THE fact that the Geraldton Buccaneers sit in fourth position at 9-4 despite coach Dayle Joseph feeling they have significant growth to go in the 2019 Men’s SBL is reason for excitement at the Buccs with new import DeAngelo Isby to debut this weekend.
The Buccaneers have started the season well to currently hold a 9-4 record coming off a narrow Saturday night loss on the road to the Joondalup Wolves and backing it up on Sunday with a 20-point win against the East Perth Eagles.
They are back on the road for a double-header this weekend against both the Willetton Tigers and Cockburn Cougars.
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But they have placed themselves nicely considering they have now let go import Willie Connor and played three games now without Brayden Inger, one without Colter Lasher, two without James Paringatai and two without Matt Wundenberg along the way.
With new import DeAngelo Isby having spent last week with the team and making the road trip with them despite not suiting up to play, he is set to go this weekend.
Considering the unsettled nature of the first half of the season, coach Dayle Joseph is looking forward to seeing how the Buccs grow.
They have already done well to be 9-4 but he has no doubt they have plenty of growth left in them as the season progresses with Isby fitting in and then once Inger returns from injury.
“This weekend just proves that at times you get challenged throughout the year for different reasons,” Joseph said.
“Last year the group went through injuries and people away at the end of the year when it counted a bit more, but it was good we responded this weekend and I think we’ll be alright moving forward.
“In the second half of the season was when we always planned on being at our best and hopefully that is the way we are tracking.”
Isby arrives at the Buccaneers with strong credentials having played his college basketball at Utah State as a junior for the 2017/18 season.
The 22-year-old 6’5 swingman has arrived in Geraldton fresh off his first season as a pro in Slovakia and Joseph is looking forward to what he can provide his Buccs group that already has plenty of weapons.
“He is going to give us a couple of different options. He plays with a lot of energy and he seems like a fun guy who loves his basketball,” he said.
“Hopefully that will breed through the team as well and like I said to the guys at half-time of the game on Sunday, everyone was a bit down on ourselves even though we were in front but not playing our best.
“But ultimately you are there to have fun and enjoy the game, and I think adding DeAngelo to our group will help us to do that. But I mean he can score, he looks like he is a pretty good defender and he has already fitted into the team easily as well.”
While Joseph has nothing but good things to say about the now departed Conner who was averaging 12.9 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists a game while also top-scoring with 21 points in his last appearance against Perry Lakes, he’s excited at what different attributes Isby now provides.
“Obviously we haven’t had him in a game situation yet but it appears like he is going to be able to add something different for us. I think he is going to add what we were looking for,” Joseph said.
“Willie was a great player and in another team, he probably would have been a perfect fit in the SBL, but for us to go forward and achieve what we want to achieve I think we needed to make that change.”
The Buccs have been able to continue to perform well in recent weeks despite Conner being out injured and now released, and now awaiting Isby receiving his clearance to play with not only 381-game veteran Aaron Ralph stepping up, but Marcus Alipate and Brendan Dinardo holding down the back court.
That included strong performances from both in Sunday’s win against East Perth where Alipate delivered 35 points, six rebounds and six assists, and Dinardo 10 points, five rebounds and three assists.
“We’ve been pretty lucky to have Brendan land on our doorstep to come and play for us, and he’s giving us more and more every week,” Joseph said.
“With us being a bit light on this week, he got a starting position and he just gives us so many different looks as we go into the second half of the season with DeAngelo coming in who will give us another look as well.
“Hopefully we will have some different options in that back court with some different looks to make us not so predictable.”
The Buccaneers won’t quite be at full strength during this week’s road trip against the Tigers and Cougars with Kiwi Brayden Inger to stay back in Geraldton.
But Joseph would rather his power forward miss a couple more games and then be fully healthy the rest of the season while playing hindered with the problem the rest of the campaign.
“He may miss this weekend as well I think, but that’s probably more a precautionary thing,” Joseph said.
“As we look forward to the second half of the season I think it will be better to have everyone fully healthy and not playing them weeks on end while carrying something and trying to get them through. I think we’ll rest him again for the next road trip and then see how we go after that.”