The dust had settled and the chatter had slowed since the Melbourne Tigers parted company with import Corey “Homicide” Williams and Head Coach Darryl McDonald in April. With fans up in arms and new Head Coach Trevor Gleeson under a barrage of “Twitter fire”, the ball was definitely in the Tigers’ court. What a difference a month can make however as news emerges that Melbourne are on the verge of securing some significant signatures. Not only have Melbourne already signed Aussies Liam Rush and Daniel Dillion but they appear to be close to securing the services of (seemingly) ex-Taipans Ron Dorsey and Ayinde Ubaka. If you’re talking about securing impact players with a flair for the dramatic, the Tigers seem to be checking the right boxes after all.
Let’s take a look at these four players in a little more detail with some assistance from our recent Podcast guest, Melbourne Tigers captain Cam Tragardh.
Daniel Dillon – 6’3″ SG/SF
Having just completed a very “sneakily good” season with the Cairns Taipans, Daniel Dillon is a sensational addition to the Melbourne Tigers roster. Known first for being a scrappy defender Dillon showed off his offense in Game Three of the NBL Semi-Final series against then-Townsville Coach Trevor Gleeson’s Crocs with a 21 point outburst.
“Daniel is young but tough and his signature is a real coup for the club. I love the way he competes, he is a very good defender and he is improving with each game,” Gleeson said.
When asked about Dillon, Melbourne Tigers captain Cam Tragardh had this to say;
“He (Dillon) is a tough, hard nosed defender whose addition will be very beneficial to our squad“.
All in all a very positive move for Melbourne. Grade: B+
Liam Rush – 6’8″ PF
Liam Rush is a former Australian Boomer, 2007 NBL Most Improved Player and 2009 Bosman Player of the Year in the Swedish “Ligan” National competition. These sorts of credentials don’t land on player resumes by accident and Rush will bring seven years of pro experience to the Tigers. Averaging 18.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals for Sweden’s Sundsvall Dragons earlier this year, Rush will bring another hard-nosed defender to the pack and also look to continue his shooting form from deep where he connected on close to 44% last season.
From Trevor Gleeson;
“I have tried to recruit Liam before, he ticks all the boxes. He is a proven player at this level who can play multiple positions, is athletic and can shoot the ball well.”
Another solid pick up for mine as the Tigers roster starts to take shape. Grade: B+
Now let’s take a look at two players rumoured to be joining the Tiger Army but are yet to put pen to paper.
Ron Dorsey – 6’6″ SF
“Ronny Real Nice” as he is affectionately known on Twitter is a freakish athlete who can play high above the rim. A native of Detroit, Michigan Ron has experienced Basketball all over the world since attending College at McNeese State from 2003-2005.
After a slow start to his 2011 NBL campaign, Dorsey showed what he was capable of throughout the season by demonstrating a “Jack of all trades” type of skill-set. His season averages certainly backed that up as he accumulated 13.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.4 steals per game for Cairns.
Dorsey had some mixed results in the 2011 NBL Playoffs. His NBL Finals Game Two (22p, 9rb, 6x3pt) was as equally memorable as his Game Three was forgettable (4p, 2-13 FG including 0-8 from behind the arc) where the Taipans fell to the New Zealand Breakers in that deciding game.
If you’re building for a Championship run though, Ron looks like a guy who can deliver and paired with Melbourne’s other additions, I like this move. Potential Grade: A-
Ayinde Ubaka – 6’4″ PG
I’ve saved the best for last as this guy is going to be a superstar this season if he lands in Melbourne. A scoring Point Guard with a knack for the dramatic, Ubaka has been a handful for many opponents over the past three NBL seasons. Averaging 13.9 points, 4 assists and 2.7 rebounds a game last season for Cairns, Ubaka is widely considered an incredibly tough player to match up on. I think we will see a more distribution-oriented side of his game within Gleeson’s system with an emphasis on spreading the floor and creating for others as well as himself.
Cam Tragardh had this to say when asked about the free agent Ubaka;
“He (Ubaka) is a genuine superstar every night which I think he proved at Gold Coast as well as Cairns”
Much like Dorsey, Ubaka would probably like to forget Game Three of the NBL Finals where he registered only seven points on 2-13 shooting but like all athletes he will relish the opportunity to bounce back in Melbourne. I still vividly remember his 32 point explosion against the Tigers last season which included five treys, a simply awesome performance. Potential Grade: A-
Once again, if Melbourne can land these two high quality players (which looks likely at this point) it will go a long way to re-establishing success for a club that Cam Tragardh refers to as “the Manchester United of the NBL“.
Things certainly look better than they did four weeks ago.