ON THE BALL: Saeed needs to say so long to Cavs
I try my best not to use this space to point players in any direction. They pay to play after all, as opposed to being paid to play. But I think I’ve held my tongue on this matter long enough now.
Saeed Norville needs to leave Station Hill. Like right now!
There’s just no other way to say it after you watch a national starter consistently hold pine in favour of players who can’t tie his shoelaces.
Don’t get me wrong: Saeed is far from the only player who has had to come off the bench for his club team in the same season he started on the national side.
Heck, Mark Bridgeman did that as recent as 2014 when he essentially served as Lakers’ sixth man.
But that was for defending league champs that made it back to the finals with a number of national-level and championship-calibre players on the roster.
And Bridgeman played what amounted to starter’s minutes on those teams.
The same surely can’t be said of Norville’s last play-off run.
I mean, it’s one thing to be charged with leading a bench unit, but it’s another thing altogether when you can’t get on the court for 15 minutes of a closeout game in the postseason.
Worse yet, Norville wasn’t even among the first three substitutions made in that decisive Game 3 against Lakers.
And this is a man who averaged more minutes than all but three players on a Barbados side that just finished third at the regional tournament.
Now, I’m not here to tell Adrian Craigwell how to run his bench, because I am quite certain he makes every decision in the best interest of the club.
Station Hill’s current standing is proof of that, too, when you consider the Cavs are perennial play-off contenders who’ve won three straight knockout crowns with a relatively young roster.
But the reality is that the club’s success should be Craigwell’s top priority, not Norville’s.
Nope, a 26-year-old national player’s main concern has to be his own personal development.
And that isn’t going to happen while being stuck to anyone’s bench.
Now, don’t think for a second that I’m only just jumping on this Saeed Norville bandwagon simply because he made this year’s national squad, eh.
After all, I did name him to my Barbados 12-man roster back in March well before the initial trials list was announced.
Even before the start of the season I had a brief chat with Saeed on his possible future as a national player because I’ve always seen the great potential he has to be a true game-changer at both ends of the floor.
My guess is that he’s about six-foot-five or six-foot-six with an even longer wingspan and the ability to finish above the rim.
It’s not like Norville is slow either, as he’s particularly agile and athletic and has the defensive acumen to guard no less than three different positions.
Now that sounds like a national player to me, and clearly I’m not alone in my thinking or Nigel Lloyd wouldn’t have started him in the ultramarine and gold.
Yet the Barbados head coach and I must be missing a trick because Saeed continues to sit behind far less talented players who don’t have nearly those same attributes.
I mean, with all due respect to Jason Smith, Dwayne Kellman and Stephan Ottley, I don’t think they’ll be donning Barbados colours any time soon.
Sure, Saeed has very serious limitations, as he can’t shoot much beyond ten feet because of his awful shooting mechanics and he’s often proved to be a dreadfully passive player on offence.
Yet a lot of that simply comes down to confidence, and that can all change in a different setting where Norville is given greater responsibility and a bigger role in another team’s offence.
Of course, that could happen with the Cavaliers too if someone else starts to see what Lloyd and I already have.
But it ultimately comes down to Saeed’s choice as he literally doesn’t owe Station Hill anything.
He does pay to play after all, and not the other way around. (JM)