Gordie frontrunner for Coach of the Year

BASKETBALL

Wollongong Hawks coach Gordie McLeod is the hot tip for NBL Coach of the Year honours for the 2013-14 season.

McLeod heads a short list that includes Perth’s Trevor Gleeson and Adelaide’s Joey Wright - the two coaches involved in the championship series which tips off next Monday.

McLeod steered the Hawks to fourth spot with a 13-15 record.

Wollongong were written off as top four contenders before winning seven of their final nine games to secure a semifinal battle with minor premiers Perth.

The Hawks were swept 2-0 in the best of three series, but their spirited charge to the finals appears to have secured McLeod the Coach of the Year award.

The 57-year-old was named the league’s top coach in the 2009-10 season after Wollongong reached the grand final.

McLeod almost certainly won’t be the Hawks’ sole winner at the NBL’s annual awards dinner on Wednesday night.

American import Kevin Tiggs is the favourite for the Sixth Man of the Year award, which recognises the league’s standout bench player.

Tiggs was Wollongong’s second-leading scorer in his first year in Australia and proved to be a versatile and reliable player at both ends of the court.

Hawks guard Rotnei Clarke is in line for the prestigious Most Valuable Player award, though Perth import James Ennis is the popular pick.

Former US college star Clarke finished fourth in the league in scoring with 21.4 points per game and is almost certain to be named in the All NBL First Team.

‘‘It was an inspiring effort by Gordie and the guys to come from last spot and reach the finals,’’ Hawks marketing and business manager Courtney Beaton said.

‘‘Of course they’d still love to be fighting it out for the title, but it’d be fantastic recognition if the club came away with one or two awards on Wednesday night.’’

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