IT'S hard to describe how good it was to finally get some shots up at the WIN Entertainment Centre on Monday. It was a homecoming for a few of us, but for the bulk of the playing group and staff it was the first time they'd even been on our home floor.
We got back to Wollongong on Friday and had the weekend off the recharge the batteries which was a welcome change of pace. Personally, slipping into my king-size bed felt great after a lot of nights curled up in a double bed but it was a small price to pay in the scheme of things.
It was a bit tougher for some other guys because, once we were told we'd be away for three months or more, a lot of them got out of their leases. It's a pretty packed house at the Mantra at the moment but it certainly beats hotel rooms on the road. The other big thing is being back with our physios and performance staff.
I know Goorj and myself have spoken a lot about how well the guys handled the time away, but he was right to say it was starting to wear thin by the end. It's a strange thing because we were all prepared to be away even longer, possibly until after the NBL Cup in Melbourne.
We were steeled for that and it was only after we knew we were definitely coming home that the days started to drag on. That's what made our performance against Cairns so impressive, probably more than our previous three wins.
What has struck me most about our first four wins is the composure we've shown. We were down by 13 points in our second game against Brisbane and we were down against Cairns in the first quarter last week but we weathered the storm on both occasions and believed in our game plan. That's a pretty unique trait in what's such a young team and such a new team still coming to grips with each other.
The Taipans really came at us hard which we fully expected. They've dropped a couple of games on their home floor and were under some pressure. It was real backs to the wall stuff for them and the most dangerous animal is a cornered one.
They came out that way, we knew they were going to come out swinging, but we had the week off between games and they were coming off two tough ones. We were focused on that and made sure we played an up-tempo game with the knowledge that they'd be a bit tired.
We really tried to run them out and make them feel the effects of those previous games and it was pretty effective as the game wore on. The longer it went the more we fell into our style of game and it worked out really well for us.
Now we've had the opportunity to come home before heading to Melbourne for a month, and hopefully host a game, which isn't something we expected even a week or so ago. That's how quickly things change in a season like this but we've managed to turn everything to our advantage so far. If we can get another one on the road against the Phoenix it'd be great to come into the WEC 5-0 and make it even easier for the fans to get in and support us.
We didn't have a whole lot to do in Cairns and Brisbane so we were all watching all the other games. That's something we might not ordinarily do but it means we're definitely not sleeping on South East Melbourne. Guys like Mitch Creek and Keifer Sykes have been playing some really good basketball, certainly knocking off the Wildcats in Perth is no mean feat.
If we can take them out of the game as much as possible we'll give ourselves a good chance and I think we match up really well with them. It's honestly just exciting to have a run at another team because we're a bit sick of Cairns and Brisbane.
With the way the schedule is, we've spent so much time looking at two specific teams for such a lengthy period of time. I can't recall ever spending so much time scouting and preparing for one or two particular teams, outside of finals series', in my career.
The Phoenix will be a different challenge but, if we continue to play the way we're playing, we're going to be tough to beat for any team in this league.