Catch up with Division 3 Head Coach Derek Milligan
After a hard fought season for the Collier’s Division 3 men we caught up with Head Coach Derek Milligan. The team in their first season (2013-14) finished at the bottom of the Strathclyde Basketball League Division 3b with a record of 1-7.
The team was put together no more than a month of the league starting with the Collier’s being a new club. They were made up of young players in their first season from the Reach for the Sky Development Academies to more experienced older players with plenty miles left on the clock with the aim of being a development squad working on young potential.
Coach Milligan is a very active and keen coach who has done a fantastic job his first year with the Collier’s, and with that said it give’s us the pleasure of announcing he will be returning to again coach the team for the 2014-15 season.
Coach Milligan took part in a recent interview, here’s what he had to say:
How do you feel 2013-14 season went?
When I was first asked about the possibility of me coaching the division 3 team, we discussed a lot about what the goals for the season should be.
The first thing we agreed on was that for this team the focus should be on players getting better and having the opportunity to develop as part of a basketball team.
During the trials the Assistant Coach Aarron Mitchison and I focused on putting together a team that was a mixture of young players with real potential and more experienced players that had played in the league before. All the players set goals for themselves at the start of the season and after the playoff game we discussed how they felt things had gone for them as individuals and the team as a whole. The guys on the team and I all feel that in this regard we’ve been really successful: the players feel like they’re improving and that the team is getting better and better and that’s certainly what I see from my seat on the bench.
Colliers founder Graham Hunter also wanted to make sure that the division 3 team had a positive impact on the league and developed a reputation in the league that reflected the club’s values. The guys on the team have done a great job of competing and playing hard in every game with the right attitude - and earning kudos from the teams we’ve played against and the referees that have officiated our games. As a result of the good relationships that we’ve developed throughout the league, and particularly with the help of Chemtech’s coach Robert Brown, I managed to organise an exhibition game for all of the teams in division 3. Putting together two teams of players from teams throughout the league, including Colliers players, the game was a great end of season event for our league.
We did, of course, want to win too. Unfortunately in our first season, with a brand new team of players who were new to each other wins were hard to come by. What was very pleasing however was that we showed an ability to learn from each game. We always improved upon our previous performance whenever we faced a team again and this bodes well for our league campaign next season.
Would you have done anything different looking back?
Club Development Officer Ross Hutton and I spent a lot of time early in the season talking about the style of play we should develop with the team. We were very much in agreement about the way the team should play and I started the season working with the guys on using this approach. I realised that to make it work it would take time and, as the games started coming ‘thick and fast’, I tried to simplify things for the team and use a different style. Though this gave us a way to play and it was reasonably effective, it was a short-term approach and in hindsight I should have stuck with our plans for the good of the team in the long-term.
You have started very early this pre season, why?
As soon as the season finished the guys were very clear about how keen they were to get ready for next season as soon as possible. We all felt good about our first season and optimistic about the team going forward, so it’s to their credit that they’ve stuck with training and committed to focusing on developing how we play as a team as the priority. Often at this time of year basketball clubs will ‘loosen up’ training sessions, playing pick-up games, and the coach has less input on what players should be working on. All our guys have a good sense of what Aarron and I want to put in place for next season and they’ve bought into what it is we want to do and so are keen to work on that now. They’re seeing the benefit for their development as players and for the way we play as a team and we’re still training hard in our weekly sessions.
What is your approach for the new season?
I’m working with the team on a set of simple principles that I expect them to adhere to maximise their ability to play cohesively as a team. This should allow the players to make spontaneous decisions and react to what each other does so that the team always plays in a co-ordinated way. It’s based on conversations and discussions I’ve had with Ross Hutton and my own research into different basketball philosophies used and developed by professional coaches around the world. That all sounds very grand, but it’s essentially just ‘playing basketball’ and teaching the guys how to play as part of a team where all the players are on the same page as one another.
Do you have any new players? If so, what impact do you think they will have this season?
I’m really pleased with the new guys that have come along. Two younger players with a lot of upside who will fit in very well with how we play and someone who’s come back to basketball after a few years not playing. Additional experience and ‘veteran savvy’ is always helpful.
Do you feel the players coming back have improved?
The guys who’ve been on the team all season and are coming back can’t wait to get next season started. Our younger players have all shown that not only have they become very good basketball players but they have the potential to continue to get better and better. Our senior players continue to work on their game and have added to their basketball repertoires and are looking to have a big impact on the team’s play next year.
What is your aims/goals for this season?
In terms of the guys on the team, I hope to ensure that our younger players have the chance to maximise their potential and the older guys who come along to use basketball as a way to keep fit and have fun playing a team sport we all enjoy, get an opportunity get a lot out of being part of this club.
I’m really excited about the way we’re playing as a team in pre-season. We haven’t ‘solved basketball’ and it doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll have a huge advantage over other teams because of the style of play but it does mean that we have a consistent and coherent way to play as a team. It’ll mean that everyone who plays will be ‘on the same page’ and we’ll be a good team to watch, a fun team to play for... and a great team to coach too!
It’s always hard to predict how many games we might win as the teams and the players in our league vary greatly from year to year, although we certainly plan on doing our best to avenge the losses we suffered this season. What I am aiming for is that we’re competitive in every game and, even if we don’t win, the players feel like they’ve given everything they’ve got, and I’ve done everything I can, to give ourselves every chance to win: no regrets when the final whistle blows.
Any further comments?
I hadn’t planned on coaching basketball this season - I had hoped to play. But a calf injury combined with old age has put me on the bench and kept me off the court. It’s testimony to all of the guys that have been part of the Division 3 squad this season that I haven’t missed playing at all and have loved coaching a great group of guys throughout our first season together. We even made the cover of world famous basketball magazine Slam! ;)