Coach Dean Page turns up amateur Power
By GREGOR MACTAGGARTmactaggartg@gladstoneobserver.com.au
IN TERMS of publicity machines, new Giants Liquor Port City Power head coach Dean Page could certainly generate some of his own.
Page who has taken on what many believe is one of the great untapped regions of basketball in Queensland has had an extensive career not only in basketball as a coach and player, but also in the media as a host, commentator and special comments man.
Born in Dandenong, Page grew up in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and developed his love of the game early on.
'The Dandenong region is one of Victoria's biggest basketball areas, there is something like 180 junior teams and I just grew up around the basketball stadium,' Page said.
Page in his own words was only a 'modest' player and emigrated to New Zealand in the early 1990s with his family.
He lived in the land of the long white cloud for more than a decade and became established as one of the country's leading basketball analysts and commentators.
'I had a great time in New Zealand, to be part of basketball at that time was fantastic and there were a number of great experiences.
'I became involved with the media which I loved and built up some fantastic friendships with a number of key basketball people including Tab Baldwin who coached the Tall Blacks,' he said.
Being an Australian in New Zealand provided Page with plenty of highlights, but he felt a tinge of national pride for the Kiwis when they defeated Australia in the 2001 World Championship qualifiers.
'To see New Zealand beat Australia for the first time in so long was something I will never forget.
'Even though I am an Aussie, I was so proud for the Tall Blacks because I knew how hard they worked to win and I think that showed in my calling of the game,'' he said. Ultimately the heart-strings pulled for a return home for Page and he shifted back home to Dandenong.
He settled back into the Australian way of life with ease and took charge of the powerful Dandenong under 18 squad which had plenty of success under the learned coach.
'It was great to get back home and I enjoyed being back in Dandenong, but I wanted to progress further and fortunately got the opportunity,' he said.
That opportunity was the chance to coach Mackay Meteors in the Sunstate ABA conference in 2004, but from the earliest days Page knew things were not going to work.
'Unfortunately there were a lot of personalities which meant I left the job just six weeks into the season.
'We had just won three games in a row for the first time in a few years, but I had to leave,' he said.
Testament to his reputation, Page was not out of a job for long and was approached to throw his hat into the ring for the Power coaching job. "I was told that I should put my name in and was lucky enough to get the job.
'There was no hesitation and I have liked what I have seen in Gladstone, everyone has been so friendly and positive about the game of basketball,' he said.
Page is in the formative stages of building a program with the Power who are looking to improve in 2005.
He has had the players training since last November and believes he is headed in the right direction with the team. "Obviously the boys played last year, but what I am asking them to do this year is far more of a challenge than before.
'Essentially they are amateurs and probably do not realise what level they are being asked to play at, but they are doing well so far,' he said.
It may be a double-edged sword, with a number of positives and negatives, but the Power are all amateur players playing for the love of the game.
They face a tough ask when the likes of Hervey Bay, Toowoomba, Maroochydore and the Gold Coast all have import players who can often win games by themselves.
Page does not believe the Power's lack of imported players is a problem and has changed his own coaching philosophy somewhat to fit in.
'When some of our players work shiftwork it is very hard to fit them all together and train as hard as I probably want to.
'With regards to being professional, I think that professionalism is a mentality and if you play with that mentality then you will probably be rewarded.
'Imports can have positive and negative impacts, you get a good one then that is good, but it is high risk if you don't get it right,' he said.
Page believes the Power are a genuine chance of making the playoffs this season and knows a good home record is crucial to their success.
'I think we have the team to make the playoffs, our whole team from players one through to 12 are good enough to play at this level and the playoffs are a big goal for us. ' You need to play well at home and we are trying to build a great home venue atmosphere, it is important for us to win in front of our own supporters,' he said.
And this season is a family affair with Dean's son Danny the Power's assistant coach and confidant.
'Danny has a great mind for stats and has a great basketball brain, he is someone who is very important for me as a coach.
'When you spend so much time thinking about the game and watching a lot of different players, it is essential you have someone who has offer another perspective,'' he said.
Having signed for three seasons, Page is in it for the long-haul and has a clear dream in his head for the Power.
'It would be nirvana if you could have a championship-winning team of locals, that is very tough, but you can dream sometimes, can't you?
'We are looking to build a foundation so hopefully that dream turns into a reality and we can bring a state championship back to Gladstone,'' he said.