ON THE BALL: A disservice to young guns
In this edition of On The Ball, NATION basketball writer Justin Marville reviews another week of action in the Co-operators General Insurance Premier League season.
INSIGHTS, OBSERVATIONS and musings of another eventful week in top-flight basketball.
• SO IT’S BACK to business for these Cavs. Or more specifically back to the Business Man. If there were any doubts Kelvin Patterson was returning to the floor this season, then coach Adrian Craigwell took 13 games to basically end them after inserting the widely-debated big man into the line-up against the Cougars.
But count me among those who don’t see the profits in this rather large stimulus package.
Sounds familiar? Well, I’m quite sure that’s because I held this same view just a year ago when Craigwell’s answer to last season’s 0-4 start was to bring the former national player back from off the shelf.
Yes, the move seemed justified then, considering Patterson did help Station Hill to win seven of their last nine contests as they barely missed the postseason by one game.
Yet the questions I had then persist now.
How exactly does this help the confidence and development of the side’s young “bigs” Jamai Puckerin, Jamario Clarke and Lamar Grazette?
And this isn’t a squad in dire straits and battling demotion that we’re talking about here, rather one that’s in full control of its postseason destiny.
Sure, I was the one predicting this team to struggle without Patterson’s elite scoring, but that was before the young guns won nine of their first 12 games en route to becoming the only top-flight unit to beat Pinelands this season.
Now you’re telling me this extremely cohesive unit that prospers in an equal-opportunity offence while forging a great defensive identity all of a sudden needs a ball-dominant centre who has nary an interest in the “business end” of the court.
No, I’m not buying it, although that doesn’t matter once the young Cavs do.
Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t a more dominant offensive force in all of basketball, even if Patterson is well short of being fully fit.
There aren’t many more polarising either, lest we forget the whole drama-filled 2011 season that all but ripped a then veteran-laden unit apart.
But I guess it makes no difference whether we agree or not, because win or lose, one thing is for certain – Station Hill have gone all in, and there’s no going back on this particular business plan.
• Whether unrelated or not, all’s not right with Station Hill.
Not last Saturday night at least.
Call me a conspiracy theorist if you want, but there’s just no denying that something was up with the team for the start of that Cougars contest where the Cavs fell behind by as many as 31 points.
This isn’t to say Cougars are incapable of blowing away Station Hill, however, Craigwell seemed all too cavalier in sitting by on the bench without calling a timeout or sub during the initial rout – and this is a man who coaches primarily on his feet.
Of course this could be much ado about nothing, as the Cavs eventually rallied to get within single digits behind Patterson no less.
Or, as the old people would say, there’s more in the mortar than the pestle, and this business deal could already be going south.
• At least the Business Man did well to acquit himself on the basketball court, if not the court of public opinion.
Sure, it was his typical domineering performance, but the nine-point, five-rebound showing in just eight minutes had to be particularly pleasing for a man taking the floor for the first time all season.
More importantly, Patterson played a huge role in the Cavs’ comeback on either side of the break while helping to transform a 39-8 deficit into a more manageable 54-48 margin.
But just as the case with his entire career, there’s the good and the bad with Patterson, as he inevitably ended the same rally he started by getting whistled for a pointless technical.
And there may be more of these times to come. However, Craigwell of all people shouldn’t be surprised.