Perth has been a graveyard for Illawarra teams for the best part of 30 years but for Hawks guard Kevin White, The Jungle is the scene of one of his career-best performances.
More noted for his efforts on the defensive end than with the ball in hand, White managed a career-high 16 points – including a perfect 4-4 from three-point range – in the Hawks most recent trip to Perth Arena.
It wasn’t quite enough to get his team over the line, with the Wildcats edging the Hawks out 80-73, but it was an indication of the 28-year-old’s growing confidence at the offensive end.
It was also indicative of the leadership role coach Rob Beveridge has demanded he fill in the Hawks roster this season after claiming a SEABL championship with the Bendigo Braves during the off-season.
“Bevo’s all about giving guys confidence and just letting guys play,” White said.
“Growing up playing with Bevo he’s always given me the freedom to shoot the ball and score,” White said.
“When we sat down at the end of last year before I went away to the SEABL he gave me a list of things he wanted me to do and one of them was to be able to consistently knock down the open three.
“I think at the same time he just wanted me to work on my ball-handling and the fundamentals of being a point-guard.
“When you’re confident handling the ball it gives you confidence in your whole game.
“Going away in the off-season and working those things has given me that all-round confidence not just in shooting the ball.
“I’m really enjoying this year and enjoying how I’m playing.
“Having Bevo there on your back about shooting the ball and being aggressive makes a big difference to a player’s confidence.”
A growing emphasis on his offensive game won’t shift his focus away from his bread and butter at the other end with he and back-court partner Mitch Norton coming off a fine defensive display in the Hawks 109-78 win over the Breakers on Sunday.
White will likely get the job on Perth’s leading MVP candidate Casey Prather but said the Hawks entire roster needs to build pressure at the defensive end to allow their offence to flow.
“[Against New Zealand] the whole team put together a performance that mounted pressure.
“It’s about coming out and setting our defensive intensity early. When we come out and we get up and down the floor we force teams to play a little bit quicker.
“Yeah they might get a few more shots and they may get some open looks but when you build that pressure over four quarters, and we use the tag-team mentality that Bevo talks about, it mounts a lot of pressure and come the the third and fourth quarter...that where you run away with it.
“Perth’s obviously a tough place to play and it’s going to be tougher to come and do that but at the same time, after a performance like that, we should be really positive about the way we’re going about our business and the way our season’s going to go.”