New Hawks coach Daniel Nelson intends to champion a brand of basketball that requires players to think on their feet in any given situation rather than dogmatically follow reactionary stock measures as part of an overall blueprint.
"I like a complete style of basketball," says Nelson in Napier before mentoring the Taylor Corporation Hawke's Bay franchise team to the National Basketball League (NBL) tip off in April.
"You can't just hang your hat on one aspect of the game because basketball is a game where you get up and down on the floor and it is controlled by a shot clock."
The 35-year-old from Dublin, who arrived here a fortnight ago, says time and situation are crucial in every facet and not just one aspect, such as fast pace or defence.
"So it's versatile basketball that fits into our roster," he says. "Basketball that makes our fans excited so they can be proud of us and giving everything we have to people who are paying to come to see us or turning on the [TV] to see us."
Nelson has got his feelers out to recruit imports but hopes to have visas and travel arrangements sorted for the successful ones by the middle of next month.
"The trick, I feel, is not to rush anything to get guys to fit our criteria exactly and fit with the players we already have," says the bloke who has mentored professionally in 39 countries.
He is around the 45 per cent mark of filling his roster but is adamant a methodical approach to slot imports who match the chemistry of the existing Hawks is imperative.
"Amy and Keith have done a terrific job maintaining this programme that has been built here," he says of the new franchise general manager whose husband, Napier city councillor Keith Price, is the board chairman.
He is familiar with point guard Jarrod Kenny, having come across the Tall Black as a rival in the Australia National Basketball League (ANBL), and working with and against veteran Hastings-born shooting guard Everard Bartlett in similar circumstances.
He's since met Darryl Jones and New Zealand Breaker/Tall Black Ethan Rusbatch who all fall in the category of highly coach-able players.
"These guys have built this team here so I've only been here for five minutes after they have put a lot of work in to give [the team] prominence over the years," he says, not surprised such ethics have led to establishing a solid programme here.
Levin-born Derone Raukawa, 24, a former Tall Black and Taranaki Mountainairs guard, is the latest Kiwi signing for the Hawks.
Nelson intends to hold open trials this week to scout Bay-born talent who have aspirations "to leave no stones un-turned" to add those who wish to add value to the Hawks' culture in trying to carve a niche in basketball.
"I want to use my network to help guys like that to try to make sure that people know there's a pathway here and it's open to come in if you match our criteria and work with us."
He says enjoyment is critical so whetting the appetite of fans with shots from the carpark or dunking is on the menu.
"You can programme [complete basketball] so that it's not a reaction thing so, of course, thinking the game, slowing the game ... that's what basketball is."
He is mindful the Hawks have claimed the NBL crown only once in the province's history — under Aussie-born ANBL coach Shawn Dennis — so replicating it is high on the agenda.
"You know you get out of bed to win so there's no question about that," says Nelson, emphasising that's the common denominator for the nucleus of players, management and sponsors.
He refrains from gazing into the crystal ball, instead stressing the desire to collate day-to-day habits to ensure they'll be within striking distance of the Final Four, cometh the hour.
It's way too early, he says, "to go for all the marbles" but reveals he has an affinity with Dennis who took the helm with the edict of turning up at the floor "with energy".
"He's a friend of mine and a mentor so that's one of the things that attracted me here," he says, adding former Tall Black/Hawks captain/coach Paul Henare into the equation.
"They are two excellent coaches." Dennis' detail to work and hunger to excel "is second to none", something he is indebted to the Aussie for sharing with him over the years.
An educated sense of humour, washed down with a cup of tea, is what makes Nelson tick, so to speak. However, when he rolls up his sleeves to tweak the systems during scrimmages and matches he brings the focus of a night watchman.
The Bay has immediately struck a chord with the former house builder.
"It's absolutely beautiful. I love the rivers and the sea," he says with a sparkle in his eyes.
"I love having tea by the ocean front and the mountains in the background — fantastic weather as well."
Nelson is finding the heat in the mid-30s testing but quickly reconciles it with the -30C climes of Russia.
The Hawks open their campaign against reigning champions Wellington Saints on Thursday, April 9, in a 7.30pm tip off at the Pettigrew-Green Arena, Taradale. The NBL will culminate with the Final Four from July 17-19 before the grand final from July 24-26.