Evaluating the Southern Huskies after their first New Zealand road trip

Craig Moller, Wellington Saints v Southern Huskies, Sal's NBL, New Zealand national basketball league. 19 April 2019. © Copyright Image: John Cowpland / www.photosport.nz

After being favoured pre-game in only one of their three away match-ups, the Southern Huskies arrive back in Australia with results having gone largely to script.

Missing personnel and limited preparation time, plus all the difficult challenges of joining a new competition with unfamiliarity throughout, led to struggles on both offense and defense.

The offense was clunky for large parts but it did finish with improved ball-movement in game-three. Defensively, they leaked points and allowed good shots but they were strong on the defensive glass.

Marcel Jones and Bryan Michaels

These players will be impact additions and will allow the rotation to fully take shape and the Huskies areas of strength to come to the fore.  

Michaels’ role is clear and he should be a relatively easy fit with his ability to hit the three playing off the ball. His extra shooting and size over some of the other guard options adds some much-needed variety.

Jones has posted big counting stats as a scorer and rebounder in New Zealand and is an obvious talent addition that the Huskies will be hoping off-sets any questions around his fit with the rest of the Huskies roster.

Strengths of the team

Defensive rebounding already looks like a strong point, and with Jones’ addition to the Craig Moller and Jalen Billups frontcourt, that should continue throughout the season.

Offense projects to be the easiest avenue for improvement for the Huskies with Jones and Michaels looming as clear upgrades in the rotation in this area. These two can eat into the B.J. Radcliffe and Brad Simpson minutes, two hard-working but offensively limited players at this level.

Extra fire-power on offense brings with it some extra responsibility on the coaching staff though, and it will be up to them to tinker with line-up combinations in order to get the balance right.

Jones will add to the individual shot-making that they have but consistently generating some easy shots for one another will be a key to getting the Huskies to a playoff level.

Limitations on defense

Over the weekend, the Huskies didn’t force many turnovers, they allowed their opponents to make 60% of their two-pointers, and the opposition also posted a 47% three-point rate – a high mark.

The overabundance of point-guard and power-forward sized players amongst their core rotation seemingly gives them a ceiling on defense.

Craig Moller is their best asset on that end and he will be asked to fill a lot of the gaps.

Player Height Role Projected Minutes
Tre Nichols 5’11” Star 35
Mason Bragg 6’0″ Starter 20
Tiri Masunda 6’1″ Rotation 5
Lochlan Cummings 6’3″ Rotation 15
Bryan Michaels 6’3″ Rotation 15
B.J. Radcliffe 6’4″ Reserve 0
Brad Simpson 6’7″ Reserve 0
Jalen Billups 6’7″ Star 30
Craig Moller 6’8″ Star 35
Marcel Jones 6’8″ Star 30
Jordan Vandenberg 7’1″ Rotation 15

Jordan Vandenberg is the legitimate center-sized option but, given his lack of mobility, he is only suited to limited minutes and is very much match-up dependent.

Coach Anthony Stewart spoke after their game against the Hawks to WIN News Tasmania about him being played off the floor:

“Obviously we sat Jordan in the second half. He couldn’t adjust to some of their smaller guys, and if they’re knocking down threes then you’re in trouble. I think we adjusted well in the second half.”

Home games

The schedule is a favourable one this week as they have time to recover before a single home game for the round against the Rangers, a team that they will be favourites against.

Home games and time on the practice floor will obviously help, but after this weekend it gets difficult again with significant tests against Wellington and Southland. These two rival squads appear to be in a tier of their own at this early stage whilst the Huskies look likely to be mid-table.

In order to make the playoffs the Huskies must win the majority of their games in Tasmania and that starts this Saturday.

Watch the Southern Huskies play live right here at The Pick and Roll!

Jordan McCallum

Written by

NBL and NBL1 contributor. Find me on Twitter @jordanmcnbl

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