Illawarra coach Rob Beveridge believes star centre AJ Ogilvy is beginning to recapture the form which had him in the conversation to win the NBL MVP award last season.
And it couldn’t come at a more important time for the Hawks.
Ogilvy was at his brilliant best at both ends of the floor in Illawarra’s crucial 106-88 triumph over Melbourne United on Saturday night.
Less than a fortnight after Beveridge voiced his excitement about the 211cm talent improving form, Ogilvy delivered with 12 points, 12 rebounds and six assists against United at WIN Entertainment Centre.
His performance was a key factor in the Hawks’ vital home victory which came less than 48 hours after they were pummeled by 32 points in Adelaide.
Ogilvy was well supported in the front court by reigning NBL rookie of the year Kay, who scored 20 points in one of his best games in a Hawks jersey,
Beveridge didn’t underestimate the importance of the displays of both big-men post match, in particular focusing on Ogilvy’s impact.
“I look at AJ and he has had his ups and downs this season, there is no question about it. [Against Melbourne] he showed why he was a potential MVP of the league last year,” Beveridge said.
“I thought he was just outstanding.
“He anchored our team, rebounded outstanding. Passed the ball. I think he had six assists and one turnover.
“It was outstanding because he has a very, very high basketball IQ which is sometimes a bit too high for some of the players in the team and he has to adjust his game.
“[Against United] he was very, very good and same with Nick Kay. Just the efficiency of our bigs was really important.”
Ogilvy spoke openly about his mixed form throughout the 2016-17 campaign.
“I don’t think I have been performing to the level that I expect of myself and the team needs,” Ogilvy said.
“It has been disappointing for me and I think the team as well.
“Coming out [against Melbourne] my focus was to try and get defensive rebounds, to get our team going from that end of the court and I that really helped us.
“We were able to get stops in the first quarter and build some positivity.
“If we didn’t get out and put those points on the board to keep it even when they were making those tough shots then we are in a hole.
“It’s a very different ball game.”
Ogilvy’s performance was also one of the few positives in Thursday’s 117-85 drubbing at the hands of ladder-leaders Adelaide.
He had 12 points, nine rebounds with two steals and two blocks on a disappointing night for the Hawks.
A former University of Vanderbilt standout, Ogilvy averages 10.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.5 blocks for the campaign.
The Hawks have a 11-10 record for the season.