The Melbourne Tigers finally tasted success yesterday staving off a fast finishing Gold Coast to win their first game of the season.A desperately needed win to say the least. When a season is in crisis, like the one Melbourne was heading for had they lost a seventh game in a row, there is usually an incident or occurrence, something that indicates things are turning around. A point when you look back at the end of the year and know for certainty that, yes, this was the reason that sparked the team into gear.
Melbourne's triggerpoint was the signing of Corey 'Homicide' Williams. It's only one game and one win but at seasons end I'm sure we will look back at last weeks signing as the impetus Melbourne needed to revive an insipid season.
Two games played on the weekend, for a loss and a win is hardly the type of record to result in us engaging in hyperbole and crowning the Tigers champions but it was the influence over the Tigers by Williams that was most profound over the weekend. From opening tip on Friday night against the Wildcats to yesterdays win the side played with more raw emotion and aggressiveness than we have seen all year and, perhaps most of last. Homicide was the on court leader, the one who was providing a stabilising factor when things got tight, I guess that comes with being the reigning MVP of the league. It's that level of experience and familiarity with the NBL that axed import TJ Campbell could not bring.
Williams was pushing the tempo, looking for the open man and for the first time the Melbourne offence was moving with fluidity. The rest of the Tigers were feeding off his energy and played with a purpose. Most importantly they now have somebody who can close out games.Yesterday's game Williams became the primary scorer finishing with 19 but also with 10 turnovers which may have been a result of Williams trying to do too much. Looking forward at the Tigers next few games is a interesting clash in North Queensland with Townsville this weekend before the return match with Gold Coast at The Cage the following week. Two very winnable games that should set them up nicely for games in Perth followed by the Breakers at home.
Key for the season is Williams.He is a proven scorer and a willing passer getting his teammates involved at every opportunity. If the side can maintain the momentum generated by his arrival anything is possible from here, once a few wrinkles are ironed out on defence (the Tigers tend to lapse often and allow easy points off turnovers) and when Wade Helliwell remembers he is taller than most players on the court and can actually out rebound them, then Melbourne will be a side to fear again.
The Tigers are out to prove that a team standing at 1-6 is capable of now making a run to the playoffs. If they succeed all thanks should go to Corey Williams.