Dave Gruber signs on with Southland Sharks

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 10/04/2014
Dave Gruber
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LENDING A HAND: Wollongong Hawks forward Dave Gruber will work with the Southland Sharks.

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The Southland Sharks have signed Wollongong Hawks forward Dave Gruber on a game-by-game contract.

Gruber has been rushed in this week to provide cover for the injured Brian Conklin who is expected to miss at least three games.

The 28-year-old was scheduled to fly to Wellington last night from Sydney and is set to arrive in Invercargill this morning to join up with the Sharks team.

His arrival will be in time for tomorrow night's game against the Super City Rangers at the ILT Stadium in Invercargill.

Gruber still needs to get his clearance ticked off from Australian Basketball and the Hawks but everything is pointing to him pulling on the orange singlet of the Sharks tomorrow night.

Southland Sharks coach Paul Henare is pleased to secure someone like Gruber.

"We're pretty lucky really to get someone on such short notice for a temporary [position]. He's been awesome through the whole process, he's been keen to get here quickly for a practice [today] before the game [tomorrow]," Henare said.

"He's a real workhorse. I don't like comparing players but if you had to compare him to Brian Conklin who has also got great work ethic, he's great around the inside, he's big and he's a strong lad and plays with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.

"He probably doesn't have the offensive polish of Brian has but at the same time he is very handy in what he does and he's been very good in the Australian league."

Gruber is originally from Solon, Iowa, in the United States but is now a naturalised Australian.

He has just completed his fifth season.

The 1.9m forward has been described as a hardworking force in the paint and made his way to the Australian NBL via a lower level competition in Victoria.

He made his Australian NBL debut with the Sydney Spirit in 2008 and went on to lead the NBL in field-goal percentage during his rookie season shooting of 61.1 percent and finished eighth in the league in offensive rebounds with 2.8 per game.

His career-high of 26 points was in a win against the Hawks in January 2009.

Gruber attended the University of Northern Iowa from 2002-2004, and led the Panthers to the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championship and a trip to the NCAA tournament in 2004.

In his sophomore season, Gruber helped the Panthers squeak past the nationally ranked Iowa Hawkeyes 78-76 in an upset win in 2001. Inthat game, Gruber impressed with 22 points and 12 rebounds, while being pitted against future NBA rebounding machine Reggie Evans.

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- Fairfax Media

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