Melbourne United guard Mitch McCarron has lifted the lid on the team’s selfless culture that has the NBL ladder leaders on the cusp of history, chasing a club record 12 straight wins if they beat Perth on Wednesday night.
According to McCarron, United’s success started during culture talks in the pre-season when marquee signing Jock Landale stood up in front of the group and declared: “I don’t care about my individual stats.”
Landale has played in Europe, represented the Boomers, and been on the cusp of the NBA, so you could understand if he had a selfish desire to want to drop big numbers to fulfil his career ambitions.
Instead, he wanted to make his team-first focus clear.
McCarron said Landale’s selfless attitude – as the team’s star recruit – resonated with the players.
“If guys like Jock can think like that, then everyone else can,” McCarron said about Landale, who returns against the Wildcats after suffering a minor knee injury.
“Jock came in with a massive profile and he was the first guy to put his hand up and say, ‘I don’t care about stats.
“I don’t care what people say about my performance, as long as we are winning and I’m doing the right thing by the team.
“Jock was happy to announce that no matter where you have been, it is all about helping the team get wins.
“He came out and said we can go undefeated, and I know at the time it looked silly and got a lot of criticism for saying it, but I think his mentality was all we should care about is trying to win every game and it doesn’t matter about anything else other than helping the team win a championship.
“And I love that.”
McCarron believes Landale’s lack of ego and team focus is infectious and inspiring.
His big man’s mentality has also helped United create healthy habits.
“That is what has been so fun about this group,” he said.
“No one has fought what Jock said about stats and said, ‘nah, I’m not okay with that and I really want to play this many minutes and score this many points.
“Instead, it is just guys ready to go when their name is called.”
To be fair, United didn’t need Landale alone to create a strong culture.
The likes of Chris Goulding and David Barlow have personified the club’s hardworking ethos for years alongside arguably the NBL’s most passionate and astute coach in Dean Vickerman.
“We’ve had a couple of guys who have been here since the get-go of the club, like Goulding and Barlow, who are exactly the same as Jock,” McCarron said.
“If Chris went 0 for 20 but we had a massive win, he would still be up and about.
“He is not a guy who is going to complain about winning.
“And Barlow is the epitome of a professional that is just stoked for his teammates and loves seeing young blokes have success and helping them every day at practice.
“We’ve been fortunate to be around some guys who have that experience, leadership, and they want to put the team first.
“So, it is definitely a club thing and something that they built before I arrived.”
United may be charging on top of the NBL ladder, but McCarron says the side is far from satisfied.
The team knows the side is yet to produce a complete performance, which they must master to beat defending champions Perth.
“You have to give Perth that respect, because they get it done at the end of the season and during the year to put themselves in a position to have a home final,” he said.
“We’ve not reached potential and haven’t put together four quarters in a row, but it has been really pleasing for us as a club and team to see so many guys step up when others go down.
“The group is happy for everyone to contribute and succeed, it doesn’t really matter who gets the job done, as long as someone does it.”
NBL’s longest winning streaks:
21 by Brisbane Bullets in 2007
16 by New Zealand Breakers in 2013
16 by Townsville Crocodiles in 2003
16 by Melbourne Tigers in 2007
16 by Sydney Supersonics in 1983
15 by Sydney Kings in 2005
15 by Geelong Cats in 1984