Stats only half the tale of wily veteran
FORGET the points and rebound count, Rosell Ellis is the Townsville Crocodiles’ piece of indestructible armour.
The match statistics give an underwhelming snapshot of the 35-year-old American’s contribution to the Crocodiles’ eight-point win over New Zealand, where he contributed eight points, four rebounds, three assists and a steal. Every single one of them, however, was game defining.
Be it a critically-timed final-quarter offensive board, an awkward-looking hook shot or brutish steal, Ellis bulldozed the Crocs to victory at The Swamp.
Townsville guard Nathan Crosswell might be an on-court general with NBL championship-winning know-how, but he heaped praise on the power forward’s experience in big game situations.
‘‘ Rosell is a wily veteran and he knows what to do,’’ Crosswell said.
‘‘ He’s been huge for us. Since he’s arrived we have lost three games . . . he is a winner.’’
So much so that, with the game still in the balance and the Crocs leading 80-76 heading into the final quarter, coach Trevor Gleeson kept faith with Ellis ahead of captain Russell Hinder.
Ellis didn’t disappoint, opening the period with a mid-range basket.
And when the free-flowing trade of baskets whittled down to a physical contest that Breakers bigman Gary Wilkinson tried to manhandle off the the hosts, Ellis the enforcer took over.
There might have been a lot of chest bumping after Wilkinson drove his shoulder into Ellis’s back, but it was a show of force by the hometown favourite that got the 4086-strong crowd behind the Crocodiles. For a split-second, coach Gleeson admitted he contemplated defusing the situation by taking Ellis out.
‘‘ His defence is sensational, he can guard anywhere from a one to a five, he was switching out on guards and getting some steals and that is why I left him in there,’’ Gleeson said.
Gleeson didn’t care how Ellis went about his business, he is just glad he has one of the greatest closers in the league at his disposal, even if his season averages are well below his career best figures in Australia.
Ellis this season is averaging a touch under seven points and five rebounds, nearly half of his output during his first stint with the Crocs. At the peak of his powers at Perth he averaged 18.3 points and 11.4 boards.
‘‘ There are so many things that Rosell does that doesn’t turn up on the scoresheet,’’ Gleeson said.