NBL: The injury curse strikes Sydney once again
It is safe to say the Sydney Kings 2015/16 season has not gone as planned. They sit at the bottom of the NBL ladder, having only registered 4 wins in 17 attempts and fired their coach mid-season.
The season continues to go from bad to worse after the team announced yesterday that big man Julian Khazzouh will miss the remainder of the season due to injury. He suffered the injury in the second quarter of Friday's loss to Illawarra and will undergo season-ending surgery to repair a ruptured right quadriceps tendon.
Coming into the season, especially after a dismal showing at The Blitz, it was clear that the Kings would need to be extremely healthy to succeed this season. Their depth, or lack thereof, was always going to be a problem. Unfortunately for the Kings, injuries have not allowed them to field their best team.
The loss of Khazzouh will undoubtedly hit the team hard. He was averaging 13.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game this season, and others will have to step up in his absence. That has been the problem for Sydney all season long; when the going has got hard, the team has simply wilted under the pressure.
New coach Joe Connelly already had his work cut out when he took over mid-season, and now his job is set to get even harder. With both Khazzouh and Josh Childress out through injury, the Kings will have to look elsewhere for leadership and defence.
Connelly had his team absolutely on fire early against Melbourne United last Wednesday night, as they jumped out of the blocks and led 15-2 in just over 3 minutes of play. Connelly's intensity and energy on the bench and during time-outs gave his team a spark and it was clear his players were loving his emotion. This needs to continue, even as the team loses personnel.
For the Kings to be able to drag themselves off the bottom of the ladder, and finish the season with some wins, they need to be accountable on both ends of the court. It starts with the likes of Tom Garlepp, Marcus Thornton, Jason Cadee and needs to filter down to the whole team. Sydney's defence has been the weak link all season long, and the loss of Khazzouh will only accentuate that aspect even more with the big man missing in the middle.