Jerusalem looks to fix their mistakes but how much time will coach Dzikic have to do so?

Oct 20, 2022 | Holyland Hoops

There’s no question that Hapoel Jerusalem have thus far not lived up to expectations set by management, set by the coach, set by the fans and most probably set by the players. In two Israeli league games and a pair of contest in the Basketball Champions League the Reds have looked close to awful losing both domestic clashes on the road at Hapoel Holon and Bnei Herzliya along with a brutal loss to Ludwigsburg to go with a very narrow win over Darussafaka.

Aleksandar Dzikic’s team has played well below par of what was expected from them whether it’s been their shooting going 1/24 from deep against the Germans, not playing defense versus Herzliya and just an overall level of game play and scoring as they have struggled mightily to find the bottom of the basket.

Aleksandar Dzikic- Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

The scorers who should be scoring and the players who should be controlling the game play just aren’t doing the job. One can say that Wednesday night’s 80-71 loss was due to the style that Dzikic had employed to play a club like Ludwigsburg but that is really just an excuse because of the results from the other three official games.

Ludwigsburg pressured the ball and also tried to stick onto the guards like flypaper which was part and parcel why Jerusalem shot so poorly from downtown. Yes, the Reds made a run in the last quarter but the game at that point was out of reach and for Dzikic to say that at some points they were the better team on the floor is quite the stretch.

You can’t fool the fans and you can’t fool the players and you can’t fool ownership which saw Eyal Homsky head over to the bench area during the course of play and have some choice words for the fitness coach.

“Not good enough,” Zach Hankins said as he began his post game comments. “We got to learn how to react to adversity better. We showed we can play and beat them any other night and we have amazing guys and talented guys and we have to react better. We have to get back on defense and when our shots aren’t falling, we are still good enough to win on an off night.”

Zach Hankins – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

The big man who scored 18 points continued, “I know what it feels like when guys hang their heads when their shots aren’t falling. I’m not pointing at anyone but if we aren’t hitting our shots, we have to make them also not hit their shots.”

Defense has been a problem for Jerusalem and Bnei Herzliya just cut through the paint like a hot knife through butter time and time again this past Saturday night, but even more alarming seems to be the IQ level of the players on defense as Dzikic explained.

“We played the whole game but what is bothering me is that we don’t recognize that we should react way better on defense. We had too many possessions that we were super good but something happens for them. I’m still not happy that we can’t recognize when to foul. Every team has go to guys and you have to recognize that and you have to force the ball elsewhere.”

Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

While Dzikic has said that he doesn’t have any plans yet to change some of the players on the squad, there definitely has to be some thought in that area. Who needs to stay and who needs to go will obviously be centered around the import players, but the way that most have played to date has been so inconsistent it’s tough to even say who may be on the chopping block at this point.

Can Dzikic and Jerusalem wait it out and see things turn around? That of course is the goal at this early stage of the season. How much time do the Reds have?

Those are serious questions as games are going to be coming fast and furious at least in the domestic league.

Mareks Mejeris and Noam Dovrat – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

In Europe, Jerusalem has one more game which is on the road at Bakken Bears, the weakest team in the group in a couple of weeks and then the next time the team has a continental clash will be one the last day of November. There is time to make corrections in this competition before the final two group stage games which will both be away from home in the middle of December.

However, in the Israeli league the Reds have a pair of home clashes against Hapoel Gilboa Galil and Hapoel Eilat both of which should be winnable. If Jerusalem is victorious in the pair then the Reds move to .500 and can breathe a little bit easier as only the top 8 teams in the league over the first few months now advance to the Israel State Cup.

Zach Hankins – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Winning is never a guarantee and Rami Hadar’s Gilboa will certainly be up to the task which is something that Dzikic is well aware of, “The thing is we have to figure out the mistakes and talk about it and fix it and try not to repeat the same mistakes.”

Correcting the mistakes on the court will be key, but the ones made off of the court are also ones that need and will need attention ASAP or else Jerusalem’s season will very quickly find itself heading the wrong way on a one way street, the same road that they have unfortunately found themselves on the past few years.

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