‘Gamble’ pays off
Crocs recruit beats injuries with hard-work philosophy
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.
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