September 29, 2006

Article at Chris on Authory

Wildcats v 36ers - September 29, 2006

The Perth Wildcats continued their scorching start to the NBL season and the Adelaide 36ers their disappointing one when the Wildcats won 119-84 at Challenge Stadium, Perth.

In front of an enthusiastic home crowd of over 4000, Perth showed why they are among the early championship favourites by recording their third emphatic victory to kick off the 2006-07 NBL season.

It was a big night for new Perth captain Paul Rogers. As well as celebrating his 33rd birthday, it was his 150th NBL match and he played it against the only other team he has played with in the competition. He finished with 17-points and nine rebounds.

The big loss to the 36ers at the same venue was still fresh on Rogers’ mind and despite being wary of them coming into the game, couldn’t have been more happy with how it turned out.

“It was one of the more fun games I’ve been involved in for a long time. You have to enjoy games like that as it was special. Everyone was on the same page and there is a certain hardness about this team that wasn’t quite there last year,” said Rogers.

“We aren’t getting too ahead of ourselves; we felt we should have won all three of these games and we have. We want to try and defend our home court as best we can, but we have an enormous amount of respect for Adelaide.

“We know that as the wounded animal they are the worst team you can come up against as they do have guys that can literally beat you themselves. We all went into the game with an incredible focus and it showed right from the first tip. It’s the first game where we’ve really strung together four quality quarters and had consistent effort throughout.”

Once again it was an even contribution across the board for the Wildcats as they are proving to have options to carve up the opposition in any position. Tony Ronaldson caught fire at home yet again to finish with 20-points, including four from long range.

Forward Shawn Redhage has averaged 25-points a game so far and had another 18, along with nine rebounds and seven assists. Exciting guard Darren Brooks racked up 16-points and Peter Crawford had 18 off the bench.

Such an even spread of contributors is something Rogers believes will be a big factor in the Wildcats being successful this season.

“It’s a very good sign for things to come. Shawn had 30-odd the other night, but no one is going to consistently get over 30 a night, we will be spreading the load and it’s going to make us tough to stop.”

For Adelaide, it is their third loss from four matches to open their season and as much as their veterans Brett Maher, Lanard Copeland and Willie Farley are trying, they are getting little help early on in the new season.

Farley had some moments of brilliance and finished with 15-points, but shot 6-21. Maher had 12 and Copeland 13. Despite averaging 24-points per game in the season, centre Nick Horvath struggled with only 14 points and 12 rebounds.

However, in defence of Adelaide it was their fourth match in nine days, having kicked off the season in Singapore last Wednesday. From there they beat the Hawks in Wollongong and lost to Sydney at home on Wednesday. A tougher road schedule was hardly tougher to start the season.

“The game against Sydney, where we had a chance to win, was more disappointing. Four games in 10 days and three in different states is tough and you can’t expect much more, especially at the start of the season,” said coach Phil Smyth.

“If they were more familiar with each other, then there’s less excuses, but right now, we just didn’t have anything left in the tank and Perth played really well.”

Smyth acknowledges that Perth played well, but is realistic apart the shape his side is in. He will expect a much better outing when they face Wollongong at home next Friday.

“Perth played really good defence on us, were really physical and we didn’t adjust to that at all. This week we get a chance to work on that. We expected that they would play really well,” he said.

“Coming in we knew that if we couldn’t hold the onslaught, we knew we didn’t have anything in the tank to chase it up. We expanded a fair bit of energy in the second quarter, but it was a 30-point game as the score says at the end of the night.”

Perth coach Scott Fisher took advantage of some holes his side found in Adelaide’s defence, but realises their tiredness led to their 35 per cent shooting percentage.

“They seem to be pretty high risk from time to time. They take some tough shots and most of the time they go well, but they were a little tired and were having trouble making those shots,” said Fisher.

“If you can keep them off the boards, which we did a pretty good job of, you can get up on them. We found some weakness in their defence and we exploited that. I am a bit surprised at the final margin, but I did feel confident that we could win.”

From midway in the opening quarter the Wildcats got on top and led 29-19 at quarter-time.

The Wildcats continued to dominate the second-quarter and led by as much as 15 when Crawford hit a three with just over a minute remaining. Farley converted an ally-oop pass from Copeland to bring the margin to 11 with seconds remaining, before Brooks hit a three to end the half and Perth led 58-44.

The lead for the home side blew out to over 20 for much of the second-half and was 23 at the last break.

With four-minutes to go Rogers provided the highlight of the night creating a steal in defence and breaking away for an open court dunk. It also gave the Wildcats a 28-point lead, at the time the biggest of the game.

That was extended to 35 by the end of the game on the back of two big dunks from Justin Brown.

The Wildcats next face Townsville again at home on Wednesday. While happy with the 3-0 start to the season, coach Scott Fisher knows it’s far too early to look ahead just yet.

“We are a long way away from a lot of teams and maybe we can be quiet about this and keep it going. Townsville had a great first up win, so we are setting our sights there and getting ready for them,” said Fisher.

Meanwhile, Wildcats recruit Steve Leven has been suspended for an undisclosed period for breaking team rules.