FANS witnessing the long-awaited Seahawks debut of US import Sai’Quon Stone at The Arc tonight can expect a better Warrnambool squad stepping onto the hardwood.
The Seahawks will be playing for their third win this season when they meet the Geelong Supercats, now with the all-round talent of Stone to open up the offence for other scorers.
Coach Bobby Cunningham said after missing the opening three rounds with immigration department issues, the humble guard would be eager to prove he was “the right man for the job”.
“He’ll have a bit of nerves happening,” he told The Standard.
“I’m sure he wishes his first game could have been three weeks ago, so he’s anxious to show the people of Warrnambool why we brought him here.
“He’s going to do what needs to be done to be successful.
“He comes from Brooklyn, New York, and any time you can get a ball player from that neck of the woods, they know how to adapt to what’s around.
“He looks for his teammates, he looks to bring the young guys into the game.”
With Stone expected to draw the opposition’s best perimeter defenders, Cunningham hopes to see Tim Gainey take advantage by increasing his scoring output.
In Stone’s absence over three games, Gainey is averaging 14.7 points a game on 30 per cent shooting, with five assists, while Justin Wallace has put up 16.7 points, shooting 56.7 per cent.
“I think every game is going to be different for Sai’Quon,” Cunningham said.
“We could have brought out a 6’8” guy like we had last year, but I chose to go a different avenue.
“Sai’Quon won’t be a guy trying to average 30 points a game with no one else scoring.
“He’s going to draw the best wing defenders so I’d like Tim Gainey to average over 20 a game this year — a pick your poison kind of thing.
“He’ll have games this year where he will put up huge numbers and stuff the stat sheet.”
With the pressure to perform as the Seahawks’ US import, Stone will need the coaching staff to keep him settled and remind him to enjoy the game, Cunningham said.
“Out of everybody in the team he’s the one getting paid to play.
“I’ve told him just to go out and enjoy playing, to go out and do what he can do.
“In the first three or four games we are going to live and die by whatever decision he makes.”
He said Saturday’s clash with the 2-2 Geelong Supercats would bring two clubs together that both had a chance to gain some distance from the middle of the ladder.
“They obviously don’t want to drop a third game, so they’ll definitely come out with everything they’ve got. I’m expecting us to do the same.”
After Saturday’s match-up the Seahawks will have the next week off to recover before visiting the Mildura Heat on April 26.