Buccs crowd worries Wolves

Headshot of Peter Sweeney
Peter SweeneyGeraldton Guardian
Aaron Ralph is expected to return to action tomorrow.
Camera IconAaron Ralph is expected to return to action tomorrow. Credit: Arctic Moon Photography

Planning and coaching has to be “spot on” when you play at Activewest Stadium, according to the boss of the leading team in the State Basketball League.

Ben Ettridge brings top dog the Joondalup Wolves to Geraldton on Saturday night (July 12) — claiming the crowd is the biggest enemy.

“It’s the best crowd in the league to play in front of — it’s the hardest to coach against because their supporters drown you out,” Ettridge said.

The Wolves have won 18 of their 23 clashes to have every other club looking up at them on the table.

The Buccaneers, who are playing their final home game of the regular season, have 15 wins from 21 games to occupy fourth spot.

But it isn’t only the crowd that concerns Ettridge, in his eighth season and second stint at the helm of the Wolves.

“They (Buccs) are so balanced. They’ve got one, two, three, four, five, six guys averaging double figures this season — that’s huge for an SBL team,” Ettridge said.

“They can put points on the board. If someone doesn’t get you, somebody else will. Marcus (Alipate) is away, but someone else will step up.

“Deangelo (Isby) had only just arrived before our last game but didn’t suit up.”

Buccaneers boss Dayle Joseph has gone ‘soft’ on his players this week — intentionally.

A weary group of Buccs bussed home late on Sunday night following a weekend double-header at Rockingham and Belmont, where they split the results.

It was the Sunday afternoon 89-84 loss to the Redbacks which convinced Joseph preparation for the clash with the Wolves would be lighter than normal.

“This week it’s been about fine-tuning and execution of our plays,” the coach said.

“Training was a little bit lighter. I think we looked a little tired in the game with the Redbacks.

“We were down on full strength and had a pretty hard game the night before and got back (to the hotel) late.

“Our guys had played a lot of basketball, but to the credit of the Redbacks they recognised such and played man to man, full court defence early in the game to wear us down.

“Our work ethic was there but we missed some baskets we normally wouldn’t miss. I think we were a little fatigued and this week (training) has been lighter and a little different.”

Different look tomorrow night when Joseph wants his boys to put their best foot forward.

“They (Wolves) always put a good team together, they are top for a reason,” Joseph said.

Marcus Alipate is still away representing his country, while Aaron Ralph is expected to suit up after having an abscess removed.

Youngster Alex Ducas, who has just returned from playing overseas, is also expected to take to the court.

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