You won't find a more selfless player than Hawks skipper Sam Froling, so it's surprising to hear he copped a polite verbal from one of the club's new arrivals early on in the preseason.
"At the start of the preseason Mason (Peatling) came up to me and said 'I understand you guys were the main two last year, but there's other guys on the court now'," Froling recalls.
"I think there was about five possessions in a row where me and Tyler (Harvey) just passed it back and forth to each other because that's what we were so used to doing [last season]."
It says a lot about why a player like Peatling - an experienced head who cut his professional teeth in championship-winning team - was such a valuable pick-up, and plenty about how tough last season was for the foundation club.
For the second half of the campaign, the Hawks weren't within cooee of victory if one of co-captains Froling or Tyler Harvey didn't go for 20-plus points. On most nights, it took both of them to do so.
While plenty's been made of the bolstered arsenal coach Jacob Jackomas has at his disposal this season, Froling says it will naturally take time for all the moving parts to align.
"Over this preseason as we've been learning about the guys and it's a little disrupted with J-Rob (Justin Robinson) being out for so long," Froling said.
"It's just working these other guys out, working out how J-Rob plays with us, working out how Gary (Clark) plays with us. Gary's going to be a big piece for us, so working out how he plays is important.
"We're learning how each guy plays and where to put each other in the best position. With the talent we have, we're going to be able to do that and fill each other's roles when someone's not going too hot.
"That's where having such a deep front court will help. There's going to be nights where I'm not too good and Lachy (Olbrich) is going to have to step up. There's going to be nights where Gary might not be too hot and Mason's going to have to come in and play that role.
"You know what you're gonna get from Mason every night, I've got to work out how to play with J-Rob. I think we're starting to piece it together now and we're starting to get some really good stuff going, especially the starting group."
It's not the only concern lingering from last season, with Jackomas conceding his side were perhaps too invested in the result of Saturday's season-opener against Sydney to really get in sync.
It's not a conclusion Froling disagrees with as his side heads into Saturday's clash with South East Melbourne in Wollongong attuned to how important a strong start to season is for its finals aspirations.
"Winning early is not the be-all and and end-all, but towards the end of the year it really helps," Froling said.
"The two years when we did make finals, we started out really well. The first year was 4-0, the second year we were 3-1.We want to start that run earlier rather than getting halfway through the season and being like 'oh man, I hope this team beats them so we can make finals'. That's not where we want to be, we want to be well clear of that into the finals.
"Especially for the guys returning from last year where didn't get a lot of wins, a few of us might have been a bit caught up thinking 'we need a win, we need a win' but Jacob's right, it's the process of winning and getting better that will put those wins on the board.
"We'll obviously learn from the weekend, reflect on it and keep building on that."
The NBL is following Hawks Next Star AJ Johnson through the NBL campaign for forthcoming behind-the-scenes documentary. Footage: NBL
While an 0-2 start at home would be nudging disaster, Jackomas has spent the six-day preparation looking to loosen his team up ahead of what shapes as a do-over on their home floor.
"I think we cared a bit too much and didn't worry about the process of winning," Jackomas said.
"We just cared about the result and you could see it. We had a great crowd, so wanting to do it for our fans after what happened last year and a bit of wanting to do it for each other, there was tension with the guys and even myself.
"It rushed our shots and it rushed us on defence. We probably needed to slow it down and take it step by step.
"It's also a good thing because it shows how passionate we all are about it. Winning is important to every competitor, I think we just went about it the wrong way. It's a lesson learned for us and we will be better this week."
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