AN experienced stalwart and a fresh face will have the reins of Warrnambool’s Big V basketball squads next season.
Club officials yesterday appointed Bobby Cunningham, a veteran of Warrnambool basketball, to take over from Tim Gainey at the helm of the Seahawks.
Matthew Smith, a former Tasmanian coach who has shifted to Hamilton for work, has the reins of the Mermaids, replacing Katie O’Keefe.
The pair have the task of lifting young and developing basketball sides up the Big V standings when the season gets under way in early 2014.
Cunningham, 44, who will be a non-playing coach, said he was excited about coaching the Seahawks.
He helped out on the bench in the later stages of last season, which eased the pressure on Gainey and allowed his numbers to “skyrocket”.
Cunningham said he was confident the Seahawks could improve on their 5-17 record in season 2013.
He said they lost about five games by less than five points and would be “a year wiser” in 2014.
“Just basically boys need to get bigger and stronger, that’s what it comes down to,” he said.
“Whatever division we’re going to be playing in, we’re still playing against experienced men.
“We need this year’s list to put on five or 10 kilograms and be faster, be stronger, be bigger.
“It’s up to me as coach to put these guys into a situation where they can prosper.”
Cunningham was unsure whether American import Brandon Macklin would return to the Seahawks in 2014.
Smith, 43, signs on as Mermaids coach after a decorated mentoring career in Tasmania.
He coached women’s sides at Somerset and Latrobe in the North West Basketball Union, winning three championships in three seasons.
Stints coaching men and women at South East Australia Basketball League club North West Tasmania Thunder followed.
Work prompted Smith, a maintenance superintendent at Iluka Resources, to shift to Hamilton three years ago.
He soon immersed himself in the community and had a role getting Country Basketball League club Hamilton Hurricanes off the ground.
“Being new to town everyone is going to go ‘who is Matt Smith’,” he said.
“It’s going to take a whole pre-season to get commitment from everyone.
“But when you get a good bunch of women together, they start to play some good basketball.”
“The good part about being fresh, coming in and seeing a whole new bunch on the floor is everyone who wants to play can have a fresh start,” he said.
The Seahawks and Mermaids board will decide which divisions to contest in coming months.