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Player and Coach of the Month: October

Melbourne United have had a remarkable start to the 2015/16 NBL season and as a result Dean Demopoulos and Chris Goulding have received Coach and Player of the Month honours for October. Melbourne remains undefeated and won all six of its games in October with a win to start on the road against Townsville, and then five straight at Hisense Arena over Illawarra, Adelaide, the Crocodiles, Cairns and Perth.

As per previous NBL seasons, a range of media representatives form the selection panel and allocate a 3-2-1 vote for both categories at the end of each month. 

The results saw Melbourne United coach Demopoulos the top choice of six rival clubs and second and third respectively by the others making him the standout choice as Coach of the Month to start his NBL career. Trevor Gleeson (Perth Wildcats), Joey Wright (Adelaide 36ers), Dean Vickerman (New Zealand Breakers) and Shawn Dennis (Townsville Crocodiles) were others to receive votes. Goulding was also the top choice of seven of the eight clubs in his first month back in the NBL making him winner of the Player of the Month award. Perth Wildcats big man Matt Knight was Goulding's top challenger ahead of Illawarra Hawks centre AJ Ogilvy, his Hawks teammate Kirk Penney, Adelaide 36ers dynamo Jerome Randle and Sydney Kings big man Julian Khazzouh. Demopoulos has had the best start in history to an NBL coaching career with the veteran mentor taking over as Melbourne coach for the 2015/16 season most recently working in the NBA with the LA Clippers as an assistant coach. It hasn’t all gone smoothly either despite being unbeaten with injuries to Hakim Warrick (who arrived to replace Ekene Ibekwe on the eve of the season), David Barlow and Owen Odigie. However, Demopoulos has his talented roster harnessing the natural individual talents of the likes of Goulding, Stephen Holt, Daniel Kickert, Todd Blanchfield and Majok Majok. Demopoulos gives the players the credit for gelling so quickly this season. "I like this team. I like my guys as players and I like them as people, and hopefully we can build and keep getting better. They seem to know who they are and what they want," Demopoulos said. "They are a great group of guys. Firstly all their skills match I think and so do their personalities, but you never know if it will all come together. "But I just want to stay in the moment and that's what I keep telling them. If you do that, you aren’t surprised by much and you are just trying to squeeze everything out of that moment. My hat's off to this group of kids, they stay in the moment as well as I've seen in a while." Goulding finished his last stint in the NBL also with Melbourne with a bang leaving as the league's leading scorer and with a 50-point explosion late in the campaign. He has returned an even better player after stints in the NBA Summer League, the Australian Boomers and in Spain with CAI Zaragoza. Goulding has displayed a fearless approach to scoring and during the six games in October, averaged 17.7 points a game including a best of 26 points in a win over last season's grand finalists Cairns. It's not just scoring either with Goulding working hard defensively and setting up his teammates highlighted by 11 assists in the season-opening win over the Crocs. Demopoulos isn’t surprised to see the results Goulding is getting on the floor having seen the tireless work he puts in on the practice floor. "He works at his game so it's no surprise he gets the rewards. I'm more in awe of his work ethic as I am with what the outcome of it is. He's a gym rat and in the truest sense of the word he's got a great spirit for this game," Demopoulos said. "He enjoys this game and he is a showman that doesn’t attack the integrity of the game. He does it within context and when he makes a mistake he's the first to realise it and to try and learn from it. He's been terrific obviously."
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