16/04/2024

Emmett Naar had a fantastic three games for the Boomers. (Photo: Pick and Roll Au; Design: Will Cuckson)

Emmett Naar has not let reduced minutes deter him, as he fights for court time at the Illawarra Hawks after an impressive FIBA Qualifiers showing.

The case of Emmett Naar is an intriguing one.

Making waves for Saint Mary’s University in the USA collegiate system, he played alongside the likes of fellow Australian Jock Landale before moving back home to play for the Illawarra Hawks.

Naar has since been a valuable member of the squad over the last four years, and just last year dropped a Hawks season high 12 assists with zero turnovers in a game against state rivals the Sydney Kings.

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This year has proven more difficult to come by minutes for the point guard, averaging just under three minutes a game.

“We’re a super talented team and it’s a tough roster to fit in,” Naar told The Inner Sanctum.

“There’s always going to be someone that doesn’t play and that person is always going to be a bit frustrated and think they should play. Goorj [coach Brian Goorjian] has been pretty open to me and that’s made it a lot easier.”

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The decreased minutes for the Hawks has left many fans confused, after he averaged 13.66 in NBL21, and 17.81 in NBL 20. A solid outing for the Australian Boomers in their recent FIBA World Cup Qualifying games only made the case even more puzzling.

Naar averaged a competition high 7.7 assists along with 7.3 points in the three games, playing over 24 minutes in every game. He was a primary factor in the Boomers going 3-0, with his pass first tendencies and ability to effectively find open teammates.

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Naar does not regularly turn the ball over and is also a reliable shooter, adding to fans frustrations over his limited game time.

“It was an amazing trip… the goal was to come away with three wins and we had no idea what the competition would be like,” he reflected.

“It was a relief that we’ve done our job and it’s a confidence builder.”

The performance of Naar over the tournament is likely to see other NBL teams take interest in the 27-year-old, but he is content with helping the Hawks climb the table.

He returned to the squad for the Sunday evening clash with the South East Melbourne Phoenix, but was once again left riding the pine.

While it’s been frustrating spending minimal time on court, he’s doing all he can to keep supporting his teammates.

“The minutes have been a bit sporadic this year… even if it’s just being on the bench and being vocal and a leader in any way that I can,” Naar said.

“If it is on the court, just being able to pick up the ball and play my role.”

The Hawks’ defence has struggled this year, while their offence works even harder to pick up the slack. Illawarra has conceded the third most points per game in the league.

But this hasn’t stop the club’s climb up to the top. In strong form, the Hawks have won five of their last six games and sit in fourth spot in the league standings.

It’s all about keeping faith in the coaching group and what they’re continuing to build at Illawarra.

“His [Goorjian’s] philosophies are sort of the same,” Naar said.

“A few pieces came in and out and I think it’s just the team getting used to a new philosophy.

‘We’re scoring at a higher rate so it comes with playing at a bit of a faster pace. We’re going to give up a few more points but I think the team is starting to get it together now.”

Continuing their rise up the ladder, the Hawks face the JackJumpers on Sunday before a rematch with the Phoenix.

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