IN sport it's the height of foolishness to form, or change, an opinion based on a single result but after the Hawks loss to Perth on Sunday.... I kinda did. Sort of anyway.
In the end it was a loss and the stark reality is that they're 1-6. If they lose to Brisbane this Sunday and go 1-7 you can put a line through their playoff hopes. Few would shout you down if you have already.
Prior to Sunday, the Hawks didn't look at all capable of turning it around. Matt Flinn was correct in saying his side had been 'in' all but one of their four losses over the opening three rounds.
When it came to tempo and dictating terms they never really looked like winning them either. The wheels just fell right off against the Breakers.
It made Sunday's bounce back against the Cats pretty remarkable. With just one recovery session between outings it's not as if Flinn and his team could really get down into the nuts and bolts of it.
The turnaround seemed largely attitudinal. It was enough to think the Hawks can salvage something from this season - if not a playoff run - from what was looking like a writeoff.
Flinn was already talking that way in the aftermath.
"The young group are going to get opportunity and the charter this year was certainly to give people opportunity," he said.
"We're looking long term at the future here and I don't want to borrow a phrase from Brett Brown and say 'trust the process' but we are putting time into developing players so we can look for a long-term future for the club.
"In three-four years time when these guys have had some solid miles under their belt in this league we're going to be really good. Obviously, at the moment, it's hit and miss."
Your columnist has often been left eyebrow-raised by Flinn's oft-repeated assertion that the Hawks have "such a young group" given that four of his 12-man roster are over 34. Seven are over 25.
More than anything else it speaks to Flinn's focus on the long game, which is far from misplaced, even if it doesn't align with fans who reasonably expect at least the pursuit of immediate success.
Expect this view to inform what could become a fresh search for two new imports given what's transpired over the last 48 hours. Scans on Monday confirming Aaron Brooks has ruptured his achilles.
It's devastating for a guy playing so well after returning from a long lay-off and a bitter pill for the Hawks to lose the best-credentialed import the club's had so early.
The Josh Boone question is more interesting. Hoopla's phone was abuzz on Sunday with questions about whether he was on his way out of Wollongong. Aussie hoops legend Shane Heal had heard enough of his own to raise the question live on the SBS coverage of the match.
Flinn and other club reps were coy on the matter - Boone sat on the bench with a broken nose - but to quote Shelbyville Homer: "There's a doin's a-transpiring."
It's unusual for the Hawks who, out of a lack of financial maneuverability, typically avoid the annual import silly season. This time around it does appear there could be changes afoot.
CLOSER TO ANSWERING THE BALL QUESTION
In our winter guise this column typically steers clear of social media. Fan comment on rugby league is a cesspit of blind negativity we can do without.
NBL fans, in particular the Hawks variety, are more (very) generally reasonable and hold more weight as a measure of wider fan sentiment. As such Hoopla peruses the pages often to get a gauge.
Hawks fans are angry, understandably. There are the other pompom wavers who claim "youz aren't real fans" to anyone who's critical.
You wouldn't be overly moved to argue with either but one thing we have found a bit off was all the "I feel sorry for Melo" commentary. Sorry what?
At 18 in his first pro league he's been given huge minutes with an offence completely built around him. Were he an ego problem those circumstances could well create a monster.
Thankfully he's not at all. He's doing well, his talent is limitless. He also has well-publicised deficiencies defensively and in field-goal percentage.
Those deficiencies have played as a much a role in the Hawks 1-6 start as anyone else. He's no more or less to blame, but he doesn't just get a pass because we're gazing at his star.
With Brooks' season done, the Hawks will become Melo's team and the wins-losses scrutiny will only heighten - and it should.
On that score though, his performance against Perth was encouraging. For an 18-year-old to return a 16-9-7 sheet against the defending champs was incredible, especially given he had two of the best on-ballers in Damian Martin and Mitch Norton on his case.
The way he went about it, though, would've been most pleasing for Flinn. With one exception, he didn't jack up silly threes and his overall pass-shot selection was outstanding.
In his his typically understated way, Ball put it down to not forcing his hand.
"Every shot I put up I believe is going in," Ball said.
"Every day I'm in gym doing my own little thing shooting It's just [about] how I feel. If I feel someone's open I pass it and I just pretty much let the game come to me."
GAZING AT THE GOAT
Still slightly on Ball, it was fun to see Twitter light up on Sunday when SBS caller Dwayne Russell asked "what were you doing when you were 18 years of age?" while watching Melo do his thing.
Many tweeters pointed out that Russell was sitting next to Andrew Gaze at the time, and tweeted his rookie stats that saw him average 29 points, six rebounds and four assists as 18-year-old.
In defence of Russell, he was asking the question of the viewer at home and not Gaze. Of course those stats were different time, different league and all that but boy, there's a reason Gaze will never not be the GOAT of this league.