United may be 5-0, but 3 of their 5 wins have been very competitive matches, and the Cats are their biggest challenge yet. As has been pointed out, the Cats excel in rebounding and making their opponent defend around the hoop- two areas which have been weaknesses for United.
The matchups are exhilarating! In no particular order:
- Stopping Beal is the key- he's the Cats most important player. We saw this last week when he couldn’t buy a basket on Friday night and then put in an elite performance on Sunday. He’s the engine room of their offense and their most potent individual scorer. He is the jam in their hot jam donut, so United better stop him.
- And if Beal takes him apart then Goulding better be even more impressive up the other end! Fight offense with offense- that was the Andrew Gaze way, so if Goulding can go off for 30 I won’t be fussed if Beal gets 20. Bevo might be sitting in a hotel room in Perth, watching on and might think to himself that it’s what the fans want to see....
- Let’s hope Martin plays. Holt looks like a stud, but you can’t even think about calling yourself a gun NBL point guard until you’ve been defended by Damian Martin or gone up against Cedric Jackson. Tonight is the first challenge, Sunday week is part 2.
- Majok Rodman has excelled so far this season, but how will he go against the triple headed Perth Ness Monster of Jawai- who is yet to fully stamp his authority on this league, and that’s a worrying thought for opponents- Knight, who was dominant last week, and Jervis who might be the best third string 5 man in the history of the entire NBL?
- Knight and Kickert- two equally talented players with completely different skill sets.
- But, these matchups might not even eventuate- will Demopoulos look to protect the hoop and expose the Cats lack of outside shooting by running a zone? Yes, I know the Cats shot the lights out on Sunday, but even the most optimistic Cats fan can’t expect Greg Hire to knock down a couple of 3’s again this week? Another danger here: I find that running a zone makes it harder to locate an opponent, put a body on them a grab a rebound. This especially applies to players like Hire- who make a beeline for the basket and crash the O boards from the perimeter, and might find that easier against a zone than a man. But whichever defence they play, the fact is all United players must crash the boards with serious effort, every time. Otherwise Perth could dominate them on the glass like they’ve already dominated some other teams this season.
Very early days but so far these two looks like the two teams to beat. Grand final preview? Who knows.