Hawks a 'unique' menace to Kings

Shane Heal
Shane Heal


Sydney coach Shane Heal believes the Kings must master Wollongong's "unique" offensive and defensive systems tonight at the Sydney Entertainment Centre.

The Kings (10-9) are fourth after winning five of their past six games and Heal is confident they can climb as high as second.

Aside from league leaders Perth, Wollongong are the only team Sydney haven't beaten.

The Hawks won at home by four points in round nine before they came from behind to defeat the Kings by six a week later in Sydney.

The Kings have gone up one or two gears since those December meetings but Heal knows he has a tactical battle on his hands with Wollongong counterpart Gordie McLeod.

"The thing with Wollongong is that they're just so unique with the way they play," he said.

"There's no other team that plays a similar style, offensively and defensively.

"We needed a lot of video and time to think about the way they play and make adjustments from the last time we played them.

"They're such a dangerous team if they play on their terms, and they're so well coached," Heal said.

"They run such a good system to be able to get each other the best possible shot, so as a team we have to play pick-and-roll defence really well."

Sydney started the season positively, winning four of their first seven games.

But Heal wasn't convinced, replacing import Jesse Sanders with former NBA player Sam Young.

The Kings dropped five of their next six games - including the two against the Hawks - before they charged back into contention with their recent hot streak.

"When we played Wollongong, we were right in the middle of that four-game losing streak," Heal said.

"We averaged in the 60s during that six-game period. Over the last six games we averaged about 98, so we're a completely different team. We were always going to be able to settle in and get them to understand what their roles are with such a big influence like Sam coming in," Heal said.

Young went missing in the initial meeting with the Hawks, hitting just 5/13 shots and racking up seven turnovers.

He was far more effective in the second clash, tallying 28 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks, a steal and only one turnover.

"It was a real big experience for Sam to come into, because he's used to playing an NBA style where the court is so much more open, so it couldn't be a bigger contrast playing against Wollongong and their switching zone," Heal said.

"For somebody like Sam, it's a real adjustment and learning experience playing against the Hawks.

"We've had to re-visit that during the week as far as what he has to expect against Wollongong."


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