PUT yourself in the position of the Wollongong Hawks players and coaches.
Their relief and excitement about the NBL club being lifted to safety on Tuesday has been tempered by the understanding most of them are thousands of dollars out of pocket, at the end of the voluntary administration process.
The Hawks are safe, for now at least, boosted by renewed corporate support from within the Illawarra business community.
The NBL will, as expected, continue with eight teams, the bare minimum for any national competition able to take itself seriously.
The Hawks remain close to the players’ hearts and still their best career option, because quite obviously, there’s few other opportunities to be a professional basketballer in Australia.
The creditors report, however, lays it all bare, revealing several players will miss out on more than $18,000 each.
In Wednesday’s Mercury, coach Gordie McLeod revealed several members of last year’s squad were still considering their futures as a result.
The story, written by colleague Simon Brunsdon, was accused of being a beat-up, but here’s the brief honesty session.
As professional and honest as ever, McLeod’s comments reflect the mood in the camp.
Rather than dive headlong into discussions about recruitment and planning, McLeod remained unsure about his position and knew the players were privately seething about being left out of pocket.
He measured his comments accordingly.
If anyone in basketball in Australia, let alone the Illawarra, can speak with unquestioned authority, it’s Gordie McLeod.
Of course, McLeod cannot be contracted as Hawks coach while the club is in voluntary administration.
But surely, if McLeod is the man to lead the Hawks forward, as general manager Kim Welch declared in Thursday’s Mercury, talks should already have been well advanced.
As a result of the adminstration, the Hawks are already three months behind other NBL clubs, having won just six games and finishing at the bottom of the ladder last season.
The next four months, before the start at the NBL season, will be the most important in the club’s history.
Not only does McLeod, assuming he signs on, have to assemble a competitive squad, he also has to help the group move on and ensure the dire financial situation doesn’t erode the club culture.
We have already seen how much the players struggled to deal with much-loved Dave Gruber’s exit, a messy situation for all involved.
It’s also a chance for Spenceley to show what his era as owner is all about, after a false dawn in the eight months prior to the club entering voluntary administration.
The Hawks have now cleared more than $500,000 in debt owed to the NBL and $200,000 owed to the tax man.
Players like Oscar Forman and Larry Davidson should be rewarded for their loyalty and dedication to the cause in difficult circumstances.
The return of NBL MVP Rotnei Clarke would be the type of signing which would show the club is being invested in and there is a bright future ahead.
Timpano the right man
WHAT a week of triumph and turmoil for sport in the Illawarra.
Aside from the Hawks returning to the NBL, Jacob Timpano was on Friday appointed to replace Nahuel Arrarte at the South Coast Wolves.
The former Wolves and A-League defender, whose shocking run of injuries has continued since signing with Dapto Dandaloo this year, is just the man for the job.
Timpano, a Mercury regular in Tuesday’s Shoot-out column, knows what is required at the highest level and has the temperament and support of the playing group to ensure the Wolves are a competitive force this season.
South Coast surfer Sally Fitzgibbons continued the remarkable week.
Fitzgibbons suffered a perforated ear drum during the early rounds of the World Surf League event in Fiji, but carried on to win.
One of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, Fitzgibbons’ determination to carry on and succeed destroys the stereotype about the surfing tour being all glitz and glamour.