Shepparton Gators won't be holding anything back when they take to court in the opening round of Big V on Sunday.DAMEN FRANCIS March 14, 2014 4:15am
Big V Gators (back) Jack Threlfall, John Woodcock, Tom Crowe, Ian Wright, Nick Dodd, Matt Waight, Dylan Wayman, (front) Bellamey Sims, Shaun Atkins, Shannon Ralph, Matt Bartlett, Tom Frame and Bailey Michel.
Shepparton Gators coach Russell Parker expects a more hostile reception from opposition teams when his side takes to the court in its sophomore season.
The Gators won six of their 18 games and finished ninth on the ladder in their comeback campaign, but gained respect as the season went on and found the going tougher as a result.
‘‘Last year teams underestimated Shepparton at their peril, but now they’ll be taking us more seriously,’’ Parker said.
‘‘We made the finals of the pre-season tournament last week, so we expect teams to be turning up looking to get a good quality game against a quality opponent.’’
The Gators open their campaign against Casey Cavaliers at Shepparton Sports Stadium on Sunday.
Parker will be picking Dylan Wayman’s brain for information about the Cavaliers.
‘‘Dylan used to play for them, so I understand a bit about what they’re likely to run on offence and defence,’’ Parker said.
‘‘They have the same coach and mostly the same players, so we’ll sit down and talk to Dylan at training and find out if there’s anything else we need to know.’’
Wayman, who joined the Gators part-way through the Country Basketball League season, is one of several new faces in this year’s squad, along with CBL captain Matt Bartlett and Shepparton-raised power forward Ian Wright.
Echuca guard Shaun Atkins has also joined the Gators, but at 17 and with the club’s depth at the one and two spots, he is unlikely to be a major part of the rotation initially.
Mainstays Matt Waight, Shannon Ralph, Jack Threlfall and David and John Woodcock form the foundation of the team, while young players Tom Frame, Bailey Michel, Nick Dodd, Tom Crowe and Bellamey Sims round out the squad.
With Ralph still working his way back to full fitness from an ankle injury, Frame is likely to see good minutes at the point, while a shortage of bigs means Dodd looks set to relieve Wright and the Woodcock brothers in the front court.
Wodonga pair Dylan Webb and Beau Sheridan have not returned for a second season, but the door remains open to veteran Seymour guard Robbie Sartori.
Parker tried to coax electric guard Zaine Allen back to the Gators’ set-up, but his current club McKinnon’s promotion to championship division proved too good an opportunity to turn down.
Wright is expected to prove a key acquisition, as he brings much-needed height to the floor.
However, it’s Bartlett who Parker said would be the most significant signing.
‘‘We’re basing our growth and improvement through Matt, which is a lot of pressure on a 25-year-old guard, but he’s such a great leader,’’ he said.
‘‘The expectation and goal we set last weekend is to make finals and even though we have a long-term goal of getting back to championship, that would be a good achievement.
‘‘From a team and club point of view we would love local spectators to come and see what is a truly local team playing at a high level.’’
The Gators will run with a 12-man roster at home games, starting against the Cavaliers on Sunday, but could cut that number for road trips.
Sunday’s game tips off at 2
Great time had at this year's Barmah Muster.
The Mulwala Lions had satisfying and hard fought win, in difficult conditions, against last year’s grand finalists at Lonsdale Reserve on Saturday.
The second annual Bonnie and Clyde Rods, Rats and Rides Festival fired up at Tatura Park at the weekend (April 11-12), drawing thousands of petrol heads and rockabilly music lovers to Tatura.
Friday’s annual primary inter-school cross country meet will see a broader variety of students taking part, as well as the introduction of a new finish line.
Lockington Vintage Tractor and Stationary Engine Rally is on for the 18th time this weekend and there is something for everyone.
Kyabram and District Sportstar of the Year nominations finalised
Three local clubs get together at Kings Park.
Tributes flow for Finley's inspiring mother, friend and farming advocate Jennifer Hawkins
A visit by Coliban Water to Heathcote last week provided residents with a chance to quiz staff about water and sewer services.
A new book, Men from the River Bends, honours Cobram-Barooga and district soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice after enlisting in World War 1.
Deniliquin bowler Dennis O'Keefe lost 25-19 in his bid for a quarter-final spot in the Victorian Singles Championships this week.
Widespread rain late last week and on Saturday put a smile on the faces of farmers preparing to sow crops or waiting for weeds to emerge on early-sown rye-grass.
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