What’s Up Coach?

Life as a basketball coach comes with plenty of ups and downs, just ask any of those at the helm of a team in the Sal's NBL.

Amazingly, in the men's league, this season will feature four new Sal's NBL head coaches across the eight teams, while all up, including the Franklin Bulls, there will be five teams with a different coach from season 2019.

Coaches to exit the league after 2019 include championship-winning coach Paul Henare (coaching in Japan), Judd Flavell (coaching in Melbourne), Anthony Stewart (Southern Huskies no longer in the league), Dave Bublitz (joined local council) and Jeff Green (Supercity Rangers terminated from the league).

Just three teams, the Manawatu Jets (Tim McTamney), Canterbury Rams (Mick Downer) and Nelson Giants (Mike Fitchett expected to be announced shortly) will carry on from where they left off last July. That continuity will surely count for something.

Possibly the biggest off-season coach recruiting coup is that of Rob Beveridge, who has landed in the deep south to lead the Sharks. The highly regarded Australian has a good friendship with outgoing Sharks coach Judd Flavell and jumped at the opportunity on Flavell's recommendation.

Beveridge's immediate impact has already been felt with the Sharks so far landing six leading players for the season ahead.

While we're touching on recruiting coups, the same could be said for Zico Coronel's journey back to Wellington where he will lead the Saints in 2020.

Having come close to toppling the Saints at the 2019 Final 4, the former Hawks boss looked likely to try his hand overseas, but all that changed when he received a call from the Saints, an environment he knows only too well after a long stint in the nation's capital as an assistant coach.

Coronel, too, has been busy with the Saints rolling out some very impressive recruits as well.

There has also been a shift in New Plymouth where former Airs player Willy Banks has taken the top job from Dave Bublitz, the latter forced to step away due to growing demands as a local councillor. Bublitz is believed to still be assisting with recruiting behind the scenes, and no doubt his staunch support for the team will continue, but it will be Banks in the hot seat.

Banks is believed to be a strong supporter of developing local talent and providing a pathway for the region's blossoming youngsters, as was Bublitz, so expect to see a few new faces being supported by a trio of imports.

A little further north you'll find one of the most recognisable basketball names entering the league, along with his new NBL franchise, the Franklin Bulls.

Liam Simmons comes with plenty of credentials, and strong family ties with brother Ben Simmons sure to become an off-shore Bulls fan, and no doubt Liam be keen to establish a strong culture from day one at the Bulls, helping the league's newcomers to forge a successful future off the back of strong foundations.

At Hawke's Bay it will be Irishman Dan Nelson entering the scene to take over from Coronel. Though we are yet to learn too much about Nelson, he does come with plenty of experience abroad and is said to possess a strong basketball network around the globe.

As the days tick down to April 9 and the opening games of season 2020, the eight men charged with leading the way will all be working hard right now on building their respective rosters. The sleepless nights are still a couple of months away, but the work behind the scenes for the league's eight head coaches has well and truly started.




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