Well, I didn't exactly promise that I'd Be Back, but I am. There has been a little hiatus here at ...a stern warning, as I didn't have Homicide's portable modem to keep my basketball links chugging along whilst I was on the road in France. But, it's all systems go now... so I hope you're on your toes, as there will be more than the usual content coming your way.
Let's start out with a review of Round 2 of NBL action.
The 36ers and the Spirit played each other twice, once in Adelaide (with the Sixers coming away with a 10 point win) and once in Canberra (as the Spirit obviously won't struggle enough this season without giving away home games) where the Spirit managed to pull out a 7 point win behind some strong play from Derrick Low and the big man Julian Khazzouh.
The NZ Breakers showed that the Melbourne Tigers are definitely beatable, with a 9 point win on the other side of the ditch (I was actually a little upset with myself for not predicting that one). An all-round scoring performance from the Breakers' starters was the catalyst for the win, with CJ Bruton, Oscar Forman and The Bear all putting up 23 points each, relegating Kirk Penney to fourth fiddle with 20 points. Tony "The Bear" Ronaldson has been the story so far in my opinion for this team. He seems to have fit into his role perfectly and has been dishing out assists like a 16 year old McDonalds worker dishes out french fries. Could this be a renaissance season for the biggest butt in Aussie basketball?
True to John Rillie's word, the Townsville Crocs came back with a vengeance to knock off the South Dragons on their own turf, by 2. Whilst JR's shooting form is not back just yet, he did some dirty work to pull in 7 rebounds, leaving Homicide Williams to put up 22 points and Brad Williamson to chip in 16 in what was a fairly low scoring match. Rosell Ellis and Russell Hinder both had quiet scoring nights inside as well. Mark Worthington put up a very healthy 20-14 line for the Dragons, but Joe Ingles' 2/13 night wasn't of much support.
On Saturday the Crocs continued their winning ways at home, as they took out the Cairns Taipans by 4. JR's head games may have paid off, as the Snakes allowed the Crocs to get back in the contest with a 30-13 fourth quarter behind a Corey Williams explosion of 16 points in that term (31 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists overall). Hinder came to the party with 13 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Stephen Black (28 points) and Martin Cattalini (18 & 15) toiled admirably for the visitors, but there was no stopping a determined Homicide in the end, as he shot 10/16 from the field and 11/14 at the line.
The Perth Wildcats hosted the Gold Coast Blaze and the expected result, a 94-80 Cats win, came to pass. As NBL.com.au reported, "The Blaze shot just 35 percent from the field and 25 percent from three-point range and that was never going to be enough against a Wildcats team that nailed 12-from-23 from long distance and 50 percent from the field." The Hammer put up 28 to lead the Blaze charge, but they clearly would like Luke Whitehead to be back in uniform and will hope to see improvement from James Harvey as he continues to regain form after his ankle injury. The Wildcats had a solid performance across the board with six players in double figures, as Darnell Hinson set the table nicely with 11 assists.
So, how did the Stern Predictions for Round 2 hold up?
In short, not as well as I would have hoped. 3-3 was the record for the round, bringing the total so far to 7-6. Perhaps that sort of record is good enough to get you into the Eastern Conference NBA playoffs, but it's not good enough for ...a stern warning, so Round 3 needs improvement!