T N T is dynamite for Sharks
TNT: Explosive, destructive, powerful in the right mixture. Such has been the effect that the Westfield Sharks Sheffield backcourt of Travis 'n' Terrell in the opening quarter of the season. Pure dynamite. American duo Terrell Myers and Travis Conlan have become firm buddies on and off the court since the latter arrived in the summer of 98 in Yorkshire. With a stellar collegiate pedigree from Michigan Wolverines, Conlan might have had realistic hopes of joining his draft pick classmate Robert "Tractor" Traylor in the NBA, but with that route closed at present, an Internet search led the 23 year old to the Sharks, much to the delight of their coach Chris Finch. Harnessed in tandem with second year shooter Myers, the pairing have proved an irresistable force in Sheffield's best ever start to a season. Chemistry ? In spades.
"It's working really well between us so far", enthused Conlan (pictured left in a college match up with ex-Shark John Amaechi), "and it's been hard for other teams because we've got such a good inside presence as well, so if they double us inside, we've got Terrell and myself and a lot of other guys outside who can shoot, so it's hard for a team to stop us. The two if us have been working in training together and I believe that it is always good for the point guard to work with the off guard, because he's the main guy with the ball for getting the guys open and I've learnt to read Terrell and how he comes off a screens and what he likes to do and what he doesn't like to do and where he's most comfortable."
For Sharks playcaller Chris Finch, unparalleled early success has been a major talking point in his second season in charge at the Yorkshire giants. Finding the right combinations from day one is often an elusive quality, but Finch can feel some personal pleasure at the manner in which his starting guard pairing has gelled. Playing a big part in Sharks early Budweiser League leadership according to their coach.
"They have been a huge influence. They give us different things. Travis gives us great defence, steady point guard and offence when we need it. I like they way he plays."
"Terrell gives us pretty much instant offense, putting points on when we need them in a hurry. He's been consistently scoring so far with that great combination in the backcourt and they also set up guys around them."
Conlan was quick to return the compliment, praising the coaching strategy which is flexible enough let the dynamite duo do their thang. "Chris lets us play, let's us do the things we can do and puts the structure round that so we can get on with it, which makes us play a lot better. I wish I was shooting a little better but it is my rookie season and I'm still working on a few things and getting used to the different venues we play at."
As for the other half of the combo, the future looks equally rosy with one Player of the Month title already in his hip pocket. Despite the team's winning start to the season being curtailed after a mammoth twelve straight wins, Myers (right) acknowledges the debt he owes to his colleague and new buddy Conlan. Is it good for him also?
"It is great for me, especially as we share a place together so we can decide what we're going to do before a game ! He's moves the ball around, he's an excellent defender, and he reads me and I read him so we feed off each other. He's made me a better offensive player, which you can see in my numbers but importantly, this year the team want me to score, which I 'm happy with. Without Travis, I wouldn't have that, so I'm glad to have him on my team."
With the sad loss of Matt Gaudio to the team, Sharks are likely to require extra points from somewhere and the obvious route would seem to come from the hands of Conlan. Does Finch see it that way ?
"We don't necessarily need points from him but as the season goes on and more people key on Terrell, Travis will give us an alternative option. However, the most important thing is the team and how it fits and our backcourt has combined better than I even expected, fitting together real well. And they bonded straight way on the court and off it also which is a big plus."
Following in the path of Lewis and Brown, Burks and White, Jordan and Harper (OK, maybe not..), Sharks' new stick of dynamite is flaming and continuing to explode. All that remains is for the early promise to fulfil itself in the delivery of some trophyware to Sheffield this side of May 99. Something perhaps for Conlan and Myers to place atop their mantlepiece at home.
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