Mooney to fill big man void: Chance
Perth Wildcats assistant coach Jacob Chance believes new import John Mooney will give the dual reigning championship side an even more dynamic look in NBL 21, after the club signed the 206 cm power forward last week.
23-year-old Mooney led the NCAA in both defensive rebounds and double-doubles last season for the University of Notre Dame, in a dominant college season.
Chance told Sports Drive on Tuesday that the wraps on the club’s newest name were high.
“He’s a blue-collar guy, he plays with a lot of effort and wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s really physical, he’s a really good rebounder. That is something we felt like we lost with Nick (Kay) departing the club,” he said.
“We’re hopeful he can come in and bring us a bit of what we lost with Damo (Damian Martin) and Nick and go out there and fight every night. He’s a true competitor. He’s a real high character guy, from everything we’ve heard is he will buy in to the community of Perth and what the fans appreciate when they come to the arena.
“We’re really excited. He’s going to fill a bit of a void we’ve got there, and we think down the track he’s going to be a really good international player and maybe even in the NBA. We’re really excited for him to get out here.
The Wildcats struggled for depth in the centre/power forward position in NBL20, the now departed Nick Kay having lacked back up support in the position.
Former import Dario Hunt was sent home in January after averaging just 8 points and 6 rebounds per game, ex NBA player Miles Plumlee bought in to fill the breach late in the season as part of the eventual championship side as he averaged just nine points and seven rebounds across his seven games.
Chance believes Mooney’s acquisition will solve the issue for the franchise.
“It was a bit of a weakness for us all year, it hadn’t been the previous four years controlling that glass battle. Often we’d talk about finishing possessions on the defensive end, we’ve always been known as a really good offensive rebounding team,” he said.
“It’s something we value quite highly. We made the change halfway through the year to bring Miles in, our rebounding did get better but we still feel like we need to tick that box, especially with the departure of Nick and Damo who was a great guard rebounder.”
Perth has also added former Hawks player Todd Blanchfield and ex-Adelaide captain Kevin White to their roster for the forthcoming season as part of NBL free agency in recent weeks, with Chance expecting both to make an impact in red.
“Todd is a proven points scorer in this league and has been for a long time. He’s a proven guy, he’s got some things in the toolkit that he hasn’t shown in the past couple years off the dribble and his rebounding ability and get out and transition. We’re pretty excited to see how he goes in our system,” he said.
“I’ve known Kev (White) for a couple years now. I was lucky enough to work with him when I was with Rockingham in the state league and went away to China with him last year. He’s exactly what we need, that locker room presence to come in and help with our younger guys a little bit. He plays with his heart on his sleeve and that’s exactly what we’re looking for.”
Chance said that Perth would keep communication lines open with Miles Plumlee about a potential return to the club, should star player Bryce Cotton become a naturalised Australian citizen.
The NBL season is still scheduled to start in December, despite the spectre of COVID-19 looming large over the Australian sporting landscape.
IMAGE: Wildcats website.