After my last few articles saying the only thing the NBL needs to do now is market the game, the teams and the players properly, the Melbourne Tigers decide to pull some of the strangest moves I’ve seen to date. The Tigers just seem to have no idea which is the correct way to go about things, they try one system and that doesn’t work so they ditch it completely and try and throw a new one straight in. This goes right back to the season just completed where they sacked coach Al Westover.
Mid-season Al Westover is sacked from the Tigers as head coach and assistant coach Daryl McDonald is given the nod as the interim coach. D-Mac turned the Tigers around and had them playing a competitive form of basketball, as opposed to the turnover prone team that was playing before him. Many people around the traps thought that D-Mac had done enough to warrant a full season in charge of the team along with control over the roster. It is worth remembering that when he took over D-Mac had very little to work with. We then find out that he would not be getting the main role, instead the Tigers bring in reigning Coach of the Year Trevor Gleeson. Which in its own way is a great signing, I can’t remember the last time a Coach of the Year was available for another team the very next season. However, this is where it has all gone down hill big-time for the Tigers.
Almost immediately Corey ‘Homicide’ Williams was shown the door and the main question one everybodies minds was simple, WHY? Gleeson loves to keep his team as Australian as possible and this will be his downfall, unless he can get a massive surprise signing. The Tigers have released Homicide for who? Currently the best they could get is (as Daniel Eade has said in one of his articles) Nathan Crosswell, Damien Martin or Rhys Carter.
Aside from Homicide being one of the best, if not the best player in the NBL, he is also the most marketable player in the league by a country mile. He says what he wants, does what he wants and acts as if he is bulletproof and the truth of the matter is, he backs it all up on the court. A large number of fans put a large cross through the Tigers and Gleeson when the NBL human headline was released.
Next up is Lucas Walker, he showed plenty…no sorry, PLENTY of upside during his time on court last season under D-Mac and many pencilled him in to play an even larger part this season. Walker was a young athletic up and coming star that providing highlights in every game he played. Along with Homicide he could have been the Tigers most marketable player. If Homicide was the human headline then Walker would have been the human highlight reel. He brought showtime to the Cage and the fans ate it up and begged for seconds. When Walker was in the open court everyone knew that a grand slam was on its way. Even more fans put a cross through the Tigers and Gleeson.
The final nail in the coffin, at least so far, is the benching of Warrick Giddey off the bench. Gleeson has effectively sacked Giddey from the assistant coaching position and is bringing in Rohan Short to be the ONLY assistant coach. Giddey has been around the club’s metaphorical block and then some. He has been involved with the Tigers for a couple of decades now and his shunting from the bench and coaching staff to a “community role” is laughable. Giddey is the Tigers! While I was working with them last year I saw Giddey everywhere, he was in the office, he was in the gyms, on the court, out at clinics, at practice games, at schools and just plain everywhere. Many fans connected with Giddey and the remaining Tigers fans that didn’t have a cross through the Tigers and Gleeson, have just done so.
In summary, over the past 4-6 months the Tigers have lost – Al Westover, Daryl McDonald and Warrick Giddey (the entire coaching staff), Luke Nevill, TJ Campbell, Eric Devendorf, Wade Helliwell, Corey Williams and Lucas Walker.
They have lost the respect of fans and they have truly shown that loyalty to the club is in no way rewarded. They have also taken a back seat in terms of marketing as I have mentioned already. Out of the remaining players – Cam Tragardh, Daryl Corletto, Matt Burston, Bennie Lewis, Tommy Greer and recent signings Liam Rush and Daniel Dillion – who would be the marketers dream? Don’t get me wrong, Tragardh and Corletto are great players and people and are well worth marketing, however they are not even close to having the marketing power that Homicide holds.
Tigers need to figure things out and quickly, before they alienate more fans and have absolutely no hope of putting together a marketing campaign before the next season.