Sometimes things just don’t happen fast enough.
We all want to lose weight faster, make money quicker, so it’s understandable that with the Townsville Crocodiles facing the reality of finishing in the bottom two for the fifth season in a row, they decided they’d like to start winning some games right now!
It’s clear the team has been struggling for an identity. There is no clear characteristic that you can point to and say that nobody does that better than the Crocodiles in this years NBL.
Townsville are middle of the pack for points scored, as well as points against. They’re not the fastest team in the league, or the slowest, nor the most athletic. They don’t have a dominant big man to punish teams inside yet they neither have a strong perimeter game to spread the floor with (Cairns and Townsville are last in three-point percentage for non-corner threes.). So this begs the question, what type of team are the Crocodiles trying to be?
The answer has become clear with the recent addition of former WCC Defensive Player of the Year, Omar Samhan. Samhan will be remembered by aussie hoops fans as the starting center for the St Mary’s Gaels during the college careers of both Patty Mills and Matt Dellavedova.
This one move changes the game for the Crocodiles and is the team’s attempt to create a clear identity for the team and give them an edge in an area no other team can match. This has been developing recently behind both the improved offensive play from Jordair Jett and from Shawn Dennis decision to incorporate an aggressive full court press into the Townsville game plan recently. Samhan will fit perfectly into the defensive direction coach Dennis is steering the team into.
“We had a list of over one hundred potential replacements for Brian and we chose Omar because his style will not only suit and gel with our current mix of players but gives us a defensive we haven’t had before” said Townsville GM Robert Honan.
Samhan provides the perfect garnish to this meal where he can be the defensive wall, protecting the basket from any team who is lucky enough to get evade the pesky backcourt pressure of the Croc’s. Both Jett and Mitch Norton have done extremely well, taking their defensive to another level and terrorizing opposition guards since Coach Dennis “let them off the leash”.
“We needed a player that was of high quality and fit the need of the team” Honan said. “Omar arrived yesterday and has already trained with the team twice. Seeing how he has already fit in with the team the fact he arrived and in the best shape of his life, 15 kilograms lighter than he was in college, we’re excited about the new direction the team is heading”.
The fact that Samhan spent his college career at St Mary’s hearing the sounds of Men At Work’s “Land Down Under” and played in an area with both Australian and Torres Strait Islander flags assimilating into the league should be a relatively easy process.
Samhan’s resume also suggests his ability to integrate into the team defensively should be even easier.
“It’s obvious that Omar will be the most scrutinized player in the team, but being an NBL player is a performance based career. Shawn (Dennis) and I have no doubt he will be able to deliver what we need.”
The offensive ability of the team may be a question worth asking. It’s fair to say the team may have not improved offensively at all by substituting Brian Conklin with Samhan. Stat’s geeks will note that while Samhan may be a quality player, his recent offensive play in NBA’s D-League (he averaged only 2 points per game) and in Germany’s BBL (he averaged 5 points per game), both lower standards of competition compared to the NBL should cause concern.
But while one can argue the Crocodiles with Brian Conklin may have been better offensively it was clear they weren’t one of the league’s most potent offences. Defensive wins games they say and offence doesn’t matter so much if you’re hounding opponents defensively and outscoring teams with defensive stops and fast breaks.
Yes, this move probably won’t help them much offensively but what it does is put them on a clear trajectory to becoming one of the toughest defensive teams in the league. A clear identity for a team desperately in need of one, and an identity which has proven time and time again to produce success.
With Townsville having played only 38% of their games at home so far, A strong home schedule for the run home with an increased defensive focus could be all that’s required to see the Croc’s closer to the playoffs.
Editors Note: Having also played with Clint Stiendl, Mitch Young, Lucas Walker, Carlin Hughes and plenty more Australian’s during Samhan’s time in college, he would have played with more Australian’s than any other player who has yet to play “in” Australia.