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Basketball

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Hawks take NBL lesson from Ball experience

If he had his time again, Illawarra coach Matt Flinn would definitely consider adding another NBA lottery talent to his NBL team.

Just maybe not an 18-year-old point guard.

The Hawks' dismal season finally came to an end on Friday after getting spanked 98-82 by minor premiers Sydney Kings at Qudos Bank Arena.

It was their tenth loss in a row to a campaign that looked promising with the shock recruitment of a future NBA star in LaMelo Ball.

However, while Ball overcame a slow start to enhance his draft prospects, his exit, combined with a spate of injuries, condemned Illawarra to a last-place finish.

"Obviously disappointing when you look at the record," Flinn summed up.

But the rookie coach is adamant there were some valuable lessons to take into next season, particularly around the make-up of their roster.

Flinn was complimentary of Ball's undoubted talent, but conceded that, in hindsight, handing the keys to a teenager was fraught with danger.

"There's no question that the DNA of our team was certainly manufactured through LaMelo and his usage rates with the basketball," Flinn said.

"(And) certainly he's a great talent. I tell you, he learnt a lot from us, in particular defensive schemes and how to play at this level.

"But I also learnt a lot from him, and the challenges that come with executing talent within a system and as a first-rookie coach.

"That was quite difficult to do right at the start, to get that balance."

So if given another crack at another highly-touted youngster from the Next Stars program, Flinn suggested looking at other positions in the team for the role.

"We've all seen how super-talented he is, (but) you've still got to come in and run the show and feed the fish and execute when the lights are on," he said.

"And he did that at times, but it's a big ask for an 18-year-old to do it. I think positionally, we would look maybe towards the other end of the roster."

--End of article--

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