Perth Wildcats coach Scott Morrison is urging his team to find another gear in their return to playing at RAC Arena as he prepares to strengthen the group with the availability of centre Matt Hodgson.
The Wildcats returned from their 14 consecutive games interstate in a strong position to attack their nine home games on the run to the play-offs. The team is 13-6 and in second place on the ladder, with a re-match against New Zealand set for Sunday at RAC Arena.
The Wildcats beat New Zealand in overtime on Monday thanks to an extraordinary buzzer beater from superstar Bryce Cotton.
Morrison has told his players they have hit the point of the season where it’s time to make significant improvements, starting with an added emphasis on preparation.
“In every season there are certain points of the season where you have to raise your level up a little bit of a notch or turn to the next phase. I think we’re at one of those right now,” Morrison said.
“We got through our road segment great and now we’ve got to turn it up another level. If we can do that then we get the opportunity to do it again down the stretch at home. If we do that we have the opportunity to turn it up for the play-offs.
“You can’t go from this level to the play-off level without gradually getting there. I think the guys understood. They’ve been through it before.
“It’s my job to remind them of what’s important if they get lackadaisical some days.
“Being a bit better prepared for practice. Being a little bit more locked in to what we’re doing for new stuff. Spending an extra couple of minutes on the scout. Seeing if you can dig a little deeper in your physical tank for an extra effort here or there. It’s all of those things.”
Hodgson will return from the calf injury he suffered late in the win over Tasmania on February 28.
He’d just started hitting form before the injury and Morrison said he’d be a big addition to the group.
“We’re expecting to have Hodgy for limited minutes,” he said.
“Our bigs have been playing by committee anyway so any amount of time we can get him will be good. Just to give us a different look – get him out there to protect the rim, rebound a little bit and get him back into the flow.”