After a difficult debut season, Coach Arron MacDonald's men look to bounce-back in 20/21, we spoke to the Coach to ask him about his off-season, the work the club's done to get ready for the upcoming season, and the current state of the Senior Men's squad...
BB: Coach, Thanks for taking the time out to speak to us today
AM: No problems!
BB: With a protracted off-season due to Covid-19, can you talk us through what you've been up to?
AM: On a personal level, I think that this time away from being on-court with the guys worked really well for me.
I didn't really take any downtime until August, which allowed me to really figure out who we wanted to be a part of the side, and how we wanted to play, and to really get back to studying the game.
Moreso, for the wider club it allowed us the opportunity to build new relationships with sponsors and partners, like The Coffee House, The Playground, Top Notch Cars, Smart Garden Offices and Bury Physio . We're really grateful to have brought them on-board, particularly at a time when most clubs are really struggling for sponsors and supporters, but with that said, the economic climate dictates that we still need more sponsors.
Most importantly, it let me really take some time to bring in and work with the coaches at the club. I think we have the deepest, most knowledgeable and most passionate coaching base we've ever had at the club - and that's a platform we can build from.
BB: That sounds fantastic! So, zooming-in on the NBL Men, you've lost a few of the key players from last season?
AM: Yes - but there's always attrition from year-to-year. We've lost a handful of players, but we expected that. What we perhaps didn't expect was to lose our leading scorer, our MVP and our leading three-point shooter. But Adam Ball's moved away, Denby Ablard's got a young family and a challenging career, and Vyto Girdzius has changed jobs and couldn't balance everything.
These things happen every off-season. I mean, it feels like half the NBA are free agents every year - so we can't be too surprised if we lose a few players at the end of a season.
BB: How does losing those players affect your confidence going into next season?
AM: It doesn't.
Don't get me wrong - they were three very strong players for us last year, but we didn't consistently meet the standards we set last season, and that's why we had the season we had.
I think the guys we've brought-in bring a renewed optimism with them, and the returning guys are just hungry. Having the season they had, then having to sit out and stew on it... I actually think it could be an advantage for us - they're much more mentally ready to compete now, and we're just looking forwards to the season.
BB: Can you talk us through the new signings?
AM: I'm not going to go into specifics right now, because we've not finished building the side. We're really close, but we're looking for one or two players as the final pieces of the puzzle.
What I will say is that I believe we've brought in a number of high character, high work ethic guys who can really play the game. They'll add to the players we have here, and I think the energy around training already is completely different than last season - I'm hoping that the work we've put in on the floor, and in some of the off-the-court stuff, like our team-building day at The Playground, will help us to put a team on the floor that lives up to the standards we've set for them.
BB: You've mentioned "The Playground" and some of the other new partners a couple of times, what do they bring to the club?
AM: In this economic climate, the reality is that any club that doesn't have its' own venue needs sponsorship and strategic partnerships in order to tread water. We don't want to stand still though, we want to keep moving forwards - and that requires even more support.
This off-season, we've been really fortunate that a couple of club alumni have stepped-forwards and had their businesses provide sideline sponsorship from Smart Garden Offices and Top Notch Cars. We've seen Absolute Detailing move from being a sideline sponsor to a headline sponsor of the club, and we've built fantastic relationships with a number of partner organisations.
We had an awesome team-building day at The Playground with the Seniors, and will be looking to run one with the Junior teams before the season commences; Bury Physio have run a webinar for us on injury prevention in basketball, and offer a discount on treatment to all members; and The Coffee House not only offer all of our members a 20% discount, but they're providing prepared meals for our National League Men's side for road games.
So, in the course of a few months, we've managed to get discounted physiotherapy, access to team-building activities and prepared meals for our athletes - which is certainly not typical of a Division 3 club, especially one not linked to any particular school or university.
BB: Thanks Coach, so finally from us, if there are any players out there thinking about joining the club, how do they go about that?
AM: They should contact us by completing a sign-up form to give us their contact information, and some information about their playing experience. If it's players looking to join the NBL Men, they've got to be aged 18+ and experienced players. Once you've gotten in touch, we'll offer a trial session.
BB: Great, thanks for your time today, Coach!
AM: No problem! Thank you.