ALEX FAIR THE ADVOCATE The North-West Coast is firmly in the view of those behind Tasmania’s proposed NBL team Southern Huskies, with consortium spokesman David Bartlett labelling the region as the “home of basketball” in the state.
This would come in the form of pre-season games/camps and community appearances/clinics, taking inspiration from AFL club Hawthorn’s camps in the state.
Bartlett would also like to see the North-West Tall Timbers Thunder be one of its feeder sides.
“To me the North-West is the engine room of basketball in Tasmania and absolutely the Southern Huskies want to engage the North-West,’’ said Bartlett, who is also the Hobart Chargers’ president.
“Even back when I was playing primary school basketball, the tournaments were always in Devonport and up the North-West and it always has produced a huge amount of talent, including our coach Anthony Stewart.
“One of the real challenges with that is that there is no NBL-ready stadiums in Tasmania at the moment and the consortium is planning on spending some $3 million on the Derwent Entertainment Centre to make it NBL ready, which probably means playing regular NBL games outside of that stadium is going to be next to impossible.
“But we would envisage significant pre-season activity on the North-West Coast and we’d love to play some pre-season games on the North-West Coast.”
Bartlett said the consortium would see both the Thunder and the Chargers as feeder clubs.
“For example we (the Chargers) have Craig Moller playing with us at the moment out of the NBL and we’d like to see our (Southern Huskies) NBL players, with paid sponsorships so we are paying their salary, play for the North-West Thunder and the Chargers during the winter.
“On top of that we intend to use the SEABL program to test out imports, we’d bring into someone like a Tre Nichols, play for them to play for the North-West Thunder or the Chargers so we can have a bit of a look at them before we sign them for a NBL contract.
“These are obviously really early days, but that is the kind of relationship we’d like to have with the Thunder.
“Obviously Mason Bragg would fit into that model, playing for the North-West Thunder in the winter and play for the Huskies in the summer would be a pretty good model.”
Bartlett said the consortium’s plans would be to work with the Thunder, who already enjoy a significant community and school presence, rather than look to overtake them in any way, shape or form.
“We’ve been using this phrase around the consortium “standing on the shoulders of giants” as the Huskies is a new brand, but we want to pay trip to the Thunder brand, even the Launceston City Casino Tigers and the Devils as well as the Chargers as we are building this with the Huskies off that base.
“If you talk to some of the people that were involved with the establishment of the Devils, there was a sense that it took away from grassroots basketball and the one thing I have learnt in my two years at the Chargers is that it is about building the sport from the grassroots up and if we don’t do that than it will never succeed.”
Bartlett said he could understand some of the worries when the name of the franchise was first released that it could be seen as a “Hobart team”, but believed people need to look at the bigger picture.
“It is better to be talked about than not, but what people have to see it as is what the mainland sees us as, and that is the south.
The Southern Huskies bid last week got the backing of North-West Thunder coach Sam Armstrong.
“This is something that Tasmania needs to get behind, and the concept they have put up makes a lot of sense and if it launches it will be something completely new and completely different and something that people of Tassie can call their own,’’ he said.
“I really hope it can get off the ground, and it is fantastic there are people at the top who are really pushing it.
“Everything that is happening down there at the moment from a basketball perspective has our full support.”
The consortium is chasing the 10th NBL license after the ninth was awarded to businessman Romie Chaudhar earlier this month.