United to let imports loose on Blitz rivals
MELBOURNE United coach Dean Vickerman plans to unshackle imports Casper Ware and DJ Kennedy in the NBL Blitz, starting Thursday night against Adelaide 36ers in Bendigo.
The NBL champions play three games across four days before heads turn towards the whirlwind NBA-NBL pre-season blockbusters against Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors.
A depleted United has dropped two of its past four outings, narrow losses to Sydney Kings and Cairns Taipans, without the likes of Ware, Boone, Kennedy and Mitch McCarron.
"They'll (imports) play real minutes," Vickerman said.
"We'll be smart about it just to make sure their conditioning is at a point they can handle three games, but I think in two out of the three games they'll play minutes very close to what they will play during the season."
Boomers McCarron and Chris Goulding could be used sparingly against the 36ers after fulfilling World Cup qualifying commitments.
Vickerman is likely to use the Blitz to bed down rotations, having signalled a willingness to tinker with the line-up this season depending on match-ups and quick turnaround fixtures.
"It's going to be so important, the deeper rosters this year, 22 of our 28 games are on the back-to-back pretty much, a lot of games on the road, seven home games that we've got a game somewhere else beforehand," Vickerman said.
"We try to have three people at every position and different people will get different opportunities as time goes on.
"We're still at the phase of trying to work out (line-ups) and everyone is still fighting for the minutes they want right now and that will continue through to the NBA games."
United was crowned NBL Blitz champion last year before going to America to give Russell Westbrook's Oklahoma City Thunder an almighty fright.
All games streamed LIVE on NBL TV
United v 36ers, 5.30pm Thursday, Sept 20, Bendigo Stadium
United v Bullets, 7.30pm Saturday, Sep 22, Mars Minerdome Ballarat
United v Hawks, 5.30pm Sunday, Sep 23, Mars Minerdome Ballarat