KEY Illawarra defensive cog Mitch Norton is at very long odds to take the court against Melbourne on Sunday but remains a chance to return for the Hawks’ tough away trip to Perth next week on the second leg of a tough three-game road stretch.
Norton hobbled from the court clutching at his hamstring early in the first quarter of the Hawks 88-84 loss to the Kings on Thursday and took no further part in the match. It prompted fears he could be facing an extended stint on the sideline but BaiMed club physio Michael Baines said the initial prognosis was better than first anticipated.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a significant hamstring tear, we’re not sending him for scans or anything like that, he’s just go a bit of a hip-related hamstring problem,” Baines said.
“We treated him [Friday] morning, and we’ll treat him again on Saturday. We’re still giving him every chance to play either of the next two away games but it’ll be based on how quickly he gets power back in his leg.
“We’re not putting time frames on him, he will play as soon as his left hamstring is as strong as his right hamstring.
“We’ll have a fairer indication [Saturday] afternoon 48 hours post-injury and we’ll make some decisions then.”
Norton’s absence in the back-court was a telling one for the Hawks with Kings duo Kevin Lisch and Jason Cadee racking up 20 points as the Kings handed their arch-rivals their first home loss. Coach Rob Beveridge admitted his side failed to adjust after the set-back
“Norto’s been outstanding, his tag-team with Whitey [Kevin White in particular, so it had a massive impact for us,” Beveridge said.
“The game plan was really based around Norto and Whitey playing tag-team the whole game on Lisch. He is one of the best we’ve seen in the league and we couldn’t wear him down like we could have if we had Norto and Whitey out there.
“Rotnei [Clarke] and Rhys [Martin] can’t do that, it’s just not their strength or their role in our team, and I had to play Marvelle more minutes so really did throw our rotations out.”
The Hawks overcame a nine-point three-quarter-time deficit to level things up at 83 apiece with a 1.20 to play but Beveridge said a late victory would not have been a deserved one.
“If we’d actually won that game we thoroughly didn’t deserve to,” Beveridge said.
“They controlled the tempo, yes there were lots of fouls, injuries, there were shot-clock problems...that suited them. It slowed the game down and that didn’t suit us at all but there’s no excuse they just completely deserved to win the game.
“If anything I’m looking at it quite positively to show these guys that you can’t take anyone lightly at all.
“I’m not saying we took [Sydney] lightly, that’s 100 per cent not the case, but its shows anyone can beat anyone in this league.
“It’s great for our new players in particular to see how good some of these players are. That’s what I spoke to Marvelle and Mike [Holyfield] about afterwards, this isn’t the national bush league it’s one of the toughest league’s going around.”