Recommitted Hawk Coenraad Ready to Give 3×3 a Crack

Tim Coenraad thought he might like a break from basketball this off-season. But having just re-signed with the Illawarra Hawks, he’s already played in the SEABL with Mt Gambier and now can’t wait to trying something new on Sunday in Sydney’s NBL 3×3 Pro Hustle.

Coenraad will play his first ever game of 3×3 basketball on Sunday at Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay in the third of the NBL Pro Hustle events with the first two having taken place at Melbourne’s Docklands Studios over the past three weeks.

Coenraad hasn’t been able to stay away from basketball this off-season having already played in the SEABL for Mt Gambier and now ahead of a big day of 3×3 action, but he’s delighted to be doing so while remaining at the Illawarra Hawks.

Following his college career at Nova Southeastern, Coenraad joined the Hawks for the 2009/10 NBL season and he’s never looked back.

Along the way he has now played 255 games with the Hawks including being part of two Grand Final appearances, winning the club’s MVP award in 2015 and sitting third in all-time games played for the proud club behind only Glen Saville and Mat Campbell.

The 32-year-old small forward did consider seriously an offer from a rival club looking towards the 2018/19 NBL season, but in the end once the Hawks made sure he felt wanted and required, it was an easy decision to stay put for the Brisbane native.

“To be honest I was actually pretty close to signing with another team, but to their credit the Hawks came to the party and backed me. All I’ve wanted from Illawarra the past couple of seasons is for them to back me after I feel like I’ve put in the work and have been there for so long,” Coenraad said.

“I feel like the club really invested in me this past season and it feels better to be playing somewhere you feel valued. That’s all I’ve wanted the past few seasons so I want to thank the other club for being interested in me which eventually saw the Hawks over the line.”

Fresh off knowing that his future remains in Illawarra, Coenraad was ready to take a look at something new too and give the 3×3 game a chance.

It didn’t quite work out for him to take part in the first two NBL Pro Hustles in Melbourne, but he’s locked in for Sunday at Circular Quay.

And even though he has no previous 3×3 experience, he’s looking forward to getting out there and finding out the fuss is all about.

“I’ve had a few offers for the first two but unfortunately I had things going on. I always wanted to play and it looks like a really exciting brand of basketball and is being treated seriously with an Australian squad and with it being at the Olympics and all that sort of stuff,” he said.

“I thought it would just be best to try my hand at it and see how it works out. I got a crash course last night from the coach of Nunawading who was the Australian team’s coach too.

“He was telling me all about the rules and how everything is different, the size of the basketball and everything. I was just trying to take it all in the best I could to prepare for Sunday.”

It’s fair to say that Coenraad isn’t fully sure what he’s getting himself into ahead of Sunday’s 3×3 Pro Hustle in Sydney, but he is keen to find out more about it and indeed if it suits his style of game.

In the end, flying to Melbourne on Friday night ahead of what was meant to be a stopover before heading onto Mt Gambier didn’t turn out too badly.

The foul weather meant he was left in Melbourne and the game was cancelled which meant he had time to kill at his hotel and he did so by having a crash course in 3×3 basketball to get himself ready for Sunday.

“I’ve only watched the live stream of last Sunday’s event in Melbourne. Apart from that, I haven’t played a lick of it or anything,” Coenraad said.

“But from what I’ve been told, it’s faster and more physical and the three-point shots are worth double which really suits myself. It’s fast and you have to be smart and quick out there, so I guess the only way to find out is by dipping your toes in and that’s what I’ll be doing on Sunday.

“The two things I’ve been told are key is being able to shoot the three and posting up. That’s what they thought were the two main things and that’s pretty much all I do.

“I just need to get a feel for it and get a few games under my belt and once I’ve done that, I’ll work out how it’s played and some strategies involved. Going into it, it’s just a bit of a crash course and hopefully we compete and can be successful.”

Coenraad is looking forward to getting stuck into 3×3 basketball now given how quickly it has grown from virtual anonymity and the fact that it’s now providing opportunities to play in worldwide professional tournaments, things like the Asia and World Cups, and it will even be at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

All of that means that Coenraad is excited to get involved especially after seeing the success someone like Tom Garlepp has enjoyed recently where he helped Australia win gold at the Asia Cup and was named tournament MVP.

“It’s sort of popped up really quickly. I think I only first heard about it being an Olympic sport about six months ago and then you have guys like Tommy Garlepp and Owen Odigie competing on a world stage and it’s getting a lot of coverage and is being taken seriously,” he said.

“There’s almost a market for professional players to focus on it over time and the stakes are only going to get higher. It’s an easy event to set up too and you don’t need a lot of space.

“You don’t need a 10,000-seat stadium to do it in so it’s all positive for Australian basketball considering the success that Tommy Garlepp and those guys have already had.

“It’s only going to go upwards and I definitely want to get involved and see if it works out. It’s essentially still basketball and anything that has to do with that I’m definitely interested in.”

As for re-signing with the Hawks for another two seasons which will take him to 11 years in Illawarra, Coenraad couldn’t be prouder to remain a one club NBL player and particularly to do so with an organisation with such a strong history and a link to the Wollongong community.

“I think it makes it even sweeter considering the club’s history,” Coenraad said.

“We are the last foundation club and been around for a long time, and everything the club’s been through in terms of voluntary administration, ownership changes, the community putting their own money and houses on the line to keep the Hawks afloat mean you meet some outstanding people in a great community.

“I am very proud and considering the club and its history, I’m extra proud because it’s been through a lot and has been able to come through thick and thin to produce a lot of talent and successful seasons. That’s a credit to everyone who has worked at the Hawks and kept them afloat.”

The majority of Coenraad’s career with the Hawks has been spent playing alongside the recently retired Oscar Forman as well so the start of the 2018/19 season is certainly going to be different.

“It will be different that’s for sure. He’s an absolutely outstanding shooter as everyone knows and having someone like that stretch the floor is a real credit to his success,” he said.

“For Ossie, it was just good timing and he had a massive impact on the league and almost changed that four position becoming a stretch four who could shoot. He really made that position his own and in his first couple of seasons with the Hawks he was one of the best four men in the league.

“He made that position more of an outside position and made it his own so he has an incredible legacy and career to look back on, and a lovely family to come back to.

“He is still playing over in New Zealand and like me, he can’t stay away, but he was the one who roped me into the 3×3. He’s a great guy, has left a great legacy and should be proud of everything he’s done.”

The other big recent news for the Hawks looking ahead to the 2018/19 season has been the signing of former Townsville, Melbourne and Sydney, and current Boomers, swingman Todd Blanchfield.

He cited a desire for a bigger role on a team for wanting to leave the Kings despite being contracted and Coenraad couldn’t be happier to welcome him to the Hawks.

“The first thing I thought about when I saw that Toddy Blanchfield was going to be signed was the person that he is, I wasn’t even thinking about his basketball. I know he’s a great person with a good personality and he’s a hard worker so he embodies everything that Illawarra is all about,” he said.

“In terms of the person he is, he’s a great fit for our club and the fact that he is an amazing basketball player too means he will fit into the community really well. It’s a great signing for Illawarra and for Todd.

“I think he’ll have a major role with our team and that’s essentially what he was after. I think he was being overlooked at the Kings and he has more to produce than what he did last season.

“We’ve seen before in Townsville that he can step up and get it done at both ends of the floor so having him on board gives us the flexibility to do a lot of things. We can play more small ball at times and he is the perfect fit for us. His versatility is really going to help us.”

Coenraad is also enjoying his off-season to date even if it has included more basketball than he initially planned.

“My off-season has been good so far. I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with the family. I told myself I was going to stay away from basketball this off-season but I always seem to be coerced back into playing so I’ve played two games for Mt Gambier last weekend,” Coenraad said.

“I was meant to play another this weekend but because of the weather and flights and everything, it didn’t go ahead after I got down to Melbourne.

“But it’s been a really good off-season so far. I’ve been focusing on family life and business, and having another two years in Illawarra was fantastic for me and the family.”


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