Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats fielded applications from both within New Zealand and overseas but have chosen to go with home grown talent in appointing Dene Robinson to the position of Head Coach.
Wildcats Chair Murray Kennedy is delighted to have secured Robinson’s services.
"We received applications from all over the world for this role but we're very happy that Dene's name was among them. He's a real basketball guy with a passion for the game, a born and bred Cantabrian and he has a great track record as a coach. We’re looking forward to working with him".
Robinson takes over the Wildcats head coach position from Lori McDaniel who relinquished the role at the end of the 2019 season.
Robinson, the Canterbury Basketball Association Coach of the Year in 2012, has won a number of titles at club and provincial level and was also Assistant Coach to the Canterbury Rams between 2002 and 2006.
In addition, Robinson has also had plenty of experience coaching women’s basketball having had stints at the helm of the University of Canterbury Women’s Premier team and as assistant to the Canterbury U19 Women’s team.
“I’ve had a long term involvement in basketball, particularly in Canterbury and had some great experiences coaching women’s basketball,” said Robinson.
During her five years at the helm of the Wildcats McDaniel was arguably the most successful Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) coach in the country.
In her first year in charge the Wildcats finished sixth then in 2016 and 2017 they won back to back championships with McDaniel winning WBC Coach of the Year honours on both occasions.
“I’m looking to build on the great culture that has been put in place by Lori and Murray so really looking forward to stepping in to that opportunity,” said a delighted Robinson.
“I’m really impressed with what has taken place with the Wildcats in the last five years and I’m looking forward to catching up with Lori and picking her brain a little bit. I think the way she and Murray have set up the team in a semi-professional way is an outstanding achievement.
“I know some of the players. I was assistant coach of the Canterbury U19 Women’s team that won the national title in 2014. Laken (Wairau) and Tessa Boagni were in that team. I’ve also coached against players like Shea Crotty in club basketball and then Sapphire Wairau, when she was younger, was in my club team.
“So I know some of the players and I look forward to catching up with them,” added Robinson.
The new Wildcats mentor is also delighted with the new direction of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL).
“I think the league is going to be really exciting next year with the innovation of the live Wednesday night games on Sky Sport. I think we will have a lot to learn from that.
“I’m also really pleased to hear about the D League which will again help women’s basketball and I believe Canterbury have put in an expression of interest for that. The opportunity to link the Wildcats with a D League team, and maybe North Canterbury and South Canterbury as well, would be another great innovation. I’m looking forward to seeing how that develops.
“It’s good that there is new stuff going on and building the profile of women’s basketball.”
Robinson is anticipating that the nucleus of the 2019 Wildcats team will again be available for the 2020 season.
“That would be a big advantage for me if I can keep some of that experience and leadership. I’m looking forward to talking to the players in the near future.
“I’m keen to get an experienced assistant coach and would also like to find a development coach - in basketball and work I have always been keen on succession planning and development.
“The way the team is set up we have young development players so if I could extend that to coaching I would be very pleased,” added Robinson.
The 2020 Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) season is set to commence in May.
(story by Mike Lacey)