Hungry Jack's NBL
Beaming with pride Beveridge to take time deciding future
Rob Beveridge was beaming with pride over the way the Illawarra Hawks performed in his first season as coach despite losing Semi-Final Game 3, but with that coming in Perth on Friday night it gives him a chance to make a decision on his future. Beveridge took over as coach of Illawarra coming into the 2015/16 NBL season and had to revive a franchise struggling to survive, and a team that was on the bottom of the ladder. While signing Kevin Lisch, Kirk Penney and AJ Ogilvy undoubtedly helped the Hawks finish third at the end of the regular season and push the Perth Wildcats to Game 3 in the Semi Finals, it was far from a three-man team. Beveridge gave Jarrad Weeks and Cody Ellis a chance and they shone and he was also able to get the best out of Illawarra stalwarts Oscar Forman, Larry Davidson, Rhys Martin and Tim Coenraad. His coaching credentials can't be questioned given his last five seasons in the NBL have brought about a Championship, two Grand Final appearances and two more trips to the Semi Finals. While Beveridge has loved his time in charge of the Hawks, the year has had its challenges with his wife Suellen and children Annie, Jaydon and Noah remaining in Perth. That's why Beveridge isn’t sure yet on what his future holds but he expects to make a decision quite soon now that he is back in WA with his family. "Well I'm back in Perth right now and obviously my family is here," Beveridge said. "I'll be sitting down with them and trying to work out what the next step in my life will be. I'm lucky I'm here in Perth with my family so it will be a lot easier to make a decision." While Game 3 didn’t go to plan for the Hawks losing in Perth for a 24th straight time, the fact that Beveridge led a team from the bottom of the ladder to being a genuine Championship contender was quite a feat, not to mention the fact that the club off the court has strengthened. He couldn’t hide his pride in the group after the game on Friday night. "I'm absolutely super proud of our group. If you have a look at it, we were a club lost on the bottom of the ladder with six wins. But we have finished in third place and a game off coming first or second. That's pretty special," he said. "For us to achieve what we did this year was amazing and I know the guys are upset and disappointed that we didn’t play the style we wanted, but I walk away with my head high and I'll go to the Wildcats bar across the road wearing my Illawarra top with pride." The passion and determination in the Hawks camp was never more evident than Lisch's performance to get up to play in the deciding Game 3. Despite torn ankle ligaments from Game 1 that would usually keep anyone out for more than a month, he fought through the pain and for Beveridge, that summed up the efforts of his team all season. "It was more or less a four to six-week injury and he plays through that pain with a battered up ankle, that shows the character of him and the character the team as well. It's pretty impressive," he said. "It was probably only Thursday I thought he would play. He just did some shooting on Wednesday and then the next day he did 60 minutes and pulled up really well. It's still swollen but we didn’t think it could get any worse and he was adamant he was splaying. "It was simple as that and when you are a player of his calibre and his mental toughness, if he wants to play then once the medical staff said it's OK you play him. It was a pretty amazing effort." As for the upcoming Grand Final Series between the New Zealand Breakers and Perth Wildcats, Beveridge is expecting every bit of a tough, physical and nail-biting series just the like the ones he was part of as coach of the 'Cats in the 2011 Semi Finals, and 2012 and 2013 Grand Finals. "I like the look in New Zealand's eye. They struggled for a period of time but all of a sudden they've turned the corner and the look in (Cedric) Jackson's eye and the same of (Mika) Vukona and Tai Wesley they just looked really focused," Beveridge said. "They've had time to rest up as well and prepare but both teams are winners. They've been there and done that so it's really a flip of the coin. "But I think because New Zealand has had more time off that will help, but it's going to be a hell of a series. They are both super physical and New Zealand may have the advantage because of the extra time in preparation, but it will be close."