Here's why the Tasmania JackJumpers are going to the next level
The JackJumpers are playing like a true title contender early in the season.
Credit: JBC Studios
Scott Roth and Milton Doyle sit patiently in front of the media pack at Melbourne’s John Cain Arena. Their Tasmania JackJumpers have just claimed a remarkable come-from-behind win against title favourites Melbourne United, and the waiting journalists are keen to break down how that happened.
With the JackJumpers leading for less than two minutes in the game before edging ahead at the death, one theory floats up from the back of the room: “It feels like that’s the sort of team you’re going to be, grind through games and just guard toward the end…”
Roth is quick to jump in and squash that train of thought – “I hope not”. Next to him, Doyle shakes his head with a bemused look on his face, offering an equally dismissive “nah, nah, nah”.
The message from both coach and player was clear — these aren’t the same old JackJumpers that you’ve seen before. After spending their first two seasons scrapping and clawing for everything — wins, respect, recognition — this year’s group looks set to make things a little easier for themselves. The hallmarks of the club’s back-to-back finals appearances are still there, as is much of the core of the playing group, but some tweaks over the offseason have unlocked even more of their potential.
After starting 2-6 in their inaugural season and 0-3 a year later, this year’s group has burst out of the blocks to stamp their credentials as one of the league’s best teams. Despite what Roth described as “a murderer’s row” early in their schedule, wins over United once and Sydney twice have powered them to a 4-2 record after four rounds. Add in the context of those two losses – one in the cauldron of Perth’s RAC Arena, the other by a single point on the road to South East Melbourne – and their fast start becomes even more impressive.
Over the last two seasons, the JackJumpers have been constantly underestimated, ruled out as finals contenders on paper before making deep postseason runs. This preseason felt different, but also eerily similar – they were finally given their flowers as one of the league’s best teams, but still placed by many below the upper echelon of title contenders. After their flying start, could they prove everyone wrong once again and take the next step?
Same offence? Think again
As the average NBL score has crept closer to 90 and the pace of play has rapidly climbed, the perception of “good” offence has shifted. It’s easy to assume that a team that plays uptempo, makes flashy plays, and racks up high points totals is a good offensive team.
Don’t get sucked in by the run and gun merchants, though – the JackJumpers are proof that there’s often more than meets the eye.
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