Nuggets veteran Mark Dickel will have wife Ashley and sons
(from left) Boston (3), Jalen (7) and Madden (5) watching
every big play this season. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Otago Nuggets guard Mark Dickel has spent his basketball
career putting other people in scoring positions.
When it comes to passing, the Tall Black point guard is one
of the best in the business.
But one thing he will not pass is the buck. No matter where
he plays in the world or what team he is playing for, it is
That is how he views it and now he is back playing for the
Nuggets - where his career began in 1993 - the job of
rescuing the franchise's reputation has fallen squarely on
his shoulders and he would not have it any other way.
"I'm well aware the team is only going to go as well as I
play," he said.
"I know the responsibility and the pressure is on me but I
"If you want to act like you are the man then you have to go
out on the court and perform like that. I'm looking forward
to the opportunity, I've prepared well, I'm fit and have been
working hard for the last four or five months with no
Dickel has a big job ahead of him. The reality is the Nuggets
have won just 11 games since 2005 and have been anchored at
the bottom of the competition table.
Dickel might be confident but he is also realistic. The
assist only counts if the player you pass the ball to can
complete the scoring move.
"We have to say to ourselves it is about going out every game
and giving ourselves a chance of winning. I don't think we
can sit here and say there are a number of wins or losses
that is acceptable because you don't want to put limits on
"But we have to let every team know that, hey, it is not
going to be an easy game against us. We have to give
ourselves a chance to win in every game and, once we are at
that point, then the wins will come.
"We've got to defend our home court and try to win games on
the road. That is what every good team does. I've always been
on teams which have won and I have no expectation other than
to win. I pride myself on that.
"But, if you want to be good, then you have to put in the
work. It is just that simple."
On that score, Dickel can not fault his team-mates. The
Nuggets have had a "crew of five or six" training since
But the late arrival of imports Antoine Tisby and Akeem
Wright, coupled with the fact the Nuggets have not played any
pre-season games, has led some to question whether the team
is ready for its opening match against the Harbour Heat in
The Nuggets will also be without Breakers duo BJ Anthony and
Leon Henry for the opening month. That means players such as
Riki Buckrell and Sam King will have to fill the void. They
are not in the same class as Anthony or Henry but Dickel has
faith in the local talent.
"Obviously BJ and Leon are good players but we've got good
players here, too. They are going to get their opportunity -
I'm speaking of Riki Buckrell, Sam King, Ethan Carruthers,
Matt Trueman and James Ross. They are going to get their
chance and I think they are pretty good.
"And as long as people play the way they are capable of, we
are going to win our share of games.
"Up until now, they haven't really taken the chances they
have had. But they are more mature now and are ready to step
The Nuggets should be productive under the basket this
season. Tisby led the league in rebounds during his first
stint with the Nuggets in 2008 and can certainly score. And
Wright is expected to be a solid all-rounder. He rebounds, he
can cut to the basket and is a good defender.
Dickel will drive the offence and when Anthony and Henry
arrive, the franchise will have a dangerous starting five.
But until Henry arrives, the Nuggets will not have a proven
outside shooter and will have to look to attack on the
The bench struggled to make an impact last season and depth
will continue to be a problem for the Nuggets this season.
But for the first time since 2005, the franchise has
assembled a roster capable of delivering more than two or
three wins it has had to settle for during the last seven
How they look
Record since 2005: 11-93
Record during last two years: 2-30 (2010, 0-16; 2011,
Gains: Tall Blacks Mark Dickel, BJ Anthony and Leon
Henry and imports Antoine Tisby and Akeem Wright.
Losses: Former Tall Black Craig Bradshaw, Sam
To'omata, Tom Rowe, Mark Morrison and imports Lance Allred
and Scott O'Gallagher.
Key player: Dickel will drive the offence with his
superb passing game and he is a tenacious defender.
Strengths: The Nuggets have a formidable forward line
with Tisby, Wright and Anthony, and should get good ball with
Dickel running the plays.
Weaknesses: Breakers duo Anthony and Henry will miss
the opening month, and making outside shots could be an
Squad: Dickel, Tisby, Wright, Anthony, Henry, James
Ross, Sam King, Riki Buckrell, Matt Trueman, Tom Ingham,
Damon Cleverley, Tom Allan, Olly Smith, Ethan Carruthers,
Coach: Alf Arlidge (third season).