Blues find groove to upset Miners
The seeds for Frankston Blues’ upset win over Ballarat on Sunday were planted after their poor showing on Saturday night.
The Blues have seen their form bounce up and down in recent weeks and against Diamond Valley on Saturday their defensive focus waned and they were taken down by the hungry Eagles.
Post game, Blues coach Andrew Harms and his assistants put the hard word on their players to never again show such disregard for the team’s defensive schemes.
On Sunday they responded in the best possible way, with one of their best all-around displays this season en route to an 87-80 win over the league-leading Miners in Frankston.
“We were bitterly disappointed with our performance on Saturday night,” Harms said.
“We really put it to the group in terms of what their response would be. We have talked about building this year and we saw this as a measuring stick for us.
“Coupled with our performance Saturday night, we laid that challenge down and we are proud of how they went about it. To beat a team as well-coached as Ballarat is a really good way to close out before the mid-season break.”
With the likes of Damon Bozeman, Igor Hadziomerovic and Lachlan Barker on court, the Blues can score a winning tally any game they play but the attention to detail at the defensive end made all the difference on Sunday as they kept the Miners to 41 per cent shooting and only eight fast break points.
“We honed in on the things they like to do and limited them,” Harms said.
“We knew they wouldn’t roll over and hand it to us and we were driving that point home in time outs in the second half – we couldn’t fall over the line, we had to go out and win it.”
Bozeman has stood tall this season for the Blues and responded to some differences in his role as team point guard, and Harms said he was happy with how the import guard was handling the changes.
Bozeman had a team-high 27 points and played a key role in closing out the win.
“We put a lot of pressure on Damon and have high expectations on him but it’s been a learning curve as he’s been on teams where he is expected to carry the scoring load for long periods of time,” Harms said.
“But we are really drilling down on him about the other side of his game, giving it up and finding other guys and he’s been really receptive to that.
“Not only does he have that talent to score, once he gets downhill he is tough to stop but we have been impressed with his leadership at the point guard position.
“He carried us at times, then did a good job of generating some defensive stops and he had a really good close to the fourth quarter as he made sure we got some quality shots and he came up with some clutch ones himself.”
The Blues will gratefully receive power forward Dan Trist back after the break following the South East Melbourne Phoenix’s tour to China and his return will make a major difference to the Blues.
If they can maintain their roster and their defence, they could make a run at the finals.
“You can’t microwave continuity,” Harms said.
“So we have to keep getting our reps up at practice and driving high standards.
“Any wins like that one are re-assuring about the path we have plotted.”