Illawarra coach Rob Beveridge has urged the Hawks to learn from their wasteful round one display or risk seeing their finals aspirations take another early season hit this week.
That can come back and haunt us down the home stretch.Rob Beveridge
Beveridge was furious after the Hawks let a three quarter time lead slip to fall 88-87 to the Cairns Taipans last Friday night.
While the season is only a week old, Beveridge knows that every result will be crucial in the club’s pursuit of a top-four spot.
That fact has added significance for the Hawks, who have the toughest start to the season of any club including away matches against defending champions Perth Wildcats and arch rivals Sydney Kings in round two.
“I am pretty pissed off about it and I hope our players take it to heart as well because that's the one that got away,” Beveridge said of their first round loss.
“That can come back and haunt us down the home stretch.”
Illawarra desperately need to pick up one win on the road to kick-start their season. Friday’s showdown in Perth will undoubtedly be the tougher of the two assignments.
The match will have added importance as Illawarra look to exact revenge from last year’s grand final defeat.
Illawarra broke a decade long win-less run in Perth last season, but were no match for the Wildcats on the competition’s biggest stage.
They will need to be at their best to beat the Cats, who were victorious in round one, at Perth Arena.
Illawarra did show flashes of what they could be capable of this season against the Taipans, but ultimately had themselves to blame for the opening round defeat.
New imports Demetrius Conger and Delvon Johnson both had strong moments in their regular season debuts.
Conger highlighted his versatility as he tallied 17 points on the night.
The display didn’t go unnoticed by Beveridge.
But the coach believes he needs to find a way to better utilise his gun forward as the season wears on.
"He is a tremendous player, there is no doubt. As I coach, I have to do a better job of getting the ball in his hands at times,” Beveridge said.
"I have to get the ball in Rotnei's [Clarke] hands at different times. As coaching staff we have to find a way for that to happen but in return the players also have to accept some responsibility of locking down in defence, not fouling and coming up with 1 per-centers.
“If they do that we can be a pretty good team this year.”
Illawarra back up the tough road trip to Perth with a match against arch rivals Kings on Sunday afternoon.
The Kings fell 105-96 to the Adelaide 36ers in their round one clash.