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Thursday, 08 December 2016 17:59

Thunderbirds Claim National West Title

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The Arizona Thunderbirds finished out the regular season on a four-game win streak to finish 50-30, capturing their first National West division title since 2013. The Thunderbirds finished 8 games ahead of Minnesota Marauders and 10 games ahead of the Seattle Seadogs who had won the division the past five seasons. "Looking at the standings at the end of the season and seeing the T-Birds above those damn Seadogs for once sure does feel good," GM Nick Simpson said after winning his first division title as GM. "We had a rough last season, but we made some moves this past offseason and made some coaching changes that helped propel us to a good regular season."

The Thunderbirds used a suffocating defense to slow teams down as they boasted the best scoring defense during the regular season. The team also gave up the least amount of defensive and overall rebounds per game. While the teams' slow pace may have played a factor in how low they held teams in scoring and rebounding, the Thunderbirds also had the third best field goal percentage defense and three-point field goal percentage defense. "Mr. Simpson told me he was all about efficiency when he brought me in," newcomer Mark Marble replied when asked about the teams' defensive rankings. "As a team, we feel like we can be more efficient than our opponents on most nights. So, yeah we don't play at a super high pace, but we're going to hit more shots than you on most nights."

Even with the great defensive stats, the Thunderbirds failed to have any players on the All-Defensive team. Starting forward Jordyn Hardin made it clear the team didn't think twice about it. "We don't care about (defensive awards)," said Hardin. "We're a defensive unit and we play as a team, not just certain players." Former two-time MVP, Harry Whtie was named to the All-League 2nd team, but he has set his sights higher. "It's always an honor to get recognized as one of the better players in this league, but at the end of the day, all I care about are championships; Not 'All-League' teams or division titles," White told reporters.

 

While the Thunderbirds are proud to have finally won the division and ended the Seadogs rein in the National West, the Thunderbirds now have to face off against their bitter rivals in the first round. "A lot of people are writing this series off and saying the Seadogs aren't what they used to be," GM Simpson said. "But, we know they're still the Seadogs and they have great players and coaches, regardless of their record. We have to be ready for a "dog fight" - no pun intended." Game one of the series is tonight the US Airways Center.

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