Swingman Owen Odigie will return to the Cobras for the upcoming Victorian Elite State League (official name TBA).
Odigie was the catalyst behind the Cobras elite-level defence in 2018, with the his superior length, athleticism and strength making him a nightmare matchup for opposing offences. Despite missing eight games due to injury and national team commitments, Odigie’s impact on the defensive end was too great to ignore, as he was voted the league’s top defender for the 2018 season.
Odigie led the Cobras with 1.7 steals per game and finished third in rebounding (6.0rpg) during 2018, with his unique versatility helping the Cobras form one of the SEABL’s toughest defensive units. A constant disruption both on the perimeter and in the paint, Odigie has displayed the ability to single-handedly blow up offensive possessions with his quick hands and feet, leading to easy transition buckets and his trademark high-flying tomahawk jams.
Odigie’s game-changing defence has been recognised at the international level, with the third-year Cobra earning a spot on the Australian FIBA 3×3 team. Facing elite isolation scorers in an environment that eliminates almost all help defence, Odigie’s defensive capabilities shone through as he helped lead Australia to Gold at the FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup in April.
Cobras head coach Justin Schueller is pleased to have Odigie locked-in for the Cobras inaugural season in the Elite State League, and believes that the 6’7 wing is one of the team’s most valuable two-way assets.
“Having Owen out late in the season with a concussion really showed how valuable he is to us at both ends of the floor,” Schueller said.
“So to have him back to anchor our defence again is a huge plus for the team.”
Just how impactful was Odigie on the defensive end last season? During the Cobras seven-game late season stretch without their defensive stalwart (plus a Round 4 game vs Dandenong), the Cobras conceded 89.1 points per contest. With Odigie in the lineup, Kilsyth held opposing teams to just 77.6 points per game; an improvement of almost 12 points a night.
While his offensive numbers were modest, the impact that Odigie had on the defensive end was simply remarkable during 2018. And with the SEABL DPOY back on board alongside rising star Ben Ursich, the Cobras perimeter defensive core looks set to wreak havoc on the new Elite League in the year to come.