TBs step into coaching roles
Some of the best and smartest Tall Blacks from the past decade have been promoted to guide national age-group teams next year.
And in doing so, BBNZ hopes to groom these recent international for higher honours in future years, while providing the junior programmes with an “elite” mentality.
While NZ Breakers assistant Dean Vickerman retains his NZ Universities role from last year and Anthony Corban the 3×3 reins, the other men’s head coaching positions are all filled by recent Tall Blacks – Pero Cameron (U20), Judd Flavell (U18), Paul Henare (U17) and Mike Fitchett (U16).
“It’s great to be able to introduce former players who know what it takes to achieve at all levels of the game, but particularly on the international stage,” says Basketball New Zealand chief executive Iain Potter.
“The Tall Blacks’ success over the past 10 years has been built on innovative coaching and intelligent players, and now those players are bringing that experience into coaching careers.
“We expect they will be contenders for the Tall Blacks coaching position over the next decade, and provide a real link between that team and its feeder programme. They can really help our junior teams reach the next level at a pivotal time.”
Indications are, for the first time, that New Zealand will face qualification for the FIBA U17 World Championships through Asia, greatly enhancing the Kiwis’ chances of progressing after decades of frustration against the powerful Australians.
“If this happens, we will never have a better opportunity to qualify for the world junior championships in our own right,” says Potter.
Among them, Vickerman, Cameron and Flavell have won the last four National Basketball League championships, while Henare has coached the Hawks to the last two semifinals and to the 2011 final.
Fitchett played much of his NBL and international career as point guard under Tall Blacks coach Nenad Vucinic, essentially a mentoring relationship.
Up until now, the national coaches have usually come through representative tournaments and development camps.
“Those are still very important pathways for our coaches,” says Potter. “We believe those association coaches have a lot to offer our junior programme and they’ll get their chance as assistants with the national teams.”
The women’s appointments still reflect that traditional route, but Basketball New Zealand hope to attract more former Tall Ferns back into the coaching ranks after retirement.
The full list of head coaching positions for 2013 is:
Universities – Dean Vickerman
U20 – Pero Cameron
U18 – Judd Flavell
U17 – Paul Henare
U16 – Mike Fitchett
Universities – Tania Hunter
U20 – Sean Fuller
U18 – Brent Matehaere
U17 – Aik Ho
U16 – James McGilvary