IF you’re looking to develop a ruthless scoring mentality, film of legendary Kiwi Kirk Penney is a good place to start.
Having a front-row seat to watch Penney go about his business in his lone season with the Hawks four years ago was as good as it gets in the sports writing caper.
It was impossible not to marvel at his off-the-ball movement and ability to find his shots. Watching him start 1-5 (or worse) from deep and finish 10-15 (or better) was equally incredible.
It came from the pure belief that his ‘bad’ shots were more bankable than some others’ best. It’s something current Hawks sharpshooter Todd Blanchfield has looked at closely.
The 27-year-old is the first to acknowledge the wide gap between nights like the one he enjoyed against New Zealand on Friday – 28 points at 83 per cent from the field – and his quieter efforts this season.
It’s due in part to the extra attention he’s attracted in opposition scouts as the Hawks main offensive focal point. It’s taken some time to come to grips with, but a look at Penney’s body of work has proven helpful.
“It’s definitely been different but I like to think of it as a compliment,” Blanchfield said of the extra attention.
“It’s the way teams are going to play me now and I have to adjust. That’s what the good players do.
“I remember guarding a guy like Kirk Penney and how crafty he was. He wasn’t the quickest guy, he was just strong and smart.
“To be able to add that to my game is something I want to do and I think it’s going to help me take my game to the next level.
“I’ve started to become a bit more of a student of the game and look at different things.
“Being a focal point of the scouting report is something that’s going to happen now and I’ve got to be able to adjust.”
It’s music to the ears for coach Rob Beveridge, who praised the ruthlessness the Boomers rep showed against the Beakers.
“What I loved was Toddy’s aggressiveness,” Beveridge said.
“He is our leading scorer and he’s a real confidence type of player. We’re trying to get him to just back himself, take some risky shots, take some bad shots.
“His bad shots are a lot better than some of the players in the team. I want him to be a lot more aggressive and he did that.”
It’s mindset Blanchfield says he's still developing, but Friday’s effort was another step in the right direction.
“It’s not really in my nature to take a bad shot but, Bevo says it a lot, it’s what I’ve got to do to continue to do to grow as a player,” he said.
“I felt really good [on Friday] and too see a few go through the hoop was really good.”
INSIDE MEN GET THE JOB DONE
BLANCHFIELD rightly got most of the raps on Friday, but the Hawks bigs deserve plenty of credit for their effort inside against the Breakers.
Shawn Long and Tai Wesley have been the league’s toughest inside duo to handle in recent weeks and Long gave Ogilvy, Andersen and Conklin a bath in their first meeting.
They turned the tables on Friday. Andersen did a typical veteran job on Long, drawing two fouls from the big man while Wesley also found himself in foul trouble.
They ultimately out-scored the Breakers 70-32 in the paint at 68.6 per cent.
They did a similar job against Sydney, Beveridge devising a plan to draw Andrew Bogut away from the rim and out-scoring them 50-30 in the paint.
“The emphasis was Wesley and Long in the 4-5,” Beveridge said.
“The last few weeks New Zealand have played exceptional basketball, particularly Wesley and Long.
“They’ve been the best big combination in the league and they’re the backbone of that team. I thought we did a hell of job in the way were trapping the post and rotating.
“It did allow someone like [Jarrad] Weeks to go off. They made a lot of threes, I think they were nine of 16 in that first half.
“It’s something I’ve got to wear rather than getting our arses kicked on the inside like what happened in New Zealand.
WEC STILL HAVING ISSUES
The Hawks fans almost lifted the roof off the WEC on Friday night but the venue itself again attracted attention for the wrong reasons.
NSW Fire Service attended mid-game when some burnt toast in the kitchen set off the fire alarm and engaged the sprinkler system. Fire Service said it was not a maintenance issue as the sprinkler system worked as designed.
However, earlier in the evening an issue with the net at the southern end of the arena saw staff forced to fit a new one on the run, limiting the visiting Breakers pre-game warm up to little more than two minutes.
It comes after the Hawks' previous home clash with Adelaide was halted for more than 10 minutes after the shot-clock froze early in the second quarter.
It saw eight minutes of the term played out with no shot-clock in place, leaving the NBL unimpressed and seeking assurances that the problem would not arise again.
Illawarra coach Rob Beveridge and 36ers counterpart Joey Wright also expressed frustration post-match, the latter highlighting that it was not the first time he's experienced technical issues at the venue.
The Hawks have also arrived at training in recent weeks to find moisture on the floor amid calls from stakeholders for an urgent upgrade to the state government venue.