NBL21: Injury crisis making life tough for Melbourne United coach Dean Vickerman

Dean Vickerman just wants a full, healthy squad out on the court.

Despite battling an injury curse for most of the season, Melbourne United remains at the top of the NBL ladder, but lost a little sheen in a 99-86 loss to Brisbane Bullets Sunday.

After seven straight single-digit victories, including 3-point thrillers against Sydney and New Zealand — all without key players — something had to give.

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Shea Ili is still struggling with an ankle injury. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

While Chris Goulding recovered well from his calf strain with 21 points against the Bullets in his return, United missed import Scotty Hopson with an adductor injury and Jack White with that horror finger break. And Vickerman revealed defensive dynamo Shea Ili is still being troubled by an ankle complaint.

“Shea played hurt,” Vickerman said.

“He was affected by his ankle. He looked OK in a couple of games coming in and his first game was great coming back but it’s people who are carrying little things and its about how we get this whole group healthy.”

Dean Vickerman just wants a full squad to put out on the floor. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Vickerman said Hopson would miss three weeks and, while he hasn’t reached the All-NBL heights of last season, United has to find other options to both put the ball in the hole and create for others, especially in late-game situations.

“Hop being out, he’s been a target for us in the last five minutes of games because he’s such a good passer, so creative and he’s been really good for us,” Vickerman said.

“I thought he was really finding a rhythm in the last three (games).

“How do we change that? Where do we go right now for those key plays? It’s something we’ve got to figure out quickly in these last couple of games of the tournament.”

Jock Landale struggled with his shot, but was still one of United’s best players in a rough and tumble contest. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Vickerman said despite the club’s injury woe, he expected his squad to quickly forget the loss — as it did earlier this season.

“We obviously bounce back well from whatever situation we’ve been in this year, but it’s about getting your team healthy,” he said.

We’ve had Mitch (McCarron) and Jock (Landale) carrying A big load for this team as well and at times they just looked a fraction off (against Brisbane).

“How can we freshen up? We’ve got a big game against South East (Melbourne) and Illawarra to finish off this tournament, two really good teams that play fast and we need everybody to be as close to full health as possible to win those two.”

Originally published asUnited in the wars as Vickerman prays for health

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