Matt Shanahan has taken over the coaching role of Coffs Harbour’s state league men’s team. LEIGH JENSEN
Matt Shanahan has taken over the coaching role of Coffs Harbour’s state league men’s team. LEIGH JENSEN LEIGH JENSEN

Both Suns teams fight for top spot

BOTH of Coffs Harbour’s state league basketball teams face vital top-of-the-table clashes this weekend at Sportz Central.

The men face Ballina Breakers this afternoon while the women’s team will be playing against Lismore Storm tomorrow.

Victory in these matches is vital as it will go a long way to ensuring a home semi-final at the end of the season.

The men’s team were white hot last week as they piled on the points on the road against Tamworth and Armidale.

New Suns coach Matt Shanahan doesn’t make any secret of how difficult the battle against the Breakers will be this afternoon.

Not only are the Suns up against a quality opponent but they also must find a way to quell the ability of Ballina’s James Whitby who is averaging 29.6 points per game in 2010.

“Obviously we’re up against the guy that’s leading the whole State League in scoring,” Shanahan said.

“Obviously limiting his opportunities will be important.”

The new man in charge though believes it’s the way his team plays that will determine today’s outcome, not the how well Ballina play.

“We’re not really worried about our opponents, we’re just worried about how we play the game,” he said.

“As long as we take care of what we’ve been doing and the way we’ve been trying to play, which is what we hang our hat on, it will take care of itself.

“That means being aggressive with our defence, being physical against the opposition and staying attuned with what we need to do to get it done.”

The introduction into the team of young talent like Blake Kelly is also making a difference to the development of the team that has generally under-achieved in the past.

“We’re trying to blood some younger guys into our team for the future. Blake had a good weekend and played some good minutes and he keeps improving and we’re trying to bring him along as well as a lot of the other young kids as well.”

Playing younger players is something that women’s coach Herb Haddon has taken pride in while the girls have reached the state’s final four for the last three years.

After playing Ballina tonight the girls face a tough battle against Lismore tomorrow.

The men’s team will be on the bus to Port Macquarie in the morning where they will complete their weekend double header.

Playing twice in the one weekend is always a physical challenge but it’s one Shanahan believes the Coffs Harbour teams are ready to face.

“These guys have never been as fit as what they are now and by the finals they’ll be even fitter,” he said.

“Playing double headers are a pretty good challenge but we’re lucky that we have a deep team where we can play 10 players and everyone can play, we don’t lose anything from playing all 10 of them.”

WEEKEND MATCHES

Today

Men: Suns v Ballina at 4.30pm

Women: Suns v Ballina at 6.30pm

Tomorrow

Women: Suns v Lismore at 11am



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