News

Nay Sayers not Welcome

Bag the Illawarra Hawks all you want - they aren’t listening to a word you say. Two wins from seven games, players out of form and a team that sometimes looks as though it has forgotten how to play together. But co-captain Rhys Martin has been through it all before with the Hawks and insists that no-one on the team pays attention to the critics and their solutions. “It’s easy to ignore,” Martin said. “Everybody thinks they know what they’re talking about and if they did they’d have a job in this game. “We only listen to [coaches] Bevo [Rob Beveridge], Flinny [Matt Flinn], Cookie [Eric Cooks] and each other. That’s all that matters. When you’re not winning games, that’s all you can focus on. You can’t listen to anything else.” Illawarra halted a four-game losing slide with last Friday’s five-point home win over Perth before being shot down 98-83 at home two nights later by a red-hot Cairns Taipans. The clash with the Taipans was the last-placed Hawks’ fourth game in nine days and Martin isn’t panicking about his team’s predicament heading into Sunday’s round five home meeting with Melbourne United. “I don’t think we’re in that big of a hole,” the 30-year-old playmaker said. “The win-loss is not great, but everybody’s healthy. That’s been a struggle for this club, keeping everybody on the court. But everybody’s fit and ready to go and it’s just a matter of putting in the effort for 40 minutes in the game. “If we can rebound and take care of the basketball and pound it inside we’ll be fine. We’ve got a very big, talented team and we’re not really playing to our strengths at the moment. “We’re having mental lapses where we’re not executing offensively and we’re having defensive breakdowns more than anything else. It’s just a matter of effort and concentration.” Martin is in his ninth season with the Hawks and the club’s longest serving active player. He has taken the co-captaincy in his stride. “The co-captaincy hasn’t changed my role. I’m a point guard and I have to be a vocal leader no matter what,” he said. “[Co-captain] Oscar’s [Forman] done a great job and continues to do a great job. There’s really been no added pressure to my game at all.” The Hawks had two days off practice after Sunday’s loss to Cairns and welcomed a few extra sleeps in their own beds after playing three road games in the past fortnight. “It’s always nice to be at home playing in front of your fans, being around family and friends,” Illawarra guard Kevin White said. “Guys spend time with partners and get to see their kids more, and just having that normal routine is important. “Early in the season it’s good to spend a few days on the road, but you also want to be playing at home and getting a role on, so hopefully we can do that over the next few home games.” Melbourne United accounted for Illawarra by 16 in round two on a day when Todd Blanchfield hit 8/9 threes en route to 27 points. White is a central figure in the Hawks’ plans to exact revenge. He and fellow defensive ace Mitch Norton will take turns getting up close and personal with Melbourne point guard Cedric Jackson. “A big thing for them is being able to get out and push the ball in transition so you have to try and pick Cedric up early,” White said. “We struggled a bit in the first game, but hopefully with Mitch back I can pick up Cedric early and then Norto can rotate in and get after him. “It’s in both mine and Norto’s character to not back down from anything, and that’s part of our role, to try and get in someone’s face and take them out of their game and take the team out of their offence. “We just get after people. We’ve got the freedom to get up the floor and try and challenge people and take on anyone. “I feel like as Norto’s coming back [from a hamstring injury] we can start to really work as a tag-team.” White is in his second season with the Hawks after spending his first four years in the NBL with the Sydney Kings. While some of his teammates have struggled for consistency, the 27-year-old has been a steady contributor throughout the first month of the season and remains confident the Hawks will soon hit their straps. “It’s always going to take time. We’ve got four or five new guys and it’s not going to come together just like that,” he said. “We’ve gone back to the basics the last couple of weeks. Last year we clicked really well, quicker than we thought we would, but at the same time we started two and four before we went on a good run and things started coming together. Hopefully that’s what we’re looking at again. “We’re working on the basics and getting back to who we are as a ball club and what we’re going to stand for.” Beveridge is keeping his team’s hot and cold performances in perspective. “I couldn’t care less if we were last, because if we’d won the other day we were in third spot,” he said. “Right now there’s two teams starting to clear the pack and everybody else is within a game of each other. I’m not overly concerned at this stage of the season that we’re coming last. “We have to work on the most important thing and right now we’re pretty average defensively, so we need to definitely concentrate on that this week. “We need everybody giving their heart and soul 100 percent. We’ve had a couple of games where we haven’t done that. “We’ve challenged every single player. We are 11-deep and we’re not just going to point at one person and say you have to step up. We need every player stepping up.” But co-captain Rhys Martin has been through it all before with the Hawks and insists that no-one on the team pays attention to the critics and their solutions. “It’s easy to ignore,” Martin said. “Everybody thinks they know what they’re talking about and if they did they’d have a job in this game. “We only listen to [coaches] Bevo [Rob Beveridge], Flinny [Matt Flinn], Cookie [Eric Cooks] and each other. That’s all that matters. When you’re not winning games, that’s all you can focus on. You can’t listen to anything else.” Illawarra halted a four-game losing slide with last Friday’s five-point home win over Perth before being shot down 98-83 at home two nights later by a red-hot Cairns Taipans. The clash with the Taipans was the last-placed Hawks’ fourth game in nine days and Martin isn’t panicking about his team’s predicament heading into Sunday’s round five home meeting with Melbourne United. “I don’t think we’re in that big of a hole,” the 30-year-old playmaker said. “The win-loss is not great, but everybody’s healthy. That’s been a struggle for this club, keeping everybody on the court. But everybody’s fit and ready to go and it’s just a matter of putting in the effort for 40 minutes in the game. “If we can rebound and take care of the basketball and pound it inside we’ll be fine. We’ve got a very big, talented team and we’re not really playing to our strengths at the moment. “We’re having mental lapses where we’re not executing offensively and we’re having defensive breakdowns more than anything else. It’s just a matter of effort and concentration.” Martin is in his ninth season with the Hawks and the club’s longest serving active player. He has taken the co-captaincy in his stride. “The co-captaincy hasn’t changed my role. I’m a point guard and I have to be a vocal leader no matter what,” he said. “[Co-captain] Oscar’s [Forman] done a great job and continues to do a great job. There’s really been no added pressure to my game at all.” The Hawks had two days off practice after Sunday’s loss to Cairns and welcomed a few extra sleeps in their own beds after playing three road games in the past fortnight. “It’s always nice to be at home playing in front of your fans, being around family and friends,” Illawarra guard Kevin White said. “Guys spend time with partners and get to see their kids more, and just having that normal routine is important. “Early in the season it’s good to spend a few days on the road, but you also want to be playing at home and getting a role on, so hopefully we can do that over the next few home games.” Melbourne United accounted for Illawarra by 16 in round two on a day when Todd Blanchfield hit 8/9 threes en route to 27 points. White is a central figure in the Hawks’ plans to exact revenge. He and fellow defensive ace Mitch Norton will take turns getting up close and personal with Melbourne point guard Cedric Jackson. “A big thing for them is being able to get out and push the ball in transition so you have to try and pick Cedric up early,” White said. “We struggled a bit in the first game, but hopefully with Mitch back I can pick up Cedric early and then Norto can rotate in and get after him. “It’s in both mine and Norto’s character to not back down from anything, and that’s part of our role, to try and get in someone’s face and take them out of their game and take the team out of their offence. “We just get after people. We’ve got the freedom to get up the floor and try and challenge people and take on anyone. “I feel like as Norto’s coming back [from a hamstring injury] we can start to really work as a tag-team.” White is in his second season with the Hawks after spending his first four years in the NBL with the Sydney Kings. While some of his teammates have struggled for consistency, the 27-year-old has been a steady contributor throughout the first month of the season and remains confident the Hawks will soon hit their straps. “It’s always going to take time. We’ve got four or five new guys and it’s not going to come together just like that,” he said. “We’ve gone back to the basics the last couple of weeks. Last year we clicked really well, quicker than we thought we would, but at the same time we started two and four before we went on a good run and things started coming together. Hopefully that’s what we’re looking at again. “We’re working on the basics and getting back to who we are as a ball club and what we’re going to stand for.” Beveridge is keeping his team’s hot and cold performances in perspective. “I couldn’t care less if we were last, because if we’d won the other day we were in third spot,” he said. “Right now there’s two teams starting to clear the pack and everybody else is within a game of each other. I’m not overly concerned at this stage of the season that we’re coming last. “We have to work on the most important thing and right now we’re pretty average defensively, so we need to definitely concentrate on that this week. “We need everybody giving their heart and soul 100 percent. We’ve had a couple of games where we haven’t done that. “We’ve challenged every single player. We are 11-deep and we’re not just going to point at one person and say you have to step up. We need every player stepping up.”  
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