11 years, 22 days. 577 weeks. 4,040 days. 96,960 hours. 349,056,000 seconds. That’s how long it has taken for the Illawarra Hawks to defeat the Perth Wildcats in Western Australia. Led by Glen Saville, Cortez Groves, and Adam Ballinger, the Hawks won 119-92 to start one of the longest droughts in NBL history.
That was until last Sunday, where Rotnei Clarke and a hot shooting Tim Coenraad held their nerve against a fast finishing Wildcats squad. What makes this week even better, that wasn’t the only drama in the league, with bottom feeders upsetting the big guns and a King leaving his throne.
Interesting fact: Shawn Redhage played in both games, scoring 18 points in 2005 but only two on Sunday.
Question of the Week
With second placed and last separated by only one game, is this the closest season ever?
Points per game: 81.3 (7); Points against per game: 80.4 (3); Net: +0.9 (3)
Perth wins top spot purely out of default because getting an eleven-year streak snapped would not have been a fun experience. The game was not played on Perth’s terms, as the Hawks scored nine more points than what Perth gives up on average.
The game was the battle of the bench, as all of Perth’s starters had positive plus/minus scores while their bench players were all in the negative. On the flip side, all of Illawarra’s starters were negative, and their bench had all positive scores.
Points per game: 82.7 (4); points against per game: 79.8 (1); Net: +2.9 (1)
When a team loses to last place twice in the same week, then they don’t belong on top of the power rankings. They wasted two great performances by Brad Newley and Kevin Lisch in losses to Melbourne and Adelaide, and the team needs to work on their road games because they look like they’re going through the motions.
Another loss is Steve Blake, who has returned to the USA because of family matters. Hopefully, this snaps Jason Cadee back to his form before Blake arrived in the Harbour City. Cadee averaged 17 points and five assists while shooting 45% from three before Blake, and then only nine points and three assists on 26% three-point shooting with Blake.
Points per game: 87.4 (2); Points against per game: 85.4 (6); Net: +2.0 (2)
It may have just been a regular season game but the way the Hawks celebrated this win it was like they had won the championship. Eleven years in the making, it was a great effort to hold off the Wildcats who gave it their all to claw back the game. Rotnei Clarke should never start another game as his production off the bench has been superb with another 20-point game. The real hero was Tim Coenraad with his three-point shooting on his way to 18 points.
The magnitude of this game can’t overshadow the rest of the season as they have New Zealand and Sydney next round which are two massive games to have after this emotional rollercoaster.
Points per game: 82.4 (5); Points against per game: 82.2 (4); Net: +0.2 (4)
The Bullets ran smack bang into an Adelaide 36ers freight train, losing the first quarter 36-18 and then the rest of the game had no intensity after that. One worrying statistic that the Bullets need to get under control is that they are giving up the highest field goal percentage of any team in the league (46.4%).
Points per game: 86.3 (3); Points against per game: 86.5 (7); Net: -0.2 (5)
Corey Webster needs to get his act together. For someone who is known for his scoring, his scoring has been incredibly woeful this season. Only 11.8 points per game and is third last in field goal percentage for players who play 25 minutes or more per game. 35.3% is just not good enough for someone who was an All-NBL Second Team member last year.
Points per game: 90.0 (1); Points against per game: 94.7 (8); Net: -4.7 (8)
There is only one team in the league that has won more away games than they have lost: the Adelaide 36ers. At 4-3, the Sixers are getting it done away from Titanium but unfortunately don’t like that home cooking, winning only one out of their four home games.
It’s great to see the young guys having a go, with Terrance Ferguson being moved to the starting line-up and Majok Deng adding eleven points in eleven minutes in the Sydney win. Youth revolution? Let’s hope so.
Points per game: 79.4 (8); Points against per game: 80.0 (2); Net: -0.6 (6)
It seems what Cairns needed was with them the whole time. They needed a scorer to improve their anemic point totals, and Travis Trice delivered in spades. 31 points and seven assists on 70% shooting is exactly what the Taipans needed. Last week this writer said, “the team doesn’t have that go-to scoring machine like a Jerome Randle or Chris Goulding.” It seems that they did have one, he was just injured.
Points per game: 81.7 (6); Points against per game: 83.0 (5); Net: -1.3 (7)
Yes, that was incredible for Melbourne to beat Sydney in Gaze’s return. Yes, Casper Ware’s game winner was spectacular and has bombarded us with “Friendly Ghost” puns from here until eternity. But it’s only one game, and they are still on the bottom of the ladder. Granted the team is only one win out of second place but that has more to do with the evenness of the league instead of Melbourne’s play on the court.
If they can beat New Zealand next round, it will give them a lot of momentum going into the halfway mark of the season.