Wollongong Hawks' magic number

BASKETBALL

As Wollongong look to continue their climb up the NBL ladder in Melbourne tonight, defensive general Larry Davidson has opened up on why keeping their rivals under 80 is crucial for the Hawks.

Three of their four wins have come when they restricted the opposition to fewer than 80 points.

The exception was their round-three 85-81 victory over Townsville when a Todd Blanchfield three-pointer on the final buzzer snuck the Crocs just past the 80-point mark.

The Hawks have kept the Sydney Kings to scores of 69 and 63 in consecutive wins and defensive linchpin Larry Davidson said it's no secret his side is at its best when they force the opposition to earn their points.

"We definitely look to slow the other team down and keep the score low," Davidson said.

"We've got goals of where we want to keep teams shooting percentage wise and on points but the key really is controlling the tempo.

"Early in the the season when we were struggling in games we were just coming down on offence and taking the first shot we could find.

"When we take it out run our offence and make them play defence then we're controlling the tempo and it takes them out of what they want to do.

"Against Sydney we did a really good job of that."

Davidson said the Hawks will look to turn tonight's clash into another grind, confident they have the ability to sneak home in close matches.

"I don't know how many other teams are good at just playing half-court and can pass the ball around for 20 seconds and get a shot at the end," Davidson said.

"When we've had success, that's something we've been good at.

"They're the games that are the most fun, where you grind it out and then you get the end there's only one or two points in it and you come up with the big plays and turn the game.

"We know if it's close at the end we've got the guys that can come out and make the big plays and get us the win."

Davidson's menacing beard and ponytail combo was conspicuously absent from the Hawks 81-76 loss to Melbourne in round five due to an ankle injury.

Now fully fit, Davidson admits he enjoys making it personal with opposition big men and is relishing the clash down low with in-form Tigers duo Scott Morrison and Mark Worthington.

"I do like the challenge of trying to take their bigs out of it," Davidson said.

"It's a big part of their game Melbourne, their 'bigs' inside, and as a team we always talk about trying to take something away from the opposition.

"We played them once in the pre-season and it got pretty physical inside and I'm not averse to that if it happens.

"If I can do a good job of taking the inside away and we can force them to the perimeter that's obviously a lower percentage shot than giving them lay-ups inside," he said.

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