WELL, another Illawarra Hawks season is run and done. As always, there’s probably plenty more to be written over the off-season but, as far as on the court’s concerned, it’s a wrap.
The Hawks will give out their end-of-season awards on Friday but, as it’s HOOPLA’S last run for NBL 2019, it’s fitting to give out some awards of our own.
MVP: There’s only a finger nail in it but Brian Conklin gets the nod just ahead of Todd Blanchfield. King Conk led the Hawks in points per game, field goals and percentage, was second in minutes, second in rebounds and fourth in assists.
No doubt he became a marked man with the officials as the season progressed but was still the consistent force in a wildly inconsistent season.
Team Performance of the Year: Home win over Perth and away win over Sydney get honorable mentions but – it may surprise some – the quadruple overtime loss to Melbourne in round one earns this one.
Sure it was a loss but it was one of the more incredible games this columnist has witnessed. The enormity of four overtimes, and the clutch plays both sides repeatedly produced to make it happen, would put it in the final for ‘best game of the 40-minute era’.
Individual Performance of the Year: Another one that people might find surprising. We’ve gone for Dave Andersen’s 21-point effort against Perth in round 10.
Less than 48 hours after a pasting at the hands of New Zealand, the Hawks trailed by 15 before storming home to win with Andersen’s early efforts the platform.
The Hawks ultimately missed the playoffs, but their season would have been done there and then had they not produced the win. Andersen will continue his career next season and performances like that show why it’s the right call.
Standout Moment of the Year: A no-brainer – Jordair Jett’s weaving drive to the basket to beat four defenders and drop the match-winning shot against Adelaide on the road in round eight. After a lengthy absence due to injury Jett showed he’s still got plenty to offer the NBL. Should have been the NBL’s Sixth Man of the Year and he was no doubt the Hawks defensive player of the year.
Breakout performance of the year: Another no contest. Emmett Naar’s 18 points at 7/8 from the field in a road win over Sydney was described by Rob Beveridge as the best he’s seen from a young point-guard.
It was a veteran showing from a rookie that hints at what the Hawks faithful can look forward to. He’s now a Boomer alongside Dan Grida, while Marshall Nelson and Nic Pozoglou showed they have plenty of upside.
Hopefully it presents a bright future for the Hawks.
HOOPLA’S shout: Some might call it the most coveted award of the lot – the player who earns a drink or 10 on us. This year, HOOPLA’s buying a beer for the veteran Tim Coenraad.
Going all the way back to when he first arrived out of college, the Hawks were the only team willing to take a punt on him. All these seasons later and he’s the foundation club’s third-longest serving player.
Even more recently people have thought his career was on the wane for the last number of seasons only to see him re-invent himself and find new ways to contribute – in particular defensively and on the boards which were not his natural strengths.
When he re-signed for two years at the end of last season people wondered what sort of role he would play but, in switching to the four spot he made several telling cameos in the second unit.
As the team’s ‘zone-buster’, he proved in incredibly tough cover for rival defences and you can bet he’s still a regular dot point on opposition scouts.
It’s not a contribution that’s readily apparent on the stat-sheet but you don’t have the career he’s had without being a selfless teammate and a dedicated glue-guy.
Earning a maiden Boomers call-up at 33 is testament to those qualities and it’s impossible to me happier for the guy. Well done Timmy, beers’ on us.