Boucher remains focused for Breakers
Don't ask Dillon Boucher to wallow in the statistical glory that is accompanying his farewell season with the New Zealand Breakers.
That's not Boucher's style, by a long shot. Frankly, the veteran power forward finds the individual milestones that seem to be cropping up every few weeks a little embarrassing.
Boucher, a foundation player from 2003, last Friday in Townsville became the "winningest" Breaker ever after racking up his 116th victory, from 204 appearances. He surpassed his close friend and former colleague Paul Henare in doing so.
Not surprisingly Boucher was blissfully unaware of his latest achievement and, ahead of tonight's clash against the Wollongong Hawks at a sold-out NSEC, provided an insight into a mindset that's as team-first as you get in this business.
"It's a nice milestone, but the big picture is we're winning, and that's what really counts," says Boucher who remains an essential part of the Breakers mix, even at 37, and still seriously under-sized for the position he plays.
"I want to keep breaking team milestones about wins in row and things like that. Those are the milestones I want to tick off this season - then finally have that big milestone at the end in the threepeat."
It would be a fitting way for arguably the league's greatest over-achiever to bow out in a career that's seen him win three titles (two with New Zealand, and one with Brisbane).
It's well known now that Boucher can't shoot a lick from beyond a couple of feet. Never has done. Yet he's carved a career out of finding other ways to contribute.
Like milestones, statistics aren't really Boucher's thing. In fact, they don't keep numbers for the sort of ways this guy influences games.
He's a fabulous passer and reads the game like a book. He's also a brilliant screener, excellent defender and plays with a commitment, passion and ferocity that is nothing short of extraordinary.
He's also the keeper of the torch at the Breakers and it's his voice that resonates the loudest at crucial moments, either in practice or games.
He is the spiritual force of this club, and when the business end of this season plays out it will be the retiring Boucher to whom the pursuit of glory is dedicated.
This year he's averaging 2.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists for the Breakers off the bench. Those numbers fall pathetically short of reflecting his value.
The four straight wins the Breakers achieved over their holiday road season block are testament to the standards Boucher has helped instil at the club. As is the top spot on the table occupied for the best part of three seasons now.
"We go into every game believing we're going to win, no matter whether we're down 15, 20 or 21," said Boucher. "We believe we can come back and win. The belief this group has had for the last three or four years is unbelievable. We never say die and we fight to the very end."
In the first of that quartet of away games the Breakers trailed the Adelaide 36ers by 21 at the half. Last Friday in Townsville they were 15 down at the major break and still a dozen back just a minute from the end of the third quarter.
Boucher admits he's feeling a little jaded after the big road haul over the holidays, though a couple of days off after Townsville helped refresh him a little.
"The bodies are tired, the minds are tired, but knowing we've got a home game now is great for us. Everyone came back to practice and battled hard in hot conditions and we're ready for Wollongong."
Besides, Boucher says the current intense schedule of games has its upside.
"I love playing, it's the training that's hard," he reflects. "When we have all these games in a row it's good for the body because there's not so much training."
The Breakers should extend their current win streak to six tonight against a Wollongong side still reeling from losing starting guards Rhys Martin and Lance Hurdle to season-ending knee injuries.
Yet for Heritage Round - the Breakers will also visit the Adelaide 36ers on Sunday - expect the Breakers' second oldest player (CJ Bruton shades him by a fortnight) to remind his team-mates about the need to stay sharp and keep standards high.
For now, he says, the Gipper speech remains unused. "I haven't used my retirement as any motivation yet. There have been no speeches, though it's in the back-pocket ready to go. The guys want to win enough on their own, and I'll save it till they really need that little one per cent push."