Don’t tell Hawks coach Rob Beveridge that Illawarra have nothing to play for over the final three games of the season.
The NBL title-winning mentor has no intention of letting his troops coast into an early off-season despite their elimination from the finals race last week and a disappointing loss to the Brisbane Bullets on Thursday night.
“To me it is about challenging them on who they are as individuals,” Beveridge said.
“We came out [on Thursday] as if the season was over and that’s not good enough because the season isn’t over.
“This is our job. We are professional athletes and coaches. I expect and demand from our players that when they turn up to work they give 100%. In that first half [in Brisbane] they didn’t turn up [attitude wise].
“I can see why they’re flat with the disappointment, but now it’s like, get over yourself. We have to play this whole season out.”
Beveridge was content with the way his side came out in the second half of their 99-91 loss to Brisbane and wanted it to be the blueprint for how they play the final two rounds. Hawks import Rotnei Clarke said the onus on the Hawks squad, who are predominately off contract at the end of the season, to ensure that happens.
“It’s on us,” he said.
“He shouldn’t have to say much to get us to show up in the first couple of quarters. We are professionals and play professional basketball.
“I have family, there is people with families on this team. People who don’t have families, might be working for another contract and this is their livelihood. This is a profession. Obviously coach hasn’t been in this position before but that’s not on him, that’s on us.”
Illawarra play Adelaide 36ers at home on Sunday before facing title hopefuls New Zealand Breakers and Melbourne United to finish their campaign.
Illawarra have a chance to rebound in quick time when Adelaide travel to Wollongong.
The 36ers humbled the Hawks twice in the space of three days in late January, inflicting defeats of 22-points and 19-points.
"They made a statement. It was men versus children,” Beveridge said of the games.
"That was probably the biggest arse kicking we have had as a club in a long time.
"Right now we are going out to beat them. We have to have a little bit of pride and defend our home court.
"Last time we played them, they absolutely dominated us. They were the best team we played against this season.
"Let's circle Sunday's date because what a challenge it is going to be.”