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Winnipeg Muster 27 Point Comeback To Beat Rattlers And Win Two In A Row

After taking a look at the halftime score, I would never have told you that the Winnipeg Sea Bears had any shot of coming back against the Saskatchewan Rattlers. A combination of bad interior defence and tough shot making from the Rattlers had the Sea Bears down big early on, at most 27 at one point. Then miraculously in the second half Winnipeg woke up, finding a way to get stops and more sufficient offence. Getting into Target Time, still down 10, they made another mini comeback to take the lead, then jostling with Saskatchewan to hold on to the lead. Then finally, after both teams had multiple lacklustre possessions, Justin Wright-Foreman put up a less than subpar pull up jumper that was cleaned up by Emmanuel Akot, who putback the miss for the 103-101 victory. It was a very weird, up and down performance for both teams.

With the quick recap out of the way, let’s get into the three keys from this one.

What Even Is Defence?

This is a statement I’ve made a couple times this season and it comes up again in this one too. Giving up over 50 points in a first half is not a recipe to success, especially if you aren’t keeping up on the other end as well. The biggest issue in this one was their interior defence, which was almost non-existent. Any of the Rattlers that wanted at the rim could get there and they were shooting a high percentage. Because of those east early looks, when Winnipeg would contest, those tough shots would drop because Saskatchewan was now in a rhythm. As angry as I want to get for their first half performance, they turned it up in the second to comeback into the game. Coach Mike Taylor’s adjustment was to simply deny them any paint touches period and force tough midrange jumpers and contested threes (which is what they should be trying to do anyways). This was mainly done by trying to play less one on one defence and rather more help from the weak side and having off ball defenders dig into driving ball handlers. This seemed to disrupt a lot of what the Rattlers were trying to do and flustered them quite a bit. Sea Bears need to do more on defence in creating chaos, as I think that’s when they’re at their best going forward.

Hitting Shots On Offence

Other than terrible interior defence, another reason that the Sea Bears were down at half was because they just could not hit any open shots. That completely changed in the second half and was mainly due to making more threes than Saskatchewan (15-8). The ball movement for most of the game was really good, and they got open looks that they just needed to cash in. The will win more games than lose if they can continue with the offensive execution.

Different Team In Target Time

In 2023, the Winnipeg Sea Bears struggled in Target Time, being up and down most of the season, trying to find how they wanted to execute down the stretch and it cost them some games. This season it is much more improved, with many of the players having much more experience in Target Time, as well as being able to execute and not panic like we saw last summer. Their last two games being down going in, then quickly cutting that deficit to a more manageable amount. It’s been so refreshing to see this team do it multiple times when they’ve gotten in reach before the under four minute mark. Very encouraging to see and makes me excited for later in the season on how this could help them secure more victories.

With my three keys from this game out of the way, let’s get into the individual performances!

Justin Wright-Foreman

Not the prettiest shooting splits from JWF, but he scored in bunch in that third quarter to lead the Sea Bears charge. Brough the turnovers down and still distributed the ball decently well. Was just enough for Winnipeg to get the win.

Alex Campbell

This was the type of game I had been expecting to happen for Campbell already this season. Getting into the offence more, causing chaos on defence and being a big contributor on both ends of the floor. His best game of the year so far.

Mason Bourcier

Another not so pretty shooting split night for Bourcier, but still hit the important shots when the Sea Bears needed him to. Great rebounding and secondary playmaking as well. I do wonder if he continues to start once Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson is back up to speed, but I feel Bourcier’s two-way play is needed in the starting 5. Another solid performance.

Simon Hildebrandt

A somewhat quiet game for Hildebrandt, where he didn’t make a huge impact. Hit a three, grabbed a couple rebounds and did have a crazy highlight reel block, but no real other contributions. He was on the bench down the stretch of this one and would hazard a guess will be coming off the bench once more on Thursday against Niagara because another bench players fantastic performance.

Byron Mullens

It’s hard to say what Mullens’ role is on this team at this point. He’s struggled to really get his footing and has looked quite off for a while now. After starting the game, he ended up playing only 6 minutes in this one and looked out of place. Hopefully coach Mike Taylor can find a way to incorporate him, or he may be the third American to part ways with Winnipeg this season.

Emmanuel Akot

Saturday nights saviour. When it felt like JWF had to do all the heavy lifting, Akot has once again stepped up and made a huge difference. 23 points, five rebounds (four offensive!), five assists, multiple big shots and none bigger than the game winner. I have been so impressed with his level of play so far and really think that he becomes a starter as of next game.

David Muenkat

After having a fantastic debut on Winnipeg’s road trip, it’s been a slow burn for Muenkat on offence. But what’s he’s doing to make up for it is his amazing rebounding. 13 in this one, along with four offensive boards. Still trying to find his consistent footing on the offensive end, but he’s making a difference in other places. If he can get both going, he could be another X-factor for coach Taylor.

Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson

Having missed the last two games due to a back injury, JOJ slotted into this one on the bench. He provided some offensive flare hitting a couple threes and looking quite comfortable once more. I’m not sure if he takes back over a starting spot over Bourcier, but I can definitely see it happening. I personally think that with how the roster makeup is now with JWF that he would be a perfect fit as an off the bench scorer.

Chad Posthumus

Everything about Posthumus’ game has been said so many times already this season. A couple scores, hustle defence and being a threat on the glass. Just super solid backup big minutes.

Shane Osayande

Not much to say about Osayande’s performance in this one. Was sort of invisible out there, but that isn’t a bad thing when you’re trying to steal minutes away for your starters.

While it wasn’t even close to the prettiest win on the season, at the halfway point the Sea Bears are 5-5. With how everything has played out after the first 10 games, I would say that sitting at .500 is a solid record. This is a tough Western Conference and when your struggling to get consistency, with some of the other distractions, it’s hard to string wins together. I do believe that the second half of this season will go much better than the first, just based on a hopeful thought that continuity will kick in. Vancouver and Edmonton look like they’re going to be battling for first, while the other three teams are going to be in a dog fight for those final two playoffs spots. Thursday at home against the Niagara River Lions should be a very interesting test.

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