Hawks coach hoping for long-term gain

Matt Nicholls
Hawks suffered a humbling 99-75 defeat to Cairns Taipans in the NBL on Friday

Illawarra Hawks coach Matt Flinn hopes investment in youth will pay dividends for his side in the coming NBL seasons.

The bottom-placed Hawks were blown off the court by the Cairns Taipans on Friday night, losing 99-75 in a lopsided contest.

Flinn said it was up to the players to learn from the experience and grow as a unit.

"I think that was one of our worst losses of the year," he said.

"The mindset in which we came in, particularly at the start of the game, was just not good enough at this level."

The Wollongong-based club has at times resembled a circus this summer with the hype around American rookie LaMelo Ball, as well as uncertainty surrounding its private ownership.

With seemingly nothing left to play for in the closing stages of the season, Flinn was not prepared to blame outside factors.

"I've got a thousand excuses. We can all make them," he said.

"I don't want to make any excuses. We are a young group, definitely, I'm going in with the growth mindset to pay it forward, particularly with some of the youth on our roster and give them extended minutes win, lose or draw.

"I think that's the responsible approach to take for myself and the club moving forward."

"If you know the history of our club we are very resilient.

"We have done an enormous job this year. The club has really grown despite what you might read."

The first-year coach said he could draw inspiration from the Cairns Taipans, who finished bottom of the table last season with six wins.

The Taipans are now 15-10 and considered genuine championship contenders.

"I can assure you this tough little period in our careers and certainly in my short coaching career, is going to drive me in my career going forward," Flinn said.

"No question we have got some work to do and we are riding this thing right to the end.

"We've got 36 hours now to turn it around and go back and play what is going to be a very hungry New Zealand."

The Hawks host the Breakers at 3pm on Sunday.