Seahawks need to thrive to keep Warrnambool hoop dreams alive

WARRNAMBOOL Seahawks start their 2014 season on Saturday night away from home and away from their loyal legion of fans.

They'll enter their first home game in two weeks' time with a better understanding of their Big V prospects on the back of two road trips.

Waiting for them will be a crowd hoping to cheer more than it did last season when wins were few and far between.

For basketball to thrive in Warrnambool, it's important the Seahawks are successful, or that they at least don't bottom out for too long, particularly following the demise of the Mermaids just one season after they won back-to-back division one women's crowns.

Young basketballers want to be Seahawks and eventually making the main roster is what drives them to train harder and get better.

The Big V is also a pathway to bigger things, a stepping stone to the elite level.

Perth Wildcats coach and Warrnambool export Trevor Gleeson is the perfect example.

Support for Big V teams in regional centres is high.

Unlike football, where people have an abundance of local teams to choose from, basketball brings the community together for a common cause.

It's an us against them mentality - the Arc can and should be a scary place for opposition teams.

The 2013 Big V season was a learning curve for the Seahawks.

They spent the bulk of the year anchored to the foot of the division one ladder, before finishing 15th with an unenviable 5-17 win/loss record.

It was a tumultuous season too, with co-coach Rebel Noter stood down after 14 games after the committee decided its joint coaching initiative wasn't working.

Hurdles aside, it was a campaign of growth and development.

Teenage point guard Damian Gray won the club's most valuable player after cementing himself in the Seahawks' starting five and the next generation - forward duo James Mitchell and Liam Killey and guard Josh Dean - were all given plenty of minutes.

New coach Bobby Cunningham's quest is to build on that promise and use former coach Tim Gainey and star American import Sai'Quon Stone to help fast-track their development.

Let's hope the Arc becomes a hostile environment again soon.

Justine.mc@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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