Mike Kelly saw plenty of what he wanted from the new-look Taipans in his first game in charge of an NBL team.
There was one big thing missing from Mike Kelly’s vision of the new Cairns Taipans in his NBL debut, but it didn’t stop him creating a slice of history.
The long-time assistant celebrated his promotion with an 88-70 dismantling of the Bullets in Brisbane, becoming the first Taipans coach to win on debut and just the second debutant in NBL history to win on the road by 18 points or more.
Taking the helm from long-time mentor Aaron Fearne, Kelly has overhauled the roster to the point where only three men remain from last year’s squad.
Chief among the qualities Kelly was looking for in his recruits was the ability to shoot from distance, which is ironic given the side managed just five of 24 three-point attempts in their season opener.
“I want to be known as a team that competes every night and plays hard all the time, plays for each other, which I think they did tonight,” Kelly said.
“I want to be known as a good shooting team also, so that’s going to take some work.
“This is a brand new team … I think we have the guys that compete in this league.”
Their shooting woes were offset by an ability to get to the free throw line 22 times more than the Bullets.
The visitors shot 25-of-33 compared to Brisbane’s 10-of-11, with imported guard Melo Trimble managing 14-of-16 from the charity stripe on his own.
Trimble, a 23-year-old NBA prospect from Maryland, turned heads with his efforts and is comfortable knowing he’s now a marked man.
“I tried not to panic, stay poised, stay confident and looking for a shot to hit,” he said of his early shooting struggles.
“But I don’t try to worry about me individually, I worry about the team and how we’re going to win.”