After opening the season with a pair of narrow defeats, UCD Marian finally got their first W with a convincing 79-56 rout of Templeogue. Almost as important as the win however was Preston Ross ascending into his role on the floor with authority, writes Emmet Ryan.
It’s the story of any import coming into the Irish League. How quickly they adapt to being the offensive focus decides how effective they are in this league. Preston Ross is no different to most players who hit these shores, he has come from a college career where he was a role player into a position where he is counted on to lead and there is little time to get used to the adjustment. All through pre-season Ross was saying the right things, how he needed to work on his aggression. In a 21 points and 12 rebound performance against Killester he showed he had jumped forward but on Saturday night, he arrived.
The numbers, 20 points and 9 boards, understate the manner with which Ross brutalised Templeogue. In the Killester game, he was the best UCD Marian player on the floor but against Templeogue he flat out owned it. The damage was done early and often. Ross briefly tested the outside but quickly realised he could assault the lane at will. It was Ross’ willingness to go into double and triple coverage that showed he got this league. Either Ross bulldozed through for the score or he drew the foul. Just 6 days earlier he was looking to get around these situations. By going through them he quickly aided UCD Marian into a double digit lead they would never relinquish. Ross sat for the bulk of the second half, his work done and victory all but assured.
This was not an easy night for Templeogue but it was a point of progress. Having been taken to the cleaners in both of their previous encounters, the west Dublin club kept some order on proceedings for the first 5 minutes of the game. That may read like faint praise but this young line-up had go into big holes early in their first two games of the year. Living with UCD Marian for that long may be a small step but it showed some order.
Their is still a heap of work for coach Mark Keenan to do. On the fast break his charges looked inept, rarely getting a second man up in support. Defensively they had aggression but sorely lacked focus. At 0-3 this is a team that looks like it still hasn’t shaken off the rust of pre-season. There is still time, particularly if they can fill the import slot or get Conor Grace healthy, but more importantly it’s about getting the core to keep cool heads when games go against them early.
For UCD Marian’s captain it was a particularly sweet celebration as Conor Meany scored 18 points and picked up 5 assists the day after he turned 28. It was however a game where coach Ioannis Liapakis felt more could have gone his side’s way. Leading by 23 in the third, Liapakis was looking to give his back-ups the whole fourth frame but some lapses down the stretch meant the Greek had to keep his starters in to start the final quarter before eventually getting some time for the rest of his charges.
A final note
This was our first ever broadcast of a game and a big thanks to everyone who tuned in last night. We will be announcing more live games in the coming days and weeks.