ON THE BALL: Standard not up to par
In this edition of On The Ball, NATION basketball writer Justin Marville reviews the opening night of the Co-operators General Insurance Premier League season.
INSIGHTS, OBSERVATIONS and musings of a much-awaited first night of the most anticipated season in recent Premier League history.
• The decals and banners sure are pretty, now if only we can get the basketball to look as good. It’s always great to have a partner, and a major one like Co-operators General Insurance at that, so kudos to this latest Derrick Garrett-led administration for finding the league’s first title sponsor in some seven years.
But as we all quickly found out on Sunday night, slapping a dress and makeup on the pig just gives you one pretty-looking pig – not that we should’ve needed the opening night to figure that out right? This isn’t to take anything away from the executive for attracting sponsorship because at least they’ve held up their end of the bargain now.
So shouldn’t these players be expected to do the same now, especially if this new partnership leads anything resembling an increase in prize money? Of course the clubs will reason it is early days yet, and that was merely the opening night where players are expected to be rusty following months of layoff from the sport.
However, try telling that to the fans who paid five dollars for the right to watch Sonics and Tridents combine for 58 turnovers (somewhat more than the field goals they made) while the defending champions Lakers failed to score 80 in a building they spent an entire week practising in.
• On the topic of turnovers, in the name of good point guard play Sonics better be looking to pick up a currently unsigned floor general from somewhere, or it’s going to be one very long season in Gall Hill. Or short, depending on how you look at it.
Yeah, yeah, the St John faithful will argue that it will take time to get adjusted to life without Rahiim Gibbons and Terry Inniss while the side works through the kinks of rookie head coach Charles Griffith’s new offence. But there’s no excuse for coughing up the rock 30 times, not against an extremely inexperienced Tridents squad featuring nine wide-eyed rookies that had even fewer turnovers than they did.
As bad as the league may be, 30 turnovers on a nightly basis definitely won’t get it done, unless of course the “it” refers to demotion, which will almost be a certainty for any team continuing in that vein. Maybe this much ado about nothing and the combination of Damien Waithe, Kevin Mason and Jerome Small can steady the ship. Or maybe Mr Gibbons’ departure is actually going to be worse than I originally thought.
• Let’s give some credit to those pesky schoolboys though, because it’s not like Sonics were exactly throwing away the ball for no reason. Even if a team with respectable ball-handlers would’ve survived that pressure, it still was some inspired and energetic hustle the Tridents played, although it must be said that St John’s turned over the ball just nine times in the second half once adjustments were made.
Nonetheless, this unit promises to be a very good one in time, with the likes of talented youngsters Anand Joseph-Thorne, Nikolai Burton, Ammuniki Wood, Andrew Ifill, Kelan Phillips, Jaré Alleyne, Joel Hunte and Akeem Marshall littered all across the roster.
Better yet, they’re all teenagers that are either in their first or second years, leaving them plenty time to mature together as a team instead of having to graduate to other teams before they’re ready. The basketball may not look good now, but it will be eventually if this is indeed the league’s future.
• I will be the first to admit I may have been too fast to write off Station Hill as a disappointing non-contender considering the competitive first half they turned in against the defending champs – plus the fact I honestly forgot they had a point guard on the roster in Stefan Yard.
Of course that two-quarter performance means absolutely nothing to coach Adrian Craigwell, who can’t nearly be pleased that his team didn’t get up for the second half of a rivalry game against an LSC side missing André Lockhart, Ian Alexander and Omari Corbin.