HE’S normally a picture of joviality but Illawarra coach Rob Beveridge is more than capable of some hard chat.
It’s something Hawks forward Cody Ellis is well aware of after a sit-down with his coach at the end of last season.
It’s one he admits he wasn’t satisfied with having enjoyed a breakout NBL campaign a season earlier, finishing the year as part of Beveridge’s starting unit as the Hawks reached the semi-finals.
He struggled to find that same consistency in his second campaign in Wollongong and the message from Beveridge was clear in the aftermath.
At the end of the year I spoke to Bevo and he basically just said ‘I need you to come in in better shape’. I took it how it was and worked really hard in the off-season.Cody Ellis
“Bevo is very straightforward as everyone knows,” Ellis said.
“At the end of last season, I certainly wasn’t happy with how I played. I was very inconsistent all season.
“Part of that was the fact that, I was in good shape, but I wasn’t in great shape.
“At the end of the year when I spoke to Bevo, he basically just to me said ‘I need you to come in in better shape’. I took it how it was and I made sure I worked really hard in the off-season.”
Ellis averaged 16 points and five rebounds for the Stirling Senators in the SBL, but spent countless more hours in the gym shedding kilos from his frame.
It’s why he’s confident he’ll head into his fourth NBL season in Wollongong in career best shape, despite a bout of chicken pox that kept him out of the NBL blitz.
“I feel like I put in some good work in the off-season and after my [SBL] season was done over there I came into training and was training really well,” he said.
“To come down with chicken pox was obviously a bit frustrating to be out of action for 12 days and miss the Blitz and miss going on the road with the team for the first time.
“You kind of lose your touch when you’re not playing and training for that long.
“It’s certainly frustrating but you’ve got to look forward and get past that. I know I’m good to go.”
A fit and firing Ellis provides a welcome headache for Beveridge as he also looks to rotate new Boomer Nick Kay and veteran sharp-shooter Oscar Forman through the four spot.
It’s an in-house battle Ellis expects to bring out the best in arguably the deepest roster in the league.
“Bevo’s got such a tough job with all that talent we have in this roster,” Ellis said.
“He admits he gets it wrong some times but you can never fault a campaign when you make a grand final like we did last season.
“It’s the same again this year and it’s got to be difficult for him to put all the pieces together. As players, you’ve just got to take it how it is and it’s good because it makes you work a lot harder.
“You want to be playing, so you’ve got to outwork those guys in your position to make sure Bevo puts you in.”