Paulo Kennedy, Pagemasters
Tip-off: Friday, February 1, 7:30pm (local), Adelaide Arena
Broadcast: ONE, 9:30pm (local); NBL.TV (live to mobile; simulcast to web)
Last time they met: Wollongong 77 (Deleon 23, Hurdle 16, Davidson 12) d Adelaide 63 (Petrie 16), Round 4, Adelaide Arena
After his scintillating performance against Melbourne last round, Jason Cadee was asked at a press conference what he had for breakfast that day.
He responded: “Nothing out of the ordinary.” But coach Marty Clarke quickly cut in.
“A challenge,” he said.
“He got a challenge today, that’s what he got, a challenge that it’s a man’s league. He’s given us some really good minutes, hit a game-winning shot in Perth, got off his sick bed in Townsville, but what we talked about was consistent effort.”
After Cadee’s outstanding international junior career, Clarke had grown weary of watching him play like a boy in the NBL – and he made that perfectly clear.
For Cadee, it was a shock to the system.
“The fact I got challenged, maybe I got a bit crappy about it,” he said.
“But I turned it into a positive and said, ‘righto, this is the time’.”
While Clarke said his young floor leader had responded well and “needs to be commended”, he won’t be letting up now Cadee has set the bar so high.
“(The difference from being) good to (being) great is about those people who do things consistently – and that’s what Jason now has to do,” he said.
Coming into the 36ers' game against Wollongong, Clarke was not too subtle about some of his players' lack of toughness against the Tigers.
“We got the ball in the paint and guys chose to pass instead of shoot," he said, adding that might be a sign of "guys not wanting to get contact or not having the confidence to be able to score.”
“Just the whole physical play, offensive rebounds. There were multiple effort rebounds that were two or three (efforts) in a row that … were real backbreakers.”
Without a far greater effort in the one per cent areas, Clarke knows the Hawks’ execution will be very hard to conquer.
“It’s certainly been a bit of a mantra over the past few months, playing harder for longer," he said. "I think we play hard in patches but (it’s about) playing harder as a unit of five guys who are on the floor.”
Cadee’s 24 points on 4-of-6 three-point shooting against Melbourne was his career best in both categories.
The Hawks’ point guards have averaged 16.6 points and 5.8 assists against Adelaide in the past three seasons.
Wollongong have restricted Daniel Johnson to 37 per cent shooting and 5.2 rebounds a game the past two seasons. Against the rest of the NBL those numbers are 42 and 7.3.
In those games Larry Davidson has shot 53 per cent from the field and averaged 6.5 boards.
Wollongong’s devastating 2012/13 season has continued to get worse with the injury to Glen Saville. And with games against Perth and New Zealand to follow, this becomes a must-win affair.
Aside from Cadee, Adelaide looked to lack any belief until late in the game against Melbourne when they lifted the shackles.
The 36ers will need to carry this confident approach because a halfcourt battle will almost certainly see the disciplined Hawks prevail.
Melbourne exploited Johnson mercilessly at the defensive end and Wollongong have the sharpshooters in Davidson and Oscar Forman to do the same, as can the strong Dave Gruber around the basket.
If Adelaide can find the balance between disrupting Wollongong’s offence while still containing guards Adris Deleon and Malcolm Grant they stand every chance, but the Hawks’ experience makes them favourites to keep their noses in fourth spot.
Prediction: Hawks by 3