Mark Radford appointed coach of the Australian under 17 basketball team for the Oceania Championships

BRAD COLE   THE ADVOCATE  Mark Radford’s standing within the national basketball coaching ranks continues to be held in high regard after he was appointed as coach of the Australian under 17 boys team for the upcoming Oceania Championships.

The Basketball Tasmania development manager last led a national side in 2017 when he was in charge of the Australian side that competed at the World University Games and finished ninth.

He has continued to be heavily involved in caching Tasmanian underage teams to eye-catching results at national championship level, but admitted that he was pleasantly surprised to get another shot to represent his country.

“I didn’t know whether I would get another opportunity to do this role it because there are a lot of good coaches currently at junior level in Australia,” Radford said.

“I put in for the job and will get this opportunity for the first leg of the campaign.

“Then you have to reapply for the Asian championships if you qualify and then on to the world championships if you qualify again.

“The current under 19 group of coaches who are away at the World Cup I’m sure will be part of the next process, but right now I’m focused on Oceania and doing our best with that group.”

Radford’s first job is to trim a squad of 19 down to a team of 10 players for the tournament at a selection camp in Canberra this weekend.

He will have two local products to consider as well with Taran Armstrong (who is based at the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence) and Penguin’s Reyne Smith heading along, while Penguin’s Sharn Hayward will be putting her hand up for the girls side.

“Reyne had an outstanding national championships, hence why he has been selected in this squad,” Radford said.

“There are some very good guards in this squad and he is amongst them, so he has to bring his best to camp and it’s the same with Sharn in the girls.”

While Australia will start favourites to take out the Oceania title in both boys and girls divisions ahead of traditional rivals New Zealand, Radford said there isn’t much time to install detailed strategies.

“We only have one camp and then the tournament so you haven’t got time like you would with a state team preparation where you have multiple camps and weekly training session to implement your system,” he said.

“It’s about keeping it simple, giving the team a plan and making sure they know what the coaches want them to be good at.”

The Oceania Championships will be held in New Caledonia from August 17-25.