Season preview written by Kasey Cornwell.
Eric Hayes has taken the reigns from Dave Flint this year, and he hopes to bring a pretty physical team to the floor this season with a focus on intensity at the defensive end and fitness.
Hayes is excited and nervous about the beginning of the season and most of this stems from his high expectations of himself. ‘I want to have success, so I guess there’s a bit of pressure of myself” because of that. Hayes has been evaluating how he coaches after the practice matches during the pre-season and implementing changes during the training sessions. He admits, there is still heaps him and the team to work on.
While the Miners have been improving with every preseason game, being able to have a good majority of the team on the floor together has been beneficial as they are still finding their way in terms of how they play together. The next week of preparation is going to be critical for the first weekend of games. Miners centre, Chris Smith has enjoyed the preseason, getting out with the boys and finding out where everyone was at, in terms of their preparation for the season. He was impressed with some of the younger players and the chance they got to have a run over the preseason. As a group Smith believes that their toughness needs to improve, and he thinks the boys can back each other this season.
Recruiting Everard Bartlett and Kodi Augustus to the lineup was a decision based on the structure that the Miners want. Bartlett and Augustus definitely bring skills to the group, but Hayes stresses it is also important to know how the players can utilize each other’s strengths to be the best the team can be.
Ballarat’s Anthony Fisher returning to the line-up is another great inclusion, bringing his extraordinary skill set and experience from NBL side, Perth Wildcats. Hayes sees Fisher as a great athlete that adds some organization to the floor.
In terms of the injuries, Kris Blicavs is now back playing and he is now ticking off the days till round one, he found last season incredibly frustrating with his injury and can’t wait to be out on the court. Sean Massey on the other hand is still a few weeks away from being out of his moonboot. Hayes admits that there are some injuries placing some limitations on guys, but they are close to being on top of these now.
The players are definitely ready to get playing. Smith, said there is nothing more exciting than opening round against an arch rival and “as an athlete that’s what you live for”. While last season was great to reach the playoffs, he wants the team to take it to the next stage and not get knocked out of the playoffs. He stressed that the team should make that their mentality.
Eric’s focus is on doing well in the opening weekend of the season and making plans on how to tackle the season from there. Certainly in the end he wants the team to do well enough to get into the playoffs. That is what they will be playing for.
The GMHBA Miners kick off the season against Bendigo on April 10 at 8:00pm at the MARS ® MINERDOME. The Harvey Norman Ballarat Rush also kick off their season against Bendigo at 6:00pm, so don’t forget to get in early to see that game.
Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at the MARS ® MINERDOME.