Dallison to manage the Tall Blacks

Claire Dallison has been conditioning New Zealand's top basketballers for the past three years.

Now she will also be taking care of the logistical side of the operation after being confirmed recently as the Tall Blacks' new team manager.

The Nelson Giants' fitness trainer for the past 12 years, Dallison joined the Tall Blacks' support staff in 2007 as their fitness coach. After working with former Giants coach Nenad Vucinic for so many years, his appointment as the Tall Blacks' coach also heralded Dallison's arrival on to the international scene.

However, her new appointment doesn't mean she'll be relinquishing the fitness side of her job. She'll still be in charge of knocking the players into shape, although now she's anticipating a slightly heavier workload in the countdown to the Tall Blacks' Fiba world championship campaign starting in Turkey on August 23.

The Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology applied fitness tutor was excited about her extended responsibility.

"It's really cool actually," she said. "It's a nice little step along the way and I know that my work with the Tall Blacks is dependent on Nenad having that [coach's] job ... so I just have to make the most of what's in front of me."

She has some experience with team management, having been head coach and manager for the New Zealand Paralympics athletics team. And she is already well acquainted with the Tall Blacks players.

"It's something I've done before, with paralympics sport and we're looking to put a campaign together where the guys are really comfortable with the people they work with, rather than bringing in new people to the equation, so that's where it's come from really."

The Tall Blacks' trials start on July 23 followed by squad selection and lead up tournaments in Turkey, Croatia and Slovenia as the countdown to the champs continues, with Russia included among the opposition. A series with Australia was recently ruled out, however.

"We're busy looking at putting together the best campaign that we can.

"My absolute passion is to give the guys a really good campaign so that they can play really good basketball, and the more fire-fighting you can do around the edge of that in planning and organisation and people-stuff that you can do to make that easier for them the better.

"I've looked at some campaigns in the past and wanted to do it better, and having been with Nenad for years, he was pretty keen for me to do it."

Last year she also spent two months with Vucinic in Estonia, where he was coaching Kalev-Cramo, before his more recent move to Istanbul.

"It was actually the first time I'd worked 24/7 in a professional team and it really made me sort of sit up and take notice about how different it is actually doing it as a fulltime job."

Dallison sees her dual role as a comfortable fit.

"The management stuff is to make all of that training worthwhile. If you have a bad management situation, it doesn't matter how much training you do, if you get players who are not happy and in situations where they can't function well, you can train until the cows come home, the icing on the cake is to make the management [role] work really well."

The Nelson Mail