their big man and urged him to dunk it next time he was that close to the rim. He did. It was the sort of leadership Adelaide was lacking and that particular pleading for aggression certainly could have been directed at one of his Adelaide opponents during most games last year.
Soon he might get his chance.
Twitter was abuzz today with talk that Ervin may be headed to Adelaide. There had been talk his asking price was high but he may have since relented. We'll know soon enough. The majority of respondents seemed keen on bring G Money to Adelaide but several things need to first be considered.
Getting Ervin would almost certainly mean Adelaide's second import would be a bargain basement option. Most teams (including Adelaide) seem to be raiding the NZNBL for low-cost players but Adelaide's cap space would certainly lead to it resorting to the FNBL (Fiji National Basketball League) or the SONBL (Solomon Islands National Basketball League). I'm joking.
You should be able to insert any import who can chew gum and dribble at the same time into an Ervin/Gibson//Johnson/Schenscher lineup, supported by Creek/Cadee/Petrie/Teys/Anthony and succeed so it's probably ok from this perspective. Even if the second import didn't pan out, the team should have enough flexibility to move Creek,Teys or Petrie into the lineup if required.
Offensively, the team should be the powerhouse of the league. Ervin and DJ would be the main scorers with Gibson being able to focus more on shutting down his opponent and hitting open mid-range jumpers and Schensch being a target on certain nights. On the defensive end, Ervin and his backup, Jason Cadee, are both often undersized but in most circumstances if this becomes a problem Adelaide can look to Gibson, Teys or Creek for more physical alternatives. Ervin won't be afraid to challenge anyone on his team and could be just the sort of leader Daniel Johnson needs.
Ervin should have no problem stepping in and being the man. Adam Gibson would be happy to let him take the spotlight and DJ still has a lot to fix before he can become a "main man". Ervin would appear to be a great fit for the coach and perfect to lead the team on the floor.
I also asked Nat from Andthefoul.net for his thoughts on Gary Ervin. Nat saw Ervin up close for a season in the 'Gong and has continued to closely follow his career. He said this....
"One of the most underrated aspects of Gary's game is the fact that his versatility allows him to also play the shooting guard position, something he couldn't due in Townsville (due to a lack of a solid back up PG). When he played the "2" with Rhys Martin at the "1" the Hawks were almost unstoppable. This is something Joey Wright can re-capture with a Gibson/Ervin or Cadee/Ervin combo, which could lift Gary's play back to
his 2011 MVP style.
It's no secret Gary loves to get out in the open court and one thing that slowed down Gary's effectiveness last season was the fact that Nevill,Holmes, Crawford & Hinder had old legs and couldn't keep up with him. In Adelaide, he'll have the young guns Daniel Johnson, Mitch Creek, Brendan Teys & Anthony Petrie, who may not be as young as the others but can run the floor. Imagine having Gary leading the fast break with Gibson on one wing,waiting to hit the 3, Mitch on the other wing waiting to jump over you and
Petrie trailing waiting for the defense to over defend one of the wings or Gary, opening up Peach for an easy 2. And if your defense manages to cover all players, you have to deal with Gary going one on one on a fast break. Impossible.
One thing Gary did well in Wollongong was he played at game speed during practice, which lifted the whole team that year. If your best player is playing at 110% during training, as a player you don't want to be
embarrassed so you lift your game as well. He set the level in Wollongong that year and if they weren't de-railed with injuries who know what would have happened."
It's far from a done deal but if Adelaide can make the numbers work, they will already have one hand on the championship. GM Dean Parker has done a magnificent job of quickly turning this team from an afterthought into a team that no-one will look forward to playing. All he has to do now is sign off on one of the best imports of the NBL in the 2000's. Or someone else really good.