Larsen's mission to get Jets flying
This year the Manawatu Jets will be Darron Larsen's team.
Larsen is in his second tenure as coach after taking the team from 2005 to 2007 and has the job fulltime after being an assistant the past two years.
He also took the reins at the end of last season when Mike Kalavros left prematurely.
"All my offences and defences are in now," Larsen said ahead of the Jets' first game against the Taranaki Mountain Airs in New Plymouth on Sunday.
"We're doing nothing that we did last year. No coach comes in comfortable doing someone else's thing rather than their own. You look like an idiot running somebody else's things."
The Jets finished fifth last year, but Larsen hopes things will be better this year now he is in charge and has the team playing a different game.
"There's a bit of everything; on-ball, off- ball scoring, a bit more motion."
He felt they were better in the game he was in sole charge of last year, having 27 assists, while they were struggling to average 10 per game during the season and now everyone is more involved.
He said they have a few different players, have more depth and things were feeling positive.
The Jets have had their best season buildup in years, with seven wins from seven games and are looking stronger this season with the additions of Arthur Trousdell, Alonzo Burton and two new imports.
Americans Paul Jones and Brandon Jenkins have had plenty of time to get used to things, but New Zealand Breaker Burton is the only late arrival, having joined the team on Monday.
Forward Jeremiah Trueman will have to shoulder some of the load while fellow big man Nick Horvath is injured, and Larsen said competition had been pretty high, making it hard to pick a starting five this week.
The Jets will be at full strength except for Horvath, who is recovering from surgery on a groin injury.
Larsen said while they want Horvath to play, they would rather rest him now than lose him for a bigger chunk of the season.
"His recovery's going well," Larsen said. "It's a thing we'll just have to fight and keep him off the court a little bit longer. I feel sorry for the first team he plays."
The bye round next weekend also works in their favour, giving Horvath more time to recover. Larsen said it would also give them plenty of time to fix anything's that's wrong after Sunday.
The Mountain Airs are looking weaker than last year's, with big changes from last season and have only just finalised their lineup. Larsen said they can't take Taranaki lightly, despite beating them 92-88 and 90-85 in pre-season when both teams weren't at full strength.
The Jets' first home game is against the Southland Sharks on April 18.