DESCRIBING 25-year-old Tyson Demos as an elder statesman of the Wollongong Hawks might be a stretch, especially with three teammates aged in their 30s.
While Demos has plenty of good years ahead of him, even he feels that six seasons in the NBL almost qualifies him for veteran status.
‘‘I’m going to try and play the same role I’ve played over the last few years, but also try and step it up and be more of a leader,’’ the tenacious guard said.
‘‘I’m not going to try and force anything. I’m just going to play my game and do what I can to help us get wins on the board.’’
Demos is entering his fourth season with the Hawks, whose season tips off with tonight’s round one road game against reigning champions New Zealand Breakers.
He is expected to start alongside import Rotnei Clarke in the backcourt, as coach Gordie McLeod eases point guard Rhys Martin back to full strength after January knee surgery.
Demos also had surgery and made a strong recovery.
‘‘I had a good off-season doing the rehab and getting the body right. I’m feeling good and I’m very excited for the season to start,’’ he said.
‘‘We did it pretty tough in preseason at times, having just eight or nine players, but everyone’s pretty pumped for the first game.
‘‘It’s going to be a tough first match, especially not having the other import spot filled, but it falls back on everyone’s else’s shoulders.’’
Demos believes the competition will be more even than expected.
‘‘The league’s sort of levelled out a bit,’’ he said.
‘‘Perth are always going to be tough, and I think New Zealand have taken a step backwards just from losing Cedric Jackson, but they’ve signed a couple of good imports, and Adelaide have made a good improvement to their roster.
‘‘All the teams have stepped it up and it’s going to be a tough season. It’ll come down to which team can stay the healthiest.
‘‘It’d be good to sneak a couple of wins on the road to start with, until our first home game against Townsville [on October 26].’’
Martin played two preseason games and will come off the bench tonight, though he is sure to work his way back into the starting line-up before long.
‘‘We’ll probably keep loading him at this stage and we’ll see how he copes with everything.
‘‘We’ll try and let a little bit of the heat go out of the game before we get him into it.
‘‘He’s making progress. The biggest progress for him is to get the confidence back in it.
‘‘He’s been making more and more contributions in our practices, and if that continues to happen that’s a real positive for us,’’ he said.