Photo: PAUL MENSCH

By MITCH RODD

NEW Mildura Basketball Association (MBA) general manager and director of coaching, Lisa Townsend, PICTURED, believes re-signing Lady Heat import Alexis Gassion is her number one priority.

The 23-year-old Indianna University graduate was arguably Mildura’s best ever female import, going on to be named the Big V Basketball MVP for the Division One Women’s competition.

Gassion is currently gracing the courts in Europe, but is keen on returning to Sunraysia for 2019.

Lisa said she was in the process of confirming Gassion, as well as looking into the addition of an import for the Mildura Heat men’s side.

“We’re in contact with different agents for imports,” she said.

“Alexis is playing overseas at the moment with the intention of returning for next season, so making sure she returns is our number one goal.

“We’re having a look for a men’s import. A lot will depend on if we compete at Division One or Two and Calvin Henry’s paperwork. Although he is a permanent resident of Australia, Big V will need to decide if he still requires import status or not.

“If we are to stay in Division Two, we’re still aiming to use the great depth of locals we have and even strengthen that further. The Summer CBL season will give some of these younger boys who didn’t get as many minutes during the Big V season a great chance to develop their skills further.”

Lisa commenced her new role in Mildura following her commitments as coach of the Sunbury Jets Youth League Men’s side.

Lisa has a vast playing experience in the WNBL and SEABL competitions, including a WNBL championship ring with the Perth Breakers in 1992.

Lisa was also an assistant coach at WNBL level, has been head coach and assistant coach of men’s, women’s, boys and girls teams at Victorian level, as well as the State Performance Program and National Intensive Training Program head coach.

“Everyone has been really supportive and welcoming,” Lisa said.

“My role is to come in and observe what is happening and start to make changes from there.

“We’ve already put some stuff in place with the Junior Heat program and we’ll look to really develop the coaching ranks around that too.

“We’ve already added a number of coaching courses and will look to add more, as well as increasing domestic development programs for local clubs. We’ll look at increasing coaching education and up-skilling local coaches, increasing their education and how we can assist them and help retain players to their clubs.

“We’ll be putting time into building our referee base and making sure we have mentors for them, and we continue to build their knowledge and skill base. We had a number of ‘green shirts’ last season that have been graded now, but continuing to mentor them will be important.

“I’ll also spend time putting my spin on operational procedures and make sure they are going pretty well.”