Davidson takes Maitland reins

NEWCASTLE Hunters coaching stalwart Larry Davidson is not promising miracles but is determined to make a difference after agreeing to take the reins at the Maitland Mustangs for the rest of the Waratah Basketball League season.

The long-serving former Hunters women’s and men’s mentor, who was the WBL women’s coach of the year in 2010, will replace David Richards, who resigned last week.

Luke Boyle, who filled the role of player-coach on Maitland’s road trip to Penrith and Sutherland last weekend, will remain as a player only but will help Davidson settle in at his first training session tomorrow night.

Apart from securing Davidson, former Hunter Pirates import Chris Brown has agreed to join the team as a player for the rest of the season.

The Mustangs have lost eight straight games and are second-last with a 1-11 win-loss record.

“It’s not going to be an easy task. They’ve got to play the top four teams, and one of them twice, so it’s going to a pretty tough second half of the season,” Davidson said.

“I just need to get to training to see what’s working and what’s not working, then maybe fine-tune a couple of things.”

When Darren Nichols resigned as Hunters coach six weeks before the WBL season started, Davidson stepped down as his assistant in a show of solidarity. The Mustangs offered the job to Nichols when Richards resigned but Nichols knocked them back and recommended Davidson.

“Nothing that transpired earlier in the year has influenced my decision,” Davidson said.

“Basically, I love coaching and I want to coach. That’s the bottom line, and Maitland has given me the opportunity to do that, and possibly turn their season around a little bit.”

Nichols wished Davidson every success at Maitland “but my heart is still with the Hunters”.

“I seriously considered it but after discussing it with my family, and thinking long and hard about it, I realised I still want to coach but I want to coach in Newcastle,” he said.

Davidson said one of his first tasks would be to appoint a leadership group including Boyle, younger brother Joel, and import Mitch Rueter.

“Hopefully that will make the transition to a new coach a little bit easier for the players,” Davidson said.

Luke Boyle expects the Mustangs to benefit from Davidson’s years of experience.

“It’s definitely one giant leap forward having someone of his calibre, and it will give us a very stable platform to build on towards next year and improving this season,” Boyle said.

Davidson said his appointment was for the rest of this season only and he would wait until the end of this year to discuss the prospect of continuing next season.

Davidson’s first game in charge will be against defending champions Norths Bears at North Sydney on June 15.

TOUGH TASK: New Maitland Mustangs coach Larry Davidson. Picture: Kitty Hill

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