There's a little more bounce in Daryn Shaw's step these days.
Not because the year is winding down for the deputy head at New Plymouth's Spotswood College, rather because he's landed the top job for the Taranaki Mountain Airs in the 2014 National Basketball League.
Shaw takes over the coaching job from David Bublitz, who has been in charge for the past three years.
Shaw's no stranger to NBL having a long career with Taranaki teams until retiring in 2002.
While his days of running the floor are long behind him, the former New Zealand representative has been waiting in the wings as assistant coach with the Mountain Airs.
"I've worked with Dave [David Bublitz] for two years as his assistant. I stepped aside last year because of a couple of things . . . the time factor and I had a different philosophy from Dave."
Shaw said he had learned a lot from Bublitz but he wanted to try something different.
"My philosophy is that I want Taranaki kids involved. It's a big shift. Unless you're bringing in a top player like a Tall Black, you're best to go after kids who are here and those who are putting in the hard work," he said.
"I want to keep those kids in the game and develop them. You've got to say to kids that there's a pathway here. For the last 15 to 20 years, we've always fielded a competitive team, but we haven't made the finals. I want to develop locals for the betterment of the team and Taranaki."
Shaw said it was important to be seen to be doing things right.
"I've asked for two years and I want to build a team around the locals we have, those players who are doing the hard work and then fill in the gaps. I want players who are connected with the community. It's a bit out there."
Shaw said there were a couple of key components.
"We need two imports. One needs to be a big man and that's my main focus at the moment," he said.
"I'd love to get Jack [American Jack Leasure] back. We've given him an offer and he knows the setup. He's a good example to kids here, he works hard and can shoot the ball," he said.
"I'd be interested in getting Kenny Gabriel [Taranaki's second import last year] back. But he's playing overseas somewhere and we haven't been able to get hold of him. He's a highly talented player. He's not a big, big man but he's a real athlete."
Shaw said Aaron Bailey-Nowell was a key signing.
"Absolutely, he's the key. To me, he's the heart and soul of the team. If we can get everyone playing like him, it would be great."
Shaw said Brad Anderson was another important signing.
"He fell into our lap. He married a local girl. He's got loads of talent."
While Ethan Rusbatch had elected to stay in Christchurch, signing with the Christchurch Cougars for 2014, Shaw said he had a number of young players in his sights.
"Players like Matt Wallace, Aled Jones and Dane Brooks. Matt's a hard worker, a good hard-nosed defensive player. Aled's a point guard. He's a former age-group player from Hawera . . . tough as nails. And Dane's got a tremendous amount of talent. I want kids who want to go after it and play hard."
Shaw said his plan was to build a team around Bailey-Nowell, Anderson, forward Sid Adam and two imports.
"I'd love Link [veteran forward Link Abrams] to play. He's got so much to offer. I don't want to pressure him, but I'd love him to be part of the team. He's a great mentor."
As for his assistant, Shaw said he was talking with Willie Banks.
"He's got loads to offer, but we haven't finalised anything yet."
Taranaki Basketball chairman Scott Taylor said it was time for a fresh approach in the coaching of the team.
"The selection panel came back to us with a recommendation of two people for the job."
Taylor said the Mountain Airs had gone close to signing former New Zealand captain and ex Wellington coach Pero Cameron.
"But we missed out on Pero . . . we couldn't get the right amount of finance. Daryn was going to be Pero's backup," he said.
"We're looking forward to next year. It's going to have a different flavour to it."
Steve "Coach" McKean is adamant Shaw has what it takes to be a successful NBL coach.
"Daryn knows the game and he's a guy who will really grow into coaching. He's played in the league and he's played for New Zealand and he will do a good job," McKean said.
"I feel for David [Bublitz]. I rate him as a coach, but they've gone with Daryn."
- Taranaki Daily News
What did you make of the Tall Blacks' World Cup campaign?