Tuesday, February 23, 2010
I guess there was a bit more positivity, knowing that we got home court advantage. There’s no secret to it with our road record nowhere near as good as our home record. It gives us confidence knowing that we are definitely going to get two games at home.
It has been a dream season for the Hawks in 2009/10, what do you think are the reasons for such a successful season?
I believe our group has gelled really well. I’m pretty sure we have got the best team chemistry in the league. When you look at our team we don’t have guys that are putting up 20 a game at the moment. We had Ty McKee at the start of the season and it was unfortunate that he went down. But right now we have got a nice spread of scorers, veterans that provide great leadership and Larry Davidson’s been amazing this whole campaign. He is definitely the most improved player in the NBL this season. Most importantly we play together, share the ball and play team defence.
Your club is promoting you as the Rookie of the Year for this season, what can you put that down too?
The lack of rookies in the league. (Laughs) Wagstaff from Perth has also had a great season. I am a bloke that works as hard I can. Before and after practice I get extra shots up. Gordie McLeod has given me a great opportunity. There are a lot of guys in my situation that wouldn’t be seeing as much court time as I’m getting. I get to back up two of the most all round players in the game, Matt Campbell and Glen Saville, so I’m learning plenty and at the same time getting some burn and some court time.
How is Gordie McLeod approaching the finals series, has he been any different to what he was during the regular season?
Nothing has really changed; we are going to stick with a working formula. We got here one way and our record shows for it. The only thing that has been said is that we got to lift to playoff intensity.
How has it been playing with inspirational skipper Matt Campbell? Has he given the team that extra drive needed to push you guys through to the finals after Tywain McKee got injured?
He is definitely a big contributor to the team and obviously he is the saviour around here. He is the reason why we are all playing. That’s definitely inspiration in itself. He himself wanted to save the club, he has played here his whole career, and he has gone out there and put it on his shoulders to make sure that we and I have a job.
Playing such a key role off the bench for the Hawks, how are you going to establish yourself in the finals series?
Gordie always tells us when we come in to be aggressive. This is a chance to cement ourselves during the finals. I definitely can’t be taking a step backwards. So I’ll be continuing the stay aggressive in the right spots. I want to really pick up on my defence; I feel my defence for the last couple of games has been a bit lacklustre so I really want to step up on that end of the floor.
Do you feel like you’re living in a fairy tale or don’t you believe in anything like that?
I’m not going to lie it does feel like that, but we have a great group. Practices are competitive and fun and we are getting to do what we love for a living. The team has come together, we get second place, then I can’t really expect more for my first season in the league. I’m not satisfied by any chance, especially when you get to this point of the season. One up in a best of three series and we have got a chance to make the NBL Finals. There is no time to sit back and think this is amazing, you got to keep pressing forward.
The belief in the camp must be sky high; do you feel the Wollongong Hawks have what it takes to win the NBL Championship?
We know we have what it takes; it’s just going to come down to performing away from our home court. Because when we play team basketball we feel like there is no one who can beat us. We do play best when we are at home, everybody does. When we play team basketball and we’re helping each other out on defence it gives us great confidence.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Q & A with Damian Martin
At the moment I’m just really excited but I’m sure the closer the game gets, I’m sure there will be some nerves. But now I’m really excited to be a part of post season play.
How did it feel when you received the call from Bevo asking you to come over to Perth?
I was over the moon, after being disappointed that there was going to be no Sydney team and knowing if I was to continue to play I’d have to move. Once I got to Perth and realised how beautiful it was, it became a bit of a no brainer.
You have been coached by Rob Beveridge many times in your basketball career, what makes him such a great coach?
I just like how passionate he is! He has been very loyal to me since I was a junior and gave me a good opportunity with NSWIS and the AIS with the Junior Australian Team (Emus). I’ve had him as my coach for a long time now and we have had some success so it only seems right to stay with him.
What is Perth life like compared to Gloucester in country NSW?
(Laughs) It’s a bit bigger, it’s pretty laid back like Gloucester which I love but it’s also on the beach so it’s nice to be able to go surfing whenever I want.
You have had to guard one of the most exciting point guards to come to this country in Corey ‘Homicide’ Williams, if you are to meet in the NBL Final how will you go about defending him?
Corey’s one of those guys that can probably score 20 points if he really wants too but it’s just a matter of making sure that if he is going to score them that he is shooting it at a low percentage. I’ve got to try and stick with him, stay in front of him and make him shoot the jump shot, otherwise if he gets to the rack you got to be right next to him and have good help side defence the whole time.
Yourself and Brad Robbins have become a two-headed defensive monster this season, what is it like going head to head at training?
It gets pretty full on; there are no easy days at practice because we are always matching up on each other. I think he is the best defensive guard in the league so it’s always a pain in the arse to go against him every day.
Your first opponent in the NBL Final Series is the Gold Coast Blaze which will put you up against an in form Adam Gibson. How do you go about guarding Gibbo?
He is just a solid all round player. I think you got to try and get up and into him but he is a guy who can penetrate. You also have to respect his three point shots as well. I will just be treating him like any other guard in the league but he does have that all round game so I just got to make sure he doesn’t get any open looks at the basket.
What is the feeling in the camp heading into Game 1 against the Gold Coast Blaze?
It’s just excitement right now just a couple of days out. We started scouting Gold Coast but you know we have played them four times this season so the game is more about what we do and how we execute as opposed to what they’re going to run because we are all aware of it. We are just putting the final marks on our execution. It’s all about getting ready more mentally than physically.
How are you going to prepare yourself for the finals?
You’d like to think that every game has the same routine but I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t getting extra shots up or watching more video. It’s just an exciting time of the year so everyone’s doing the extra bits to make sure that they’re not going to be the reason that let the team down. Everyone’s excited to do their best and help the team get a win.
What will you be doing on game day to get yourself ready? Do you have any superstitions that you do every game day?
I have a massive bowl of pasta about three hours before tipoff otherwise I spend the rest of the day sleeping so it’s a pretty boring day for me.
Is your family coming over to watch you play in the finals?
I got a brother and his girlfriend living in the Gold Coast so he was over the moon when he saw that we were playing them. He’ll get to watch a game but I’ve been told that if we either go to the third game or make the Grand Final that my dad will be coming over along with my little brother. So that’s exciting that they will be able to come to Challenge Stadium for a semi final or the Final.
Playing at ‘The Jungle’, it is a very hostile environment to play in, what do you think makes them one of the toughest crowds to play against?
The fact that it’s an intimate stadium, it sits 4400 and it sells out every week. Lachy Reed the court announcer is just unbelievable at getting everyone riled up, standing on their feet and getting into the players. We have a pretty smart crowd as well so they know who to boo and who to go after. To see 4,400 standing on their feet, heckling you for the whole game it’s just fantastic. Well for the opposition not so much, but it is for us.
Are the Wildcats the team to beat in the NBL Finals?
I hope so. We are going in with a lot of confidence and I’m glad we are playing the Gold Coast because they’re the only team that has beat us three times so if we are to win the whole thing then it would be nice to knock the Gold Coast out. Then no one can have the bragging rights except us. We are very confident and I think we have done everything we possibly can to put ourselves in a position to win it.
Monday, February 8, 2010
FIVE TEAMS, 4 SPOTS, WHO WILL MISS OUT?
The 2009/10 NBL season is set to be one of the closest yet as five teams battle it out to make the playoffs. With one round remaining in the regular season, playoff positions one to four are up for grabs.
Perth(16-11) have one game remaining against Townsville(15-11) at home, the Wildcats will need to win this game by more than two points to secure the minor premiership and take home court advantage throughout the finals. Perth are the only side who are guaranteed a playoff spot. Shaun Redhage has had a rough couple of months and surely will be ready to catch fire over the next month. If Perth can win their last game and take that home court advantage throughout the finals they will be very very tough to beat in the playoffs.
Townsville have two matches remaining one being against cellar dwellers Adelaide at home and the other being against Perth at the ‘The Jungle’. It could come down to this match to see who comes first. Townsville must not lose by more than two points if it comes down to this match for the minor premiership. Can Williams go and run a muck in Perth like he has done in previous years?
The Gold Coast Blaze (15-11) has two fixtures remaining. The Blaze will travel to New Zealand (13-13) and then cross the Tasman to play against the Tigers in Melbourne. Both games are going to be extremely tough, Breakers are hot on the trot while Melbourne will be farewelling Chris Anstey and Sam MacKinnon. Somehow I don't think they are going to want to go out losers.
The Wollongong Hawks (14-12) continue to deliver when it matters most. Their playoff destiny is in their hands when they face Melbourne at home and then travel to Adelaide which could decide their season. Will point guards Rhys and Luke Martin handle the pressure to stay alive in the NBL competition. They have been the surprise packet of the 2009/10 competition so it won't be out of the ordinary if they do hold on. Their home ground this year has been a fortress but with Anstey and Sammy Mac playing their last couple of games somehow I think it may be broken. This could mean their playoff spot could hinge on a trip to Adelaide, the Dome is a very tough place to win in and an extremely hostile environment.
The New Zealand Breakers are the hottest team in the NBL at the moment. Four wins in a row has allowed them a final chance to grab a playoff spot. Red hot Kirk Penney has found his touch of late and looks unstoppable. Added motivation for the team being Tony Ronaldson calling the quits they wouldn't want the champion to miss the playoffs in his last season. For them to make the finals they will need to win both games in Round 20. They face the Blaze at home and then travel to Cairns. If they can beat the Blaze at home then the trip to Cairns should be no problem with that added incentive to make the finals.
SUMMER OF CRICKET
This summer of Cricket has been an absolute JOKE! West Indies and Pakistan you should never have come to our country and made fans pay to watch you lot play. Maybe you should have had your own series in your own country.It's sad because Australians love their cricket and Cricket Australia should be bringing the best to our country.
I wonder though if it is a ploy to help boost the confidence of our star players ahead of the crucial Ashes Series later this year. It's not a dumb thing to do but if it is the case how dare they charge premium pricing to the fans. South Africa, India, New Zealand(at times) and Sri Lanka all are World Class opposition, why the hell didn't we treat the fans with better competition. Maybe the Aussies should just play 20/20 and cancel all the 50 over matches against these morons, atleast then they're a chance. If Australia don't bat first in a 50 over match in this tri series then it is not worth paying the money to go and watch. Are Australia really that good at the moment or do you think we may struggle against better opposition? Will these easy matches hurt us when the tougher matches come round, not having played in a tight contest for some of these young pups eg Bollinger and Harris, could lead to nerves or panic.I don't know how they justified bringing these losers out here but I certainly hope they've done the right thing.
I also can't believe the move that Cricket Australia/NSW wants to make to Homebush. It doesn't make sense when you think about the proud history the SCG has and all the money put in to build the new grandstand. It's as if the board hasn't seen the damage the Olympic Stadium has done to the Rugby League crowd numbers.Not to mention the $20 million that Cricket Australia will lose from their Commonwealth Bank sponsorship if the move happens. What sort of imbisile would want to lose that sort of money?
The Ashes better live up to it's high expectations otherwise 2010 may be seen as one of the lowest points in Australian Cricket History.
Monday, February 1, 2010
THE NBL IS HEATING UP
NBL season is shaping up to be a cracker towards the end of the season with as many as 6 of the 8 teams still fighting for the playoffs. To give you all an indication of how your team is shaping up against the rest check out below.
- New Zealand have the split on Melbourne(beating them 3 of the 4 times), Townsville(beating them 3 of 4). They will not have the split over Wollongong already having lost three times to them with one game to play. This is the same with Perth. With one game to play against Gold Coast, the Breakers will have to beat them by more than seven points to gain the split which could be crucial if the Blaze slip up over their next four matches, they also have the split on Melbourne. It is going to come down to the wire for the Breakers, I do see them beating Cairns, Wollongong and possibly the Blaze. If they can win all three then I think they will gain fourth spot and be a real competitor during the final series.
- Gold Coast have such a tough run to the playoffs with their last four games coming against teams vying for the playoffs.They do not have the split against Townsville losing 3 of the 4 fixtures. With a game left against Perth they must not lose by more than 4 points to keep the split, against Melbourne they must not lose by more than 14, they will need to beat Wollongong by more than 11 and not lose to New Zealand by more than 7. The Blaze are playing extremely well and it will be a telling time over the next four games, if they can win 3 out of the 4 games they will place themselves deep in to the finals picture and possibly set themselves up for a top two finish.
- Townsville must not lose to Perth by more than two in the final game of the year, they don't have the split against Wollongong losing three of the four matches, they have the split against the Blaze and Melbourne and lost three of the four games to New Zealand. With two of their last three matches at home and against Adelaide and Cairns it seems it could come down to their last fixture against Perth to decide whom is going to be in the top two.
- Wollongong lost the split to Perth after getting belted in the last fixture, they've got the split against Townsville, need to beat Melbourne by more than 9, must not lose to the Blaze by more than 11 and they hold the split over New Zealand beating them three times. With four tough matches standing in their way (NZ in NZ, Gold Coast and Melbourne at home, and Adelaide in Adelaide) could it mean all the hard work done up until now could mean nothing? I think they could be heading out the door.
- Perth need to beat Townsville by more than two at home, must not lose to Melbourne by more than 5, hold the split on the Hawks, must beat the Gold Coast by more than 4 in the GC, and have the split on NZ. This Round their three game road trip could decide if Perth finish in the Top Two and allow the Jungle to be in full swing come finals time.
- Melbourne must beat Perth by more than 5, not lose to the Hawks by more than 9, beat GC by more than 14 and do not have the split against either New Zealand or the Crocs. Good night Melbourne Tigers.
FEDERER AND WILLIAMS CROWNED IN MELBOURNE!
How did my predictions go you may ask? I predicted for the Fed express to be right up amongst it and not to be too surprised if the genius wins it once again. TICK. I predicted Andy Murray would be right up there beating Rafa Nadal in the semi to make the final. TICK. Murray did not lie down in the final set, he could have thrown the towel in and cop an absolute beating but he had his chance at 5-3 serving for the third but crumbled giving Feds the chance to get back in the match. The tie breaker in the third set will be one that I'll remember for a long time. Many chances for both players to take the match, each allowing the other player right back in the contest. It seemed Federer had the jitters and Murray looked the goods to make it to the fourth but just couldn't find the open court a couple of times. My other prediction of Davydenko wasn't too far off, he took it to Federer in the quarter final winning the first set and sending all the fans into a panic. But it wasn't to be, as an angry Federer smashed his way through the next three sets.
On the womens side I was wrong with Serena crumbling and succumbing to injury, she fought through her matches and was never really troubled, using her big serve to get her through the tournament. It looks as if she isn't trying at times and I wondered how she gets through her matches. I felt she should have been beaten by Azarenka but the pressure of beating the world number one in a grand slam got to the young girl and she crumbled while serving for the match not once but twice! I thought Serena's best game was against Sam Stosur, the way she served against the Aussie was nothing but absolutely brilliant. Sammy played one of her best games but just couldn't get a look in on her serve. CROSS. My second prediction was that of Elena Dementieva/Justin Henin. What a match that was! To watch two hard hitting females go at it was unreal, there was no holding back on any of the points and it left the fans standing and applauding at the matches end. With it looking as if Dementieva would take the tie breaker out Henin battled injury and cramps and hit some beautiful shots to take the match out. I felt as if Dementieva made some really poor decisions in that tie breaker and could easily have taken the match out if she ran Henin round a bit more. That drop shot was one of the worst decisions, but any player under pressure more than often does not come up with the goods.I predicted the match to be a blockbuster, hell yes it sure was. TICK.
My favourite matches of the tournament were:
- Baghdatis vs Ferrer. Five setter, Baggy coming back from two sets down to win.
- Dementieva v Henin. Henin in two.
- Murray beating Nadal was great to watch, as was any time Andy Roddick gets beat!
- Great to see two Chinese women making the semi finals of an open. Na Li was unreal against Williams and pushed her to the death.
- Hewitt smoking Baghdatis was great even though it was only for one set because Baghdatis is a cat...one question to all the Greek people who may read this, because he lost, do you still follow him or he is back to being a Cypriot?
- Tsonga v Djokovic was an unreal match. Those two hit the ball with such ferocity it was jaw dropping some of the shots that were played. Djokovic succumbing to a sickness but fought exceptionally hard in the latter part of the fourth set and early in the fifth before crumbling late in the fifth.