36ers v All-Stars Wrap

Mitch Creek starred in his return
Photo courtesy Millbank Photography
The 36ers had their best hitout of their preseason last night, taking on a mix of all-stars from the country's second league. The Sixers were at near full strength, only missing centre Luke Schenscher. I couldn't attend the game so one of our good followers, Cody Pound, submitted this report.
36ers - 100 def All Stars - 66

The 36ers struggled to prevent the All Stars from getting good shots in the first, largely due to an unsuccessful attempt to play a zone. The zone defense will work on other NBL clubs, but was largely ineffective because the All Stars had five guys who could hit from the perimeter, and only four 36ers to cover them. DJ spent a lot of time on his own guarding an empty key. Once they switched to a man-to-man defense, they were able to trigger their transition game, and looked to push hard in the open court. Both teams looked evenly matched by the end of the first, no team carrying any advantage into the short break.

In the second, the 36ers looked more comfortable, and pushed out their advantage by a few more points, but still weren't hitting their straps defensively. Their offensive structure went from being a perimeter passing game (similar to Wollongong) to using screens to free up players, and getting good looks close to the basket. At half time, scores were 46-39 in favour of the 36ers.

After half time, the 36ers upped the work rate defensively, and pushed at full pace in transition. Opportunities were squandered in transition for both teams, but the 36ers were too good at the up-tempo style of play. Ervin seemed to come alive and looked to find his own shot, and he did with great success. The 36ers went on a 17-2 run this quarter, and won the quarter 28 - 17.

The last quarter was more of the same, and included some great hustle plays from the 36ers, including some second chance points from offensive rebounds. The 36ers had the ball on the sideline with 4 seconds left, with Mitch Creek receiving the inbounds pass, and hitting a last second three (his only for the game) to take the final score to triple figures.

Stand-outs for the game include Mitch Creek, Adam Gibson, Anthony Petrie and the imports.

Joey was very calm tonight as you would expect for a trial game, and spent most of the first half trialling plays. Our starters for the first and second quarters were Doyle, Gibson, Frye, Anthony and Peach, with development player Kyle Adnam subbing in for Doyle for a few minutes before entire 5-for-5 swaps for Ervin, Cadee, Teys, Creek and DJ. The starting lineup in the third was our likely starting five with Ervin, Gibbo, Frye, Petrie and DJ getting the first minutes for the half.

Mitch Creek: 19 pts (8/14 shooting), 7 rbs, 2 ast, 2 stl in 18:56

For me, this was always going to be the highlight of the night. I can not tell you how great it was to see Mitch back out on court. I'm sure I don't need to remind anyone what happened last year, but tonight it looked like Mitch had clearly put it behind him. He had the biggest cheer out of anyone when the teams were introduced pre-game, and from the first moment he stepped on court he played like every possession was his last. I don't think I've ever seen him play with more confidence, and he was not afraid to throw himself on the floor pursuing every single loose ball in true Mitch Creek style. Did a great job in the last quarter of putting back some missed shots and seems to be looking to use his jumpshot more often. I sincerely hope in years to come the #5 and #33 jerseys hanging from the rafters at Adelaide Arena will be accompanied by the #23. Expect some big things this season, including likely nominations for Most Improved Player and Best Sixth Man come MVP time. Someone give this guy a contract for the next 15 years.

Adam Gibson: 8 pts (4/7), 9 rbs, 5 ast, 5 t/o, 2 stl in 21:04

A solid Gibbo performance as usual. Most people would see the 5 turnovers and start to worry, but don't expect that to be a continuing trend this season. As always, Gibbo was full of hustle, and it was all about defense and getting his team mates the ball. With only 3 fouls in tonight's game, Gibbo appears to have adjusted well to the new style of officiating the NBL is going for in favour of a more entertaining game. This is good news, and could see himself (and Mitch Creek) overtaking the likes of Damian Martin for top pick when it comes to Best Defensive Player if the Wildcat point guard can't keep his hands clear this season. Dominant performance on the boards, and will provide excellent leadership in the back court alongside new running partner Gary Ervin.

Anthony Petrie: 11 pts (4/9), 8 rbs, 4 ast, 2 stl, 2 blk in 21.04

What can you say about Peach that hasn't already been said? The man is a gun. Why it took so long for him to get a national call up is beyond me. He is a solid scorer and rebounder, will defend anyone from the 1 to the 5 and even helps bring the ball up the court when needed. Possibly the hardest working player in the NBL and it shows. Anyone with real basketball knowledge will know that a player's contribution is not limited to the box score and Peach is the best example. Chasing loose balls, help defense, setting hard screens and just generally working his  backside off, Peach does it all. Tonight, he seemed intent on doing all of those things, as well as filling up his box score. Perhaps the most notable stat though was his 1 turnover. Peach was perhaps the biggest offender in terms of turnovers per game last season, and for him to dish 4 assists and only cough up the ball once was a great sign that his time at the Boomers has helped his decision making, and overall level of play. Looks like he could be starting in the Power Forward position this season with Schenscher coming off the bench, which will be a strong move towards a better defensive starting unit.

Jarrid Frye: 11 pts (5/6), 3 rbs, 1 ast

I met Jarrid at the Royal Adelaide Show last Saturday and had a brief chat about how he was settling in. From our five minute chat I could tell that Jarrid would work in Adelaide. He is a likeable guy, and seemed happy to chat to fans. One thing I did ask was how he felt about playing under Joey Wright, and his response that Joey was a very knowledgeable coach was very reassuring. He said that the team bonded well, and even though they trained hard it was a relaxed atmosphere. After just a few minutes on the court, Jarrid had given himself the best start a new import could have, scoring the 36ers first 7 points of the game with some great plays around the rim in transition. It's no secret we have struggled with our imports for too long, and expectations were always going to be high, so needless to say Jarrid made 450 new fans tonight with his performance (including 2 dunks later in the game). Jarrid has great speed and handle, and has a dazzling array of moves which allow him to get to the basket a variety of ways. Once he gets there he has got good balance and great upper body strength to finish around or over the top of most defenders. Expect this man to set up shop at the free throw line in some games this season, many teams will probably opt to foul rather than let him get all the way to the rim. Anyone who fancies themselves to go one on one in the open court with him is kidding themselves.

Gary Ervin: 15 pts (6/7), 2 rbs, 1 ast

I have to admit, I'm still getting used to the idea that the league's best Point Guard (this year) will be suiting up in blue this season. It's not the first time, but the last time we had someone this good in the back court was probably before I started following the 36ers 5 years ago. We already know what Gary can do, so I won't go into too much depth. He communicated well with his team mates on court, and there's already great chemistry in the back court. The pairing of Gibbo and Gary in the back court could possibly the best in the NBL this season bar Melbourne. By Gary's standards he has a quiet first half, but you could probably say that he was ignited the 17-2 run the 36ers went on in early stages of the 3rd quarter. Once he started looking for his own shot, no one was going to stop him, and I wouldn't expect that to change when the season starts. Best import pickup since Diamon Simpson.

Those were probably the main contributors tonight, but other performances include:

BJ Anthony: 10 rbs

BJ was a beast on the boards tonight, and whilst he only went 1/8 from the field, I doubt he will shoot that poorly again any time soon. Some solid (no pun intended) defensive efforts including a steal and a block.

Jason Cadee: 10 pts (3/8), 4 rbs

JC went about his business quietly and got it done when he needed to. Didn't get as much court time as a normal game due to Joey running the development players. His free throw shooting looks much better, and I think we will see a better overall performance out of Jason this season, having had a lot of pressure taken away with the introduction of Gary to the side. Should thrive in Joey's up tempo system.

Brendan Teys: 7 pts (3/6), 3 rbs, 2 ast

Brendan isn't someone we will see a lot of this season, being the last guy off the bench. Joey gave him some good minutes tonight, and whilst he didn't go out of his way to put himself in the spotlight, I was impressed with his hustle when chasing down loose balls and playing good honest defense.

Daniel Johnson: 8 pts (3/5), 6 rbs, 1 stl, 1 blk

A solid performance from DJ overall. Most people checking the box score will probably be concerned with his numbers, considering he was our leading scorer last season, but it is important to note that he played less minutes than many of our second unit and was never really the focal point of our offense. Most of DJ's minutes were as an off-ball player, setting some screens, and being part of the general ball movement. I think Joey probably knows how to use DJ: get him the ball in low and let him go to work. Look for a better class of physical play from DJ this season, and better post D. Similarly to Peach, DJ was at times a bit loose with the ball last season, coughing more turnovers than most would like on many occasions. Tonight, not a single turnover in almost 18 minutes. Good stuff.

The development players, Adam Doyle and Kyle Adnam.

Adam Doyle used his 13 minutes well, shooting at an efficient 50% from the field for his 7 points, as well as dishing 3 assists and nabbing 2 steals. Still undersized, even in our league, but could get some minutes at home games this season, and will likely travel with the team in the event of an injury.

Kyle Adnam. I'd never heard of him before tonight's game, which is hardly surprising considering he looks like he's barely old enough to drive, and certainly not old enough to drink. Kyle played less than 12 minutes, and didn't connect on any of his 5 shots, but there was a lot to like about his game. Kyle is probably someone we will see a lot of in years to come (if he doesn't disappear somewhere in the American college system). With a few more years to grow, I think Kyle is already on his way to securing himself a professional career. He is quick, has some great handles and didn't seem overly daunted by the defensive pressure the All Stars showed him as he brought the ball up the court. It would be great to see him get some court time when we blow teams out at home (possibly as early as our first home game, where we will no doubt be heavy favourites to take the Hawks apart).

Luke Schenscher was being rested before the coming preseason tournament in Sydney and did not play.

As for the All Stars, Rashad Tucker turned back the clock to collect 13 rebounds, and some laughs from spectators when he yelled, "Give me the damn ball", whilst going for a steal in the last few seconds of the third quarter. Didn't seem thrilled that he was being guarded by Mitch Creek at times.

Willie Farley seems to have had that same clock paused for the last 8 years or so, taking top scoring honours for the All Stars with 17 points (8/17) to go with 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. Willie showed he's still got it with some amazing handles and agility for someone the best part of 40.

Other key contributors included James Legan with 15 points (5/17) and Trent Fildes with 11 points (5/11) who looked like he would have been happy to camp in the left corner (where he scored 7 straight points early) and shoot jumpers all night.

Over all it was an entertaining game, and a good look at things to come from our 36ers. Don't expect any "it's not my play" or late game/clock "I don't want to shoot it" moments from this team.

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