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  • Writer's pictureJosh Kempton

Wildcats not panicking over slow start to season

Perth Wildcats assistant coach Gerard Martin says the team always had great confidence that superstar Bryce Cotton would bounce back after a slow start to the season.

The three-time NBL MVP was in career-worst form during a four-game losing streak that saw the Wildcats slump as low as eighth on the ladder, but he bounced back in typical style by dropping 29 points in a 99-88 win over Adelaide on Saturday before coming up with 24 points in a 102-95 overtime victory on the road against Melbourne United on Monday.

Martin told Sports Breakfast there was no internal panic over Cotton’s early-season struggles.

“He’s his biggest critic, he’s always going to be holding himself to the highest standard,” Martin said.

“He’s stuck with how he goes about everything, he does the same stuff every day, he’s very meticulous about his process.

“It was always bound to happen. I’m glad it did because it was fun to be a part of.”

Coach John Rillie made a lineup change before the win over the 36ers, with tough rebounder Hyrum Harris coming into the starting five and American import Jordan Usher moving into a sixth-man role.

Martin said significant roster turnover over the offseason meant the coaching staff were still searching for the right combinations.

“We needed to play a bit quicker and the best way to do that was to find a bigger lineup to help with the rebounding,” he said.

“The guys all bought in and it definitely paid off. We rebounded at a much better rate, which allowed us to play at a much better pace, which allowed us to get some good, easy shots.

“It paid off, but we’ve got to stay with it. We can’t just relax and think everything’s all good, we’ve got to keep finding a way to have our competitive edges.”

Club legend Jesse Wagstaff featured prominently in the rotation in the two wins after receiving inconsistent playing time to start the year, with Martin saying the 15-year veteran’s leadership was invaluable.

“Jesse is a phenomenal player and person. He has such great experience,” he said.

“He might not have the loudest voice, but as soon as he speaks, everyone listens.

“In this last week, he’s really stepped up and it’s really paid off … it doesn’t matter whether he’s playing or not, he’s the same person.”

The Wildcats will look to continue their winning momentum against the New Zealand Breakers at RAC Arena on Friday night, with the game tipping off at 7:30pm.

IMAGE: The West Australian


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