Straight Up: Do the Sharks have heart?

There were two very different performances to mark the start of a second season played in the temporary home at the Illustrious Laurie Tall velodrome during the week.
First we had the Southern Steel barnstorming their way to a 49-47 win Monday night over last year’s beaten semi-finallist Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic.
Forty-eight hours later we had the Southland Sharks going down 85-74 to the Otago Nuggets, a result which sees the Sharks go to 0-2 in their season series against the Nugs and 2-6 for the competition as a whole.
First the Steel.
Tweeting during the game I was critical of how quickly they handed back a six-goal advantage, but no sooner had I done that than the Magic, a team packed with a lot more experience than the home side, did the same thing.
I couldn’t believe how much ball the Magic threw away. If you didn’t know better you would suggest the fix had come in from Mumbai or wherever.
Spot fixing is an unlikely scenario in netball at this point, but so was a first up win over the Magic.
It was a very good performance by a Steel team which drew heavily on the competitiveness of skipper Jodi Brown and her shooting partner Donna Wilkins.
Before this week I considered Steel to be a in a three-way mini-series with the Pulse and Tactix to avoid the wooden spoon.
I don’t think I was alone in that assessment, and one result doesn’t change anything, but it does point to the character which exists in this team.
That character does not appear to be evident in the Sharks.
There is a mercenary element to basketball which is unavoidable when teams are built around imports who are used to being traded like bubblegum cards.
It must be hard to give fully of yourself to a team which only needs you as long as you are performing. I guess that’s the meaning of professionalism, as it applies to professional sport.
The Sharks have had it tough with a long road programme to start the season, but it’s hard to imagine they would be in the situation they are in if they showed the sort of ticker that Wilkins displayed on Wednesday night.
Steel are undergoing a rebuilding phase both on and off the court and the win over the Magic could not have come at a better time.
It showed heart, desire and pride in the uniform.
Their basketball stablemates could do well to take the example to heart.


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