Adelaide, South Australia – This game became more than the usual Adelaide (3-6) – Illawarra Hawks (3-5) contest after Adelaide sacked import Adris Deleon after their loss to Sydney and announced the signing of Demetrius Conger (St. Bonaventure, Le Mans Sarthe). Conger was the NBL MVP runner-up in 2017-18 and was the Hawks best player last season. With both teams needing to get back on track and with every win so important, the contest started tentatively for both teams. Illawarra started impressively shooting 69 percent from the field and used a three-quarter court press to disrupt Adelaide early. However Adelaide’s high octane offense got out of second gear and over- powered the Hawks on their way to an emphatic 104-79 victory.
After overcoming a poor first quarter scoring 21 points shooting 32 percent from the field and 1-of-9 from 3-point range Adelaide got physical with Illawarra, changed their defensive structure slightly and were offensively kick started by Anthony Drmic (Boise State) who had seven quick points early in the second quarter. Drmic has been out of form and maybe the announcement this week of the Australian Boomers playing in the Asian World Cup qualifiers, where he missed selection was the motivation he needed. Drmic finished the game with 16 points on 6-of-11 from the field (4-of-8 3PT) and four rebounds in 18:37 minutes.
Jacob Wiley (Eastern Washington, Brooklyn Nets) was another who was looking to get going and he didn’t disappoint. Wiley has taken some time to adjust to Coach Wright’s system and defensive structures but his energy and attitude has been something that has been welcomed at Adelaide. Wiley finished with a double-double with16 points (8-of-13) and 12 rebounds in 24 minutes.
After the half time break Adelaide hit the turbo and overpowered the Hawks physically and on the scoreboard. Adelaide finished with solid contributions from Nathan Sobey (16 points in 30 minutes, seven rebounds, three assists). Sobey looked more comfortable at the SG position than the PG spot, with the PG duties being handed to Ramone Moore due to the loss of Deleon. Moore said after the game he was happy that coach gave him the PG responsibilities and he didn’t disappoint sacrificing some of his offense for providing good looks for others. Moore finished with six assists and one turnover in 25 minutes in the role.
Daniel Johnson had 2 points at the half and it was evident that the team needed him to get going. This was no more evident than coach Joey Wright running an ISO play for DJ with the first offensive possession after the half time break, which he converted with an and 1. Johnson finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and was 10-of-10 from the foul line.
Adelaide had solid contributions from Conger with 8 points and 5 rebounds in 17 minutes, Majok Deng (10 points in 10 minutes and Brendan Teys whose defensive contribution (three charges taken) sent a message to the Hawks that they were in for a physical encounter. Then at the four-minute mark of the third quarter the physical nature of the game got real. Harry Froling set a solid and fair screen on Jordair Jett that knocked him to the ground and stunned the Illawarra guard. Less than a minute later Jett and Froling tangled up on the side line in front of the Hawks bench and it seemed to rattle the Hawks and give Adelaide the upper hand. The score was 67-56 when this occurred. From this point on Adelaide completely out worked and outplayed Illawarra and finished with 62 points in the paint, 18 second-chance points, 24 fast-break points and 36 points from the bench.
Illawarra had Todd Blanchfield keeping them in the game early with 15 first half points on 6-of-8 shooting. Blanchfield finished with 22 points on 9-of-15 and 11 rebounds in 31 minutes. Brian Conklin finished with 13 points and five rebounds and crafty veteran David Anderson finished with 11 points in 16 minutes. There just wasn’t enough contributions from the other Hawks starters and stars. Hawks coach Rob Beveridge needs to find a way to get his team some motivation and get their season heading in the right direction.
Adelaide next plays Cairns (1-7) at home, then travels to Illawarra for game two of their four meetings where the Hawks will be wanting to change things around quickly. Illawarra travels to Brisbane to play the Bullets (4-5) next Thursday before the rematch with Adelaide on Sunday, November 25th.
This article was written by Darren Golley, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can follow us on Facebook, or on twitter. We are looking for those interested in our basketball scout apprenticeship program. For information contact us and forward your resume.