Adelaide 36ers sack head coach CJ Bruton

Steve Larkin |

CJ Bruton has been axed as head coach of the struggling Adelaide 36ers.
CJ Bruton has been axed as head coach of the struggling Adelaide 36ers.

The entire Adelaide 36ers organisation must bear responsibility for the sacking of head coach CJ Bruton, his replacement Scott Ninnis says.

Ninnis has been appointed the caretaker coach after Bruton was axed with the club floundering near the foot of the NBL ladder.

Bruton was ousted just four days after the 36ers slumped to a record low score in the 40-minute NBL era, a 94-59 away loss to the Tasmania JackJumpers.

That horror showing left Adelaide second-last with four wins from 13 games this season.

“We thank CJ for his tireless efforts both on and off the court, but we believe it’s time to go in a new direction,” 36ers chief executive Nic Barbato said in a statement on Wednesday.

Adelaide Hall of Famer Ninnis, who had been an assistant coach under Bruton, said the 47-year-old’s firing was “something collectively we will bear responsibility for”.

“The playing group, the coaching group and the support staff, we are all partly responsible for this,” Ninnis told reporters.

“So I am disappointed for CJ.

“But now we have got a very short turnaround and we have got to find a way to get some enjoyment back and start winning games.”

The 36ers host the Cairns Taipans on Saturday night.

CJ Bruton.
CJ Bruton addresses his Adelaide 36ers team during an NBL clash in Sydney. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS)

Bruton, who led the club since 2022 and was under contract until the end of next season, notched only 27 wins from 67 games in charge at the 36ers, who have failed to reach the playoffs since the 2018-19 season.

He is the second successive coach axed before seeing out his contract with the 36ers – he replaced Connor Henry, who had a year to run on his deal.

And Bruton is the second NBL coach axed this season after the Illawarra Hawks removed Jacob Jackomas on November 14.

“It’s a disappointment to see two Aussie coaches not in their positions as head coaches right now,” Melbourne United’s head coach Dean Vickerman told reporters.

Bruton’s appointment at the 36ers was his first head coaching role, joining the club after a stint as an assistant at the Brisbane Bullets.

He endured a rocky stint at the Adelaide helm culminating in last Saturday night’s horror show in Hobart.

After the record low, Bruton slammed the NBL’s travel schedule for his team, which two days prior slipped to a 13-point away loss to the New Zealand Breakers in Christchurch.

“You got to have a toughness and a heart in this competition and have a mindset that we are going out there to win,” Bruton said post-match in Tasmania.

“We have to continue to believe, we have to build.

“And while it’s not easy after taking a few lumps, it’s about swallowing your own pride and make sure you come in with your hard hat and go and drive that and show up when the lights are on.”

A six-time NBL championship winner as a player, Bruton is a dual Olympian who played for the Boomers 104 times.

AAP