Age Group News

Unfinished business drives Fitchett as NZ age-group basketball coaches named

Unfinished business drives Fitchett as NZ age-group basketball coaches named

Basketball New Zealand has appointed the coaches that will lead the New Zealand Under 17 and Under 16 National teams.

New Zealand Under 17 Boys Head Coach – Michael Fitchett

The Head Coach role for the New Zealand Under 17 Boys team has been reappointed to Michael Fitchett, who says he has “unfinished business” with Australia. Coach Fitchett was at the helm in 2015 when the Under 17 team was narrowly defeated by Australia in the final of the Oceania Championships, which meant they just missed qualification for the 2016 FIBA World Championships.  Coach Fitchett says he has already begun preparations for the 2017 FIBA Asian Championships, where New Zealand will need to come in the top four to qualify for the 2018 FIBA World Championships.

“We will put in a preparation campaign to make sure we have a great build up and have the best chance to succeed at the Asian Champs. A major focus will be on getting great games in the build-up, which is something we didn’t have in 2015.”

Fitchett will be balancing his Under 17s role with his job as Assistant Coach for the SKYCITY Breakers, a mix that he says will add pressure, but he’s confident they will be well balanced. 

“We will hold camps and trials during the ANBL season and then look to really ramp up the programme once the ANBL season is complete. I will lean on local coaches to continue to prepare the players during the months that we cannot hold camps, and the players will have individual skill and conditioning plans to work on throughout the summer. I certainly believe that the advantages to the programme of me being able to work and develop alongside Breakers and Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare, as well as assistant coach Judd Flavell, outweigh any disadvantages that may arise from my busy schedule with the Breakers.”

Both are elite teams and Fitchett says there are some common themes when coaching at junior and professional level, but overall they required different styles.

“Coaching juniors requires much more focus on skill development, and teaching offensive and defensive execution. With senior players, training becomes much more about fine tuning game plans and ensuring the players are physically ready to play come game time. Expectations on senior players are obviously a little higher, as they are full time professionals.  Junior players have more leeway to make errors while they learn the game. Players at both levels are expected to play and train with great intensity, and I will be demanding in this area with the Under 17 team.

“Junior basketball is in a good state at the moment. The top tier of players are getting good opportunities both in New Zealand and in the U.S. The skill level of our junior players is increasing every year. In general, our junior players do not play with great intensity on a consistent basis, nor do we commit to playing defence hard at all times. These are areas that I hope will improve with the exposure to more international basketball through the Asian Championships and hopefully the World Championships.”

Coach Fitchett will be supported by Assistant Coaches Dave Bublitz and Ben Sheat.

New Zealand Under 17 Girls Head Coach – Jody Cameron.

North Harbours Jody Cameron has been reappointed to the Head Coach role of the New Zealand Under 17 Girls team.

Coach Cameron has already had a strong career as an athlete. She has represented New Zealand in Basketball, Netball and Touch Rugby. The former Tall Fern says she’s driven to continue coaching some of New Zealand’s best young talent.

“NZ Junior basketball is flourishing. We have a good pool of players coming up that are representing the country well, especially with such a demanding life schedule for our young adults. Associations are doing their part, lifting the level of quality to the representative programmes, therefore producing a larger group of talent to pick from. The current Junior Tall Ferns series against China played highlights the calibre of how well we are preforming on the international level.

“After last year’s appointment to head coach I feel I have learnt from the experience, taking away valuable knowledge and a better understanding of the programme, and the level of commitment involved. Losing to Australia was a very disappointing result, so I reapplied for the role to see if I could do better by the athletes, and also to see if I really have the goods to coach on an international platform, to do a better job of getting it done. Representing the country is an honour and I love the challenge.”  

Coach Cameron will be supported by Assistant Coaches Lori McDaniel and Gina Farmer. McDaniel also assisted Cameron earlier this year with the Women’s New Zealand Select Team, while Farmer and Cameron were teammates in the Tall Ferns.


List of coaching appointments and short biographies

New Zealand Under 17 Girls

Jody Cameron – Head Coach

Association:  North Harbour. 
Has represented New Zealand in basketball, netball and touch rugby. Former Tall Fern. 
2015 Head Coach New Zealand Under 17 Girls team.
Awarded Basketball New Zealand Female Coach of the Year for 2014.
National Championships with North Harbour WBC team and Under 17 teams in 2014.
Head Coach of New Zealand Women’s Select Team, 2016.

Lori McDaniel  – Assistant Coach

Association: Canterbury.
Coaching at various junior levels summer camps including Amateur Athletic Union competitions in USA.
Under 16 Coach on the New Zealand Development Tour.
Mainland Eagles Academy Coach.
Head Coach Canterbury Wildcats (2014-current) and WBC Championship winners 2016.
New Zealand Women’s Select Team Assistant Coach 2016.

Gina Farmer – Assistant Coach

Association: Canterbury.
Former Tall Fern (13 years).
Assistant Coach Canterbury Wildcats WBC team 2015 – 2016.
Strength in developing and working with the forwards/centres. 

New Zealand Under 17 Boys

Michael Fitchett – Head Coach

Former Tall Black and New Zealand Breakers team member.
New Zealand Boys Under 16 Head Coach 2013 and 2014.
New Zealand Boys Under 16 Head Coach finishing at the Australian State Championships, fifth and third respectively.
2014-2015 Head Coach of the New Zealand U17 team.
Current Assistant Coach New Zealand Breakers and Head Coach New Zealand Breakers Academy.
New Zealand Men’s Select Team Assistant Coach. 

Dave Bublitz – Assistant Coach

Association: New Plymouth.
Head Coach New Plymouth Boys High School Premier Boys team and Taranaki Under 17 Boys team.
Former NZ NBL Head Coach Taranaki Mountaineers.
New Zealand Under 17 Assistant Coach 2015 and 2016.

Ben Sheat – Assistant Coach

Association: Canterbury.
Head Coach Cashmere High School Premier Boys Team.
Assistant Coach New Zealand Under 16 Boys 2013 and 2014.
Assistant Coach New Zealand Under 17 Boys 2014 and 2015.
Assistant Coach Canterbury Rams 2016.

New Zealand Under 16 Girls

Natalie Visger – Head Coach 

Association: Otago.
Development Officer Basketball Otago.
Head Coach Snow College Ephraim Utah, NJCAA Division One 2011-2015.
NCAA Division II Assistant Coach Montana State University Billings.
MSUB 2010 Athletics Hall of Fame and Distinction Inductee.
Played and coached professionally in Germany.
Head Coach Otago Women’s Under 23 Team runners up at the 2016 National Tournament.

Justine Reed – Assistant Coach

Association: North Harbour.
Representative Coach for North Harbour Under 15 -23 and Women’s WBC.
Head Coach North Harbour Under 15 Girls National Champions 2012.
Manager/Assistant Coach 2015 New Zealand team 3x3 FIBA Oceania Champs.
New Zealand Girls Under 17 Assistant Coach, 2015 FIBA Oceania Championships.

Frances Tilly - Assistant Coach

• Association: Nelson
• Nelson Sparks WBC Women’s team 2015-16
• Tasman Under 15 Coach 2015
• Nelson Girls College Head Coach 2016
• New Zealand Development Koru Tour Under 14 Girls Coach 2016

New Zealand Under 16 Boys

Zico Coronel - Head Coach

Association: Wellington.
Under 18 Boys Head Coach NZ Development Tour Koru, 2015 and 2016.
Assistant Coach roles with the Wellington Saints, Waikato Pistons and the Manawatu Jets NZ NBL teams 2005-2016.
Head Coach Rongotai College Junior A 2016, Central Junior Premiership Champions.

Assistant Coach - Morgan Maskell

Association: North Harbour.
New Zealand Development Tour Boys Under 14 Koru Head Coach: Australian Country Cup Champions 2015.
NZ Under 16 Girls Assistant Coach 2016.
Head Coach North Harbour Under 17 Boys 2016 National Champions.

Assistant Coach - Danny Page

Association: Wellington.
Under 18 and Under 16 Representative Coach with the Dandenong Rangers, Melbourne Australia.
New Zealand Development Tour Under 16 Boys Coach 2014-2016.
Head Men’s Bundaberg Bulls QBL Coach (Australia).
Wellington College Premier Boys Head Coach.