That’s what the Orange Eagles will be focusing on in their first season in the State League under the helm of Mitch Selwood.
Selwood, a former Australian under-20 world champion and NBL player who played alongside Andrew Bogut, was asked to lead the side’s on its return to senior level when the squad was released last week.
The 35-year-old is excited to have a fresh slate with a host of talented youngsters to build on.
I want to focus on leading the younger guys and I want to use the responsibility wisely.Orange Eagles' skipper Mitch Selwood
“We’re in the first year so we get to set the tone and set the culture for the kind of club that we want,” he said ahead of the squad’s first training session.
“It’s all on us to build and be positive and we want to make this a breeding ground for good basketballers.”
Selwood, who is Orange born and bred, said he never doubted taking on the captaincy despite not playing at a level higher than Orange’s A-grade competition in a decade.
“Absolutely, it’s something when they asked me to do it I was stoked to, it’s a long time since I’ve played at a higher level but it’s something I’ve really got in at a higher level with my coaching and things like that,” he said.
“I want to focus on leading the younger guys and I want to use the responsibility wisely.”
That younger contingent features some of the best young talent in the region, including Zac Simons, Kobe Mansell, James Gogola and more.
Selwood said the chance for these younger players to step into the arena at the top level was something he would have jumped at as a junior in Orange two decades ago.
“It would have been awesome, I used to come up all the time to watch the A-grade grand finals and everything like that and used to come watch that stuff ,” he said.
“For my development I guess having that higher level team here would have been perfect for my development from under-16 onward onwards I was travelling away for lots of training or training by myself so having a senior side to scrimmage against would have been amazing.”
Those even younger than Simons, Mansell and co. would reap even more benefits from having the side in existence.
“The under 18 and 16s who train with us who might not get a lot of games or a lot of court time, the experience they’ll take back to their own age will be invaluable,” Selwood said.
“The best way to get better is playing against bigger, better and older competition. Everyone will be going nice and hard at practice and they take that back to their junior sides.”
Practice in the lead-up to the season will be tough, with the squad only having two months to mould into a gelled outfit – while most of the juniors have all played together at Bathurst Goldminers or other representative sides, very few of the senior members of the side have stepped onto a court together.
Selwood said the best way for the side to gel was to be together as often as time would allow.
“I guess as much as anything getting on the court as much as possible,” he said.
“Straight away there’s a good core group of young guys who have been playing representative basketball for a long time and the senior guys all have a lot of experience and everyone will be able to put their knowledge and experience into the side to make it more valuable.”
Positions are all up for grabs, too – Selwood normally plays as a small forward, but due to the squad only just coming together and the relatively equal height of the squad, he may have to play as a power forward – “we’ll see how positions unfold”.
The state league season kicks off in early March, with the Eagles set to play their home games on Saturday evenings at the Orange PCYC.
DO YOU WANT MORE ORANGE SPORT?
- Receive our free newsletters delivered to your inbox, as well as breaking news alerts. Sign up below ...