Suns set to shine
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
WHEN the two Coffs Harbour Suns teams take to the court tonight against Newcastle Hunters for their first home matches of the season, fans of the men's team can turn up knowing that the boys will give supporters their full 100 per cent effort.
New coach of the mens team Peter Barton has only just taken over the reins of the Suns but he's already worked out what basketball fans can expect from their team.
"They can expect a fast running game, the guys are very fit," he said.
"The team will just put an effort in, non-stop. There are no bludgers in the team which is excellent."
Barton has been involved with the Coffs Harbour basketball scene since moving to the area 14 years ago and is coaching his daughter in a junior representative team but he thought he'd offer his help to the state league team who he felt needed some assistance.
"Basically I was already coaching a couple of junior teams and they didn't have a coach," the 44 year-old said.
"Dirk Miller who's the captain of the side was playing and coaching and it was just too hard for Dirk and his game was suffering."
The new coach has a plethora of playing experience to call upon including time spent in the NBL with the Newcastle Falcons.
Barton has only been in the role for a short time but he's already impressed with what he's seen from his team.
"It's full of good players," he said.
"Their effort is excellent, their enthusiasm is great and they're just a really good bunch of guys but most of them haven't reached their potential."
The passion of the group has already made a lasting impression on the coach but it wasn't until early in the week that he realised just how much passion the players have got.
"Something that I'm just learning is that it costs these guys to play in this team which is very hard for them," he expalined.
"Some of them don't have full-time jobs, some are students. What each player is looking for at the moment to help with that is an individual player sponsor.
"There's a couple of guys that aren't playing this year on priciple basically saying, 'Why should I pay to train?' and I can understand that.
"What it means is that the guys that are in the team are all passionate and they want to be there, they all love the sport. I've got two guys who are injured and they just want to get back on the court and I had to tell them at training, 'Sorry guys but don't even look at it for two weeks' looking at their long term future because they're all very keen."
There's a glint in the coaches eye when he explains that if supporters are impressed tonight then they should turn up to every home game because he truly believes that the best is yet to come.
"I like to work on the technical side a bit, the fundamentals and improving the fundamental skills of each player and then getting it to work as a team," the coach enthused.
"I can see where the team will improve and they will fairly dramatically over the season."