MELBOURNE UNITED: 87 (Ware 26, Goulding 20, Prather 16)
CAIRNS TAIPANS: 65 (Carrera 19, Heuir 10, Gliddon 8, Weigh 8)
MELBOURNE UNITED: 101 (Prather 25, Ware 21, Andersen 13, Boone 13)
ADELAIDE 36ERS: 84 (Johnson 25, Creek 16, Shorter 13)
United spent the last week in Melbourne and with two home games in front of the faithful at Hisense Arena. Cairns then Adelaide came in and both left disappointed as United came out strong and took control of both games. There was a new energy that has been missing the past two rounds and every player was playing a part. Noticeably, Casper Ware and Chris Goulding were strong and it’s not surprising that when these two play well and Prather does his thing United are good.
In the Cairns game as it wore on it started to seem like there was nothing they could do wrong. Everyone was rising to the occasion. The only scare was Josh Boone going down on his knee. This gave Majok Majok more time in the game and he showed he can still rebound with the best of them. It was an offensive display though against Cairns and the first ‘free burger’ of the week really got under Michael Carrera’s skin. Melbourne was running away with it and it was a great chance for the whole team to be involved.
With the Adelaide game, Melbourne again came out strong. The omission of Nathan Sobey raised a few eyebrows and Adelaide didn’t look their best, but Melbourne was again strong. The fans forced Josh Childress to make Hungry Jack’s give away more free burgers and the atmosphere in the stadium was building on itself. As a Melbourne fan, this is what we want to see happening when teams come to play at Hisense. The increased minutes for the bench players was noticeable again and seemed to lift the entire team. Ware got up to 26 points to add the exclamation point to the week.
It was a great week to be a Melbourne fan.
Here are some key takeaways from an unashamed Melbourne United fan.
Team effort = team win
In both games, the headlines have revolved around Casper Ware, Chris Goulding and Casey Prather “returning to form”. The true headline is that the team was clicking and finding the extra pass more often. When Josh Boone went down the rotations picked up and we got to see more of Majok Majok and David Anderson. They are both no secret to the league and very capable players. Rather than being a detriment, it turned into a huge positive over the two games as Boone was still excellent when on the court, but the rest of the team was chipping in.
The other noticeable change was in the rotations. Tai Wesley seems now to have been replaced as a starter with David Barlow. Wesley is taking the lion’s share of minutes though throughout the game. On an eye test, it appears to be because Barlow is less offensive from the start of the game and can play a solid role to start a game. The stats hardly separate the two except Wesley scores more points.
Then we saw a staggered approach to the rotations that seemed to work better. Ware or Prather was left with the second units earlier in the game. More than any of the star power returning to form the adjustments in the lineups seemed to make the biggest difference.
If we can keep this team attitude going, using the star players to their strengths, then we can start making an impact this season.
@ Cairns Taipans on Thursday 9 November at 7:30pm AEDT. Watch it on Fox Sports channel 503.
v. Sydney Kings on Saturday 11 November at 5:30pm AEDT. Watch it on Fox Sports channel 503 or SBS.
Seeing Cairns again in Cairns could be a different prospect. Historically a difficult place to travel and Cairns will be looking to prove a point with two losses in round 5 to bounce back from. Carrera may be looking for blood after the ‘free burger’ saga also. Cairns would love to get a burger back in this one. Our turnover rate is concerning for this one. United are still giving up too many turnovers, but lead the league in rebounding. In order to keep this roll going the next focus must be not giving away turnovers so that we can successfully take this show on the road.
Then United host Sydney in what could be an interesting matchup. Melbourne’s front court and back court both seem stronger going in. Sydney’s well-documented issues may come to plague them once again with this trip. Sydney has matched up well with Illawara so far this season and has could be because Illawara, like Melbourne, rely heavily on 3 pointers. United lead the league in 3 point attempts and % made
Don’t expect this to be a walk over. Sydney matches up much better against a team that is relying outside play such as Melbourne.
In non-Melbourne games also the Perth v New Zealand double header trips across Australia could see Melbourne within a game of 1st place by the end of the weekend.
See you next week!