The Wollongong Hawks are performing poorly so far this season — as individuals. As a team, they’re doing just fine.
Currently the Hawks sit eighth on the NBL ladder, or third-last in some people’s language. They currently sit just shy of a .500 record, at 4-5. They have the same record as seventh place Sydney Spirit, the same number of losses as the sixth place Perth Wildcats (6-5) and the same number of wins as the fifth place Townsville Crocodiles (4-3).
Putting the league’s topsy-turvy schedule to one side and ignoring the fact that teams have played inordinately different numbers of games to date, the Hawks can take solace in their record in comparison to last season. In 2007-08 the Hawks finished third-last in a 13-team competition, however their record stood at a much less respectable 9-21 at season end. Based on their current pace, the Hawks look set to top that.
All this despite the fact that almost every player is playing well below their career averages and a number of shades paler than how they looked a year ago.
Star import guard Kavossy Franklin’s career averages are 20.1ppg (at 45% from the field) along with 4.5apg. This season he is putting up 12.9ppg (at 39%) with 3.1apg. He has managed to light up a couple of times in recent week (for 26 and 24 point nights), however outputs of 0, 5 and 5 are not the points totals that NBL fans associate with Franklin.
Meanwhile, the weight does not fall entirely on the former Sydney Kings championship winner’s shoulders. On-the-rise centre Cam Tragardh’s averages of 12.4ppg and 3.3rpg are well below his inspiring 2007-08 numbers of 17.6ppg and 7.8rpg which signalled him as a future force in the league who had finally found his footing after quiet years in Townsville and Brisbane.
However, the big fella is not at all upset with the current situation. He has the bigger picture in mind when it comes to looking at his team, one that was rated as a potential wooden-spooner by some prior to the season.
“The bottom line is we’ve got more wins already than this time last year and we’re looking a lot better as a team, and I’ll take wins any day,” the 2007 NBL Most Improved Player said.
“When we win, we all look good, we all feel good. Last year there were times in the locker room after the game and I had 25 points, but we’ve all got our heads in our hands because we’d lost.
“It’s not a good feeling. I’ll swap that feeling for the ‘w’ any day.”
The arrival of constant double-double threat Dusty Rychart has done wonders for the team after a 2007-08 campaign that was beset by turmoil in the big man department. Similarly, the return of Wollongong golden child Glen Saville has given the Hawks a leader, stabiliser and a solid nightly contributor, fresh off an Australian Boomers Olympics stint.
“Last year Kavossy (Franklin) and I carried a lot of the scoring load, but this year it’s a shared responsibility. Sav (Glen Saville) brings a lot to the table, (Anthony) Petrie, Dusty (Rychart), Matty (Campbell) and the guys, so it’s much more shared around, and that’s definitely a good thing.”
Tonight the Hawks match up against the fourth place Cairns Taipans (5-3), in what is never an easy matchup for any team. The Snakes are a team loaded with talent and will be looking to secure a victory in what is a very tight middle of the ladder. NBL official match preview here.