Crocs thump back to earth
Crunched on the rebound count in consecutive games
THE picture wasn’t pretty, but it’s now clear to Townsville coach Trevor Gleeson where the Crocodiles stand in the NBL.
A four-game winning streak put together at home was put to an abrupt end on the road, with the Crocs falling to both New Zealand and Wollongong.
Gleeson summed it up as a ‘‘ kick in the pants’’, leaving no misconceptions as to what work needed to be done ahead of the play-offs in a little over a month’s time.
‘‘ It gives a false sense playing in Townsville,’’ Gleeson said.
‘‘ You get a few home game wins and get confidence up and then go away and we got beat up, two games we got beat up.
‘‘ We have to really evaluate where we are right now and step up to the mark where it is.’’
Townsville are still a heavyweight outfit this season, sitting comfortably inside the top four and playing with a gutsy quality that ensured both the Breakers and Hawks had to work doggedly until the final possession to secure victory.
A resilient Rosell Ellis was the pick of the Crocodiles over both legs of the road trip, with veteran guard Nathan Crosswell adding life to the team in the second period of a bleak Wollongong game.
But Gleeson laments there was no dragging themselves out of the mire they found themselves in early.
‘‘ We dug ourselves a hole in New Zealand but the guys fought superbly in the second half and we did the same again ( in Wollongong) with a second-half fightback,’’ Gleeson said.
‘‘ But we have to know when the fight starts and that fight starts at the start of the game.’’
Instead, what the Crocs tipped-off with was a scrappy, error-laden and timid performance in the do-or-die clash with the Hawks.
The turnover count was telling from both sides early, with five apiece by the end of the first quarter.
‘‘ It certainly wasn’t Crocs basketball, we were playing scared, we weren’t playing aggressively,’’ Gleeson said. ‘‘ That first half ( against the Hawks) was the most disappointing, we haven’t played that kind of basketball from about the second or third game.’’
Even allowing for the never-saydie attitude the Crocs displayed in turning an 18-point deficit into a one-point loss to New Zealand and getting back to within seven points of Wollongong having trailed by up to 19, Gleeson had reason to be frustrated.
‘‘ We shouldn’t be in that situation where you have to show character at halftime, it’s a 40-minute game and we have to go from the word go and we didn’t do that,’’ he said. ‘‘ We got out-hustled and outplayed in both games and we certainly dug into that character . . . but we can’t keep doing that, chasing our tails.’’
And that is what Townsville forward Rosell Ellis said must be remedied after the Crocodiles’ losing road double finished with a d i s a s t r o u s s h o w i n g a g a i n s t Wollongong on Saturday.
The 87-77 defeat by the Hawks sees the Crocs drop to third on the National Basketball League ladder.
But it’s not their standing which worries Ellis, with Townsville crunched on the rebound count in consecutive games. Of most concern was the feeble showing against the worst rebounding team in the league, Wollongong, with the Crocs out-muscled on the glass 38-23.
Ellis said the figure was more
Rosell Ellis telling than the loss itself.
‘‘ Any team can win games, but a championship team takes care of the rebounding and boxing out and takes care of the ball and stuff like that, things we slacked on this weekend,’’ Ellis said.
‘‘ That is what a championship team does, they do it all the time not just some of the time and we have been doing it some of the time.
‘‘ So we had a little win streak going, but in order to be that championship team we have got to have that as our second nature.’’
Coach Trevor Gleeson was blunt in his assessment.
‘‘ We got slaughtered both games,’’ Gleeson said.
‘‘ When we rebound well we win games, but our work rate wasn’t high enough to win on the road.’’
Crocs captain Russell Hinder admitted the performances were a pale imitation of those of recent weeks, the team having failed to fire offensively and lacking any sense of cohesion against t he Hawks in finishing with a paltry seven team assists.
‘‘ We must have checked them ( form) at customs on the way to New Zealand I guess,’’ Hinder joked on his arrival at Townsville Airport yesterday.
‘‘ Hopefully they still have them there, and we’ll go pick them up from oversized baggage.’’
Apart from spirited second-half showings in both matches, Hinder saw no positives.
‘‘ It was crappy and just didn’t feel right,’’ he said.
‘‘ We fought tooth and nail in the second half of that New Zealand game and the second half of the Wollongong game, that was Crocs basketball so it wasn’t missing completely.
‘‘ We just have to have a lot more confidence in ourselves as a great team and believe that we deserve to win this competition.’’
As for his own convictions, Hinder was unswerving that this was Townsville’s year.
‘‘ I believe it, and will firmly believe it to the day that I die that this is the year that we should win,’’ he said.