ILLAWARRA will need to recapture their perimeter form in a hurry with Perth coach Trevor Gleeson set to unleash the most prolific three-point shooter in the NBA D-League’s history in Friday’s clash with the Hawks at Perth Arena.
It comes after the surprise release of import Jaron Johnson on Monday despite the 24-year-old Lousian Tech alumn averaging 12.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in his three appearances, which included match-winning 26-point performance against Cairns in round one.
Replacement import Andre Ingram comes with an impressive shooting resume, averaging of 45.5 per cent in his eight seasons in the D-League and 49 per cent in his most recent campaign, with his 583 career threes and all-time league record.
Illawarra coach Rob Beveridge admitted Ingram is very much an unknown quantity but said he can understand the Cats rationale of bringing in a perimeter specialist after losing former sharp-shooter Jermain Beal to Brisbane in the off-season.
“From a balance perspective I can understand why they’ve done it,” Beveridge said.
“They pretty much had two players who are the same. In [Johnson] and [Casey] Prather they had two like-like players. Losing [Jermaine] Beal who was a shooter, I can understand why they’ve done it because their weakness, if they had one, was perimeter shooting.
“My understanding is they’ve brought in a guy who can absolutely flat-out shoot it so it’ll be interesting.”
After establishing themselves as the best perimeter shooting team in the league last season, the Hawks have gone ice-cold, shooting at 17 and 24 per cent from long-range, in their past two appearances and Beveridge said his side need to re-find their range on Friday.
“At the end of the day we are a shooting team it is a bit concerning we’re in a bit of a hole at the moment but I’m confident we can get that back,” Beveridge said.
“We’re trying to become better at getting the ball inside as well and we’re getting there.
“If we’re just going to rely on the perimeter shots it Perth we’re not going to beat them there so we’re going to have to be really smart with the way we play this week.”