Cameron, Devendorf a winning combination

Last updated 05:00 12/05/2010
Pero Cameron
CRAIG SIMCOX /Dominion Post
CHANCE: Tall Blacks coach Nenad Vucinic is leaving a seat on the world championship plane open for Pero Cameron.

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Troy McLean thinks the Wellington Saints have a championship recipe this season and the veteran marksman should know.

The 30-year-old guard debuted for the Saints in 1997 and has played the majority of his NBL career in Wellington, save for a short stint with the Harbour Heat.

And the one constant in that time has been change; 23 imports have come and gone in the past seven years alone, while four different coaches have wielded the clipboard in the past four years.

This year the boss is Pero Cameron, cutting his teeth as a coach, while the go-to import is American firebrand Eric Devendorf.

The axing of former import Darryl Hudson for Devendorf shapes as the season's defining moment.

It's a gamble that has so far paid off; the former Syracuse University star is the league's leading scorer and the Saints haven't lost with him on court.

"I think he's fantastic, he suits our team really well," McLean said.

"Not that Darryl didn't but Eric just allows Lindsay [point guard Lindsay Tait] a little bit more space because those two work so well together as a one-two punch. They can both handle the ball well and they're quick.

"With Eric being able to efficiently and consistently shoot the ball, it makes it tough for defences to pick their poison."

Devendorf's offensive stats are bordering on the ridiculous.

He's averaging 31 points a game since moving to Wellington while he's knocked down 33 of 53 three-point shots this season.

McLean said Devendorf already ranked alongside Saints legends Terrence Lewis and Kenny McFadden for sheer ability.

"He's up there because he's deceptively athletic. It's hard to say who is the better player, it's just different generations. Terrence was a little bigger, not as athletic but he could definitely shoot the ball very consistently. Kenny Mac was up there too."

While the Saints have been more settled in the past couple of years, McLean admitted adjusting to the constant chopping and changing could be difficult.

"But it's part of being professional. It is a business and most businesses go on statistics so if you're not putting up a lot of stats, then it's reasonable to say that you're probably going to be let go."

The Saints are tied for second and host the fifth-placed Hawke's Bay Hawks tomorrow night.

With big men Nick Horvath, Casey Frank, Erron Maxey and Leon Henry also on the roster, McLean said the Saints would compete for the title because their chemistry was clicking.

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"A lot of that comes down to your coach, and I think Pero's done a good job. It was always going to take a while for him to learn how to communicate with players because Pero's very smart and he's got a very high basketball IQ.

"Sometimes you don't get it and then he has to communicate it in a more understandable way because he's so far ahead of you. That will just come with a bit of experience."

- The Dominion Post

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