NBL: Beveridge, Hawks not troubled by opening week
The Illawarra Hawks may have had to travel twice to begin the 2015/16 NBL season, however that didn't seem to phase the club who, nearly six months ago, didn't have a position in the league due to plummeting into voluntary administration.
Furthermore, the Hawks managed to go winless in their first two starts; suffering a five point loss to Cairns, followed by a 12 point defeat at the hands of Melbourne.
Again, this has been stated as a 'blip on the radar' for the Southern NSW side, as coach Rob Beveridge and his team have found the positives moving forward.
"I walk away from [the Melbourne game] thinking, WOW that was a terrific effort! Super proud of the guys; I'm not worried about the loss, it's about us establishing an identity and I think we did that." - Illawarra head coach Rob Beveridge after the 93-81 defeat in Melbourne.
An 0-2 start certainly isn't the end of the world, especially the way the results went in round one. View image | gettyimages.com Five points separated the Hawks and last year's grand finalists; the visitors allowing Taipans debutant Mark Worthington (12 points, 7 reb, 4 reb, 5 stl) to run riot off the bench.
Worthington's former side, Melbourne United were the in-form team of the competition leading into round one, and had to do it the hard way, coming from behind to win their home opener.
All of this, without Illawarra's starting backcourt.
Rhys Martin was shelved thanks to a knee injury, one that will most likely keep him out for another fortnight; while Kevin Lisch felt the full force of an Alex Loughton screen in their opening game in far north Queensland.
Lisch (calf/knee) sat out the Melbourne game which injected live wire and injury replacement signing Jarrad Weeks to log some extra minutes.
Weeks arguably stole the show from big names AJ Ogilvy and Kirk Penney for Hawks fans in week one, with the 26 year old totalling 33 minutes across the course of two games for 20 points on an extremely efficient clip from the field.
There was a none bigger moment for Weeks, than this two handed throw down.
Beveridge spoke to the media about Weeks' position at the club post-game in Melbourne, saying he hopes that executive director Larry Kestelman can 'change the rules' in terms of injury replacements.
"Hopefully the NBL change the rules, it's one of those things where [the situation] is he's come off injury waivers, therefore he can only come back in for Rhys Martin. I think he should [also] be able to come in for somebody else."
The Hawks are looming to be one of the improvers as the season goes on. Players are evidently carrying niggling injuries, which even saw some on the sidelines for round one. Once fully fit, the squad is then allowed to slowly build and buy in to what they want to produce on the floor.
Beveridge wants his team to play an exciting brand of basketball that puts the game well and truly back on the Australian sporting map.
"I'm all about trying to provide a product on the floor that's exciting to watch. When you see both teams going up and down firing three's and dunks and pressure defence, that's what people want to see!"
Who knows what the Hawks could dish up this week. They have another tough ask against New Zealand at home, before traveling up the highway to face arch rivals Sydney. View image | gettyimages.com One thing we do know, is that Illawarra certainly hasn't lost their club values and you'll be sure to see them fighting out games each and every week, no matter who's on the floor.
Whether it be a fit and firing Kevin Lisch, AJ Ogilvy and Kirk Penney or Jarrad Weeks, Larry Davidson and Cody Ellis - the Hawks will always be dangerous. Be careful out there - there's always value in supporting the Illawarra Hawks.