With NBL finals a pipedream after a second-half capitulation against ladder leaders Melbourne United, a bullish CJ Bruton says his young players can’t expect to be gifted minutes.
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Coach Bruton said regardless of the Sixers’ predicament – only Cairns and New Zealand own a worse record than Adelaide’s 6-13 – his players would still need to earn the right in practice to take the court on game day.
“It’s not always ‘I put you in the game and here it comes and now show them your worth’,” Bruton said after the 101-74 defeat.
“It’s paying attention to the detail that goes into any game and the game plan as we keep moving forward.
“Clearly, I want them to play confident and shoot the shots that are available to them that they can make and that they do take regularly.”
One of the Sixers’ surprise packets is high-flying little man Tad Dufelmeier, who has scored in double digits in each of the past two games – both starts as Bruton shook up the line-up.
Bruton, who at 188cm dominated among the NBL’s tall timber across a stellar career that featured six NBL titles, feels an affinity with the 183cm dynamo.
“I’ve given him some hard truths, which he’s taken to heart, but he appreciates the comments because when you’re small in this game, there’s two things that you need to do consistently,” Bruton said.
“He’s a very explosive kid and we’ve spoken quite a bit over where his journey can go throughout his career.
“You need to know every position and how to get everyone organised and you’ve got to play with your toughness and your heart.
“He’s done that, he’s earned that right. How he plays the game and helps our team has been awesome and hopefully he can continue to do that for the rest of the season.”
Imports Todd Withers and Dusty Hannahs haven’t had the impact the Sixers would have hoped for.
Withers missed the last two games in Covid protocols and struggled to have an impact against United – failing to take a shot in 10 minutes on the court.
Bruton says he wants Hannahs to shoot more but, over his past five games, the Little Rock, Arkansas native has made just one of his 13 attempts from deep.
“Sometimes … throughout seasons, you make them and other times you don’t, but he needs to keep being aggressive,” Bruton said.
“I’d like for him to shoot the three ball a little more, as I’ve told him over and over again, but you’ve also got to take the shots available to you as the game presents.”
The Sixers return home to prepare for a clash with wounded South East Melbourne next Sunday – the Phoenix will be desperate after losing their past four contests and dropping out of the finals pecking order.