The Final Whistle


It's been gathering steam for some time now, yet rarely is it spoken about at great length, so as we bid farewell to 2013 and look ahead to the 2014 Big V season my last Final Whistle for the year will be dedicated to basketball's new buzz word - REBUILDING.

The 'R' word isn't new by any stretch of the imagination, coaches, teams and clubs have been using it for years, but it's reasonable to suggest it has almost reached the point of overuse these days. Yes, it is officially a 'buzz word' around these traps.

It seems that any time a team knows that finals may be (or will be) out of the question, the word 'rebuilding' gets bandied about quick smart, even if it is being thrown out there to cover up what is or will be a slow season in the wins column.

Not surprisingly, there are different levels of rebuilding. Sometimes it is full-blown, at other times it's more about covering cracks. 

Just to clarify exactly what should constitute a rebuilding phase, I think a team must have more than a few young players cutting their teeth at the given level of competition, maybe more than four or five just for good measure, not one player jumping up from a younger level to join a team filled with veterans and older bodies. Rebuilding is all about developing a young group for future years, putting time and effort into a group in order to harvest future success via their improvement.

Rebuilding can also be about the extension of the team - things like the club's overall basketball program, especially at Big V level, along with the team's coaching staff. Sometimes even dropping back a level of competition can constitute some sort of rebuilding.

Interestingly, these days, each team seemingly enters a new season in one of three states of mind, those being; 1) Aiming to win the title, 2) Aiming to make the finals, 3) Rebuilding for the future.

We don't hear a coach say "We're just hoping to be competitive and finish middle of the road!" The days of mediocrity and being 'middle of the road' are long gone, these days it's all about going for a finals berth this year or rebuilding for the future.

And, like all things in sport, a state of mind, goal or target can rapidly shift. We've all seen it before - that quick change of plan when injuries hit or form is well below the expectations once held.

One thing to keep an eye out for in late April or early May next year are those teams that transition from aiming for finals to rebuilding for a future tilt. Not surprisingly a change in direction usually comes on the back of entering the season aiming to make finals, talking the talk so to speak, then failing to walk the walk over the first third of the season.

Of course there's nothing wrong with that, it's just another example of how the buzz word, rebuilding, gets pushed out there.

Just like the myriad of cliches we already use, you know the ones like ...... we're taking it one week at a time (AKA let's not get ahead of ourselves, stop talking about us and please help me keep a lid on things), we're not taking this week's game lightly, we expect a really competitive game (AKA yes we are playing the bottom team and yes we expect to smash them, but please don't tell my players that because we'll look like fools if we lose) or, we're still a mathematical chance on making the finals and we'll give it our best shot (AKA you and I both know we have no chance of doing it, but please don't tell the players or the club that) ...... chances are we will continue to hear an increase in the use of 'rebuilding' in game previews and media releases from clubs. Yes, if not already, it will soon become a cliche, or part there of.

Amongst other recent topics in the Big V, looks like there has been a number of coaching changes and a bit of player movement, none more so than past years mind you, but just enough to keep us all entertained during the quiet months.

A new home is a fresh opportunity. Let's see who steps up in a new environment, shall we?

I've seen the 2014 competition structure and like it a lot. The increase in team numbers in both SCM and SCW is a really exciting move, as is the number of clubs harnessing the youth competitions as development programs for future senior players. Sustainability is the key to success.

And of course, leaving the best to last, it's fantastic to see Shepparton's women back in the competition and also the inclusion of Wodonga. At times we can become a little insular in sport and forget about the big, wide world out there, or in this case our basketball friends in other parts of Victoria. Rural representation in the Big V is incredibly important, not only for the participants out on court, but also for future growth of the game, media coverage of the league and corporate investment, not to mention the social and community values for those towns in the competition.

How great would it be to see the likes of Swan Hill, Echuca, Horsham and Sale (amongst others) saddling up in the future?

I often talk about a 'backyard mentality' that exists in sport, and most definitely in basketball. I liken this to stepping out the back door of your club and if all you see is three fences surrounding you then your are closing your eyes to opportunity, collaboration, connection, growth and advancement. In order to grow, prosper and build a great culture, we need to step outside and see no barriers, no fences, just a clear view to our neighboring clubs, and those beyond.

If you close yourself away from others in the game or in sport - yes, your opposition - you will conduct business with a siege mentality. However, if that view is clear, you will step forward as a player, team or club and see the 'whole of sport'. The day will come when we see clubs join forces and become bigger and more enterprising businesses. Trust me, it will happen. Things like changing demographics in areas, availability of facilities, the need for volunteers, to keep costs down, provide better efficiencies and produce a better product will lead to more collaboration. All good things take time I guess.

Anyway, for now, seeing more rural teams in the Big V is big picture stuff and hopefully we see more joining us in the future. 

Have a great Christmas and New Year break, work hard during the pre-season and we'll see you all back ready and raring to go in 2014, starting of course with the pre-season tournament in Frankston.


The Final Whistle has blown!      


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