Basketball New Zealand is well down the road towards appointing a replacement head coach following the departure of Paul Henare last month as he pursues an opportunity in Japan and has confirmed that the contract will be a short-term one, taking the team through to the end of the Tokyo Olympic Games.
This decision has come about after a thorough review of what is in the best interests of the team and the programme so close to the Olympic Games, with the successful applicant likely to come from close to home and indeed the current team environment.
Basketball New Zealand High Performance Manager Leonard King described a process that sees the organization ‘own’ this short-term appointment knowing that disruption must be kept to a minimum with the next Asia Cup qualifying window in February, and the Olympic repechage tournament fast approaching in June, with little or no time for the new coach on the floor with the players.
“The decision was made to keep this close to home after consultation with High Performance Sport New Zealand and the New Zealand Olympic Committee, our two main stakeholders. We also canvassed internally with key stakeholders and staff, including the leadership group within the team.
“From all of that it became clear that our best-case scenario was to make a short-term appointment, and that the successful applicant would need to have a thorough understanding of the team, the culture and the path they have been on throughout this Olympic window. As a result of that, we have not advertised extensively for the role, but have spoken directly to those we think fit the role we have identified.
“There is simply no time for a new coach to come in and implement a completely new system given the restrictions we have on getting the team together. While we did not get out of our group at the recent World Championships, it was clear for all to see the progress the team made and the impact they had on the tournament, ending with a strong win over European heavyweights Turkey. This was not an overnight success though and only came after considerable investment over a lengthy time in a particular style of game. We don’t have that time to start from scratch again ahead of our 2020 programme.”
The appointment will be for a seven-month period, taking the team through to the end of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Following that time period, Basketball New Zealand will then advertise more widely for a longer-term role, likely to be a contract that takes the team through the next four-year cycle, including the 2023 World Championship and 2024 Olympic Games.
Subject to the confirmation of the new Head Coach, support staff roles will not be affected, with Basketball New Zealand again wanting consistency in those working within the Tall Blacks environment.
Interviews are due to take place this week, with a decision expected in mid-December, allowing a seamless transition as the team prepares for Asia Cup qualifiers against Australia and Guam in February, and the Olympic Qualifying tournament at a yet to be determined location in June.