HAWKS fans don’t need reminding about just how poor their side has fared in Perth throughout their history, but new recruits Nick Kay and Mitch Norton will head west this week free of any hoodoo.
For the record, the Hawks have tasted victory on just six occasions in 55 games in the west with their most recent win coming more than a decade ago in November 2005.
They have never tasted victory at Perth Arena and will head into Friday’s clash on a 24-game losing run in Perth, the last one knocking them out of the play-offs last season.
They’re numbers that have led Hawks fans to dread the trip but for Kay and Norton, it was the scene of one their greatest triumphs – specifically a come from behind 66-63 upset win with Townsville in round three last season.
The Crocs trailed by 17 at quarter-time and didn’t take the lead until the last 90 seconds, with 20 points from Norton helping the Crocs to the huge upset win.
It’s why the pair will return to the venue on Friday night free of the pressure that has long-plagued the Hawks.
“Norto and I had a big win against them last year and in the other game over there we only lost by four so I feel like we haven’t had that sort of pressure on us,” Kay said.
“It’s one of those things as a professional athlete, particularly basketball, getting a win in a packed stadium like Perth...you just hear those chairs close with a minute to go in a game or once you’re done and there’s just silence. It’s one of the best feelings you can get.
“Hopefully we have a chance this weekend as a team to do that. We’ve got a point to prove after losing two games in a row and hopefully we can break that record this weekend and show what we can do.
“This weekend’s going to be a big test for us against two great teams and we need to come out and really play well for ourselves and for everyone watching.”
The Crocs came within four points repeating the effort in their return trip later in the season and proved somewhat of a bogey team for the eventual champions, something Kay attributed to matching the renowned low-block bullies’ intensity inside.
He said he and fellow bigs AJ Ogilvy and Michael Holyfield will need to do the same against the Cats on Friday.
“I think that’s why [Townsville] played well there last year because we matched up well against them and I think we have the chance to do that this year,” Kay said.
“It’s always a real physical game [in Perth], there’s a different feel and different expectation to anywhere else you play.
“You’re getting hit on every cut and things like that and you’re allowed to play that way so we need to come in with that attitude and play physical.
“If we can battle inside and set the tone early that’ll open the guys up outside for those threes so we need to go in with that mindset.
“I think all the guys feel like we let the Sydney game go and we just didn’t turn up the way we wanted to in Melbourne so I think we need to come out this week and really prove a point, play the way we play, and get two wins.