Big V 2015: Boomers’ free-falling season fast becoming a train wreck

After a promising 2014 and a relatively upbeat pre-season, Bulleen’s State Championship men are seemingly falling apart at the seams at the wrong end of the campaign.

While the Boomers still hold down sixth spot and boast a 9-8 record, their past month tells another story, both on and off the court.

Credit: Boomers Media

A 48-point thrashing at the hands of Ringwood, a six-point loss to bottom feeders Diamond Valley, a scrappy overtime victory over strugglers Melbourne, and a 42-point thrashing to faltering McKinnon makes up their past four results.

However, there are plenty of other worrying signs that suggest the situation is far more dire than it looks on paper.

First it was Brett Fennell sensationally walking out on the club a fortnight ago, leaving the Boomers very thin on the bench in terms of scoring power, with only Derrick McDonald standing out as a genuine scorer off the pine.

In the past few weeks, the Boomers have also been called for a spate of technical fouls, culminating with the ejection of Head Coach Ben Draper against the Cougars on the weekend, suggesting frustration is beginning to impact on the team.

A side in average form can ill afford to be handing their opposition free opportunities to score via poor discipline as often as the Boomers have been of late, especially a side with so many experienced players on their roster.

Then there are the performances of these senior players, who have failed to pick it up when their side has been challenged in games this season.

Jimmy Todd is averaging just 6.1ppg and 4.1rpg, and is attempting just five field goals per contest.

Karl Beston is posting just 6.1ppg and 3.3rpg, and is shooting at a lowly 33% from the field and 41% from the free-throw line.

Credit: Boomers Media

Liam Norton leads the scoring on his team with 16.6ppg and is dishing 2.9apg, but is shooting just 41% and looks a shade of the player that was voted All-Star Guard in 2014.

Against McKinnon, he attempted just two shots in 33 scoreless minutes, turning the ball over six times to boot in a performance that is, put simply, completely out of character for a guy who has been touted as a capable SEABL player all of his career.

Scott Cuffe has tried to lead from the front, averaging 15.6ppg at 44% from the floor, but he has had no choice but to shoot the ball at a high volume, attempting 55 shots in his last three outings.

The final member of the starting quintet, import Kinard Gadsden-Gillard, has struggled to get going so far and has to be classified as a failed experiment to date.

The American is averaging just 10ppg at 39%, but has pulled in 7.9rpg and played well at the defensive end. If Gadsden-Gillard was a local signing, his numbers would be solid and he would be classed as a serviceable role player amongst a capable bunch of starters.

However, as an import that costs time, effort and money for the club to secure, he simply has to be better at the offensive end; especially given he has directly followed the likes of Corey Standerfer, Mike Rose and Thadd Varmall to the Boomers in the past five years.

The Boomers are now level on losses with seventh-placed Whittlesea and are in very real danger of missing the playoffs.

That thought would have been unfathomable at the start of the season for a line-up containing Norton, Cuffe, Beston, Todd, Fennell, McDonald, and the unknown of an import, which, given the Boomers’ recent record of successes in that department, would’ve been an exciting prospect for the club.

Instead, the 2015 season has been a slow and painful grind and is seemingly turning pear-shaped.

There is still time for the club to restore order and finish strong, but it just seems that Bulleen is heading in the opposite direction and that it will be tough to arrest the downward momentum over the final two months.

With a mix of extremely tough games and very winnable ones to come, the Boomers still have an opportunity to turn it around, starting with a strong showing against a very good Corio Bay side at home this week.

Another blowout loss would be far worse than the +1 in the loss column that they would receive for it on the standings.

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