‘Gam­ble’ pays off

Crocs re­cruit beats in­juries with hard-work phi­los­o­phy

Townsville Bulletin - - Basketball - ANTONY STE­WART

WHEN the Croc­o­diles of­fered Daniel Egan a con­tract ear­lier this year it was seen by many around the Na­tional Bas­ket­ball League as a bit of a gam­ble.

Not that any­one ques­tioned the 197cm for­ward’s bas­ket­ball abil­ity, en­thu­si­asm and com­mit­ment, it was just that af­ter an in­jury-ham­pered sea­son with Bris­bane there were con­cerns over how of­ten he might be re­stricted to the role of spec­ta­tor in 2006/07.

With back and knee com­plaints lim­it­ing Egan’s court time when he was avail­able for the Bul­lets and re­strict­ing him to just 24 reg­u­lar-sea­son games out of 33, his sta­tis­ti­cal pro­duc­tiv­ity also dropped to a six-sea­son low as a re­sult.

Af­ter the 27-year-old was re­leased by Bris­bane and quickly snapped up by new Townsville coach Trevor Glee­son to fit his new-look ros­ter, even Crocs strength and con­di­tion­ing coach Cameron Whit­ing said he thought con­sis­tently keep­ing Egan on the court might be a dif­fi­cult job.

‘‘Any­time you re­cruit a guy off the in­jured list there is al­ways a ques­tion over how much game time you will get out of them, how much prac­tice you can get out of them,’’ he said.

‘‘Eages has strug­gled with some lower-back com­plaints and knee is­sues last year . . . it re­stricted his train­ing in­volve­ment and there­fore his gametime in­volve­ment.’’

But, more than two-thirds of the way through his de­but sea­son with the Croc­o­diles, Egan has not missed a game and the only prac­tice ses­sion he sat out was due to blis­ters.

On top of that, his en­er­getic and con­sis­tent per­for­mances, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing Larry Ab­ney’s three-game ab­sence, have once again got teams sit­ting up and tak­ing no­tice of a guy who won a cham­pi­onship with Melbourne in 1997.

Egan’s av­er­age of 10.8 points per game is his sec­ond high­est point pro­duc­tion for a sea­son since he started his ca­reer in the NBL as a 16 year old, while his 29-point tally against New Zealand a lit­tle un­der two weeks ago ex­ceeded his pre­vi­ous best haul by three points.

His se­cret, ac­cord­ing Whit­ing, is hard work.

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The Melbourne na­tive has worked closely with Crocs med­i­cal staff, in par­tic­u­lar Whit­ing, since ar­riv­ing in Townsville in an ef­fort to strengthen his af­fected back and knee.

As a re­sult, Egan’s spe­cialised gym and re­hab ses­sions are de­creas­ing and the chances of him suf­fer­ing re­cur­rences of those past in­juries are also slim.

It’s an in­cred­i­ble turn­around that even Whit­ing ad­mits would have been a ma­jor sur­prise if he hadn’t seen how hard Egan had worked to get back to full fit­ness.

‘‘Ab­so­lutely, from the first as­sess­ment he did with the phys­io­ther­a­pist, I thought we would have greater is­sues and so to come to this point now, with Eages hav­ing missed no games and only one prac­tice ses­sion is a sur­prise,’’ he said. ‘‘But look­ing back on it and how hard he has trained and stuck to the pro­gram, then it’s not a big sur­prise.’’

Whit­ing is now cer­tain the gam­ble on Egan, if there ever was one, was worth tak­ing.

‘‘I joked with Kevy (team man­ager Kevin Sug­ars) ear­lier in the year and said, ‘look up in the me­dia guide and find out who is the most ex­pe­ri­enced player ever to have won the NBL’s Most Im­proved (award) is — is it pos­si­ble to win the most im­proved af­ter 12 sea­sons?’’ he said.

NEW LEASE OF LIFE . . . Daniel Egan has not missed a

game since sign­ing on with the Croc­o­diles

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