Player Profile: Anthony Petrie

Besides the true NBL diehards, not many 36ers fans would have known too much about Blaze forward Anthony Petrie when the club signed him last year. In all honestly, I could barely remember him (as this post suggests ). Don't forget this was in the pre-NBL TV days when you only got to catch a random game here or there on Channel 10/ONE between infomercials and reruns of fishing shows

It took all of one game though for 36ers fans to realise we'd found a gem (had to avoid "a Peach"). In his debut versus the Tigers , Petrie brought back memories of fan favourite Martin Cattalini. He could rebound. He had a nice jump shot. He could hit the three. He could get into ridiculous fights.

Petrie started last year coming off the bench and always seemed to give the team a lift, especially in the intensity category. As the season wore on, Petrie became an angry young man, mainly due to an ongoing back issue and the mounting losses. When Big Luke went down early in 2013, Petrie moved into the starters role and played admirably despite clearly being hurt, with his highlight being a big late 3 in a win over Cairns.

At the end of the season, Petrie found himself suddenly being mentioned as one of the league's best forwards. His form was recognised with a call-up to the Boomers. Some may have pegged him for a towel-waving role but he got put into the starting lineup and didn't look out of place.His mix of offensive skills and defensive effort were important in the Boomers team.

Fast forward to season 2013-2014 and Petrie found himself reunited with former Blaze coach Joey Wright and with a call-up to the starting lineup. It was a nice recognition of his development but it hardly had Petrie getting complacent.

"For me it's never been about starting or coming off the bench. It's a  cliche but it's about what's best for the group and the balance of the team. You always have to have a team first mentality no matter what your role".

While he's now regularly starting, it hasn't meant he's been given a tonne of extra minutes and shots. In fact he's averaging less points per game despite getting almost 4 extra minutes a game. From the outside, it appeared he's been given less plays run for him on offense and has focused on defense and the dirty work. He confirmed it today.

"Joey has given me a real clear focus of playing D in multiple positions and doing all the little things that make a team better that aren't easy to do all the time. I have enormous respect for (Dillon) Boucher and spoke at length with Joey & Andrej (Lemanis) about him in the off season. He's been a winner all throughout his career and does whatever is necessary to get a win. We have brilliant scorers on our team so I'll chip in where needed but I have so many other things to worry about before that."

Importantly for the team, Peach's rebounds are up to 7 a game, his turnovers down to 1.4 a game and his blocks up from 0.4 to 1.4 a game. The blocks have been the most noticeable difference in his game, with many of them coming in big moments of big games. I asked if his increased jumping ability and lift in boards and blocks is simply attributed to his back being in good nick.

"I feel so much better and definitely since my back has settled it has enabled me to get back into that role. I'm moving a lot better than at certain stages of the season last year. I'm really enjoying my basketball this year and the way Joey has me playing and the whole squad playing together. It's a great balance we have at this stage of the season."

As the Sixers look to make a deep run into the playoffs this year,  a fit and firing Petrie will be key to Adelaide wrestling power from Perth and New Zealand. And while I'm all for him watching some Dillon Boucher video, I'd like him to get some more inspiration from this.

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