Caretaker Hawks coach Benny Hill last night screwed up his game plan in a ball and dunked it in a rubbish bin outside Trusts Arena in Waitakere before boarding the team bus back to Napier.
It was Groundhog Day for the Hawks as they recorded the sixth consecutive defeat of their National Basketball League campaign in Auckland to remain bottom of the table.
"It's the same old s*** but just a different day," said Hill after the Taylor Corporation-sponsored Hawke's Bay team, with a three-win, 12-loss season record, lost 98-85 to James Blond Supercity Rangers in the round 12 match.
The Jarrod Kenny-skippered Hawks made a promising start, trailing 20-18, but didn't know what hit them in the second and third spells (31-21, 27-17) before posting a 29-20 final quarter victory.
But wily Rangers coach Jeff Green was so confident with the 22-point gulf going into the final quarter, he had benched his marquee starting five for the last 10 minutes.
A desperate Hill opted to start with his bench five in the third quarter and gave them a pass mark.
"They didn't do any worse than the starters."
Tony Tolovae will have Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare nodding his head in approval with a match-high 28 points after the Hawks swingman stepped in the shoes of the injured Everard Bartlett for 34 minutes.
"He caught fire in the fourth but that was late, which was similar to what he did the week before," Hill said, adding it was good to watch but too little, too late.
Amir Williams claimed another double-double (10 points and 11 off the boards) but the coach said the US import centre should be doubling those figures if his stature was anything to go by.
Joshua Fox scored 15 points and just missed out on a double-double with nine rebounds but to the coach, the Fiji-born, US-based swingman appeared a little subdued.
Hill didn't spare referees Melony Wealleans, Matt Bathurst and Ryan Jones, claiming they were consistent in their inconsistency, like other officials in the season.
"The only positive was that I didn't get a technical."
Earnest Ross jr shot 21 points, 11 rebounds for the Rangers. Lindsay Tait scored 18, Brook Ruscoe 16 and Carl Buck 15.
Swingman Anamata Haku contributed 11 points but was fouled out in 16 minutes of court time.
"He got into foul trouble early. He play all right in patches. It's a more offensive thing with Ana of getting him in the right mind set. He's got all the talent. It's just a case of getting him on the right page," he said.
Kenny made seven assists and scored five points in 35 minutes but Hill stood by his leader even though he agreed he had a night off.
"It is what it it is and I thought JK played quite well and was the only one who played with some heart," he said, believing luck didn't always go the way of toilers sometimes.
US import big man Kareem Johnson scored 13 points in 17 minutes of court time.
The former Hawks and Tall Black power forward said the Rangers weren't great but his men were "way worse" but he intended to expose his ben boys more in the game against the undefeated defending champions Wellington Saints in Napier tomorrow.
Asked if it was wise to risk mentally scarring young guns such as Mataeus Marsh, Dominic McGovan and Tamakari Vercoe Kameta, he replied: "The only way they're going to learn is stand up in defence."
Hill said with an eye on next year the young brigade was the only certainty into the 2018 season.
"It's really frustrating because I can't bark on enough about playing with heart."
Hill didn't know what the state was of hamstrung forward Daryl Jones but suspected Bartlett would be back although he won't start him tomorrow.
"Nothing I'm doing seems to be working so I'm getting to the point where I'm running out of ideas so, yeah, it's tough."