JackJumpers need to rediscover defence: coach Roth

Chris Pike |

JackJumpers’ Will Magnay proved a shining light for Tasmania amid the gloom of their Breakers’ loss.
JackJumpers’ Will Magnay proved a shining light for Tasmania amid the gloom of their Breakers’ loss.

The Tasmania JackJumpers have built themselves around solid defence in their first two NBL seasons – and coach Scott Roth recognises they must rediscover that quality again if they want to challenge for honours in this campaign.

Thursday night’s NBL programme saw the New Zealand Breakers beat the JackJumpers 97-92 in Launceston, before the Perth Wildcats made it four straight wins, defeating the Cairns Taipans 88-80 at RAC Arena.

The JackJumpers have been one of the top four teams in their first two NBL seasons, and it’s been based around being a defensively-minded team who can slow the game down, lock down the opposition and turn games into a battle.

That hasn’t been the case so far this season, and though they’ve got better offensively with the additional firepower of Jordon Crawford and Majok Deng, their defence has taken a hit.

Scott Roth JackJunpers coach
JackJumpers coach Scott Roth wants them to rediscover their old solidity in defence.

Over their 66 matches in the last two seasons, the JackJumpers averaged giving up 81.3 points and only conceded 90 or more on 16 occasions, and over 100 just three times.

Already in NBL24 they have conceded 90 points or more four times – and that included another 97 to the Breakers.

While the JackJumpers did score another 92 points themselves and entered the round as the best offensively-rated team in the league, Roth wants them to rediscover their defensive identity.

“We’re scoring at a relatively good pace and our offence is generating points, but it’s fool’s gold at the end of the day,” Roth said.

“If you’re not able to defend at some sort of consistent basis, you’re just going to be kind of all over the map and that will lead to not getting into playoffs, and not finishing in the top six.

“It’s a fragile balance of trying to get those two working together and it’s a work in progress.”

There were positives against the Breakers for Tasmania, though, the biggest being the form of centre Will Magnay.

In just his second appearance of the season, he was a defensive beast with four blocked shots while pulling down 13 rebounds and also made his mark a 20-point haul.

Roth is expecting Magnay to keep improving as he finds his groove again to provide a potentially outstanding twin tower pairing with import Marcus Lee.

“He was a monster and no offence to him, but I was a little shocked actually that he was able to conditioning-wise that much,” Roth said.

“But he’s worked so hard to get back and it’s obviously a really good sign for us. We’ll have one more game with him now and then we’ll have another 10 or 12 days off to recuperate and get back on it.

“Having him in the line-up is obviously very, very handy and he was fantastic for us.”