Coach's departure blow for Jets
Manawatu Jets basketballers were delivered a bombshell yesterday when told their coach, Ryan Weisenberg, won't be coming back.
After three years guiding the national league team, he has put his family first and will stay in California.
Weisenberg's wife, Lyndsey, is pregnant and the baby is due in mid-July, just a week or so after the Jets' regular season finishes.
Acting general manager Janet Thompson yesterday informed the players, many of whom are overseas, including Jeremiah Trueman in Perth, and they said they remained committed to the Jets.
A week ago Weisenberg thought he would be able to return and the board had planned on having him.
He is working as an assistant coach of the Pepperdine University women's team in Los Angeles, a team his wife formerly played for. He went there in August.
"It is a big blow to us to lose Ryan," Thompson said. "We were pretty excited that he was going to take us to the finals this year and do it.
"But we have got other options to replace him.
"He will not be irreplaceable. We have some very good candidates we are interested in and are talking to."
"Ryan had been pretty committed to the Jets but at the end of the day, he had to put his family first."
The core of the last year's team, who reached the playoffs last season, have been re-signed including Americans Chris Hagan and Marcel Jones. Star import Josh Pace, the league's leading scorer last year, has gone to the Nelson Giants.
Weisenberg, in a statement from the United States, said after discussing it with his family and going over all the scenarios, he had come to the conclusion he needed to step away this season from coaching the Jets.
"I can't justify leaving my pregnant wife who is working fulltime as a teacher, and two toddlers for five months. I apologise that this decision has taken longer than I would have liked, but I really went through a number of discussions with people on both sides.
"This decision has been one of the most difficult I have made. I know people will feel like I let them down by not coming back, but with all the work we have done over the past three seasons, this organisation is in a great place."
His wife played for the New Zealand women's team in Vietnam last year.
Horvath, the league's MVP last year, said he was happy for Weisenberg and understood that family comes first.
"Unfortunately for him he'll be missing a great season for the Manawatu Jets. When one door closes another opens and I'm excited at the potential for who could fill the role as head coach."
Miles Pearce was supposed to be a Jets assistant coach last year but ended up playing.
Thompson was to meet Pearce and assistant coach Darron Larsen today to put in place a short-term plan.
Thompson said the Jets' priority would be to enlist a coach for a year to take the team to the final.
"I don't think this will put any of the players off," she said.
Nolan King, a personal friend of Weisenberg's, has stepped down as Jets general manager because of an illness in the family. He remains chairman of the board.