Gary Smith took to the sidelines this past weekend for the first time this season – and for Worthing Thunder fans, it felt like the jigsaw was finally nearing completion.
Smith signed a two-season deal with Worthing last week and the Birmingham-born coach is looking forward to the challenges ahead.
“Happy to be back, happy to be coaching these particular guys right now. They are a good bunch of guys with huge potential.” Smith said
The signing of Smith comes as welcome news for the Thunder – who have had constant off-court problems during the off-season. With Smith in charge, Worthing seem have laid the Rick Hite, player-coach saga to rest, as the American missed countless flights to the UK in the summer.
With Smith confirmed to be taking the reigns, Thunder fans wait to see if 5’10 American guard, Sherrad Prezzie-Blue will sign for the Sussex club. Reports suggest that his visa is still pending.
Smith, though went 0-2 this past weekend, in his first week – but despite those losses, Thunder have shown improvements on the court – and Smith is looking to add depth to the roster.
“We will be adding one-or-two more guys, just to strengthen it a little bit.” Smith added.
Continuing on, Smith concluded “It’s just though to strengthen, not to take anything away from what we have. We need to be able to finish out games, and I think as the season progresses, we will be able to do that.”
Smith returns to the Worthing Thunder hotseat, having handed the coaching reigns to Dave Titmuss last season. Titmuss lasted only one season with the club. Alan Sweetman-Hicks took temporary charge, leaving Worthing with a 1-4 record in all competitions.
Smith was originally going to become head coach of EBL Division Four side, University of Chichester Thunder and strengthen the ties that the University has with the BBL club. But, due to the ongoing problems that Thunder have had with confirming Hite as player-coach, Smith agreed to return as Thunder’s head coach.
“I am very grateful to Gary, and also Sid Fletcher at the University of Chichester, for their assistance in bringing this appointment to a conclusion.” Thunder Chairman, Frank Gainsbury commented.
“Whilst it was always the intention that Gary would play an active part within the BBL programme this year within his Director of Coaching remit, it was also felt beneficial to both parties that he coach the University EBL team.
“As it has transpired, Gary will be back as Head Coach with Thunder and will continue to be involved with University of Chichester with a view to developing and identifying potential talented players to provide them with the opportunity to play at the highest level in the sport.
“Gary’s appointment will be for both this season and the next campaign with a view to allowing him to develop and build some stability in the playing squad”. Gainsbury concluded.
The head of the University of Chichester Thunder, Sid Fletcher said: “Obviously we are disappointed to lose a coach of Gary’s calibre at this stage of the season, but with Worthing in the situation they found themselves in we were happy to support his appointment.
“We look at this as the first “promotion” of many from this partnership as our links increase year on year”
John Hobbs for TalkBasket.net