The 4 Point Play: Good Knight Matt
|Nov 8, 2017|
Round 5 of the NBL had a little bit of everything in it as the top two teams created a bit of separation between themselves and the rest of the competition while the middle and bottom of the pack continued to get muddled. Unfortunately Round 5 also saw the retirement of one of the best big men to have played in the NBL over the past 10+ years.
Here are my four key points from Round 5.
1 | Matt Knight retires
After announcing that this would be his final season Perth big man Matt Knight decided to retire early due to a series of head injuries/concussions over the past few years. Knight retires as one of the most accomplished big men of his generation.
He was the 2009 NBL Most Improved Player. He was also named to the All-NBL First Team in 2013 as well as the All-NBL Second Team in 2015 and 2016. Most importantly for Knight however were the three NBL championships he was a key part of winning.
Knight finishes his career after playing 236 games, 30 of which were Finals matches with career averages of 11.0 points per game, 7.0 rebounds per game while hitting 49.0% of his career field goal attempts.
Knight leaves a great legacy in Perth. He will be missed by the Wildcats players, coaches and fans as well as NBL fans across the country.
The Wildcats had planned to have him as a key cog in another championship run this season. Do they look to fill his spot on the roster?
2| Sobey Sits, Joey Ejected
The Adelaide 36ers/Melbourne United game had all the makings of a fantastic game. A lot of the pre-game hype was around the back court battle between Adelaide's Shannon Shorter and Nathan Sobey against Melbourne's Casper Ware and Chris Goulding, however, when the game started we found Nathan Sobey sitting on the bench.
Some of the early talk was that maybe Sobey picked up an injury in warm ups but as the game went on it became apparent that Joey Wright was sending a message to his young gun. Sobey entered the game with a couple of minutes to go in the second quarter. He would finish the game with 2 points on 1 - 8 shooting while playing only 12 minutes in the 101 - 84 Adelaide loss.
While Sobey's benching was the big talking point early in the game, that dynamic changed considerably as Joey Wright was caught on camera repeatedly asking for a technical foul and receiving one. He would then go on to tell referee Michael Aylen to "do a better job" to which Aylen responded with the 2nd technical and ejection. It was a wild sequence of events to say the least. I am not sure I've ever seen anything like it!
We've seen Joey Wright bench his stars before (Jerome Randle last season) with great results. Sobey has been benched to start games twice now this season and has not responded positively in either of those games. Is there more to this than meets the eye? Is there frustration brewing between coach and player? Both Wright and Sobey seemed to be on the same page in their post game comments which is a positive. This is one to keep an eye on as the season continues.
3 | One game. Two game winners?
New Zealand Breakers and Cairns Taipans provided us with one of the strangest finishes we may ever see.
New Zealand had possession in the front court with two seconds left on the game clock. Edgar Sosa caught the in bounds pass and swished a corner three to set off the Breakers celebrations. Cairns recognized there was still time left on the clock and quickly passed the ball into Cam Gliddon who proceeded to drain a three-quarter court shot to kick off the Cairns celebrations.
Referee Vaughan Mayberry went to the replay to see what on earth had just occurred. In his review he determined that the Taipans shot could not count because there was not enough time on the clock for the attempt to count. The rule states that there must be at least 0.3 seconds left on the clock for a catch and shoot to count. The only way the shot would have been able to count was if it was a tip in.
Cairns was left heart-broken while New Zealand continues to roll sitting at 6 - 1 at the top of the NBL ladder.
4 | Hawks moving on up
Illawarra was sitting at the bottom of the NBL ladder with only one win heading into Round 5. They would finish the Round a game out of the top four to go with three total wins on the season.
First up was a visit to Brisbane where the Hawks dismantled the Bullets winning 112 - 81. The Hawks were super efficient in this one hitting on 56% of their field goal attempts including 51% of their three-point attempts. Illawarra assisted 35 of their 42 field goals resulting in six players hitting double figures led by Nick Kay's 19.
The Hawks then handed rivals Sydney Kings a 93 - 83 loss on their home court. It was a nice bounce back for Illawarra who had dropped a tough one to Sydney only last week. Rotnei Clarke was on fire in this one finishing with 29 points on 7 - 11 shooting, 5 - 8 from three and a perfect 10 - 10 from the free throw line. Kay was again solid for the Hawks contributing 17 point and 7 rebounds while the Hawks had 2 others reach double digits.
There was a lot of negative chatter regarding the Hawks throughout the NBL community but Coach Beveridge and the Hawks never once lost their focus. They took some tough early losses and have responded strongly. Illawarra has a tough one this weekend in Adelaide. Can they continue to build on the positive momentum?
Well, those are my four key points from Round 5 of the NBL. What were your key points from the round?