Following an unexpected loss coming out of the FIBA break at the hands of the Cairns Taipans, Dean Vickerman’s team has bounced back remarkability well in their following matchups.
Melbourne United are on an absolute role, and they continued on their merry way again on Saturday night.
A clash between the ladder-leading United and bottom-placed Adelaide 36ers hardly seemed like a challenge for Chris Goulding’s men, but the contest loomed as a danger game given the unpredictability of the 36ers’ performances in recent weeks.
In a closely contested first half, United was able to break away late in the second quarter, courtesy of three consecutive knockdowns from beyond the arc by Tanner Krebs.
Adelaide showed good spirit, trailing for most of the game but still being able to stay within reaching distance for most of the second half.
It was not enough to come away with the win though, as the home side rose to the occasion late like they so often do, running out comfortable 11-point winners.
Melbourne United are in a purple patch at the moment, finishing the round on top once again meaning they haven’t dropped below first on the table at any point this season. Remarkably, they sit four games clear of the Sydney Kings, Perth Wildcats and Tasmanian JackJumpers, who make up the other four top teams.
United look irrepressible at the moment with a handsome 13-3 win/loss record. After winning mainly on the back of superb team defence early in the season, the team added another string to their bow, scoring over 100 points for the fifth consecutive game on Saturday night. It is the first time that feat has been achieved in the NBL since the 2008/09 season.
Boasting fantastic depth, opposition teams can’t go with United for the entirety of the game. As soon as both teams make substitutions to their starting five, United often get the jump on other teams and at times it looks like Melbourne United’s bench could make up opposing teams starting five.
Despite winning form, coach Dean Vickerman says the team are focusing on gaining learnings out of every game, regardless of the result.
“Our real focus in reviews right now is the lessons that’s we can learn from every game. I challenged the group the other day, just kind of saying do you need to have a loss to have all these learnings about how to get better,” Vickerman said.
“We’re in this phase right now of looking at everything we’re doing, celebrating the things that we’re doing really well but trying to learn to say, that’s not good enough and if we do that against Perth who we play next week in an open-air game, that’s not going to be good enough for that one.”
They say you learn more from your losses than wins, a theory the United group is testing while continuing to grow throughout this season.
“The groups in a really good space about celebrating the right things and I’m really working on what are my questions, what are the best questions I can ask to try and get these answers from the group, and they’ve been coming forward with some great things to continue to improve,” Vickerman said.
“[We are] putting no ceiling on this group, just keep trying to get better.”
United will play their last home game until February this Saturday night against the Perth Wildcats in the annual open-air game. Their home court John Cain Arena will be used for the Australian Open tennis throughout January.
It is a contest against an in-form Wildcats side that Vickerman and his squad can’t wait for.
“[It] should be amazing, there’s going to be guys that have never experienced it before, and we always cross our fingers and hope the weather’s perfect, and we get that beautiful night to go and play,” he said.
“I think the pictures that come from it and the shots of the open-air game are amazing. It certainly takes me back to playing in the park and enjoying summer nights.
“Obviously, a festive one getting ready for Christmas and people in pretty good spirits, so [we are] hoping we can pack this thing out.”