Pressure is a privilege. It's an old sporting adage, but it certainly rings true for Hawks veteran Tim Coenraad heading into his 12th season with the club.
Fans of the foundation franchise have rarely approached a season with more optimism but, with the Brian Goorjian factor at play, it's a now view shared by even impartial pundits.
For the first-time in recent memory, some experts are tipping the foundation club to notch just its second championship in four decades. It's a marked shift for the league's perennial battlers but it's accompanied by a mischievous stranger - expectation.
It brings added pressure but, having spent his entire career carrying the league's 'over-achievers' tag, it's something Coenraad's embracing.
"It's stigma we've wanted to change, no one's ever expected anything from the Hawks," Coenraad said.
"I can think of one season when we had some expectation, that was Rob Beveridge's first year when we had Kevin Lisch, Kirk Penney and AJ.
"That's the only year I can recall where there was [outside] expectation around the team. This year, there's definitely an expectation around the team.
"We've built a good foundation and maybe surprised a few people [last season], now it's a question of getting it done now you're on everyone's radar.
"That's an exciting challenge for us. When you've got a target on your back, can you perform the same way?
"We've got the pieces and it's good to be excited, but is it going to make any difference through the season... we'll only know that once we test it on the court."
The optimism is due in no small part to the Brian Goorjian factor, but the club also boasts a roster that is arguably, top to bottom, the most talent-stacked in the club's history.
In just about any previous year, losing a star import in Travis Trice just eight weeks from the scheduled start of the season would have likely seen the club scouring the SEABL ranks for a replacement. Instead, its brought in former NBA guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes.
It barely resembles recent history, but Coenraad says this team has one thing in common with every other new Hawks side he's been a part of - it's unproven.
"Every team is optimistic at the start of the season," Coenraad said.
"Every team says 'we have a chance this year' even though I look back at some of the teams we've had and wonder 'what was I thinking?' I've been in this game long enough to know optimism's great, but you've got to be realistic with what you're doing.
"I've trained under Goorj for a couple of seasons now and, the way he goes about things, he builds championship teams.
"If you put the same group of guys together with an experienced coach in the mix, even with the guys we've got, it won't be as successful as it it with Goorj at the helm. That much is obvious and right now we're doing all the right things.
"Is it a championship team - that's yet to be decided, I'm not making any calls on that. There's nine other teams now ready to do business as well and teams with a great history [of success] when you look at Perth and Melbourne United.
"When it comes down to it, it's about what you put on the court."
Outside expectations are one thing, internally, Coenraad says the Hawks are just looking to meet Goorjian's expectation on the practice floor in the immediate term.
"There's an expectation every day, you can see the level of intensity needs to be there," Coenraad said.
"The coaching staff call you out on it if it's not there and, credit to the guys, there's not a lot of sessions when it's not there. Every day they're teasing the best out of you.
"It sounds like a cliche but each individual's giving their absolute best every day. That in itself breeds championship quality teams. We've got that recipe there."
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