Andrew Gaze only needs to look back one generation of his own family and at some of his more established rivals to know it takes time to be a successful NBL coach.
One of Australian basketball’s greatest players, Gaze had just one season as a head coach with SEABL team Melbourne Tigers before signing a three-year deal with the Sydney Kings.
In his first season, Sydney finished seventh of eight teams with a 13-15 record.
His second season has been an even tougher grind, with the Kings running last witha 5-14 log going into Saturday’s home match with defending champions Perth.
Gaze has been candid and unsparing in assessing his team’s deficiencies, but has been adamant in believing he can turn around their fortunes.
His father Lindsay was one of Australia’s greatest coaches, winning two NBL titles and leading the Boomers to four Olympics.
He had way more coaching experience than Andrew before going into the NBL, but didn’t lead Melbourne to the finals until his fifth season in charge.
Along the way there was a spell of three consecutive seasons during which the Tigers won just 14 out of 64 games.
“We went 3-23 one year,” recalled Andrew Gaze, who was part of those teams..
“The first year (1984, 11-13) was OK, but then for the next four years at least we were a living nightmare and we worked our way through it.
“Clearly back then if there had have been differences in judgements being made, then perhaps my dad might have been under pressure.”
Other recent NBL title winning coaches also had struggles in their early seasons.
Brisbane and Australian coach Andrej Lemanis went 20-45 in his first two seasons as New Zealand Breakers coach, before leading them to three straight titles.
Current Illawarra Hawks mentor and former Perth title winning coach Rob Beveridge lost 39 of 60 matches in his first two NBL seasons in Sydney.
“Even some of the head coaches now that are doing well, would reflect back on times when things weren’t great,” Gaze said.
At college and NBA levels in the United States Gaze played under PJ Carlesimo at Seton Hall and Gregg Popovich at San Antonio respectively, each of whom he pointed out had a tough start before enjoying success.
Gaze is determined to see out his Sydney contract, but made it clear he would remain in the game if the Kings decided to make a change before then.
“It’s one of those things where hopefully we get the chance to right the wrongs and do better,” Gaze said
“But if not you move on and I continue to coach in other environments and continue to try and be involved in other ways and get enjoyment out of the sport.”