Simon Conn’s match-up is still the one that defines Nunawading, especially in the post-season, and the Spectres' Preliminary Final win against a younger Kilsyth squad reminded us of why.
Conn, 35, is an ‘all-time’ player and scorer at this level, but his mobility deficiencies mean the coaching staff have to move the strategy in a certain way. Their playoffs win against the Cobras was a huge win for Nunawading as they recovered from a significant half-time deficit on the back of excellent defense, which included winning the most important strategic part of the game.
This strategy of course involved Conn and pushed the focus mainly onto Kilsyth’s Chris Patton. Patton often found himself unguarded up high with Conn hanging back at the rim to clog the paint and avoid being taken advantage of. Patton was left with key decisions to make as he was enticed into shooting an uncharacteristic eight three-point attempts of which he only made two (he had attempted less than one per game prior to Saturday).
Kilsyth’s other play-makers were struggling to get much of anything going and would have been assisted by more dribble hand-offs from Patton near the three-point line, where they could have found space to work in or forced Conn to adjust his positioning. The Cobras not only put up less desirable shots, but this also took Patton away from his normal scoring positions near the rim which contributed to a season low free-throw rate, a season low offensive-rebounding rate, and ultimately their worst offensive performance of the season.
In contrast, Conn finished the game with a team high plus-minus of +15 to back up his impressive 29 points and 15 rebounds.
The Grand Final will now see Nunawading play Hobart who are coming off a tight, scrappy game against Geelong that was only broken open late thanks to a three-pointer from Craig Moller. Moller is the undisputed MVP and glue of the team, taking on any and every role, and he’ll be counted on to get to the free throw line and make sure the rebound count doesn’t get too out of hand.
The Chargers avoided foul trouble against Geelong which allowed all of their starters to play heavy minutes, including those that mattered the most at the end of the game. The Spectres have a genuine eight-man rotation, even after shortening it for the post-season, and this difference in depth will again be a deciding factor (Zach White fouled out in an early season meeting).
White and Tiri Masunda are the two most reluctant and inconsistent three-point shooters in the Chargers’ line-up and they, just like Patton, will be given room to shoot and make decisions until they can force an adjustment with good play.
Regardless of the execution of the strategy, sometimes in a one-off game like this, it can just be a case of who hits shots and who gets some calls go their way that decides the outcome. Both teams have enough talent and this looks like a fitting finale to an interesting SEABL season.
2018 SEABL Grand Final Schedule
Saturday, 18 August 2018 @ State Basketball Centre
WOMEN | 5:45pm Launceston Tornadoes vs Bendigo Lady Braves Live Stats
MEN | 8:00pm Nunawading Spectres vs Hobart Chargers Live Stats