Roy Ward: “Young Blues band together for late win”
At the end of each round across the 2019 NBL1 season, Roy Ward will dissect the biggest stories and best performances from the weekend. Here is his round three (part one) review.
The story: Young Blues band together for late win
The Blues have been undermanned and are a very new group, so coach Andrew Harms knows it will take games and weeks until they form the chemistry needed to win regularly.
This is where Friday night’s nail-biting 77-72 win over Geelong Supercats could be so important, as they broke their duck for this season and showed a hint of what they could become.
New import Najeal Young played his first game and the playmaking combination of Damon Bozeman (20 points, five assists), Iggy Hadziomerovic (17 points, eight rebounds) and Lachlan Barker (16 points) all found their range and held their nerve in the final minutes.
Barker’s three-point play gave them the lead late on, then Bozeman and Barker made clutch free throws to hold off the Supercats.
“We haven’t been established in terms of continuity and understanding of where everyone fits in,” Harms said.
“So this first month is important, to steal as many wins as we can. It wasn’t an offensively brilliant game but we defended well for four quarters.”
Young, an athletic, high energy power forward, only arrived in Australia last week and before that, the Blues were forced to play with a line-up Harms’ described as “four guards with Majok Majok”.
“It’s hard to establish an identity when we can’t compete on the O boards and are getting hurt on the defensive side of things,” Harms said.
“Not having someone in that traditional four-spot meant we were finding it tough to limit the opposition.”
Young will only get better for the Blues as he trains and gels with his teammates, while Harms is also continuing to challenge Barker to be more aggressive offensively with the recent Sydney Kings development player showing flashes of being an elite offensive talent.
“We are consistently putting an emphasis on him to keep that aggressive mindset,” Harms said.
“There is that slight adjustment to take more responsibility in this NBL1 season and how he can continue to make an impact.
“Lachie is a great teammate and willing to give it up and make the extra pass, sometimes we need him to be have a more aggressive mindset and take his shot too.”
The Blues have two big games coming up as they face Bendigo Braves at Bendigo Stadium this Thursday night then host Dandenong Rangers in their annual ANZAC Day eve game at Frankston.
“We are looking forward to it and are really hungry to play again after Friday’s win,” Harms said.
“We are excited to get up to Bendigo as it’s one of the premier arenas in the league and their team always present a big challenge.
“Then our game against Dandenong is always a big one no matter where our two teams are at.”