Tomorrow the Breakers will enter ” the furnace”, hoping like hell they stumble upon whatever made them worth a damn in the first place. Right now, they must feel like winning and losing is subject only to the mercies of fate. It’s out of their control – what was given in the first half of the season has now been taken away. Now they need to win at least one of their last two games to secure a home semi-final. Oh man.
Sure, they’ve had set backs. Bruton’s injury was a killer. He’s the soul of the team, the confidence man. When he got injured that confidence was betrayed by a hesitancy on the floor. Like dogs the rest smelt his fear, and it was downhill from there. Basketball , like most sports, is a game of confidence. But the Breakers in particular seem to rely on the shooting of some particularly streaky and temperamental players. Phil Jones can get hot, but if he’s not… look out. Kirk Penney and Oscar Foreman need to feel that each shot is going in, just so they feel OK about putting the ball up. Without that confidence we are screwed. Penney mentioned as much to the Herald, “Physically we’ve got the tools, it’s just getting our mental approach right,” he said.
Maybe they should consider the correlation between Penney’s haircut and the downward spiral. Are these guys not biblical in any way? I thought Penney was a believer… you don’t think he hasn’t thought about Samson? Must be playing in the back of his mind.
I mentioned last week that team pregnancies may be a deciding factor – as new things are born others must die , in this case, the Breakers hopes of a championship. But that sounded very much like “Lighting Crashes” by the band Live. No good will ever come from making a metaphor out of a Live song. And it sounds like I’m a fifteen year old writing poetry at the back of maths class. Which is maybe how Kirk Penney and Rick Rickert felt when they serenaded “The Crowd Goes Wild” with a rendition of “Time of your life” by Green Day. It seemed appropriate. There exterior was cheerful, but the words were a poorly veiled call for help. They don’t know how to win anymore. Prisoners of fate and time:
Another turning point;
a fork stuck in the road.
Time grabs you by the wrist;
directs you where to go
So how do they reclaim their destiny and win tomorrow? Here’s a few crucial steps:
1. Stop thinking. The Taipans are out of playoff contention and are an inferior team. Run your offense how you planned, and you will be fine. No need to get emotional about this game. It’s all business, no Green Day covers.
2. Go inside early to “the Bear” and Rickert. We need our two strongest forwards working the paint early, keeping defenders honest and not allowing a double team on Penney. If we score inside, it’s more likely that outside shots for Phil Jones and Penney will be available. The “Bear” has a tendency to fall in love with the three ball. Don’t let him.
3. Don’t hesitate, move always. Breakers feed off motion, we need to feed the cutters early and not wait for Penney, Bruton or Jones to create off the dribble on the perimeter. Less dribble more pass. And for goodness sake, get the ball out of Henare’s hands.
4. Man up on defensive. Not in a stupid way like Boucher fouling half-court shots, but in a way that pressures the ball carrier early. Full court kind of stuff. The Breakers thrive off turnovers and fast break points. It’s how they roll.