Jeff Green eyes Southland NBL team

SOUTHERN INTEREST: Controversial coach Jeff Green could be interested in coaching the new Southland NBL team.
Waikato Times
SOUTHERN INTEREST: Controversial coach Jeff Green could be interested in coaching the new Southland NBL team.

Controversial basketball coach Jeff Green said he could be interested in coaching Southland's national league team next year, provided the team is serious about winning.

The four-time championship winning coach has not coached in New Zealand's premier men's competition since 2003, but would consider a shock return to the sidelines if he was approached by Southland.

"A lot of factors come into it," Green told The Southland Times yesterday.

"It would have to be an organisation who would want to win. If they're keen on making waves, I'll look at anything ... I'm an egotist at the best of times. If Southland wanted to do something, I'd be keen."

Southland were among 11 sides who were awarded three-year licences by the national league board this week and will compete in next year's competition if they can raise the necessary funds.

Green would be an appealing candidate for Southland, with his ability to pull top-level players into the region and colourful coaching style, which would certainly put bums on seats.

He is regarded as one of the most successful coaches in the history of the national league, having won championships with the Hutt Valley Lakers in 1991 and 1993, before leading the Waikato Titans to consecutive titles in 2001 and 2002.

Green made just as many headlines away from the court, often polarising league officials, referees and opposition coaches.

He said he would get back into coaching in the national league only if it was with an ambitious side that was going places.

"A lot of teams are there to make up the numbers and that's not good for the league. Taranaki is a good example ... Tab Baldwin has five titles and I have four. I've got all intention in having six. Pure and simple, that's my total drive and incentive."

Green was not surprised to hear of Southland's inclusion into the league yesterday, but he was stunned by the national league board's decision to increase the number of teams from nine to 11.

"I would've preferred eight teams. It's far too many. It should be an elite competition, which is so tough to get into it ... it will water down the league."

In 2003, Green was the inaugural coach of the New Zealand Breakers during their first foray into the Australian national league, but lasted only 10 matches before he was fired for poor on-court performances.

He said the experience taught him plenty of lessons and he was quick to offer a few nuggets of advice for Southland.

"They need to decide that they want to be competitive and get a decent coach who will attract players. You've got to target the right coach, who players will want to play for."

Southland will rely heavily on out-of-town players in their first season in the league and Green said they should go out of their way to snap up New Zealand Breakers forward and former Tall Black Dillon Boucher, who would be a valuable asset both on and off the court.

"If I was starting a franchise in Southland, I'd go after Dillon Boucher," Green said. "You need to target three players. One awesome Kiwi point guard, a big forward and a pure Kiwi shooter."

Meanwhile, Southland may reclaim their historic Sharks nickname if they suit up in next year's national basketball league.

The Southland men's side has been referred to as the Sharks in the past, but two years ago, the Southland Basketball Association decided to rebrand the team as the Flyers.

Southland's women's team also underwent an overhaul at the same time with the team labelling themselves the Pearls.

Earlier this week, association president Jill Bolger said the Sharks moniker could make a comeback.

"I'm very fond of the Sharks name. It has a lot of history."

Southland may still retain the Flyers name for their CBL or second division men's team, Bolger said.

Another option could be to run a "name the team" competition, with the public invited to send in their ideas.

The Southland Times