Coach Gaze gets players’ seal of approval
ANDREW Gaze will coach the Sydney Kings next season despite requesting officials gain player approval for him to continue.
Gaze's future has been questioned all season, especially during the Kings' struggles.
The pressure has eased with Sydney winning six of their final seven games to avoid the wooden spoon.
Gaze, though, opened the door for change when he said he required the players' blessings to coach next season.
"Ultimately they (officials) need to talk to the players," Gaze said after Sydney's win over New Zealand on Sunday.
"If there's any doubt about the capacity for me to continue, then let's work it out. Not all the players would love me. I'd hope they do, but not all the players are going to say 'I hope he comes back'."
Despite these comments, Gaze has the players' and the franchise's backing to honour the final season of his three-year contract.
This faith was questioned throughout the Kings' losing streak when a number of players expressed concerns about the coaching and the team's direction.
Managing Director Jeff Van Groningen confirmed the rumblings, which were largely a by-product of the side's poor form.
"Some of the training sessions were testy and agitated and frustration was at a boiling out," Van Groningen said.
"There is no doubting everyone within the organisation was very frustrated about where we found ourselves.
"I don't think there was any one individual that was more upset than anyone else during that time, because we were not giving the type of effort that we knew we could give.
"Some people were not pulling the weight we needed to pull and the results didn't follow, but they didn't stop working and it's a credit to the group."
Van Groningen said he would meet with Gaze in the coming weeks to discuss the Kings' future.
"I'm looking forward to sitting with Andrew and reviewing our year, before shifting focus to what lays ahead," he said.
"The review helps guide that and I'm excited about the future. Winning six of our last seven games is a glimpse of better days."
On the player side of the equation, guard Jason Cadee has backed Gaze to coach Sydney next season.
"100 per cent Andrew deserves to be the coach," Cadee said. "I think he is a great guy who is still learning as a coach.
"He did a better job as the year went on and this was only his second year of coaching, so I'm sure he'll get better.
"Andrew took a lot of the criticism earlier in the year for us, which he didn't need to do.
"But he stayed strong. He stuck with us and we stuck with him and eventually we showed what could be there potentially."
Cadee, a free agent this off-season who has attracted interest from Brisbane, urged Kings officials to retain a core of the current squad to create confidence for Gaze and the team.
"I think the club needs to help Andrew now and keep some continuity with our group," he said.
"We don't want him to have to teach a whole new group of guys, like we've had to do this year.
"I think that will help Andrew moving forward."
The Kings failed to make the finals, but they finished strongly to ensure a bright future.
According to Van Groningen, Sydney's turning point came prior to the team's round 10 clash against Cairns.
The Kings had only pre-sold 5000 tickets, half of what they'd previously attracted.
Yet amid calls for the coach's head, Van Groningen recalls urging Gaze and the players to go out and fight for the loyal supporters.
"I said to Andrew there will be no bandwagons out there tonight - these fans are the true believers," he said.
"These are people that have decided to come despite where we've found ourselves. They are coming to watch the Kings because it's their team and if our guys can't play for these people they shouldn't play.
"To me, that was a turning point because that mentality started to take a hold and resilience was built."