• Ian Stacker

Boomers Now Need an NBA Coach?

I was flipping through the various random articles you can find on Facebook the other day and came across a basketball article suggesting now that the Boomers have plenty of NBA players they need an NBA coach!

This is just about the stupidest idea I have heard for quite some time.

I mean even the Americans don’t have an NBA coach take their team, instead going with college coach Mike Krzyewski.

You’d think if it was a great idea to go with the NBA option the Americans would do it, well they have previously, which is why they no longer consider it a clever idea.

Success in International tournaments is hinged on many factors and a coach’s experience at dealing with those factors can have a significant impact on how well the team they are coaching is going.

The NBA is an 84-game season, club teams versus club teams, everyone is playing for the money. No doubt trying their best to win but, if the money wasn’t there, then most of the players would also be doing something else.

The NBA style of play is even moulded around the need to have players survive an 84-game schedule, offensive rebounding is a good example.

Many NBA teams don’t bother sending players to the offensive boards, citing transition defense as a higher priority. I think it has more to do with conserving effort than anything else. Watch any International game and the offensive boards are a highly contested and coached part of the game. When you are only playing 10 games, every moment has a high priority.

International basketball is about as different to coaching in the NBA as driving a Formula 1 racing car is to driving a V8 Supercar. Just because you can be good at one in no ways means you’ll be good at the other.

The Olympic games are usually played over 10 days or so, there are losable games and must win games. Each player is playing for their Country, which usually also means their family, the coaches and clubs they were with when they grew up playing basketball, their friends and their birth place. There is far more in the hearts of players in international events than there could ever be in the NBA or any other professional league for that matter.

The problem is of course that when journalists or bloggers start to give their opinions on things sometimes people who make decisions can be influenced – of course my articles are all clever ideas whereas the idea of having a NBA guy coach our National team isn’t!

Our National programs would be far better off creating a coaching pathway from our National Junior Championships through our National Junior teams and Senior teams. Experience at our National Junior tournaments (the Under 18 Nationals are being played in Townsville this week) sets a great foundation for understanding tournament play, crucial to success at FIBA events.

Establishing the pathways and succession planning would ensure our senior National coaches are well equipped to do the best possible job with our senior national teams. Our most successful senior coaches Barry Barnes, Adrian Hurley and Andrej Lemanis, who have all achieved a fourth place at the Olympic Games, all served time as assistant coaches with the Boomers prior to getting the nod for the Head Coaches job. While some might point to this as successful succession planning the opposite was the case when Brian Goorjian was appointed Boomers coach. While Brian had been enormously successful in the NBL he had little international experience prior to his appointment. His 9th place at the 2004 Beijing Olympics and somewhere in the 10th-16th placings in Japan in 2006 rate among our worst performances in both those events.

The Opals also find themselves currently without the benefits of careful succession planning. While most expect Sandey Brondello to be announced as the coach soon this will be her first experience coaching at such events. Brendan Joyce, although experienced at such events in the Men’s game largely got his shot at the Opals through no apparent planning to ensure the Opals were always in experienced hands and we all know how that ended.

Hopefully when the Opals staff are announced there will be assistants, hopefully head coaches from the WNBL, who will be given the opportunity to gain fabulous experience and be prime candidates to take over when their chance comes.

Trevor Gleeson would be the only viable candidate for succession in the Boomers program based on the current staff, perhaps Rob Beveridge could also be involved given his success both in the NBL and the Gold Medal he has won in International play with the National junior team some years ago. He has shown he knows how to win at the International level, it is hard to understand why he isn’t involved, especially as the initial contest for the job was between Andrej and him – it would make sense to have him involved.

The coaching staff, like the players, need to be picked on merit and their qualifications. Too often the support staff at the senior level are picked on relationships, anything that moves us away from that floored process will ensure we never end up with the concept of a NBA coach trying to motivate the Boomers or Opals to wave the Aussie flag.

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