Hungry Jack's NBL
Doing it for Tasmania a Driving Force for JackJumper Adams
Written for nbl.com.au by Chris Pike
As an Arizona local having his team compared to the Phoenix Suns isn’t bad for Josh Adams, but the Tasmania JackJumpers star is more worried about doing the state of Tassie proud having now found the best situation of his professional career.
Adams is fresh off playing a starring role in perhaps the best offensive performance in the JackJumpers' short history on Sunday. They made 22 three-pointers as a team to beat the Illawarra Hawks in Wollongong to equal the 40-minute NBL record and Adams was at the centre of it all.
He went a remarkable 8/12 from downtown on his way to 28 points to continue what has now been a supremely impressive start to his NBL career as part of the start up JackJumpers who are knocking on the door of top four at 7-7.
That win over the Hawks saw legendary Illawarra coach Brian Goorjian admit that the JackJumpers' shooting reminded him of the NBA Phoenix Suns and that combined with their now renowned tenacious, high pressure defence makes them just about unstoppable.
Adams will take that praise especially as someone who grow up in Phoenix, has worked out with Devin Booker and given how the Tasmania offence has been a work in progress to get to this point.
"I don’t mind that comparison. Everybody on our team respects coach Goorjian a ton," Adams said.
"This is my first year here but everything that I've seen of him and what he spoke about after the game has me thinking he is an extremely respectable dude.
"To get that kind of praise from such an incredible coach who has been in the league for so many years is big praise. It's definitely nice to hear that but we can't let our heads get too big."
To watch the JackJumpers play and you can see a team that clearly loves playing together, is playing for their coach and has fully bought into the system that they know they need to follow to have a chance to succeed.
That has been based around playing the biggest pressure defence in the competition and making themselves damn hard to play against, and to beat.
Now that the offence is catching up, it looks like a fun team to be part of but Adams would argue it's been fun from the start.
"The only correction I would make is that it's been a fun team to play with the entire journey," he said.
"We've been here for six months now for the most part with the exception of Magette who came in a little bit later thanks to family visa issues. But this whole group has been together for a long time and it's been nothing but fun for the entirety of it.
"We preached defence for the first stretch of the season and now that our offence is starting to click, and we're starting to learn how to play alongside one another and learn each other's tendencies, everything's starting to flow together so the sky's the limit."
Adams was the first import signed to the JackJumpers and since he arrived in Tasmania almost six months ago now, he has fully embraced everything about not only about the basketball team and club, but his adopted state.
Having played in Russia, Turkey, China, Spain and Italy along with in the G-League since his college career at the University of Wyoming after growing up in Phoenix, Adams has no doubt that at 28 years of age, he's now found the best environment of his career.
"Every league has its things and the perks, and a lot of those leagues have more downfalls and difficulties, but top to bottom I have nothing poor to say about my experience here," Adams said.
"I haven’t second guessed coming here once. It's been great being part of the NBL as well as with a start up team, but the people of Tasmania have been supportive from the jump.
"It's the first time in my career where it hasn’t really been results driven for the most part. The people of Tassie always comment on how much they love our bench activity and how hard we play even if when we were losing games early on.
"Now to see them supporting the same way and even be 10 times more excited than the beginning of the season because we're starting to make a run and are giving them something to cling to and look forward to, it's been pretty spectacular."
Speaking of coach Scott Roth, having a coach who gives his players his full backing while challenging them to reach their potential, and who clearly loves his players is something that has helped Adams embrace being with the JackJumpers even more.
However, it's how everyone involved who has come together like a family that is making it so special for him.
"It's certainly a change of pace for me and from where I've been the past five or six years," he said.
"That's a large weight off of my back personally but from the whole club perspective, the guys behind the scenes and front office guys, they back coach Roth and he backs his assistant coaches, and they all back us as a team.
"The entire state of Tassie, as we're a state team and not a city team, is at our back so just from top to bottom from the front office to the coach to the players and fans, everybody has been all in and the support has been tremendous. It's incredible to be part of an army or a family like this."
The JackJumpers have quickly earned the respect of the NBL community because of the way they have conducted themselves across their opening 14 matches.
Right from the outset of their inaugural NBL season, the JackJumpers have focused on their tenacious defence, hounding the opposition, following their game plan and even if the offence hasn’t always flowed or shots fallen, they've been a challenge to play against.
That's something Adams is proud to have been part of, but he also knows they can't let their defence slip even if their offence is now on the improve.
"It does because it's proven that if we can play great defence, high energy and high pressure, it doesn’t matter who, where or what we're doing offensively," Adams said.
"At the end of the game, with very few exceptions, we're going to be in the game or have a chance to win. That’s attributed to our defence because up until recently our offence hasn’t been firing on all cylinders.
"We are proud of that especially because that was our motto and the culture that we wanted to build from day one out here. We knew that we would be under dogs and that no one would give us a chance, but one thing we all agreed upon is that we could make it a living hell for every team to play against us.
"We've built on that and as our offence has started to click a bit, I think our defence hasn’t slipped far, but usually we keep teams in the 70s but the last couple of games they've got up into the 80s.
"It's important for us to refocus back on that defensive part and continue to improve offensively. If we want to make a run at this thing we need to be able to do both."
Twice now in the past three games the JackJumpers have scored over 90 points for the only two occasions this season. They have won five of their past six matches, so momentum is building for the NBL's newest club.
There has been challenges shooting and to get the offence flowing in the first part of the season, but to see them knock down 22 threes from 42 attempts on Sunday in the win over the Hawks was fun to watch.
It didn’t come as a surprise to Adams though.
"It was great to see those shots finally start to fall, but we have a team full of great shooters," he said.
"I believe myself to be a very good shooter, Clint Steindl is a proven incredible shooter, Jack McVeigh is an incredible shooter, Josh Magette is a great shooter, Jock Perry when he's in the game can step out and shoot it, Fab can shoot it.
"From top to bottom we have capable shooters as well as a solid core of very good shooters. We've been saying all along that these shooters are going to fall and the offence will start clicking, but the one thing we can control every single game is our defence.
"Now that what we've been preaching about the shots actually falling is now happening, the amount of fun that we have out on the court and our confidence has skyrocketed."
In the bigger picture, Adams sees no reason why he can't make a permanent home down under whether that's staying with the JackJumpers or the NBL in general.
However, he won't let himself think about anything beyond making sure helping this JackJumpers team this season reach their potential.
"There's absolutely the potential in staying here longer, especially if we do something special and JackJumpers want to look forward for something else or anywhere else in the NBL really," he said.
"But as far as I'm concerned, I've got a game coming up on Saturday and practice before that to focus on.
"As long as I stay focused on those things, then the chips down the road will fall into place whether that's staying in an incredible, amazing situation like I'm in with the JackJumpers or whatever it may be.
"I don’t know, but I think I'd be selling myself short and selling this team short if I started looking towards my next contract and who, where or what that may be."
What that immediately means for Adams and the JackJumpers is looking to keep their winning form going this Saturday night in Brisbane against a Bullets team needing a win.
"Every team that you play in this league is tough and it's even that much more difficult when it's on the road, and even more so when it's a team that you've beaten once," Adams said.
"You know you have a target on your back going into their house so it's going to be a difficult game, but we'll prep for it the same way and come out with the same energy.
"At the end of the game we'll be there and we will be able to rest our hats knowing that we put it all out on the floor regardless of the outcome."