Rocky's super coach signs on for 20th season

Coach Neal Tweedy has been appointed for his 20th season as coach of the Rockhampton Rockets.
Coach Neal Tweedy has been appointed for his 20th season as coach of the Rockhampton Rockets. Chris Ison ROK290417crockets3

BASKETBALL: Neal Tweedy and Chris Muggeridge will take the helm at Rockhampton's QBL teams again in season 2018.

Tweedy will coach the McDonald's Rockhampton Rockets for a 20th season, while Muggeridge embarks on his fifth season with the Frenchville Sports Club Cyclones.

Rockhampton Basketball announced the re-appointments yesterday, with general manager Matt Neason saying a priority was to finalise the positions as early as possible to allow the organisation to get ahead in its recruitment.

"We're really happy with how our recruitment is progressing. There's a focus on bringing a number of players back from last season to help build stability back into our program, and the early signs are really positive on that front,” Neason said.

"Both coaches bring a wealth of experience, but also a proven track record of success.

"Unfortunately, due to injuries and a host of other issues, last season didn't play out the way we would have liked. It's therefore critical that we bounce back from that and we feel we've got the right coaches in place to achieve that.”

The Rockets have been a model of consistency during Tweedy's tenure, the longest of any coach in the state-wide competition.

They have won four QBL titles and one national championship and during the 2000s, featured in nine consecutive grand finals.

In the past 19 years, they have missed the play-offs only four times.

Cyclones' coach Chris Muggeridge is back for his fifth season.
Cyclones' coach Chris Muggeridge is back for his fifth season. Paul Braven GLA150717WBBALL

Muggeridge, a two-time QBL Coach of the Year, has guided the Cyclones to three grand finals and back-to-back championships in 2015 and 2016.

Tweedy said he was excited to take on the role again.

"The Rockets program has been such a big part of my life for a long time so I'm elated to have another opportunity to go and win a title.

"I feel stability is very important. Stability at the top breeds success through the bottom and I've been fortunate to have had great assistant coaches and to have Darren Richardson on board again, who's been there since 2009.”

Tweedy describes himself as a player-friendly coach and likes to think he's "older and wiser” than the ambitious young man who first took on the job.

"I think I've definitely changed. I'm a lot more relaxed as a coach these days and I feel like there's a real buy-in from all my players.

"Coaching's not so much a dictatorship but more a democracy.

"Coaching is an ongoing learning thing. The style of the basketball has changed a lot in those 20 years and I think our style has changed a lot as well.

Neal Tweedy gets animated in this year's home game against Cairns at Hegvold Stadium.
Neal Tweedy gets animated in this year's home game against Cairns at Hegvold Stadium. Chris Ison ROK060817crockets3

"New rules have come into the league that also affect the way you coach - things such as the 24-second shot clock, longer three-point lines and changes of key ways have altered the landscape of playing and the style of play.”

Tweedy said while recruitment for next season was in the very early stages, the priority was to retain the core playing group from 2017.

"We're currently negotiating with (captain) James Mitchell and he's probably the first piece to our puzzle.

"I think we've had different goals over the past couple of years with the age of our players, especially last year when we had the youngest team in the whole league.

"Each year presents different challenges and even though we had relatively good success at the back end of last year, losing in the semis, we're still very much in a rebuilding phase.

"We want to win championships. We've set a high standard throughout our program for a long time but really you're rewarded on wins and losses.

”Now that we haven't won a title since 2014 we've got to go and win again and I think we've got to go and win another title in 2018.”

Topics:  basketball frenchville sports club cyclones mcdonald's rockhampton rockets neal tweedy qbl

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