KCC struggles out of gate

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KCC struggles out of gate

It’s not unusual for the Jeonju KCC Egis to pick up its pace towards the latter half of the season, but in losing all three of its games so far, the team is tied for last in the Korean Basketball League.

On Wednesday, last season’s runner-up KCC trailed the LG Sakers by 10 points or more for the majority of the game before losing 97-86.

KCC has not started the season with three consecutive losses since the 2001-02 season, and to make matters worse, center Ha Seung-jin will be at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games next month, missing nine league games. Now the Egis is relying heavily on Jeon Tae-poong.

But one of the biggest reasons for KCC’s struggles early on has been Jeon’s inability to lead the Egis offense. Opposing teams have done a good job of containing him. When Jeon does manage to get the ball, he often doesn’t have enough time to settle into a play and is forced to make a pass or throw up a shot in haste.

“With opposing teams containing Jeon, all the other KCC players are struggling as well,” said MBC Sports commentator Choo Il-seung. “There’s now a consensus around the league that a win against KCC is possible if Jeon is contained.”

Pressed hard and forced to play out of his element, Jeon failed to provide crisp passes from the backcourt and ended the game against LG with three assists.

The lackluster play of KCC’s big men is another problem. Facing the likely prospect of missing Ha Seung-jin from the lineup in the early portion of the season, Egis head coach Hur Jae signed Chris Daniels and Sylvester Seay in the offseason. Daniels is listed at 204.8-centimeters (6 feet, 7 inches) and Seay at 205.7-centimeters. Since KCC lacks a solid power forward, Hur needs the two Americans to produce in the paint, but the two have mostly been settling for perimeter shots.

“Daniels and Seay have to grind it out in the paint in order to create chances for others on the perimeter, but the two players have no presence in the low post at the moment,” said MBC Sports commentator Lee Sang-yoon.

Seay was limited to five rebounds against LG on Wednesday night, while Daniels was held to one rebound. A stagnant offense has been coupled with a worsening defence, which allowed an average of 79.2 points per game last season - but has allowed 90 so far this season.

During the 2001-02 season, KCC got off to a 2-12 start before winning 10 consecutive games at the end of the season to finish third overall.

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