Monday, December 03, 2007

07-08 SBL Preview: Yulon Dinos

A reserved empty seat for late head aoach Chien Yi-fei will be Yulon's motivation this season.

-- Last season: 22-8, lost to Dacin 3-2 in the first round.

-- Key additions: Lee Chi-yi (TM), Yang Che-yi (TM), Lin Hwan-chao (Azio)

-- Key subtractions: Hsu Wei-shen (TM), Liu Shen-yao (TM)

-- Key changes: Chang Hsueh-lei, former China NT star forward who joined Taiwan's pro league CBA and has been living in Taiwan ever since, took over the head coaching duty following Chien Yi-fei's death. However, Lee Yun-kwang will still be the man who's in charge of all the on-court coaching and substitutions as an "executive head coach."

-- Analysis:

Yulon's quest to be the king of the hill again will be the main storyline of the season all year, as it was shocked by Dacin in the first round playoffs last year and failed to make the Finals.

Although Yulon still finished last season with the best record in the regular season, observers and fans could all sense that it was not the same team that was always hungry and hard-working. Well, winning three straight titles could do that to you. And even Lee Yun-kwang didn't deny that.

The sudden death of long-time head coach Chien Yi-fei, who had guided Yulon for almost 20 years, was another shock and at the same time a wake-up call.

Chen Hsin-an may have lost his explosiveness due to his recurring knee injury, but he is still capable of dominating the game. The problem is probably his mentality. He had a hard time working with teammates as a unit all season and was described as a loner on the court.

That hurt Yulon's competitiveness as a whole. Transforming Chen's mentality will be the top priority which Yulon needs to work on this year. And I believe Chen has heard enough criticism and realized that he could not do it alone.

Above anything else, the addition of Yang Che-yi and Lee Chi-yi strengthen Yulon's competitiveness. The arrival of Lee Chi-yi should be able to ease the burden of Tsun Wen-din, who had to handle the inside alone before. Lee brings the so-called "second height", his experience, top-notch defense and high post game to the Dinos.

Yang makes Yulon's perimeter shooting a more potent weapon but at the same time creates a long-jam at the wing position, where Chou Shih-yuan, Lu Cheng-ju and even Chen Hsin-an will be in the mix. However, as long as the coaching staff can distribute playing time and the players accept it, I don't see problem with it.

Lee Hsueh-lin and Chen Chih-chung are expected to handle the point guard position and both have been reliable. Lee Hsueh-lin should improve his on-ball defense though.

Yulon will be able to feature a big lineup and a small one. It can put Chen Hsin-an, Lee Chi-yi at forward, Tsun in the middle, and Lu Cheng-ju and Chen Chih-chung in the backcourt with four players above 6-5. It can also put Chen Hsin-an and Chou Shih-yuan at forward, Lee Chi-yi at center, and Chen Chih-chung and Lee Hsueh-lin at guards for a small lineup.

Aside from overloaded Taiwan Beer, this is not something the other teams can do.

The bench players are also reliable and competitive, featuring former NT players Wu Chih-wei, Chiu Chi-yi, Chou Hong-yu, all of whom can do damage in limited time because of their skills and experience.

Rest assured the three-time SBL champion will not lack of motivation this season. Last year's early exit was an embarrassment and Chien's death was heartbreaking. Yulon still features the strongest lineup and is the best organization in the league. They only have to put their minds into it every game.

-- Roster:
(#, Name, Po., DOB, Ht.)
3 Chen Hsin-an F 1980.7.1 196
8 Chou Hong-yu F 1976.6.15
9 Chang Yi-ming G 1984.4.13 187
10 Fan Yong-hsi F 1979.3.28 190
12 Chiu Chi-yi G 1975.10.6 182
13 Wei Yong-tai F 1978.10.23 193
15 Chou Shih-yuan F/G 1983.11.16 190
21 Yang Che-yi F/G 1978.10.20 193
22 Lu Cheng-ju F 1986.8.23 194
71 Lee Chi-yi F 1978.10.27 197
4 Tsun Wen-din C 1984.7.6 204
16 Lin Hwan-chao C 1985.4.18 202
32 Wu Chih-wei C 1976.7.31 202
5 Chen Chih-chung G 1977.3.2 180
6 Lee Hsueh-lin G 1984.1.31 175
7 Liu Jui-shen G 1983.7.29 170