THE Griffith Demons’ undefeated start to the State League basketball season will go on the line tomorrow night, when they host arch rivals the Wagga Heat at West End Stadium.
Griffith has enjoyed one of its best starts to a season since its reintroduction to the statewide competition, but due to a scheduling abnormality, tomorrow’s clash will be their first in five weeks.
Demons coach Andrew Cullen said the extended break has seen his side focus on readying their bodies for the hectic run towards the playoffs.
“Individually we’re good, we’ve probably lost about 30 kilos across the whole side and we’ve replaced that with muscle so we’re in better shape than what we were,” Cullen said.
“But game time is just something that we’re lacking at the moment, and we travel so much as it is, we can’t really go and drop a trial game on somebody to compensate.”
Griffith, who has beaten Wagga in all but one home game in the past four seasons, is set to field a full-strength squad for the first time this season, with the time off from games giving guard Nick Cullen time to get over a niggling calf strain.
“He seems OK at this stage, but he can only be tested at game speed, and that’s where it comes undone (reinjured),” Andrew said of his brother’s injury.
“But we’re going to have a full squad, and I’m looking to going to implement a ‘buddy system’ so guys can attack defensively.
“I’m really worried about our defensive, we’ll score points, so to me if we’re committed defensively we’ll be looking to try and shut them down, so keep guys fresh and harass them (Wagga).”
American import Alex Chapman will also grace West End Stadium for only the second time in his tenure as a Demon, with the 208cm centre making a big impression in his short time in the side.
Chapman has proven to be a force on the defensive glass and an imposing presence in the post on the offensive end, but Cullen said he does not expect miracles from his big man tomorrow.
“It’s an unknown quantity how he’ll come out of this break, it’s weird enough for us let alone an American who played twice a week back home” he said.
“I’m not expecting a championship game from any of us, you have to be realistic if any team is going to blow out it’s going to be Wagga because this is their ninth game and it ours fourth.
“But I’m not going to go into any of that because there are no excuses and it (the draw) is what it is.”
Sadness will be present at the start of tomorrow night’s game, with the Griffith players all wearing black armbands in memory of David Graham, with a minute’s silence to honour one of Griffith basketball’s greatest servants.
Tip-off between the Griffith Demons and the Wagga Heat will be at 6.30pm at West End Stadium tomorrow.