Hungry Jack's NBL
R13 Preview: Townsville v Illawarra
Who: Townsville Crocodiles v Illawarra Hawks When: 7.30pm (AEDT), Thursday 31 December Where: Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre Watch: Fox Sports; Sky Sports NZ; NBL Live App Last time they met: Illawarra 108 (Penney 31, Lisch 15, Ogilvy 13) d Townsville 70 (Conklin 20, Kay 14, Jett 11), Round 8, WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong
WATCH | @weeksy_11 puts it in reverse for a HUGE @illawarrahawks jam! #HardBall #Agent97 https://t.co/22lJdzx6dn — NBL (@NBL) November 28, 2015Poor shot selection and cheap turnovers have meant Lisch and Penney have been able to attack before the defence is set. “Once they start hitting shots it becomes a difficult thing to defend, they’ve got so much firepower, particularly with the big three,” Dennis said. While Illawarra racked up 108 points at 50 per cent in Round 8, the Crocs haven’t had a similar lapse since, holding their past two opponents to a combined 134 points at 39 per cent. Dennis, however, says there was more to his team’s defensive performance in the Round 11 win over Perth than pure numbers. “Our defence really kept us in the game,” he said. “The difference tonight was that it generated some baskets for us.” The coach of the year contender believes his team is getting a better “understanding what it takes to win at this level”, particular against an offensive juggernaut like the Hawks. “It’s putting longer performances in, that’s got to be our goal,” he said. “(Illawarra) will want to get that thing running up and down and put 100 points on, so we’ve got to come up with a way not to allow that to happen.” THE WRAP If Townsville aren’t ready to go from tip-off they’ll never be, having been outscored 64-31 by the Hawks in the two opening terms of the first two meetings. Crocs guards Mitch Norton, Corey Maynard and Jett must have composure in the face of Illawarra’s pressure, but the likes of Clint Steindl, Nick Kay, Leon Henry and Mitch Young will need to handle the ball and make good decisions. No team scrambles defensively better than Townsville, with Kay and Young leading the way, but no line-up can spread the floor like the Hawks, particularly with Jarrad Weeks, Kevin White, Larry Davidson and Cody Ellis shooting a combined 8-of-19 from deep in Round 11. If Norton and Co can control the tempo and take predictable shots their defence has a chance, but if the Crocs are forced to rotate from early in the shot clock their lack of true size inside will be exposed by AJ Ogilvy, who has scored 41 points in 44 minutes against Townsville.