Nahariya may have run wild on Jerusalem over the course of the first 20 minutes taking a 38-31 lead into halftime, but the visitors went on a 16-0 run at the start of the 3rd quarter to take home a 76-68 victory. Austin Daye and Jerome Dyson each scored 14 points for the Reds while Curtis Jerrells dropped 13 points and Rich Howell pulled down 9 boards. Corey Webster and Denzel Livingston scored 14 points a piece as Alex Young added 13 points in the loss.
1) Curtis Jerrells began the contest on the bench but once he came into the game with 4:30 left in the first frame, CJ did what CJ does best which was to keep his team afloat in the first half with 3 three pointers. Although Jerrells scored the majority of his points in the first half, he played stellar defense and was a floor general in every sense of the word over the course of the 32 minutes he was on the court. Jerrells spoke about the game, “Coming off the bench was a part of the strategy to be a little bit more defensive. But I just stay ready to come in and get a rhythm. I think I did a good job defensively and we had more of a team flow in the second half.”
Getting off to a good start and focusing on the Israeli league:
“It was very important as we struggled last year in the Israeli league. We wanted to start on a good foot.”
New coach, new system:
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge as every change is a challenge. Coach has a completely different system and I think it’s his job to for him to manage that part of the game. As players we are just supposed to go out and play.”
Coach Katsikaris also praised Jerrells and his effort while also commenting about #55’s discontent about not starting the game, “I am very, very satisfied with his performance. Defensively he was in and offensively he took the majority of selection of his shots being a playmaker and a scorer. Let’s say that if he is upset outside of the court and he was good on the floor, I prefer that. It’s not about who is going to start, but who is going to finish.”
2) Rich Howell who was just voted the best Israeli player in the league as per a Walla Sport extensive poll looked like a lost puppy on the bench, having not started the game. During the warmups prior to the second half he really didn’t look happy as he sat on the bench with his head in his hands. But the Jerusalem big man started the second half and played his usual strong ball throughout the final 20 minutes, ending the game with 6 points and 9 rebounds. The question is why is he so unhappy? Perhaps Austin Daye has the answer, “You have to accept your role and everyone is trying to adjust. I think that everyone is buying into what’s going on. Everyone here can play 30 minutes but you may not have the opportunities that you have here if you play elsewhere. That’s why I came. It was to win. I’m willing to sacrifice and I know the others guys are as well. It’s making a difference in my play.” I’m sure Rich will get there because at the end of the day everyone has the same goal, to win.
3) There’s definitely a lot of work that needs to be done, both from a basketball standpoint on the court and from a personnel standpoint off of the court. All of the coaches may have been dressed to the nines in fancy new suits, but it’s clear that there is an adjustment period between the players and the coaches that is not going as smoothly as possible. Sure, it’s never easy for a new coach to come to a team that just won the league title and to walk into a situation where the majority of the team is already built, but I’m certain that a top of the line coach like Fotios Katsikaris who has been at some fantastic teams such as Valencia and Bilbao can handle anything that is thrown at him. Little by little as the coach gains everyone’s trust, the team may well end up being the well oiled machine that we have already seen some signs of. Katsikaris was a bit upset about the questions concerning the lockerrroom, “We are fighting every day and we have a terrible relationship. I can be sarcastic. We don’t have a good relationship inside the team so we try to fix it.” Was he serious or sarcastic? Regardless there’s always some seriousness to sarcasm. Men at work.
Jerusalem shot only 3/21 from beyond the arc with all of them coming via Curtis Jerrells in the first half. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the Reds have got to aim for better percentages from long distance as 14% is just not going to cut it. Of course, one has to remember that Jerusalem was at a disadvantage having five players with the Israel National Team and that when other teams were at training camp with full squads, Jerusalem was at 50%. It’s going to take time and everyone is going to need some patience. The Reds have the players and the staff to make another run at the title but everyone’s got to buy into the process.