Tim Coenraad starts to grow into role

BASKETBALL

He doesn't light up the scoreboard like teammate Rotnei Clarke but Tim Coenraad is quietly and efficiently getting the job done for the Wollongong Hawks.

Thrust into a starting role this season after the retirement of club legend Glen Saville, Coenraad didn't always look comfortable in the first half of the season.

It didn't help that he was still bothered by a foot injury, but Coenraad has been a different player over the past month or two. The 27-year-old has raised his game a notch and been integral in his team's current five-game win streak.

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During the Hawks' hot stretch, Coenraad has averaged 10.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists. He has hit 43 per cent of his field goals and 44 per cent from three-point range.

Coenraad has welcomed the extra responsibility with import Kevin Tiggs (knee injury) sidelined for the past two games now and is keen to maintain his good form in Saturday night's crucial home game against Cairns.

"Having that starting role, I feel [coach] Gordie [McLeod] trusts me a little bit more," he said.

"I'm really getting a lot more comfortable in that starting role. I enjoy it. It's good to be out there in those first couple of minutes.

"I struggled with my shot at the start of the season. I was being a little careful to get rest with my foot because I didn't want that problem to come back.

"I wasn't happy with the way I was playing at the start but I've been getting extra shots up before and after practice and my foot's starting to come good. It's still a day in, day out routine I have to stick with. If I don't stick with it, it pulls up a bit sore.

"Getting those extra shots up has built my confidence and my shot feels a lot better."

Tiggs is an outside chance of making his comeback on Saturday while Clarke, while Clarke copped a heavy knock at Thursday's training session but is expected to play.

The Hawks (11-13) are in fifth spot with four games to go and could climb as high as third by the end of the season.

On the flipside, a run of losses could push them all the way to the bottom of the ladder.

"Everyone probably has their own number of how many wins you need to make the top four but we just have to keep winning because we can't control what the teams above us do," Coenraad said.

"I've had a look at who Sydney and Melbourne play, and Sydney's got a pretty rough run home.

"Hopefully we'll get a few losses out of them but we have to worry about winning as many games as we can. We need to keep playing the style we've been playing."

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