With the start of the 2012 season under a month away, seabl.com.au takes a look at how each of the teams are shaping up in the lead up to the opening round.
Departing: Bryan Colson, Tim Mulhall, Quincy Henderson, Tariq Naqqash
Zach Malvik, Cameron Johnson, David Moore, Tim Lang, Matt O’Hea, Matt Maden, Auryn MacMillan
Newcomers: Aaron Reinbolt (D-League), Kieran murphy (D-League), Garfield Blair (Stetson University), Matt Cromarty (Big V), Adam Knott (D-League)
Fixture: Kilsyth have arguably the most balanced schedule this year. They never play more than two-straight games on the road, and only once do they have three-straight at home. Additionally, Kilsyth never have more than three-straight games against 2011 playoff teams, but they also have never more that two-straight games against non-playoff teams from last year.
Strengths: Kilsyth fans should be quietly optimistic about their chances in 2012. The Cobras have a similar roster to last year, they have bolstered their scoring power by replacing Quincy Henderson with Garfield Blair, and they have a good batch of developing players coming through. Their fixture doesn’t look overly tough, and with a settled line-up, they should avoid the sluggish start they encountered in 2012 that put them behind the eight-ball for most of the season.
If it doesn’t happen for Kilsyth this year, they could only have themselves to blame. Pressure will have to come if the results don’t fall their way from the start, given they seem to have done everything right over the off-season. There could also be some disruption when Tim Lang’s commitments with the Melbourne Tigers finish and he returns to the team.
The Franchise: Now in his third year, Zach Malvik has become the franchise player at the Cobras. As Kilsyth stormed towards the playoffs in the second half of last year, it is no coincidence that their run corresponded with a return to form of the gutsy point guard. If he can show that kind of form from the beginning of this season, Kilsyth should warm as title favourites sooner rather than later.
Needs to step up: Auryn MacMillan and Matt O’Hea are the type and calibre of players that the Cobras need to step up to go from being a second-round playoff departure to being there in the championship final. MacMillian especially will need to shoulder the load in the early stages of the season until Lang is settled back into the line up, and he has shown enough glimpses of top form in the past few season to believe that the talent is there, it just needs to be a regularity rather than an anomaly.
Watch out for… New import Garfield Blair may be a facsimile of Quincy Henderson in terms of temperament, height, and build, but he is almost the polar opposite in terms of what he brings on the floor. Henderson was a fantastic leader and defender, but his first instinct wasn’t focused on scoring. Blair on the other hand, is a lot more offensive oriented, either facilitating teammates or looking to score himself, while still holding his own at the defensive end. Blair could bring back some highflying heroics that have been absent from Kilsyth Sports Centre over the last couple of seasons.
Predicted Finish: 18 wins, 10 losses
Top 4, South Conference.
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