BRAD COLE THE ADVOCATE A combined 1056 games worth of experience and some brotherly love will be guiding the North-West Thunder for the 2020 NBL1 season after the club finalised its coaching panel under re-signed coach Sam Armstrong.
Assisting Armstrong again on the sidelines will be club games record-holder Nick Haywood, but in a boost to the program, the duo will be joined by Coastal basketball legend Ben Armstrong, who pulled on the Thunder singlet 375 times on top of a glittering career at Wynyard, where he coached in 2019.
Sam Armstrong said the addition of a third voice and set of eyes on the bench and on the practice court next year will be invaluable for the playing group.
“It was highlighted after the 2019 season that we needed to expand our resources and it’s been pleasing that we’ve been able to do that with some quality individuals,” he said.
“Having three guys expands the thought process from a coaching point of view and it adds more resources for the players.
“Ben and I have always had a lot of discussion off the floor, and have done since we both stopped playing.
“He’s been someone I’ve always bounced a lot of stuff off over the last two years even though he hasn’t been a part of the coaching group.
“He does things a bit differently to me but he has a huge amount of knowledge and has coached a young group at Wynyard to plenty of success – I think he’ll only compliment our group with his knowledge.”
While the Thunder now has its coaching structure in place, Armstrong is now busy trying to formalise his playing roster for next year.
He said fans can expect a new-look team both from a local and import point of view, with some announcements out soon.
“I think we’ll look a little different to last year from conversations I’ve had with guys so far,” Armstrong said.
“We’ve targeted some specific areas we needed to get better at and so far we think we’ve been able to do that.
“One of our deficiencies last season was our ability to score enough points and while defence wins championships, at the same time you have to be able to put the ball in the hole.
“It’s a matter of getting our balance right and then fitting our imports around that.”
Helping Armstrong and the Thunder’s cause, however, is the fact they know exactly what league they will be playing in this time around – a far cry from 12 months ago when their future was in limbo following the disbandment of the SEABL.
“We’re a long way ahead of where we were this time last year and it gives us a chance to put our hat in the ring for players that other clubs are chasing,” Armstrong said.
“But we’re competing with clubs like Geelong who just signed Melbourne United’s Mitch McCarron and now have three NBL players in their group.
“That’s the challenge we are up against in Tasmania but that’s the great thing about the league.”
The Thunder have also retained Ryan Carroll as their physio, while Stephen Dome is back as team manager after a break from the role.