Brisbane decide to bite the bullet
BASKETBALL: Brisbane Bullets boss Richard Clarke has promised a more "cut-throat” approach to the NBL club's import management next season as the club face the prospect of consecutive wooden spoons.
The general manager rubbished suggestions that coach Andrej Lemanis should be a victim of the club's dismal efforts since returning to the league last season, but admitted the Bullets' recruitment strategy needed careful revision.
A 90-73 home loss to Sydney on Thursday dropped Brisbane to last, with only nine wins from 27 games. Saturday's clash with Adelaide is the Bullets' final match of the season.
Import Perrin Buford was allowed to leave the club earlier this month, ending a stand-off of sorts with Lemanis that had stretched throughout the season.
Former Melbourne United star guard Stephen Holt has often gone unnoticed, while fellow American guard Travis Trice has been criticised for his inconsistency after moving from the Cairns Taipans.
"We'd like to be a bit more cut throat with that from now on, but being NBL-owned creates challenges,” Clarke said.
"We can't go cutting and replacing guys all season.”
Former club MVP Derek Rucker has led the chorus of disapproval, tweeting that the current program is a "disgrace from the top down” and that mass changes are required.
Clarke accepted fans' disappointment at another poor season but asked for a show of faith as he and Lemanis attempt to replicate what they achieved with the New Zealand Breakers.
The pair toiled for five seasons at the Breakers before winning three consecutive titles between 2011-13 in a reign built on cultivating local talent and carefully-selected imports and veterans.
"We're very aware of the (criticism of) fans; they're vocal and demand success and hopefully it comes a bit quicker this time (than in New Zealand),” he said.
"(But in terms of finishing last) It's irrelevant, because you're either a play-off team or you're not ... it's all the same level of non-performance.
"All we can ask for is some faith and a bit of patience.”
Lemanis is contracted for another season at the Bullets and Clarke is comfortable with him continuing to balance his Australian and Brisbane coaching duties.
"I don't think that he needs defending; he didn't suddenly become a bad coach,” Clarke said.
"People make assessments based on small amounts of information, but we have great faith in Andrej and what he's trying to do.”