Hunters line up new coach

NEWCASTLE Basketball president Ross Lewis hopes to appoint a new Hunters coach by the end of the week so the association can move on from Darren Nichols’s shock resignation.
Nanjing Night Net

After coaching Newcastle’s Waratah Basketball League senior men’s team for the past four years, guiding them to the finals for the past three, Nichols has severed ties after falling out with Newcastle Basketball general manager Ivan Spyrdz.

Assistant coach Larry Davidson and team manager Martin Anderson stepped down from their positions with the team to support Nichols’s stance.

Former Hunter Pirates assistant coach Trevor Gallacher, who was to have been Nichols’s other assistant this season, has been appointed interim head coach.

But Lewis said the association had already sounded out several potential permanent replacements.

‘‘Nicko has resigned as coach and we’re moving on, so we’ve got to find another head coach,’’ Lewis told the Newcastle Herald.

‘‘We’ve built a bridge and we’re getting on with it.

‘‘I tried to talk Nicko into staying on, but he was pretty adamant. It’s one of those things that happens so now we’ve got to move on from that.

‘‘We’re speaking to a couple of people about the head coaching position. A couple of them are considering it now and, hopefully, we’ll have a decision this week. That would be good news.’’

The often strained professional relationship between Nichols and Spyrdz had been common knowledge within the inner circle of Newcastle’s basketball community for the past 18 months.

It came to a head on Friday when Nichols, who did not see eye to eye with Spyrdz over a range of issues including recruitment, funding and costs incurred by players to represent the Hunters, contacted Lewis to tender his resignation.

‘‘I really can’t comment on internal club matters,’’ Lewis said. ‘‘But … there are issues between people – that’s going to happen in any organisation where you’ve got a couple of hundred volunteers. There’s always going to be issues. It would be nice if you could please everybody all the time but you just can’t do it.

‘‘Nicko’s got a lot of supporters but most of them are Hunters players and Hunters people, so I don’t think the support base is going anywhere. These things happen and you’ve just got to move on.’’

Spyrdz said yesterday that he was getting on with his duties as general manager and was looking forward to the Hunters senior and junior teams enjoying successful seasons.

‘‘It’s business as usual. We’ll be announcing our men’s and women’s teams in the very near future, so there’s a lot to look forward to,’’ Spyrdz said.

Davidson wants to air his grievances in an appropriate forum.

‘‘I support Nicko and his actions, and like Newcastle Basketball I’m not at liberty to talk openly about what’s gone on, but I would like the opportunity to address the board with not only my concerns but the concerns of the senior program,’’ Davidson said.

‘‘I will speak to Ross Lewis about that, and I’m sure that they would like to speak to Nicko and myself as well.’’

Gallacher said he would speak to players at training tonight and tomorrow to determine their intentions for this season, and he was confident the Hunters would field a competitive team.

He said he could not commit to the coaching position this season as he was completing his final year of university studies and had other commitments, but he was keen to continue as an assistant with whoever Newcastle Basketball appointed to replace Nichols.

‘‘There is still a lot for the Hunters to be positive about in 2013, and we’re trying to deal with this situation as swiftly and respectfully as possible,’’ Gallacher said.

‘‘Each player has a personal decision to make regarding this season, and we’re trying to work through that with every respect for Newcastle Basketball and for coach Nichols.’’

The circumstances surrounding Nichols’s departure have left long-serving player Adam Melmeth disappointed and wondering whether he wanted to keep playing.

‘‘I’m very frustrated with the whole situation. I don’t agree with the way Nicko has been treated and I believe there has been a lack of support for the coaches and the players and the program,’’ Melmeth said.

GONE: Darren Nichols, left, and Larry Davidson have resigned.