Tough task for Elephants as Seo fails to work defense

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Tough task for Elephants as Seo fails to work defense

The struggling ET Land Elephants are facing a dilemma. They have a nine-game losing streak and their veteran center Seo Jang-hoon is not helping the cause.

The coaching staff cannot leave the center on the bench since he is productive on the offensive side of the ball. However, to leave him in the game creates a huge hole in defense as he lacks the speed to cover ground on the court.

As of Nov. 9, the Elephants are last in the KBL standings with one win and 10 losses. They have glaring needs on offense and have been careless in their play but their biggest flaw by far is defense. They are giving up an average of 90.2 points per game, a league high. The two overseas players on the team’s roster, Amal McCaskill and Chris Daniels, are both centers and they lack foot speed. Seo is not much better in this department and the inferior defense of the Elephants has been weak as a result.

Seo, the weak link, is averaging 20.4 points per game, which is good enough to rank him third overall in the league. His 7.4 rebounds per game rank him 10th in the league. Among domestic players in the league, Seo is first in scoring and second in rebounds. His offensive game is as polished as it comes among Korean players in the league. However, critics say Seo is merely focusing on his offense and has been lazy on defense. There is also a criticism that Seo is more concerned with his personal statistics, resulting in poor team chemistry. In addition, there are rumors that the veteran center is alienating himself from his teammates.

The slow start has taken its toll on Park Jong-chun, the Elephants’ head coach. He is currently sidelined after collapsing due to stress. Assistant coach Yoo Do-hoon has temporarily taken over head coaching duties.

Yoo decided to exclude Seo from the lineup for the Nov. 8 game against KT, a team which boasts a lot of speed. However, when the team began to trail halfway into the first quarter, Yoo inserted Seo, who went after rebounds and played hard on defense. The game plan didn’t help: ET Land lost 99-87.

“I think such criticisms are because we got off to a slow start,” Yoo said. “Basketball is a team sport and a single player cannot win or lose games. During tough stretches, people tend to focus on the negatives rather than the positives. Since we have focused on improving our defense, our offense has lagged.”


By Kim Woo-chul [jason@joongang.co.kr]

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