The number one notable factor for today’s win against the New Zealand Breakers wasn’t shooting numbers. It wasn’t even the disastrous rebounding that plagued the early season. It was defence.
If there is two stat lines that best sum up an energetic and hustle-filled performance for the men down south.
Will McDowell-White – 5 points, 2 assists, 2 from 5 (40 percent) from the floor. Finn Delany – 10 points, 6 rebounds, 3 from 13 (23 percent) from the floor.
It wasn’t even as if either of the aforementioned players played particularly badly, the JackJumpers defence for these two was world-class.
The main component in this well thought out defensive scheme is fan favourite Sam McDaniel. McDaniel’s numbers on the night seem pedestrian – 10 points, 6 rebounds and a steal, but in reality he was perhaps the most important player on the court in his nearly 27 minutes.
McDaniel’s defence started on a solid footing, as he started the game on offence initiator for the Breakers McDowell-White. Although there seems to be a shift in the Breakers offensive system, at least initially McDowell-White spent most of the early offence with the ball in his hands.
McDaniel chased him through all the ball screens he could and where he couldn’t roll defenders Will Magnay, Fabian Krslovic and Jack McVeigh did an excellent job aggressively showing or trapping forcing the ball out of McDowell-White’s hands.
Anytime McDaniel was isolated, he did an excellent job playing defence with his feet, being beaten off the dribble only once early in the first. For the majority of the first half McDaniel and Matt Kenyon kept McDowell-White quiet, limiting his touches and aggressively attacking his pick and roll opportunities.
The result was a pretty dismal first half for McDowell-White, who finished the first half with 2 points and 2 assists. It is important to note that this is a man who coming into this game averaged 15 points and 5 assists and aside from big man Yanni Weztell, has probably been the Breakers best player this season, leading the offence.
At the half the Breakers altered their offensive strategy, benching young prospect Hugo Besson for veteran big man Rob Lowe. One aspect that the JackJumpers had been unable to control in the first half was Finn Delany, who was bullying his way to the rim and taking advantage of some offensive rebounding opportunities, the JackJumpers main vulnerability.
Enter defensive stopper, Sam McDaniel.
McDaniel was moved onto Delany for the majority of his second half minutes, frustrating one of the league’s best young stars and holding him to just 10 points. Delany worked for every ball he caught in the second half.
McDaniel’s defensive versatility serves both himself and the team well, as he can easily switch 1-4 in this league. His size, strength and length proved adequate for guarding the talented Delany, battling in iso post ups and recovering from help to contest corner threes.
The JackJumpers team defence was great even aside from McDaniel as a combination of Josh Adams, Matt Kenyon and Jarrad Weeks held budding NBA prospect Hugo Besson to just 6 points, 2 from 11 (18.2 percent) from the floor.
A combination of some great on ball defence, switching and help at the rim made for a difficult offensive night for the Breakers whose offence often looked disjointed as the ball was moved into a hot Jeremiah Martin’s hands.
Martin was more than effective for the Breakers, scoring 24 points and dishing 8 assists, however for large stretches of the game, there was much standing around particularly McDowell-White who spent most of the second half relegated to standing in the corner.
Conversely, for three quarters the Tasmanian offence was firing. Josh Adams had an excellent game, probably the first time he has looked truly comfortable. 21 points with 10 points coming from the line is a marked improvement from the rough road trip he endured coming into today. S
tiendl again was the spark for the second unit, 14 points on 5 for 6 gave the JJ’s some real offensive punch and kept pressure on.
The reality is that for the JackJumpers, if the offence isn’t firing it is going to be an uphill battle for most of the season. However, it is important to point out the defensive excellence when we see it.
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