lllawarra NBL coach Rob Beveridge is hoping a hostile Hawks crowd don’t fire up Jerome Randle.
Import point guard Randle will debut for last-placed Sydney on Thursday in Wollongong, where he’s sure to get a hot reception.
Before last seasons’s semi-finals series, Randle – then playing for Adelaide – was reported as saying there were a lot of dirty players on the Illawarra team.
“I know our crowd will get after him. There’s no doubt about that; he knows that; everybody knows that,” Beveridge told AAP on Wednesday.
“That’s part of the sport and, hopefully, it doesn’t put him in a situation that he thrives on it and it hurts us.”
Beveridge had a good insight into reigning league MVP Randle when he coached him on the NBL All-Australian team who played China away in July in a three-game series.
“He’s one of the most-competitive people I’ve ever come across,” Beveridge said,
Randle, who can expect another adverse crowd reaction on Saturday when he faces the 36ers in Adelaide, suggested he wouldn’t pay attention to the fans in Wollongong.
“I know it’s not going to be a good fan welcome for me, but it is what it is,” Randle said.
“I’m a basketball player; I don’t listen to the fans – at all,” added Randle, who called Beveridge a great coach and one he always respected.
They put the acrimony of the semi-final series behind them, when they reached out to each other through social media before going to China.
Beveridge hopes his in-form team can capitalise on the fact that Randle and Sydney’s other new import, former NBA big man Jeremy Tyler, who only joined them last Friday, will have had little time to adjust to the Kings’ style before Thursday’s game.
“It’s going to take them a little bit of time for them to gel, so I’m hoping that because we’re starting to play well and they are changing again, that hopefully that will work for us,” Beveridge said.
Fifth-placed Illawarra (4-5) have won three straight, all on the road, but Beveridge emphasises the Hawks are still some way off their best.
“I know we’ve got an enormous amount of potential, absolutely huge, and that’s what I’m excited about,” Beveridge said.