Returning Hawks star Demitrius Conger has no plans to tone down his aggression on court, but admits he learned a valuable lesson from his one-game striking ban.
The American import was rubbed out for the Hawks’ 91-73 defeat to Melbourne United last Monday after picking up a suspension in round seven.
He was deemed to make intentional high contact ‘above the shoulders and medium impact’ with Sydney’s Brad Newley last month.
It was the second time this season Conger has been cited by the NBL’s Game Review Panel (GRP).
Earlier in the campaign, he took an early plea to avoid suspension when he was hit with a high-grade “intentional contact with the face” charge and a separate high grade “careless” charge for two incidents involving Brisbane big man Tom Jervis.
The 27-year-old will make his return from his latest indiscretion when Illawarra host defending premiers Perth Wildcats in Wollongong on Sunday.
Conger intends to pick up where he left off before a league-enforced break.
“I am still going to do the exact same thing minus being cited,” he said.
“I will continue to be aggressive and be a little smarter and more poised. That’s the main thing.”
Before Conger served his one match suspension, the NBL took a break as part of an international weekend.
It means it’s been more than three weeks since Conger last suited up on game day.
“I am hungry to get out there,” he said.
“It’s hard, especially sitting there watching the game and stuff like that.
“That’s when it hits you the most.”
Conger is averaging 17.6 points and six rebounds in his debut season with the Hawks.
His return is a timely one for the Illawarra after they lost starting guard Mitch Norton for six-to-eight weeks with a fractured thumb on Monday.
Former Sydney Kings guard Indiana Faithfull will replace the vice-captain in the squad if the club receives NBL clearance before Sunday’s home stand against Perth.
Illawarra come into the clash in sixth on the competition ladder, with a 5-7 record while the Wildcats (8-3) are second in the league.
The Wildcats have continued their dominance over the Hawks in both previous encounters this season, with a pair of double digit wins at Perth Arena.
Sunday will be the first time the two clubs face-off at WIN Entertainment Centre in 2017-18.
The match begins a favourable home run of games for the Hawks, which Conger hopes they can take advantage of.
“We have a little seven game home stretch so we are trying to get it off to a good start,” he said. “It’s a great game to [make my] return in because they are on a little roll right now too.
“Perth is a pretty solid team. They get after you defensively and from their defence they make easy offence.
“It’s the same thing, we have to be poised and handle their pressure.
“We have to go out there and play like we are the home team.
“They play pretty good at home, but it will be interesting to see how they go on the road.”
Tip-off is at 3pm at WIN Entertainment Centre on Sunday afternoon.