Illawarra legend Damon Lowery has called on the Hawks to "go out there and bleed" for the jersey and general manager Mat Campbell is singing from the same hymn-sheet as his championship-winning teammate in the wake of Jacob Jackomas' sacking.
In a blistering take on the NBL Now podcast, Lowery said players at his beloved Hawks should be "ashamed" to have seen the sacking of a head coach and that they owe it to fans to respond against the Breakers on Sunday.
"It ain't no time for getting around in a circle singing kumbaya, it is war time," Lowery thundered as part of a broader missive.
Having made the decision on Jackomas while the Hawks' play-in chances remained afloat, Campbell puts the onus on the players to step up for interim coach Justin Tatum.
"It's on the playing group right now," Campbell said.
"I've got a firm belief that this roster is a competitive roster and it's a group of guys who really do care about each other, we're just yet to see that consistently come through on the floor.
"At the end of the day, we are a professional basketball team that is assessed on the wins and losses and we wanted to make a change before the season was lost.
"We've made some changes in the coaching ranks to try and improve and trying to help that process come to fruition a bit quicker.
"We've still got a real belief in this group and we certainly haven't given up on the opportunity to make the finals but, at the end of the day, the players are the ones that can control it."
While it was tough to make the call on Jackomas, Campbell felt the rookie coach, and parts of the playing group, struggled to shrug off the demons of last season's horror 3-25 campaign.
"I think the carryover from last year is real," Campbell said.
"It's real with the playing group and it's real with the coaching staff that were part of that last season's struggles. It was a challenging year but from the perspective of building a long-term sustainable program, it's always about trying to see progression.
"With this year's roster we thought we had a more competitive team than last season as far as our talent level. We obviously understand that the league itself went up another notch, but what we found over the first nine games of this year is that progression hasn't kept moving in the direction we wanted."
The front office isn't expecting miracles from Tatum, with Campbell confirming the club will consider different options through the FIBA window, but there's confidence a voice unburdened by last season's struggles can inject fresh energy into the roster.
"Jacob challenged the group over the last two-to-three weeks and probably didn't see the group respond to that challenge," Campbell said.
"The new challenge that we're moving into now with Justin as the interim coach is to see if the playing group can rise with Justin on his journey. He has opened it up to the floor to say that everybody has a clean slate right now.
"He's open to what it's going to look like and playing time will be based on what's produced on the floor in practice and then obviously carried over into the game.
"There's no preconceived court-time guarantees, but we just want to see a group of players that actually want to play for, not just the coach, but for the Illawarra itself."
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