By Lance Jenkinson
Stepping into the head coaching role of the Vic Metro under-18 women’s state basketball team will be seamless for Lloyd Klaman.
The Dandenong Rangers NBL1 women’s coach has spent the past three years as the team’s assistant.
Klaman was delighted to be announced as the coach for the 2021 program and is looking forward to working with some of the elite up-and-coming talent in the state.
“It’s a really good honour,” Klaman said.
“I’ve been an assistant for three years and working with some good coaches.
“I just enjoy getting to work with the best kids in the state.”
Klaman takes over the role in a time of uncertainty with the Covid-19 pandemic causing havoc for Victorian sporting organisations.
With the metro region under lockdowns in recent months, Klaman has been unable to scout players ahead of state trials.
“Usually you’d be looking at the kids playing VJBL right now,” he said.
The benefit of Klaman’s appointment is that he already knows most of the players in the system.
A large chunk of the Vic Metro team will come from the bottom age under-18s and under-16s from last year.
Having not had contact with the players for over six months, Klaman reckons he might be in for a shock next time he sees them.
“I’m expecting kids to be a lot taller than last time I saw them,” he said with a laugh.
“Usually you go away for Christmas and you come back in February and you think ‘gee, they’ve grown’.
“Imagine what they’re going to look like after six months!”
Klaman’s one certainty upon return is that the Vic Metro players will be ready for whatever comes their way.
When it comes to underage sports people, basketballers in this state are as battle hardened as they come.
“I think these kids will bounce back,” Klaman said.
“They’re kind of seasoned campaigners.
“By the time they get to under-18 top age, most of these kids have played 800 to 1000 games.”
Despite the pandemic, Klaman is still fielding phone calls from US college scouts interested in Victorian talent.
It is one of the reasons he loves the job so much, getting to play a part in building up the next generation of basketball stars and following their progress.
“Australia is a hotbed for female basketball,” he said.
“Even the ones I coached four years ago, you keep in contact with the girls and follow their careers.
“A lot of them are going to play WNBL when they come back or represent Australia.”
Klaman believes the biggest challenge confronting the Vic Metro players will be balancing their schedules.
He is aware of the need for the players to ease into training and games.
“Once these kids come back, it’s not only nationals, they’ll have their club commitments and their schools are going to want them to train with them,” Klaman said.
“As much as I want to get them back to training and go crazy, we’re really going to have to manage their bodies because all of a sudden a lot of kids are going to go from zero to 100 overnight.
“We’re going to have to walk slowly when we start this thing.”
Other Dandenong links to the Vic Metro under-18 program include Katrina Barry, team manager of the girls team, and Brent Andrews, the development coach of the boys.