Written-off team finally getting noticed
Four wins from nine games is a healthy return for a team tipped to finish bottom of the table.
Even before the National Basketball League season had tipped off, most people had written off a Taranaki Mountain Airs lineup lacking depth and experience.
Funny how a win or two, or make that four, can change all that.
A mid-season report card would make good reading. It would go something like this: "Slow start, but working hard. Combinations and results improving. Confidence and belief growing and reaping rewards for efforts. If they stay focussed, anything is possible."
Good Home Taranaki Mountain Airs coach Daryn Shaw said yesterday his team "we're doing OK."
With wins over the Waikato Pistons (71-69), the Otago Nuggets (86-84), the Super City Rangers (123-90) and the Canterbury Rams (99-92) they certainly are doing well.
"We've slowly got better. I think having Suleiman and Adrian (imports Suleiman Braimoh and Adrian Oliver) being able to practice more together has helped. Suleiman was late arriving and they're now getting to understand one another's play and how they fit in with the rest of the team," said Shaw.
"We're trying to build a good culture . . . playing together and playing for one another. To play hard and no finger pointing."
Shaw said it was important to take it one game at a time and not look too far ahead.
"I don't really pay any attention to what is being said or written about the team. I just focus on what needs to be done each week."
Shaw said the early morning training sessions - it's the only time the team can get to use the TSB Stadium - had helped.
"They're up at 5am and ready to go at 5.20am. All the guys are turning up. There's probably a few grumbles but that's how it is. We have to do it if we want to train in our gym."
Shaw said the players didn't hold back at training.
"They really go at it. They play with intensity, the some sort of intensity that's needed in a game. But afterwards it's all good, it all stays on the floor."
Shaw said both imports had played a major role. "They're fantastic. Suleiman has a lot of leadership abilities and Adrian is a really talented offensive player.
"All the guys work so hard, the young guys are so enthusiastic. That's one thing I was disappointed with last Saturday, I didn't have the minutes to get the young fellas on.
"They don't grumble, not that I've heard anyway, but it's hard for them not getting court time. It's something I have to work on."
Shaw said he was also fortunate to have a good management team working with him.
"Steve and Willie (co-coaches Steve McKean and Willie Banks) have been awesome. We all work as a team. And Trent Adam does our scouting and cuts our tapes. And Mick McBeth our manager, he's been great."
And would he try to sign Braimoh and Oliver next year? "Absolutely. I'd love to have them back and keep this team together."
Taranaki Daily News