Double trouble for Werribee Devils

Werribee Devils' David Shepard. Picture Shawn Smits.

By Lance Jenkinson

Werribee Devils have been hard done by when it comes to Big V basketball men’s state championship fixturing.

The Devils barely got to celebrate their second win of the campaign on Saturday night when they had another clash just 17 hours later.

Double header weekends are a fact of life for state championship teams, but the Devils seem to be the team hit hardest by the short turnarounds.

Devils coach Warren Estcourt said his side went into Sunday’s game against McKinnon Cougars fatigued.

The Devils were no match for the league-leading team, losing 107-79 at the Glen Eira Sports and Aquatic Centre.

“We’ve had four double headers already and we’ve got seven this year, which is the most in the league,” Estcourt said.

“In six of those double headers, the team we play on the Sunday doesn’t play the night before, so that puts us up against the wall to start with.

“McKinnon didn’t play last night and today was our fourth game in nine days, so it was always going to be a tough ask.”

It took a little bit of the gloss off Werribee’s thrilling 93-91 victory over the Chelsea Gulls at Eagle Stadium on Saturday night.

“It was a bit of relief to get the win,” Estcourt said.

“It was our first home win, so it was like what do we do now, ‘ahh that’s right, go and thank the crowd’.”

The Devils led for most of the way, but the Gulls had a shot with four seconds on the clock that could have taken the game to overtime.

“We played well and deserved the win,” Estcourt said.

Werribee has been a slowburn this season as Estcourt tries to find the winning combinations.

The Werribee Devils coach is working with a largely new crop of players with only three returning from last season.

“It was always going to be a very tough situation when you’ve got nine guys to integrate into the program,” he said.

“We’ve changed our rotations a bit in the last three weeks, which I think has helped.

“We’ve got a little bit smaller, a little bit quicker and that’s certainly paid dividends.”

Werribee’s schedule will settle down over the next month. The Devils have no more double headers until the middle of July and have their next two games at home.

Estcourt believes the next four games, starting with Blackburn Vikings at Eagle Stadium on Sunday, are there for the taking.

“If we can win these next four games, we’d be up to six wins and right back in the mix,” he said.

“They’re all winnable.”

Estcourt has been impressed with Werribee’s imports this season.

Konor Kulas was a familiar face, returning to the team after a successful first season as import last winter.

David Shepard has been a revelation, leading the league in scoring with 26.6 points per game.

It is the all-round package that Kulas and Shepard provide the Devils that has Estcourt most impressed.

“They work really hard during the week, they go to the gym every day, they shoot around every day, they stretch, they eat well, they work out a lot.

“They’re just very professional.”

Jacob Formosa is the pick of the locals so far as he has averaged 15.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.

Recruits Darcy Daniels and Livai Smith, both from Melbourne Tigers, have fitted into the Devils line-up seamlessly, while Kristian Zjak entered the starting line-up at the weekend.