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Jul 18

Coenraad chairman of the boards

Wollongong forward Tim Coenraad is reaping the rewards of all of his hard work in the off-season. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHANBASKETBALL
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TimCoenraad is quietly fulfilling a goal to become a consistently reliable force under the boards.

The Wollongong Hawks forward is averaging a team-leading 7.4 rebounds per game, fourth in the league.

McLeod stays positive

Coenraad, who is also averaging 8.8 points on 42.6 per cent shooting, worked hard on his conditioning during winter and is reaping the benefits.

“I really tried to take care of myself in the off-season, taking care of my diet, working hard to get my body right for the season, and that has been a big part of my increase in rebounding,” the 29-year-old said.

Head to the Hawks Nest

“I feel a bit quicker and lighter on my feet. I have a better engine than I had in the past. I can go for longer. It’s all good things and I’m going to keep up with that during the season and stay in the best shape possible. That’s something in myself that I need to focus on to get in the right frame of mind.”

Coenraad had just one rebound at half-time last Friday against Perth before grabbing eight in the second half.

“I have to keep contributing on the rebounds,” he said.

“That’s one area of the game that I’ve really wanted to improve on last year, because it’s an area where we have struggled in the past. That’s been a big emphasis for me this year, to see my numbers going up dramatically so far from last year.

“It’s always a good indicator when you are playing a lot of minutes. It means there is a lot of trust from the coaching staff.”

Brad Hill has been solid off the bench as Coenraad’s back-up, averaging 5.9 points and 3.3 rebounds.

The Hawks have lost seven in-a-row and are still coming to terms with last week’s controversial axing of teammate Dave Gruber.

They are seeking their second win of the season when they take on NSW rivals Sydney on Friday night at WIN Entertainment Centre.

The Kings prevailed by three when they hosted Wollongong in round one.

Coenraad said the Hawks had to avoid the cold spells which usually set in during the third quarter.

“It’s pretty frustrating out there at times,” he said.

“There’s usually a run of three or four minutes when we come down the floor and we don’t know what we’re in. That’s going to come with time and I’m confident this group’s going to get it together where we’re going to have some chemistry.”

Gleeson feels for Hawks’ struggle

Perthcoach Trevor Gleeson suspected the Wollongong Hawks would be an emotional wreck in last Friday’s clash at WIN Entertainment Centre.

Stung by the unexpected midweek sacking of teammate Dave Gruber, the Hawks looked up for the fight when they were tied 23-23 with the Wildcats after the first quarter.

But they fell apart in the second quarter and never recovered.

‘‘We talked about the emotion they’d come out with, that they’d come out hard and they’d have flows, but we wanted to put them under pressure to get that to the surface,’’ Gleeson said.

‘‘I have so much respect for Wollongong and what they’re capable of doing. I know they’re going through a pretty hard time at the moment, but you’re going to be the worst team at some stage and the best team at some stage in the NBL. Hopefully they can get through it and be the team they normally are.’’

Gleeson’s ‘‘worst team, best team’’ point is taken, but Perth wouldn’t know how it feels to be at the bottom of the pile.

The Wildcats’ improbable streak of 28 straight finals appearances dates back to 1987, a feat unmatched by any professional sporting club in Australia.

Perth have contested 11 grand final series in that period and won six championships.

The Cats are widely tipped to extend the streak to 29 years this season.

But the road to the playoffs might be a bit tougher than usual if Sunday’s 22-point hiding from Townsville is any guide.

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