THRILLING wins, including one in double overtime earlier this week, built Ballarat Rush’s fairytale start to the South East Australian Basketball League season.
Integra Rush coach Peter Cunningham said the support had been fantastic but he maintained a realistic view when working with his team.
Many may write an eight-point loss to Frankston on the road Saturday night to fatigue – it was Rush’s third game in eight days with hard fought wins against more fancied opposition – but Cunningham said Rush still had plenty of work to do in refining its game.
Frankston clearly out-scouted Rush, foiling Rush’s impressive offence and forcing Rush players into errors foreign to most of their work.
Rush’s next assignment is three weeks away, on May 3, but the squad will continue to maintain an intense training regime, packed with scrimmage, to adapt better when opposition reads and counters its play – just like Frankston did.
“We’re a young side with three wins and everyone gets excited about that. We know where we sit and that’s with wins of two, two and two points against good opposition teams,” Cunningham said.
“The easiest thing to say is that we were tired but that would be unfair to Frankston.
“We didn’t get through our stuff because they didn’t let us, that made us disorganised and missing baskets we would normally make.”
Rush’s trademark sharp shooting was dragged down to 28 per cent from the field, and nine from 21 attempts on the foul line.
This was more than poor shooting. Frankston pushed Rush out of its plays, using players out of patterns.
Steph Cumming, who played with Frankston last season, was contained but Cunningham said this was largely because his team could not get the ball to her in the right spots.
There was great fighting spirit in Ballarat Rush’s late surge at the Lady Blues but general play was pretty sloppy.
Each team threw its bench on the floor – Rush kept American Nya Mason on – and Rush clawed from 20 points down, with about four minutes to play, to lose by eight.
A Mason three-point attempt on the buzzer attempted to cut the margin to five.
Cunningham was thrilled his starting five were up and clapping from the bench, urging their teammates to fight it to the end.
Ash Stonehouse polished off a good game with 11 points and six rebounds in almost 20 minutes’ play.
Stonehouse was most effective in shutting down key Lady Blue Kelly Bowen after half-time.
Bowen had 14 points in the opening half and only added six when Stonehouse took her on the second half.
Cunningham said his team’s defence was all right but most pleasing was his team’s refusal to yield.
Ballarat Miners had the weekend off, only facing Bendigo mid-week this round.
The GMHBA Miners return to the floor at home on April 26 to meet Frankston.
RUSH’S Steph Cumming joins the Australian Opals on the Gold Coast this week.
Cumming is one of 20 shortlisted players after a camp in Canberra earlier this month with more cuts to be made as the Opals continue preparations for the FIBA Women’s World Championships later this year.
The Courier’s Melanie Whelan caught up with Cumming to talk about Opals preparations in our new online video show From the Press Box that will launch on Tuesday afternoon.