To say that Melbourne United had a roller-coaster season is an understatement. Winning their opening 9 games, then going on to lose 7 of their next 9 is almost unheard of. Still, they finished the regular season as Minor Premiers.
WHAT WENT WELL
Obviously the 9-0 start to the season was the highlight. Throughout that stretch, Melbourne looked unstoppable and all players were clicking. The depth of the roster was clear, and when one player had an off-night, another stood up.
Furthermore, the likes of Majok Majok, Igor Hadziomerovic, and Kyle Adnam all proved they belong at NBL level and have bright futures in the league. Imports Stephen Holt and Hakim Warrick, when healthy, were huge draw cards for the team.
Melbourne was undoubtedly one of the most exciting teams in the NBL, which resulted in sold-out games and making inroads into the crowded Melbourne sporting landscape. The open-air game against Perth in late December was a bold move by the club and the fans in attendance loved it.
WHAT WENT WRONG
It was clear that when the going got tough, Melbourne was just not up for the fight. Playing an experienced New Zealand squad in the Finals proved too much for United.
They were simply outplayed and New Zealand came through when it mattered most. Players such as Tom Abercrombie and Mika Vukona outhustled the likes of Daniel Kickert, Todd Blanchfield and Majok Majok.
It was a perfect storm of sorts for Melbourne. New Zealand headed into the Finals in great form and from the first tip-off in game 1, it was clear the Breakers were hungrier and ready to battle. Melbourne was not.
The Melbourne United roster was filled with great players, but Chris Goulding was undoubtedly the star. Whether you love him or hate him, you've got to respect the amount of excitement and flair CG43 brings to the NBL.
It is fair to say Goulding lived up to the hype on the offensive end. When he was hot, he took over games and led Melbourne to many wins.
Unlike many of his teammates, Goulding could hold his head high despite United's swift finals exit. He averaged 23 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2 assists over the two games.
Handing out a grade for Melbourne's 2015/16 season is a tough task. Considering they won their first 9 games of the season and won the Minor Premiership, yet ultimately failed to win a Finals game truly showcases the highs and dramatic lows they went through over the course of the season.
With many positives, yet failing miserably in the Finals, I'd give the team a C+.
A Championship was the ultimate goal, and with the team unable to win a Finals game, it is clear changes need to made going into next season.