NWBU. The Tall Timbers Smithton Saints are back and ready for all the North West Basketball Union action.
Coached by basketball stalwarts Alisha Barry and Ray Young, the club is preparing for a home game launch tomorrow night.
Following more than a decade in the Launceston Senior Basketball League, including several finishes among the state’s top five MVP rankings, Young is keen to build on last season when, in the final rounds, he stepped into the coaching role.
Young will this season lead the side from the court alongside assistant coaches Steve Poulter and Mitchell Stitz.
With the strength of Stitz and Poulter as well as Hugh King, Isaac Dale and import Marc Matthew, Young is positive the side will perform.
“We finished fourth last year so for us the goal is to make top four and hopefully push to make the Grand Final,” Young says.
“I’m happy with our depth. We have a few young guys in the state system as well as that older crew – we have a nice mix.”
While King will be sidelined with a broken foot, Young expects a competitive affair for round one.
“It will be a fast paced game. Ulverstone are also a young side who like to run up and down the court fairly quickly so we will try to nullify that and play at the pace we want to play.
“I think [spectators] will see a great shooting display from both teams. It will be good for us to get off to a good start and get the win.”
With more than two decades of history with the club under her belt, Barry looks to coach the women following a succession of junior coaching roles in recent years and senior coaching positions in the mid noughties.
Despite retiring as a player in 2015, Barry says there may come a time when she hits the court to assist the young side.
Focusing on cultivating a tight-knit team, Barry says it is the behind-the-scenes work that brings a squad together: “Being around the basketball scene for so long and with so many years as a senior player myself, I have a good understanding of what goes on and what goes into it,” she says.
“Just picking up the intensity and bringing back some old fashioned structure . . . We have a team that can play finals and to get that back – it has been quite a few years since we’ve had a senior women’s team play finals – that’s a goal.”
Following an Under 22 season with Somerset Heat, Brooke Gorringe returns to the club and will be a welcome addition to the line up alongside import Diamond Richardson and Sarah Jaeger as well as junior players stepping up from the Under 22 roster.
“This will be our first game together, playing one of the top teams in the league . . . anyone is beatable on the day.”
The North West Basketball Union season will kick off tomorrow (Friday February 9) when the Tall Timbers Smithton Saints play a round one home game against the Ulverstone Hoppers. The women’s side will start proceedings from 7pm before the men take to the court from 8.30pm.