PLAYOFFS might be out of reach for the Goldfields Giants this SBL season, but with the youngest coach in the league Lou Causer committed to the long haul the future appears bright in Kalgoorlie.
Causer could have never imagined that five years ago when he moved to Kalgoorlie from Geraldton to continue his SBL playing career that by 2017 he would be a head coach at the Giants.
But having spent the past two seasons under Michael Haney as an assistant coach, he was appointed to the role and now the 27-year-old hopes to be given the chance to build something special long-term at Goldfields based around the talented group of local players.
While the Giants will miss the playoffs for a second straight season this year following that stirring run to the semi finals in 2015, there does appear a clear direction of planning for the future.
With a young coach at the helm and the likes of Jerome Reid, Billy Hicks, Brandon Holloway, Luke Pike, Atem Atem, Mike Exell, Daniel Forlano and Daniel Goodluck capable of forming a strong core group, the building blocks are there.
Enticing Jacob Holmen back for a fourth season in 2018 would be the perfect scenario along with a second strong import. The signing of someone the calibre of Mathiang Muo could suddenly turn the Giants into a championship threat again.
Despite just the six wins so far in 2017, they really aren’t too far away and Causer is looking forward to the task ahead of him to build on what he’s developed this season to have a stronger 2018 because he knows as well as anyone that a third straight playoff-less season would be hard to take.
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Causer never expected to be a head coach in the SBL well short of his 30th birthday, but with his basketball IQ, boundless energy, passion for the club and game, and terrific work ethic it’s easy to see that the Giants are in the right hands moving forward.
While proud to be able to call himself a head coach so early in life, what Causer’s focus is on helping the club and the players reach their potential.
“To this day that’s why I am so humbled that the club would give me this opportunity. Five years ago when I first moved here it was as a player and then I became assistant coach the last two years, and now I’m the head coach,” Causer said.
“I am proud of where I’ve come in such a short amount of time but in terms of creating a legacy, that is what I would like to do long-term but you have to do all the things right along the way first before you can think about that.
“I just want to see the boys and this club succeed. Whether that means I’m head coach or water boy or a spectator, I’m not worried about my personal legacy. I love this club and I just want to see it succeed.”
Causer has found himself too critical of his performances as coach at times this season and that’s perhaps natural for any rookie coach. But what he has learned from 2017 is that he wants coaching to be a big part of his future.
“Obviously I’m still very young as a coach and a few people have told me, including Wayne Creek, that sometimes I can be a little bit too hard on myself but you want to continue to do the right things when you are so passionate about what you are doing,” he said.
“I love this club and I would do anything for it, and I want to see it and the boys succeed so bad. When you are so hungry to do something it’s not about being cocky, you just feel confident that you can’t fail.
“It has definitely lit a fire in my belly and I would love to be coach of this club for as long as I can or as long as the club is happy to have me around for.”
While it’s too late now in 2017 for the Giants to make a run to the playoffs having lost the past five games, what Causer learned back in 2015 is that anything is possible and that’s a belief he will continue to instil in his players at the Giants.
He knows how quickly things can turn and he’s confident that the Giants are tracking nicely with their development already looking towards 2018.
“Being a part of that dream run in 2015 was really something special. You start off the season 0-8 and then we had the dream run home, and it’s really special to be part of something like that. It also provides a reference point to show the boys that anything is still possible because only two years ago we did it,” Causer said.
“Obviously having Mathiang Muo played a bit hand in that but one player doesn’t win you games. It takes a team effort and that’s what we had in that run and that’s what we are now trying to recreate here.
“It has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride but looking at it from a long-term perspective, you appreciate the little things you are trying to develop at the moment.
“Every time something goes right at training or you get a win, you really soak it up and appreciate it, and it makes you humble. You definitely don’t take anything for granted and I’m grateful to have the chance to come into the club like this to try and build something special.”
It’s impossible for anyone to know how they will find being a head coach until they are actually thrust into the role.
Causer felt he had a good idea of what to expect coming into 2017, but the commitment required in reality has been greater than he envisioned.
But he’s happy with that and is more than willing to put all the time and effort into the role required to try and build something special with the Giants and to lead the club back to being a powerhouse in the SBL.
“I’ll be honest the commitment of being a head coach is something you can’t quite prepare yourself for. You sit there as an assistant coach and you support the head coach, but every strategy and everything that is implemented comes from the coach down,” he said.
“You really are taking on a lot of the responsibility of where you want the team to go. That falls on how you do it. I’ve been surprised about the commitment required but I absolutely love it. My wife has been great about it as well because without her support I wouldn’t be doing this.
“I’m sure all the other coaches would say the same thing. We all have a job to do during the day and then you come home and straight into film or planning training. That’s really opened my eyes but at the end of the day if I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t be doing it.”
Causer and his now wife originally moved from Geraldton to Kalgoorlie five years expecting a relatively short stay.
But falling in love with the club at the Giants and the city of Kalgoorlie as a whole has meant that he simply couldn’t imagine wanting to be anywhere else both in terms of life and basketball.
“My partner and I moved here because she was a teacher and we had the plan of being here for two years and then moving on, but when you get so involved in the club and they accept you, it becomes like a second family,” Causer said.
“It has been the great people at this club that have kept me here and I would call them friends for life.
“That has kept me here so long and I would encourage anyone who is single and looking for a place to start off, then definitely give Kalgoorlie a crack because there are a lot of good quality people here who will look out for you.
“Or even as a married man like me, it’s a great place and moving here has been one of the greatest things we ever did. I will forever be grateful for the town and club for bringing us into the family.”
Photo by Belinda Pike (Croc Photography)