Craig Hutchison apologised to fans and Scott Morrison refused to make excuses as the Perth Wildcats hit a sad low for the first time in 35 years.
Perth Wildcats owner Craig Hutchison has apologised to fans after the team missed the finals for the first time in 35 years.
Hutchison’s Sports Entertainment Group signed an agreement to buy the Wildcats last year from philanthropist and long-time owner Jack Bendat, who acquired the club in 2007.
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Scott Morrison — not the Prime Minister, just an American basketball coach with the same name — was brought in to replace Trevor Gleeson but his first campaign in charge didn’t go to plan
Perth needed to beat South East Melbourne Phoenix on Sunday to slip by Tasmania JackJumpers into fourth spot but Morrison’s troops lost 102-100 in overtime.
Hutchison took to Twitter to say sorry to fans who expected better.
“Congratulations @JackJumpers; superb effort. Respect. Huge thanks, red army – loud, proud, incredible support,” he wrote. “Our apologies @PerthWildcats fans for falling short and disappointing – our players, coaches gave their all.
“As owners, we own it + take responsibility. We will return.”
Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell was sympathetic towards Morrison and the Wildcats, saying the new mentor’s late arrival just before the season started and Perth being forced to spend so much time on the road because of Covid and border regulations put the grim 35-year first into context.
Morrison refused to use excuses but did hope next season would present fewer logistical challenges.
“You think about some of the games we let slip away earlier in the season, as every game counts the same,” he said.
“Maybe try to take care of business in those early season games that we didn’t treat as intensely as this one.
“Injuries, we had the second most missed games from our leading group behind Cairns. But I’m not going to cry about it.
“We still could have won a couple of more games and gotten in, then we would be sitting here saying how proud we are.
“The fact is, we had enough to do it and we fell short.
“We have to learn from it and get better.
“I hope next season is better logistically just because this league is tough enough without all that.
“You have to be at your best for 28 games; it’s a tough league.”
Perth was second on the ladder when it returned from the east coast with nine games remaining – all to be played at home. Missing finals was not even being considered.
But they ended the season with just three wins in the home stretch, finishing with their worst record at RAC Arena in 10 years at the venue – 7-7.
With Brad Elborough, NCA NewsWire
Originally published as Craig Hutchison says sorry as Scott Morrison’s first NBL campaign ends in disaster