Clarke's threat puts Wildcats on guard


As Wollongong prepare to face the challenge of containing Perth tearaway James Ennis tonight, Wildcats captain Damian Martin says putting the clamp on the Hawks' own star import Rotnei Clarke will be just as tough.

Clarke produced a season-high 37 points in the Hawks' double-overtime loss to Melbourne on Tuesday, leading Martin to declare the diminutive sharp-shooter the best in the league from long range.

"I think he's the best shooter in the league," Martin said.

"I actually watched him when he was in college last year and remember thinking 'wow, what a talent he is'.

"Now that he's in the NBL it's great for the league but it's certainly a pain when you have to guard him.

"It's going to be a long night chasing him around because when he gets going - like he did the other night - he is the best scorer in the league."

If anyone is capable of putting the clamp on Clarke, it's Martin - widely regarded as the best defensive guard in the league.

But he said it will take a team effort to contain the former NCAA star.

"The way he shoots the ball it adds another step to his game," Martin said.

"It gives him more quickness because you've got to guard him so close otherwise it's three points.

"It'll be a team job on him, one on one he's going to beat you, so I've got to make sure I'm getting help from the bigs."

Despite Clarke's red-hot form it promises to be a tough night from the perimeter for the Hawks against a Wildcats side that gives up the least amount of three-pointers in the league.

The Wildcats are also stinging from a shock 99-90 loss to Cairns on Tuesday that dispelled any lingering complacency.

"The game against Cairns was definitely an eye-opener that if we're not at our best day in, day out any team can beat us. Wollongong will be no exception," Martin said.

"We certainly don't see the Wollongong Hawks as a bottom-placed team.

"We know we need to come out play as hard as we can and get some good stops on Clarke, Forman and Davidson because they're the type of team that can put up 20 points really quickly.

"It's no secret that our best offence comes out of getting some stops and getting out and running.

"You've got Ennis on one wing, Beal on the other, they're great lane runners and finishers at the basket, so we've got to make sure we get stops at the defensive end."

US import James Ennis (left)  trains with the Wildcats yesterday at the WEC. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

US import James Ennis (left) trains with the Wildcats yesterday at the WEC. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN


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