NBL 2014/15 Round 4 Preview: Hawks look to resurrect season against 'Cats

Wollongong Hawks vs. Perth Wildcats

Friday, 31st October – 7.30pm (local time)

WIN Entertainment Centre

Odds: Wollongong $2.95, Perth $1.40

Tickets: Click here

#457364890 / gettyimages.com

Wollongong will welcome Perth, and the enormous challenge that comes with tackling the Wildcats, as they look to turn their NBL season around.

The Hawks are sitting on the bottom of the table with a 1-5 record after three rounds and it won’t get any easier against the defending champions. Jahii Carson and Gary Ervin each had a brilliant game in round two as the other failed to fire due to sickness and injury; however it counted for little as their side fell to their fourth and fifth straight losses. Centre Luke Nevill bounced back from a disappointing round two double with two solid contributions in round three and will need to be at his best again if his side is to topple Perth.

The Wildcats won a spiteful and somewhat controversial clash with Sydney and now will head on the road for the first time in season 2014/15. They will also embark on their first back-to-back of the season. Damian Martin was superb last week, registering a near triple-double despite only scoring two points, while Matt Knight looked to be building after a slow start to the season. DeAndre Daniels struggled with foul trouble and will be out to bounce back, which may spell bad news for Wollongong.

Key Player

Jahii Carson #457048636 / gettyimages.com There is a good chance that Martin will wear Ervin like a glove all night, meaning plenty of responsibility falls on the shoulders of the electrifying Carson. Whilst he can score heavily almost at will and has dragged his side back into games on many occasions, none more recent than last Sunday against the Breakers, he has gone missing far too often, and simply cannot afford to do that against the stifling defence of the Wildcats. Kendrick Perry struggled when Sydney tackled Perth last week, and Carson will no doubt need to take lesson from that performance and attack the basket, rather than be passive, if he and his side are to enjoy some success.

What To Watch For

A fired up Hawks taking it to the defending champs at home

The importance of this clash won’t be lost on Wollongong’s players, and they have been a much better side at home so far this season. While a win will take a lot to go right, bringing the fire early and putting some of the pressure back on the visitors is what Gordie McLeod will demand from his charges. Getting the home fans involved on the back of some explosive play from their two star guards is exactly what needs to happen, but the grunt and hard-nosed interior defence must return from the likes of Luke Nevill, Oscar Forman and Tim Coenraad to set Carson and Ervin off and running down the other end.

Final Word

The Hawks simply must come out firing in this clash, otherwise it could get ugly very quickly. They will take heart from their performance at Perth Arena in round two, and that away from home the 'Cats have stumbled at times, even during last season’s dominant campaign. Their first venture on the road this season and the fact that the Hawks will almost be out of finals contention with another winless weekend should provide the home team with the perfect opportunity to cause a huge upset and grab a much needed win. Whether that actually eventuates is a completely different proposition.

Perth by 6