Townsville, some 16 hours north of Brisbane, is fast becoming the stronghold for Queensland hoops and a nursery for great talent. The Pick and Roll caught up with Josh Wilcher from the red-hot Townsville Heat to talk about their 2018 aspirations.
The Heat are the defending champions after finishing the 2017 season in third spot (12 wins, 5 losses) fighting their way to a first QBL title in 17 years. Throughout the series, fans were treated to strong performances by Wilcher, one of the leagues’ stars. He finished the season in dominant fashion, logging the second-most total match points, second total assists, and averaging third in assists across the QBL.
The 27-year-old point guard joined the Heat after former Crocs captain Mitch Norton made the decision to step away from the state league. He has not taken a backwards step since, now playing in his third season with the squad following stints in the SEABL as well as being a development player with Melbourne in the NBL.
“I started at age six after my P.E. teacher got me involved in an after-school program, and from there that I just kept playing through the leagues,” Wilcher explained.
On reflection, he attributed great praise to coaches from his earlier days for instilling lessons in him which he has added to his game throughout his career to date.
“A lot of state coaches when I was younger taught me a lot,” Wilcher further explained. “People like Guy Molloy really steered me through the ranks. Vince Crivelli was my first SEABL coach and gave me the reigns and start with that league, and really led me along this pathway.”
Heat coach Rodney Anderson also praised his point guard and commented on his importance to the team.
“I find it hard to understand why any NBL squads have not looked over him as a player that brings value to their squad,” outlined Anderson. “He is a real leader for our team.”
The Heat are the ladder leaders after seven rounds, with only one loss from eight – in the first round against their rival Mackay – but have become a dominant side which has great depth.
“Our squad is deep and that allows our bench players to really contribute across the court,” Wilcher detailed. “That allows us to speed up or slow down play depending on who we are versing. I think that’s why teams are really struggling to beat us, because they find it hard to lock us into doing one thing because we can play so many different ways.”
As we pass the halfway mark of the season, all teams are eyeing the finals, and their goals are becoming more structured. Townsville’s is plain and simple, as Wilcher would explain.
“Put our head down, keep that record and secure some home finals. All teams in the top half are obviously fighting for their spots. But obviously to get another chance at Mackay at full strength would be great.”
The point guard is very modest about what he brings to a team, and it can be seen when discussing his goals for the future beyond the QBL.
“I just want to play as high of a level as I can as long as I am competing. Everybody wants to play in the NBL, and it is an opportunity that I would jump at absolutely. But I have an English passport, so I am able to play there as a local, which allows me to also keep challenging myself.”
Playing the game at various levels both in Australia and overseas, he has learnt many lessons that has added to his game, but he added it was important to stay balanced on and off the court.
“I have learnt to try to not ride the highs too high and the lows too low. It’s very easy to have a bad game, but it’s important to find that consistency and stay in the game. Keep that mellow head and remain at that level.”
Wilcher also had a great tip for younger kids or those looking to progress through the levels to make basketball a career.
“For a lot of people they want the success to come right away and they need to understand it doesn’t come easy. Enjoy the grind, the teammates, the training and the pathway that you need to take to get there. Be patient and enjoy that journey.”
This weekend you can see Wilcher and the form men’s side of the competition when they travel to South East Queensland for a double header. They first play the Logan Thunder at Cornubia Park Sports Complex on Saturday, June 16 (tip-off at 7pm) before taking on the Ipswich Force at Llewellyn Stadium on Sunday, June 17 (2pm).
Watch #QBL18 Live Online
You can watch 2018 QBL action live and free online: check the schedule for dates and times.