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Better NBL making life tougher for Clarke

AAP logoAAP 25/11/2016 Adrian Warren

Illawarra Hawks coach Rob Beveridge attributes the drop in form and productivity this season from star import Rotnei Clark to the fact the competition is much better than when he won the league MVP title less than three years ago.

American guard Clarke lit up the NBL in the 2013/14 season, beating out NBA draft pick James Ennis and Boomers sharpshooter Chris Goulding in one of the most hotly contested MVP battles of recent times.

He averaged 21 points a game, but subsequently went to play in Belgium and Germany before heading back to Wollongong this season.

Clarke has averaged 14 points a game at 42 per cent from the field and 32 per cent from three-point range.

He was dropped to the bench for the Hawks' last game against NZ Breakers.

However, he produced some of this best numbers of the season, scoring 22 points and still played almost 28 minutes.

Beveridge said he hoped Clarke had turned the corner, but felt the guard's battle for consistency this season was testament to how much the standard of the NBL had risen in a relatively short space of time.

"The competition now is so far better than what it was when he was here (last time)," Beveridge told AAP.

"He's had to make adjustments after two years, trying to get him out of euro mode."

Clarke was replaced in the starting lineup against the Breakers by Kevin White, as Beveridge opted for some extra defensive grunt.

It seemed to work as the Hawks conceded 22 points fewer than they did against the same opponent less than 48 hours earlier.

Beveridge suggested he might persevere with White as a starter and use Clarke as a weapon off the bench.

"He comes in after the heat of battle settles down a bit," Beveridge said of Clarke.

Beveridge was hopeful his other import guard, Marvelle Harris, who is also averaging 14 points a game, would recover in time to play the Wildcats in Perth on Sunday, after suffering an ankle injury against the Breakers.

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