Speed is key to Tigers success: Black
Increasing the speed of their game is the focus for Willetton’s SBL team leading into the new season according to head coach Steve Black.
The Tigers will face off against the Joondalup Wolves at HBF Arena this Saturday 17 March in the opening round of the SBL season.
Black says his side have been focussing on pace during the pre-season and will need to play to their strengths to win.
“We think that picking up the pace is going to be to our advantage as it suits the personnel we have and has been a real focus all preseason,” Black said.
“I think in round one everyone is feeling each other out so it’s about how well you can do the things you do well.
“We need to make sure we can get the game to the pace we want.”
After a successful preseason Black says the Tigers will be in good shape for round one and are ready for the challenge of taking on the Wolves.
“It’s been a long preseason, our guys have worked very hard on their conditioning and I’m happy with where they’re at,” Black said.
“We’re playing some very strong teams in the first couple of games and we’re really looking forward to the challenge of Joondalup.
“We’ve had some excellent games with them in the past and we think it’ll be a really good litmus test for where we are at.”
With both sides lining up with fresh faces for 2018 the Tigers can’t plan too much in the lead up to the match.
However, Black says his team have a pretty good idea of what to expect.
“It’ll be a case of wait and see, we’ve obviously changed a number of things ourselves and they have a bit of different personnel so it’s going to be a different approach to the game,” Black said.
“The Wolves play very hard and they shoot the ball very well and regardless of the details of how they go about that, they’re going to do that exceptionally.
“But I think we’ve got a reasonable idea of what sort of strengths and weaknesses they might have and we’ve got a bit of an idea of how we want to attack that.”
A key element to the Tiger’s attack this season will be the imports of Jay Bowie and Badou Diagne.
“We got Jay Bowie back who’s been fantastic for the last couple of years for us,” Black said.
“His work ethic, his attitude, his talent and his ability to finish off games I think is second to none and what we brought him to do,
“In my mind he’s the premier import in the competition.”
Unlike Bowie, the Tigers will have to wait and see how new import Badou Diagne fits into their team.
“We brought in Badou Diagne this year who hopefully has some real versatility for us,” Black said.
“I think he can be the sort of player who fits into multiple holes and we will hope that’s how it pans out.”
However the Tigers are not looking to rely solely on their imports for success this year, as the team learns to adjust to the loss of Nic Cody.
“We will be looking for all of our guys to stand up,” Black said.
“Obviously without Cody this year it’s going to be a little difficult but we hope guys like Michael Collins and Lachlan Evans can really be the players we think the can be.”
This Saturday’s opening clash between the Tigers and the Wolves starts at 8pm and will be the opening game at the new stadium in HBF Arena. Tip off for the WSBL game is 6pm.