ILLAWARRA skipper Kevin White is at a loss to explain the slow starts that have plagued his side so far this season – but he admits they need to find a quick answer.
While sluggish third quarters have been the Hawks achilles heel in recent years – particularly on the road – they’ve flipped that trend on its head this season, emerging as the most effective second-half team in the league.
They’ve out-scored their opposition 293-284 in the second half through their opening six games, and 190-158 in their last four outings.
It says plenty about their fighting qualities but, at 2-4, White says it’s a moot point if they continue dropping games.
“At the end of the day, yeah we’ve put up some good fights, but we’re losing games,” White said.
“All teams go through testing times where you’re trying to find solutions and we’ve got to find a solution for the way we’re coming out in the first quarter.
“Last year we had the problem of our third quarter being our poorest quarter. That’s probably a worse situation than we’re in now because coming out of halftime, whether we’ve got a lead or we’re behind, we know we’re going to fight.
“That’s a positive mindset and a positive thing to have. If we can find the solution and be on-par early, hopefully that fight can come in in the third and fourth and we can roll over the top of teams.”
The trend was no more apparent than in their second loss to Melbourne a fortnight ago, a game that saw them cut a 22-point deficit to three before ultimately going down by six.
It’s something they can’t afford to repeat in their third clash with United in Wollongong on Thursday night.
“We went down there and went in with every bit of confidence and all of a sudden we were playing from 22 down,” White said.
“We got it back to two or three points and just a few mishaps on offensive rebounds and some tough shots from Casper [Ware] it was a six-point game.
“When we’ve got it right we’ve been really good. We got the win against Brisbane [after a slow start] but the last two games it’s been too much.
“We’ve got to find a way where we’re not starting from minus 20 and having to play out of a hole.”
Thursday’s game against Melbourne is the first of back to back home games for the Hawks, who will also host Perth in the second of two games at the WEC on Sunday
We’ve got to find a way where we’re not starting from minus 20 and having to play out of a hole.Kevin White
With four of their following five games on the road, White said they have to make the brief home stay count.
“Right now we’re holding home court so we’re happy with that but these are the games we need to start taking care of,” White said.
“If you go down 3-1 or 4-0 in series’ that’s when you find it hard to make playoffs. If we can stick with teams like Melbourne, Perth and Sydney and keep them at 2-all we’re a good chance.
“Melbourne already have their two so we’ve got to treat this as a must-win.”