News

Cairns Taipans - 2016/17 season preview

Cairns Taipans – Team first Last season: 12-16; missed playoffs First game: Saturday, 8 October v Perth Wildcats (Perth Arena) Arrived: Nate Jawai, Travis Trice, Mitch McCarron, Nnanna Egwu, Fuquan Edwin, Jarrad Weeks Departed: Markel Starks, Torrey Craig, Matt Burston, Cam Tragardh, Shaun Bruce What happened last season? Somebody forgot to shut the gate. On their way to the 2014/15 grand final the Taipans held opponents under 80 points on 20 occasions, but last season they could manage that feat just eight times. Much of that had to do with the gatekeeper. Scottie Wilbekin brought big-game experience for controlling opposition point guards defensively and manipulating the tempo offensively. His 2015/16 replacement, Markel Starks, played the game at one energised speed only, and his defence didn’t always endear him to coach Aaron Fearne. Another factor was the Taipans’ decline on the offensive glass – from second to sixth in the NBL – and that had much to do with Cam Tragardh’s struggles. Ranked seventh in the NBL for o-boards in 2014/15, Trigger’s numbers almost halved as Fearne’s faith in his game seemed to dwindle. What did the Taipans learn? While struggling to control the tempo, rebound their own misses and slow other teams in transition, Cairns relied on hitting contested jump-shots to win games. Coach Fearne has gone back to the future twice to make sure that doesn’t happen again. First he recaptured one of Far North Queensland’s favourite sons, Nate Jawai. The big fella not only delivers easy points inside, his precise passing out of the double team means shooters like Cam Gliddon, Stephen Weigh, Fuquan Edwin and Mitch McCarron should get easier looks. Fearne then brought in Travis Trice as a Wilbekin ‘Mark II’, a point guard who has proven himself for Michigan State on the biggest collegiate stage. Known for his high IQ, Trice is a quality defender despite his size and has an ability to produce at key moments that doesn’t go unnoticed. What do we already know? Nate Jawai is a handful. Forget the talk about his lack of consistency last season, his limited minutes or his +/- over the full season, the fact is opposition teams built their defensive plans for Perth around how to curtail Jawai, and that created opportunities for teammates. When they didn’t get it right he dominated – as New Zealand found out in Game 1 of the NBL Grand Final – and when Jawai managed to dish out multiple assists the Wildcats went 12-4. This season it will be his Taipan teammates benefitting and the Cairns coaches able to play cat-and-mouse from tip-off. The bonus for Fearne and Co is that big Nate isn’t quite so big after a dedicated pre-season back on his home turf. If you’re not familiar with what a chiselled Jawai can do, check this out: What’s the question mark? How does it all fit together? Fearne likes his team to play at controlled pace towards their own basket and make the other team play slow going the other way. Can he make all these different pieces execute that plan? Fuquan and Nnanna Egwu make the Taipans a more versatile defensive unit, while McCarron and Jarrad Weeks bring intensity and speed that will complement that import pair. But how will they work in with half-court specialists like Gliddon, Loughton and Jawai? Once in the half-court, do Fearne’s preferred shuffle and flow offences fit the personnel, and once that ball does go inside to Jawai or Egwu, can Loughton and Mark Worthington – who shot a combined 44-of-164 from long range last season – keep the defence honest? Reason for optimism? Team first. The two key pieces, Trice and Jawai, love to pass. Gliddon, the scoring guard, is a floor general first and foremost. Loughton, Worthington, Weigh, Egwu and Edwin have all proven their ability to play roles in good programs. Disciplined defence, composure and unselfish offence delivered Cairns to the big dance two years ago, and if Trice and Jawai live up to their billing this team has the pieces to deliver those three pillars and much more. Given the Taipans are 24-6 at home over the past two seasons, a handful of road wins could be enough to lock in a return to the playoffs. That’s reason for optimism, and so are the highlights the athleticism of Egwu, Edwin, McCarron and Weeks will provide the Orange Army this season.   Written by Paulo Kennedy for NBL.com.au
FEATURE

NBL23 Way Too Early Predictions

5 hours ago

ROSTERS

Analysis: Ins, Outs, Depth Charts (Update)

7 hours ago

PODCAST

The Huddle: John Rillie

8 hours ago

NEWS

Adelaide: Franks 'On His Way'

8 hours ago

NEWS

Former NBA Guard Helps Crown King

10 hours ago

NEWS

Soares: 'NBL One of Best Leagues in World'

11 hours ago

NBL1

Noi Ready for NBL1 Finals Challenge

11 hours ago

NEWS

Tasmania's "Diamond in the Rough"

13 hours ago

NEWS

JAM TV Becomes NBL Production Partner

13 hours ago

PRE-SEASON

Darwin Blitz Open to All

15 hours ago

LaMelo Ball Leads Hawks, Taipans Beat Bullets Again

16 September 2019

Fourth Place Frustration for Boomers in China

15 September 2019

FIBA World Cup Bronze Medal Game | Australia v France Preview

15 September 2019

Prather Shines In United's Big Win, Taipans Smash Bullets

14 September 2019

Starting Five: World Cup Heartbreak

14 September 2019

Spain Again Breaks Boomers Hearts in Double OT

13 September 2019

Watch Live | Illawarra Hawks vs Melbourne United

13 September 2019

FIBA World Cup Semi-Final | Australia v Spain Preview

13 September 2019

Starting Five: Boomers Two Wins from Gold

12 September 2019

Australia Advance to World Cup Final Four

12 September 2019

NBL Partners

Naming Rights
Major Partners
Broadcast & Media Partners
Profile Partners
Suppliers
Associates