Roy Ward on the Dandenong Rangers, plus this week’s best performances and the media wrap up.
From the outside it looks like Dandenong Rangers men have an embarrassment of basketball riches.
NBL players Lucas Walker and Chris Patton have signed on, import star Daequon Montreal is still going strong while SEABL veteran Chuck Long has also joined the club.
Add in experienced guards Andrew Harms, Dwayne Campbell and Calvin Enge plus a stack of talented juniors and you could claim coach Darren Perry’s biggest problem is sharing out minutes and choosing the proper victory cigar.
But nothing in SEABL life is easy and in the Rangers’ case injuries, college moves and good old fashioned chemistry have made for a 3-2 start to the season.
“We haven’t had your classic, incident free preseason,” Perry said.
“Initially we had some plans, some didn’t follow through and we didn’t pick up Walker and Patton until fairly late but we have come up with a pretty good roster.”
That start looked a little brighter after Saturday night’s 93-88 win over reigning champions Mt Gambier Pioneers at Dandenong Stadium.
The Rangers were missing their guards Harms, Campbell and Enge meaning Perry had to turn point guard duties over to 18 year old Michael Wearne and 17 year old Matt Owies.
Both are former Vic Metro standouts with Wearne signing with Eastern Washington University for next US college season – he will leave in a few weeks’ time for the US creating another line-up change for the Rangers.
But faced with NBL guard Tom Daly, Wearne and Owies hung tough keeping him to 12 points and six assists while Montreal (23 points, five rebounds), Walker (20 points, nine rebounds, five assists), Patton (20 points) and Long (14 points, 12 rebounds) found enough baskets to keep the Pioneers at bay.
“Wearne and Owies did a good job in tandem on Daly – they chased him around all night,” Perry said.
“We had Lucas Walker play shooting guard and had Jack Saunders coming in for him – we had a youthful exuberance about us and certainly didn’t have the experience you would want going into a game against Mt Gambier so it was a great win.”
The Rangers have paid the price for their large and successful junior program in recent years, regularly losing players to the US college system – sometimes they come back for parts of the SEABL season but every time a player leaves or returns the team needs to be re-calibrated.
Perry said he was proud to see players take opportunities abroad.
“We are doing a nice job around Dandenong getting these players up to a high level – then they are snapped up by US colleges.”
“Australians are becoming more and more known overseas and there is now a lot of recruiting going on, especially in our program.
“In some ways the more it happens, arguably the better you get at integrating them into your team but it you had everyone from start to finish it would be a smoother ride.”
This coming weekend will be anything but smooth for the Rangers who host in-form Geelong Supercats on Saturday night then drive to Lauren Jackson Sports Centre to play Albury-Wodonga Bandits on Sunday.
“This is a tough double-header and hopefully we will get a few guys back training this week,” Perry said.
“The more bodies we have available the better but whatever happens we will still be a work in progress until midseason.
“We need more time on the floor, that way everybody can figure out their roles and settle into a good game style.”
The news the Boomers and Opals will play their Olympic qualifiers at Rod Laver Arena on August 15 was also greeted by Perry who played for South East Melbourne Magic at that stadium in the 1990s.
“At the time you don’t think about just how great it was – I still remember going into that stadium and seeing every seat full.”
“Those games were big enough but those crowds made them bigger – they were great memories and I hope the Boomers and Opals can enjoy something similar.”
*Mt Gambier import Damien Johnson bounced back from a quiet night against Dandenong to score 26 points and grab 13 rebounds in his club’s win over Sandringham on Sunday.
*Dandenong’s Melbourne United duo Lucas Walker (20 points, nine rebounds, five assists) and Chris Patton (20 points on 10 of 11 shooting) impressed in the Rangers win on Saturday.
*Albury-Wodonga point guard Deba George lit up BA Centre of Excellence in their clash on Saturday night scoring 30 points while making seven of 17 three-point shots. Sadly for the Bandits, COE managed a 96-90 win.
*North-West Tasmania rising star Kyle Clark showed his continuing maturity with 21 points in 28 minutes as his side beat Brisbane Spartans 88-69 on Saturday night. Spartans guard Brendan Teys asserted himself on the match with 25 points.
*Nunawading Spectres duo Breland Hogan (24 points) and Simon Conn (24 points, nine rebounds) stood tall against a monstrous night from Ballarat Miners’ import Kodi Augustus who scored 29 points on 11 of 15 shooting while pulling down 16 rebounds – the Spectres just won 91-88.
*It was a high-scoring night in Bendigo on Saturday night with Braves import Tony Lewis scoring 25 points and grabbing 15 rebounds but Sandringham’s Rayshawn Goins (25 points) and Al MacDonald (25 points) both matched Lewis as their club took the win 101-88.
*Geelong Supercats’ guard Nathan Herbert scored a season-high 26 points on nine of 11 shooting as they held strong against Kilsyth Cobras 90-81.
*New Zealand international and proven playmaker Everard Bartlett scorched Frankston Blues on Sunday with 16 points and 17 assists as his Ballarat Miners won 115-80 with Roy Booker knocking down 29 points.
*Canberra Gunners import Nnaebuka Anyaorah scored 22 points and added seven boards and four assists as his club held off Albury-Wodonga 86-84 on Sunday with Bandits guard Daniel Sepokas going off for 31 points.
SEABL Media Links
Want more info on the men’s competition? Here’s a handy guide…
*Geelong Advertiser’s Wes Cusworth (@wescusworth) recaps Nathan Herbert’s big night against Kilsyth Cobras. Story: http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/sport/local-sport/geelong-supercats-herbert-masterclass-sinks-cobras/story-fnjuhs0b-1227333091666
*Ballarat Courier’s Melanie Whelan (@Melanie_Whelan) reported on Everard Bartlett’s big day against Frankston. Report: http://www.thecourier.com.au/story/3053545/bartlett-helps-miners-get-back-on-track/?cs=63
*Albury Border Mail’s Steve Smith (@Stevesmithffx) wrote about Deba George before his club’s trip to Canberra. Report, pic: http://www.bordermail.com.au/story/3049341/through-the-storm-albury-wodonga-bandits-star-deba-george-finds-peace-on-court/?cs=2443
*Bendigo Advertiser’s Nathan Dole reports on Braves’ coach Ben Harvey’s tough 150th game against Sandringham. There’s also a picture gallery from the match. Report, picture gallery:http://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/3052394/sabres-cut-through-braves-defensive-wall/?cs=81
*The Advocate’s Jordan Abell reports on NW Tasmania’s win over Brisbane Spartans. Report, pic: http://www.theadvocate.com.au/story/3053402/thunder-storms-to-win-over-brisbane/?cs=88
*Hobart Mercury’s Alex Luttrell on the Chargers’ cutting their import and signing Sydney Kings swingman Kevin White. Story: http://www.themercury.com.au/sport/local-sport/chargers-snap-up-sydney-kings-guard-kevin-white-to-replace-axed-cameron-bennerman/story-fnj92b0f-1227328824227 and more: http://www.themercury.com.au/sport/local-sport/hobart-chargers-oust-import-cameron-bennerman-after-four-games/story-fnj92b0f-1227327171207
*Cool SEABL video feature on Mitch Chapman ahead of his 300th game. Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTKkHUxhnpI&feature=youtu.be
Roy Ward (@rpjward) is a freelance sports writer who has covered the NBA, NBL, WNBL, SEABL and Big V during his career. He will be filing weekly columns on the SEABL men’s and women’s competitions during this season. For feedback or suggestions send Roy a tweet or email him firstname.lastname@example.org