Aggressive approach working for Daniel Johnson
BASKETBALL: Adelaide 36ers big man Daniel Johnson is well mannered and polite off the court.
On the court, though, it has been his aggression that has put his team right up there in NBL championship calculations this season.
The 36ers are currently second on the table - two wins ahead of the third-placed Melbourne Tigers, who they comfortably beat 99-82 in round 18.
Johnson shone in that game, scoring 24 points.
He backed that up with 28 points in Adelaide's 96-92 victory over triple-reigning champions the New Zealand Breakers on Sunday.
It is no wonder then that star Adelaide guard Gary Ervin rates the Western Australian product as the best big man in the NBL.
Johnson is fourth in the league for average points per game, with 19.7.
"I think I've just been more aggressive and I'm taking shots that I know I can make," he told APN.
"I get a lot of faith put in me by the boys - they're happy with me taking those shots.
"When I'm shooting and being aggressive it makes us a better team."
Having a no-nonsense championship-winning coach in Joey Wright also helps.
"He's an aggressive person and gets in your ear," Johnson said.
"There's no slacking off.
"We want to run and to do that we have to be one of the fittest teams.
"We're doing a lot of running at training. It's paying off."
Johnson said two big losses to Wollongong and the first-placed Perth, before Adelaide's big win over the Tigers, was just what the team needed to sharpen up for its run into the finals.
"In those two weeks we didn't have that hunger we needed and it took those two losses to really teach us a lesson," he said.
"Now hopefully we don't have that lapse again and we can build on it."
Johnson said his team's defence against a Tigers team containing the ever-dangerous Chris Goulding was some of the best he had seen this season.
Goulding only managed 14 points in that game.
But the 36ers' attack was also slick - Ervin's pace in transition was excellent, with Johnson adding the finishing touches on a number of plays.
"When he (Ervin) is cooking, and I get hot as well, and Gibbo (Adam Gibson) comes in there, it's hard to stop when you've got all those options," Johnson said.