NBL 2014/15 Round 9 Preview: Perth to run wild in Western romp of Hawks

Perth vs. Wollongong

Friday, December 5, 9:30pm (local)

Perth Arena

Tickets: Ticketek for Wildcats admission

Odds: Perth $1.08, Wollongong $8.00

Wollongong finally picked up a much-needed victory against Townsville last week, only their second for the season, they face a much taller order if they are to pick up their third against Perth this week.

Last week, the Wildcats bounced back from a loss, decimating a suddenly reeling Cairns Taipans. Perth and New Zealand now stand alone as the two title favourites, an upset loss to Wollongong would significantly decrease their chances of keeping pace with the Breakers.

The Hawks will be relying upon imports Jahii Carson and Gary Ervin, with strong support needed from Tim Coenraad and Oscar Forman. Coenraad and Forman were the catalysts for the win last week, while Ervin looked rejuvenated by his sixth man role, taking the demotion to the bench in stride.

Perth is arguably the NBL’s most intimidating defense. It will be an uphill battle for Wollongong to score and do so efficiently.

The Wildcats will again be reliant on the dynamic duo of DeAndre Daniels and Jermaine Beal, as well as veteran Shawn Redhage. Captain Damian Martin will be tasked with keeping Jahii Carson in check, a crucial battle that could dictate the outcome.

Key Player

Jahii Carson

#457048636 / gettyimages.com

With Perth, it is often difficult to identify just one player as key to victory. They are generally reliant upon a total team performance to overwhelm their opponent. Against the Wildcats' stifling defense, it is critical that star import Carson be able to get easy buckets for himself and his teammates.

Coming into the game averaging 15.9 points per game and 3.1 assists on 42.6% shooting from the field and a porous 25% from deep, Carson will be tasked with breaking down the Wildcats' defense.

On the road, this is an especially daunting task. Damian Martin and even DeAndre Daniels could see minutes against Carson, and it’s vitally important that he wins these matchups.

He was down on form last week, and Wollongong was still able to come away with the win. If he puts up a similar performance this week, you can expect a Hawks loss.

What to Watch For

Potential for Upset of the Year

The bookmakers have Wollongong at extremely long odds, and rightfully so. They are at the bottom of the ladder, almost the polar opposite of Perth. They are also away from home, on one of the toughest road trips in NBL basketball.

However, there are always miracles in basketball, Cinderella stories and tremendous upsets. It's hard to be hopeful, but if Wollongong were able to pull this upset off, it would be one of the more remarkable performances in a long time.

No, this probably won’t happen but hey, it’s worth watching. If nothing else, for the slim possibility that you might see one of the upsets of the season.

Final Word

This is almost certainly going to be a one-sided beat down at the hands of a rampant Perth Wildcats at home. Wollongong will likely hang tough, maybe even for a half or three quarters but eventually, Perth’s overall talent will stifle the Hawks and break the game open.

Expert Perth to win, possibly in excess of ten points and pick up their ninth win of the season, joining New Zealand equal on top of the ladder.

Perth by 13