Promise for Bay Hawks despite 0-14 record

By Niall Anderson

Kareem Johnson of the Bay Hawks. Photo / Duncan Brown
Kareem Johnson of the Bay Hawks. Photo / Duncan Brown

The Bay Hawks are in the midst of some short-term austerity, and the jury is out on whether they will be rewarded with long-term riches.

The Hawks now hold a 0-14 record in the National Basketball League after hefty losses this weekend to the Southland Sharks (83-59) and Canterbury Rams (95-82), and the odds are against them winning any of their four remaining games.

A winless season would put them in a class with the 1998 Northland Suns, 2010 Otago Nuggets and the Taranaki Mountain Airs sides of 2009 and 2015 as the least successful teams in the 34-year history of the NBL.

However, when analysing their season from a long-term perspective, it is critical to separate the dreadful on-court results from their promising off-court endeavours.

The Hawks had near-negligible funds to work with, and can be commended for fielding a team rather than dropping out of the league like many before them. A multitude of sponsors signed before and during the season hints at a front office which could generate substantial revenue, and a community with the resources to pull from.

Although the current season is a write-off, a 0-18 record wouldn't set them in stone as the worst team in NBL history, either. That unwanted claim is surely held by the 2010 Nuggets.

Those Nuggets had ulterior factors working against them as well, having pulled out of the league in 2009 to return in 2010 with a modest budget. They lost every game, by an average of 22.9 points, being smacked by 30 points on seven occasions.

That season was part of a lean period in Otago basketball, encapsulated by a 33-game losing streak over the span of 1153 days. While a brief resurgence followed, it was an unsustainable one, with the franchise folding again before the 2015 season.

While the Nuggets are a faint worst case scenario for the people immersed in Bay basketball, there is a significantly brighter juxtaposition across the country in Taranaki.

Much like the Hawks, the Airs fell on hard times due to financial issues, trudging through a winless season in 2015, but have made huge strides in 2016. An excellent coaching hire (Ross McMains), coupled with an off-court brand rebuild has seen the Airs slowly develop aspects of a model franchise.

By recruiting smartly and leveraging the developmental powers of McMains, the Airs built a team which has been the best in the league defensively and competitive in every contest.

Their current path is sustainable, with no expensive imports or mercenaries, and has great flow-down effects for basketball in the region.

Change is in the air, and the Hawks need to fly with the wind.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 28 Oct 2016 10:36:27 Processing Time: 33ms