ALBURY-Wodonga Bandits coach Brad Chalmers was in a reflective mood ahead of tonight’s SEABL finale at the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre.
With the reigning champions already eliminated from the South Conference playoff race, Chalmers admitted the Border club’s slow start to its campaign had come back to haunt it.
The Bandits began their title defence with a home loss to Dandenong and it was largely downhill from there, a 3-8 record after 11 games prompting the axing of under-performing US guard Eric Vann.
Although Albury-Wodonga picked up the pace with import replacements Jermel Jenkins and Flenard Whitfield, the damage had already been done to its post-season hopes.
“A really poor start is going to cost us,” Chalmers said.
“We had some close games we lost, but we need to understand that we’re going to lose some of those.
“I think about the changes we made — they were so needed and the results since then reflect that.
“Knowing early in the piece that the chemistry wasn’t right is frustrating but mistakes were made and at least we addressed it.
“We copped some flak but I think it’s been proven it was the right call.”
The Bandits will host the Brisbane Spartans tonight.
The Queensland club is right in the thick of an East Conference playoff race and needs at least one win to cement its spot.
Hindering the Border outfit’s chances will be the absence of Jenkins, who has headed home after his passport expired.
In a further blow, Michael Watson is unlikely to play after suffering a severely sprained ankle at training on Tuesday.
The playmaking duties will likely fall to captain Nick Payne and Jack Duck, who moves into the starting line-up.
“Losing JJ takes away some firepower,” Chalmers said.
“But it’s an opportunity for some of the other guys to play and I get to look at what we would look like if we didn’t have an American point guard.
“Hopefully the guys run the system and play well.
“They’ve got an opportunity to finish strongly.
“We might be down on talent but I’m looking to make sure there’s no drop-off in intensity.
“We can finish the season with a 6-2 record over the last eight ... that would be one of the better records in the league.”