Evaluating South East Melbourne’s coaching change and the challenge ahead
Mike Kelly replaces Simon Mitchell with a priority on defence. Whilst Kelly has learnt from his Cairns stint, it won’t be easy to take the Phoenix from good to great.
Simon Mitchell quickly established South East Melbourne as a competitive team, finishing with a record above .500 in each of the last three seasons, but it also became clear that change was needed.
Mitchell, via Olgun Uluc and Kane Pitman at ESPN:
“Ultimately, we've stagnated. Regardless of why, we have. We've had the same record a few years in a row… the club is better positioned finding someone who's got that energy, a different view. I think the players could freshen up [from a new head coach]... A fresh mind, fresh new ideas, I think would be a really great rejuvenator for the club.”
The Phoenix objectively had a difficult preseason last year, with player availability a hindrance and something which carried through to their regular season. There were encouraging signs of improvement defensively when the team’s starters shared the floor but, overall, it was still a fourth consecutive season ranking second last in half-court defence.
Club CEO, Tommy Greer, outlined the blueprint for the coaching search, stating a desire for a strong, defensive minded leader, with a proven NBL track record. Aaron Fearne’s name was linked to the job, and it appeared that he may be the standout candidate after Trevor Gleeson was ruled out. In his previous NBL stint, Fearne’s teams ranked in the top four in defensive efficiency in the regular season on seven occasions out of nine, and also progressed to the Grand Final Series twice.
Ultimately, it was Mike Kelly who won the position though, and ironically, he was also the one who had replaced Fearne in Cairns when the Taipans wanted to move in a different direction.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to The Pick and Roll to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.