Hawks to improve rebounding skills

BASKETBALL

The Wollongong Hawks are confident of overcoming their well-documented rebounding deficiencies when they host the Cairns Taipans tomorrow night.

After a headline-grabbing 7-1 start to the season, Wollongong have dropped six of seven games.

Virtually every loss is traceable to their problems on the glass.

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An assertive team under the boards during their early winning spree, the Hawks have been out-rebounded 283-188 in the past seven matches.

Teams that are dominated that heavily in the rebounding department tend to lose games by big margins.

But Wollongong have managed to stay in the hunt despite their issues, going down to titleholders New Zealand by two points last week and sending their previous two games against Melbourne and Sydney into overtime.

The fourth-placed Hawks are determined to win the rebound battle tomorrow against the Taipans and reinvigorate their title hopes.

"We're definitely addressing it," forward Dave Gruber said of the urgent need for improved rebounding.

"We've spoken at length about it and it's just something that every player is going to have to take on board. It's not just the bigs or the guards. It's everybody collectively.

"When we're rebounding well we know we're a very tough team to beat. It's not one person getting 15. It's everybody getting their fair share and boxing out.

"Part of it comes from getting the shots we want on offence and part of it is forcing teams into shots we want them to take and being in the right spots with our defensive scheme. It's all those things coming together. As we go along and get everybody healthy, that will improve.

"The definite positive in our last three games is that even though we haven't rebounded well, we've given ourselves an opportunity to win each game. We feel like we're right there. We just need to make those extra one-percenters, those effort area plays, because rebounding mostly comes down to effort."

Gruber has been starting in place of injured centre Larry Davidson and is hoping his 209cm teammate is cleared to take on the Taipans after a four-game absence.

"It'll allow us to give Ossie [captain Oscar Forman] a bit of a break, because he's been playing a lot of big minutes lately.

"Larry's a leader on this team, he's vocal, he knows what he's doing with the systems we run. It'd be good to have another veteran out there."

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