Utley’s burning ambition
Utley’s burning ambition

Newly-appointed Rockingham Flames coach Mark Utley has promised to instil accountability and a work ethic among his players in the lead-up to the 2013 State Basketball League season.

Utley accepted the top job last month following the announcement that former coach Brad Samuelson would move into a development role.

A veteran of 300 SBL games, Utley returns to Rockingham after being at the helm of the side for three season from 2006.

His appointment, and that of assistant Darren Russell — also a 300-game player—represents one of the competition’s most experienced coaching partnerships.

That experience is something Utley hopes will rub off on his young team, who won just four of 22 games last season.

Accountability, fitness and work ethic were areas Utley was particularly keen to address in his bid to turn the club’s fortunes around.

‘‘We’ve got to make sure they’re (the players) accountable for their actions, and that’s key,’’ he said.

‘‘We’re not going to reward potential, we’re going to reward hard work.

‘‘Everyone in the men’s program will be a blank canvas and we’re not going to play anyone on name or reputation.

‘‘The guys are going to get honest answers about whether they’re carrying too much weight, need to work harder and things like that.

‘‘In Darren and I, you’ve got two players who’ve battled with making teams, battled with getting ourselves in shape, so we both know what it’s like.

‘‘If they want to be at this level they’ve got to do the work.’’

Utley played over 200 games with the Stirling Senators and also had stints with the Geraldton Buccaneers and Mandurah Magic.

He retired in 2005 and stepped straight into the role of senior coach, guiding Rockingham to a club-record 16 games unbeaten in his first season.

Utley admitted he had ‘‘unfinished business’’ at the Flames and said he was determined to recapture a winning culture which had gone missing in recent years.

‘‘It’s a matter of building a foundation to make sure that we have long-term success,’’ he said.

‘‘In the second year I was here we were equal top and the place was buzzing.

‘‘The women’s SBL in Rockingham is going really well and I want the men to get back up there as well.

‘‘Goal-wise, I think we can put together a team that can make the finals.

‘‘By generating success we want to bring people back to Rockingham basketball and get that community feel again.’’

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