What We Learned: Week Two

Photo credit: Roshysportfolio

Sharks are in a slump

The 0-3 Sharks are in a slump. After two poor seasons (missing finals), it’s been another tough start for the Southland Sharks. The team drew a line in the sand after a loss to the Jets last Wednesday night when they issued a statement (the next morning) that import Josh Turner had been shown the door, a move that was needed after poor signs from the import guard in consecutive outings. After a competitive first half against the Hawks on Sunday (43-45), the second half was far from acceptable with the Hawks filleting the Sharks 62-37. Some deep soul-searching this week for the Sharks, especially with the Saints about to pay them a visit.

Nuggets looking polished

We might only be two rounds in but the signs starting to emerge for the 2022 champions are good. In a tough tussle against the energetic Jets, the Nuggets got great production out of imports Ben Henshall and Kimani Lawrence, while Tai Webster looked very settled in his first game of the season. This is a deep team with Dontae Russo-Nance still to come in. There’s a long way to go, but this is a team that has firmly placed itself in the Final 6 conversation.

Saints to live and die by the three-ball

There isn’t anything new about the Saints living beyond the arc, it’s a hallmark of their game and has been for years, but do they have a plan B? The 12-time champs found a way to get past the plucky Giants in R2 despite going at an ugly 5/41 from downtown (12%), the 41 attempts representing 49.4% of their total shots (83). By comparison in R1, the Saints went 13/38 (34%) from long range, the 38 shots making up 50.7% of their total FG attempts. Clear message to all comers, the Saints will shoot every second shot from outside the arch.

Old dogs, same tricks

The Tuatara were smashed in week one, suffering an embarrassing 30-point drubbing in Wellington. Whispers circulated,  “Are they too old, have they lost their edge?” If you needed any reminding that cream always rises to the top, the Tuatara reminded us with wins over the Airs and Whai in week two. There were loads of positive signs from Loe, Webster, Gliddon and Te Rangi, while the likes of Barrow, Fitgerald and McIntosh seem to be growing in stature as they build up minutes via Rapid League. don't forget Tom Vodanovich is set to return this week, so could be time to stand down with the whispers, there’s nothing to see here, the Tuatara will be fine.

Great Scott, the Jets have found a new pilot

Jets import PG Jasper Rentoy barely lasted five minutes into the new season before going down, sending shockwaves throughout the hangar. But fear not, because a 20-year-old out of Fielding High School was ready to answer the call. Campbell Scott led the Jets to victory over the Sharks with 13 points and 8 assists while playing 40 minutes, before delivering 28 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists in a battle with Tai Webster and the Nuggets. The Jets need to back this young man in and turn their attention to other needs as they search for a replacement import, possibly to replace a soon-to-depart Tyrell Harrison. And based on what we saw in week two, Scott will be in the thick of any discussion for Most Improved Player if he keeps this up.

Lessons learnt for Whai and Airs  

It’s easy to walk a foot taller when you’re coming off a win, especially when it’s the first game of the season. However, both the Airs and Whai ran into the Tuatara in round 2 and both came unstuck against the most experienced team in the competition. Loads of lessons for two teams hoping to deliver big things in season 2024. We'll soon find out who took those lessons to heart when they match up against each other on Saturday night in Taranaki for the Whai's first ever road game 

Isaiah Moore delivers on debut

The Hawks hit their home deck for the first time in week two and unwrapped a new PG, Isaiah Moore. The 185cm guard wasted no time in showing his new fans what he can do, dropping 8 points in the opening quarter on his way to a 17-point game to go with 7 rebounds, 10 assists and 4 steals. Now at full strength, the Hawks look more than capable of winning quite a few more games than the pundits had them pegged for.

JK and his rebuild

Staying with the Hawks, kudos to GM Jarrod Kenny for taking the bold step to re-build a team that has constantly ‘fallen short’ for the best part of the past decade, including four grand final losses since 2011. From their 2023 roster, the Hawks are these days without Hyrum Harris, Ethan Rusbatch, Jordan Hunt, Derone Raukawa, Denhym Brooke and Ira Lee, plus coach Everard Bartlett, marking the biggest turnover of top-end talent in any Sal’s NBL team. In Sunday’s game against the Sharks, the Hawks had six players in the team out of Napier Boys High School, which is a vitally positive move given the introduction of the Sky Broadband Rapid League this year.  

The Stockyard is the place to be

After years of up and down attendances at The Stockyard, the Franklin Bulls may just have the team this season capable of regularly selling out the boutique 1200 capacity stadium in Franklin. When The Stockyard is full it is one of the most daunting places to play and given what we saw from the Bulls against the Rams in week two, it’s time for Bulls fans to step up and snap up tickets to home games and get along to The Stockyard because it looks like a fun ride awaits. With Jordan Hunt and import Josh Scott still to come into the team, the Bulls look a legit contender this season.

Will the wait be worth the squeeze for the Giants?

The Giants are off to a winless 0-3 start, their latest loss coming from a tough slog against the Saints, and now have the Tuatara coming to town. Word on the street is another two imports are set to arrive in Nelson, maybe in time for this week’s match-up. Coach Mike Fitchett has always been very particular with the imports he brings to town, placing character at the top of his priorities. Dan Grida has been sensational thus far for the Giants and clearly loves the city and the fans, and the Giants will be hoping the incoming international duo will do the same. Will the wait be worth the squeeze? The Giants are already on the back foot and will need to start registering wins sooner rather than later to stay in contention for the Final 6.


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