Scotland’s new women’s national performance basketball coach Bart Sengers has highlighted three priorities as he begins preparing a team to compete in the British Women’s BBL from October.
The team will based at “Oriam”, the new performance centre at Heriot-Watt University’s Riccarton campus.
“I want to get Scotland’s women to the Commonwealth Games in Australia in 2018,” said Dutchman Sengers, who led Edinburgh University to a clean sweep of Scottish Cup, Scottish League and Play-Offs this year as well third place in the British Universities Northern Premier Division.
He has also been in charge of the Dutch under-18 women’s side for the last two years.
Admitting that the qualification process for the Gold Coast tournament was still not clear, Sengers declared that he was sure the Games would be an amazing experience which would help propel the game forward in Scotland.
“I want to change the culture of the game to a more performance culture – there’s so many things we can do to make it more professional.”
“I want a squad who will be an example to every young player in Scotland,” said Sengers, adding: “Our practices will always be open.”
The new team, still without a name, though ways of how the public might get involved in this process are being considered by BasketballScotland, will essentially be a Scottish national team with reinforcements, essentially two foreign players, probably American.
“Our players need to develop and it will speed it up if we have two Americans in the team but the balance will be Scottish players,” said Sengers who had four Americans plus Scot Beth Mackie in the EU starting five who were so dominant in the Scottish League during the past season.
But no doubt, much to the relief of their Scottish rivals, next season’s EU Scottish League division one team will not include any of their recruited WBBL players and will be coached by a new assistant coach whose post the University will fund as part of a partnership agreement with BasketballScotland.
Sengers is well aware that one of the ever-present problems encountered by Scottish basketball sides, especially women, is a lack of height. “I’ll know more about our style of play when I know what players we have but I think it’s likely we’ll have to find a way to play small.”
BasketballScotland chief executive Kevin Pringle is anxious to calm the fears of Scottish clubs in regard to the possible impact the recruitment for the national team might have on them.
“We’ll be starting by targeting players the majority of whom are playing outside Scotland, then the next phase will be Scottish and then overseas,” he said.
“I think the talent’s there – I hope they jump on board,” added Sengers.