Gruber can't wait to see Ballinger in action for Hawks

Adam Ballinger joins the Hawks in Sunday's game against Eastern Kentucky University. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Adam Ballinger joins the Hawks in Sunday's game against Eastern Kentucky University. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

BASKETBALL

Wollongong Hawks bruiser Dave Gruber is looking forward to seeing new teammate Adam Ballinger in action in Sunday's clash with the touring Eastern Kentucky University side at the Snakepit.

Ballinger spent three seasons with Wollongong from 2005-07 and recently re-joined the club after five years with Adelaide and two with Melbourne.

The Hawks tip off their preseason campaign with the Sunday afternoon game against the tourists.

"It's always good to test yourself against someone else, especially those college guys, who are young and fit and have been playing together for a little while," Gruber said.

"Balls [Ballinger] has been here a week and he's been great, and I'm sure he'll be keen to get out and play on Sunday like the rest of us.

"It takes some time to learn the system, and the biggest thing for us is to get some games and training time together. It allows us to get to know each other and to work on our stuff, and we can really focus on us and how we can get better and grow as a unit."

The men's basketball program at Eastern Kentucky has been running for more than 100 years.

Last year the Colonels won the Ohio Valley Conference championship before bowing out in the second round of the prestigious NCAA tournament with an 80-69 loss to Kansas.

But according to the Eastern Kentucky University website, six players from the team that lost to Kansas are not on the 2014-15 playing roster.

Five members of the nine-man team are seniors.

The Hawks don't have to worry about facing any intimidating giants, as Eastern Kentucky don't have a player taller than 203cm.

The Colonels face the Sydney Kings on Friday night and play two games in Queensland next week.

Sunday's game tickets are available from Hawks headquarters at the Snakepit. Entry is free for members and $5 for non-members.

Newly-acquired Wollongong import Gary Ervin is still in the US and won't be taking on the college boys.

Gruber can't wait to get reacquainted with Ervin, who played with the club in the 2010-11 season.

"It's funny how things have a way of turning full circle," Gruber said.

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