SK Knights’ woes hinder them in the postOnce tabbed to make a strong push for the title in the postseason, the SK Knights basketball team is reeling. Having acquired last season’s Most Valuable Player in point guard Joo Hee-jung, along with former NBA veteran Samaki Walker, in the offseason, SK looked to be in good shape to contend for a title. However, with a record of eight wins and 24 losses, SK is currently 16.5 games behind league leader Mobis Phoebus.
To make matters worse, SK tied their all-time team record of 11 consecutive losses when they lost 91-75 to KT on Sunday. It was a lopsided game in which the Knights looked overmatched from the start.
The Knights started the season by winning their first four games, but have since posted four wins and 24 losses.
“Even when we were playing well at the start of the season, my assessment of the team was that it was a mediocre squad,” stated SK head coach Shin Sun-woo.
Shin believes there are three reasons for his team’s struggles. The first is the failure of overseas players and domestic players to gel with one another.
“The playing style of the overseas players doesn’t fit well with that of the domestic players,” Shin explained. “That is part of the reason why the domestic players are going through a slump at the moment.”
Walker and Joe Dabbert are big men who tend to guard the post area and their lack of speed has excluded them from fast break plays. But since Joo is a point guard whose greatest strength is his up-tempo offensive style, he has not been as effective this season as in the past. Joo is averaging 10.4 points, 6.2 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game this season. That’s a significant drop from the 15.1 points, 8.3 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 2.3 steals he averaged last season.
Shin added that newly-acquired forward Joe Krabbenhoft “is a player who likes to run on fast breaks.”
The second reason for SK’s woes is forward Kim Min-soo, who has been hampered by injuries this season because he did not have a chance to recover from injuries he incurred while playing on the national team last summer. He also broke his cheekbone early in the season. The sophomore forward was a runner-up for the top rookie award last season, when he averaged 14.3 points, five rebounds and 38.7 percent from beyond the arc. This season, Kim’s numbers have not been dropped much. He’s shooting 14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 33.3 percent from the three-point line. However, due to his injuries, Kim has been hesitant to attack the paint and he has become a perimeter player.
Shin also talked about player mentality as a possible reason for the team’s lackluster performance. With national team players like Joo, Kim and Bang Sung-yoon on the roster, Shin said that some players were too focused on the spotlight and their personal stats.
“Despite these struggles, I see that my players are putting in the effort and I’m seeing gradual changes as a result,” Shin said. “It will take some time but I will lead this team with a clear goal and purpose.”
By Kim Woo-chul, Jason Kim [email@example.com]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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