NEW Lakeside Lightning coach Dave Daniels wants his team to continue to play at a fast pace even when Mason Bragg departs and that will be allowed to happen provided Jarrad Prue continues to be Jarrad Prue, and they can ramp things up when Daniel Alexander arrives.
Daniels has arrived having represented Canada at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and coaching extensively throughout North America including at Colorado Christian College and more recently Northwest Nazarene University.
His links to Lakeside extended to his decade-long stint on staff at Athletes in Action so he was happy to put his hand up for the vacant role with the Lightning and delighted to sign a deal for the for 2018 and 2019 seasons.
He has made the move with his young family and fitted in instantly both with the church and basketball fraternity at Lakeside, but it’s on the court where he is looking to bring the most excitement.
Daniels wants his team to play an exciting, fast tempo and high-scoring style of play and he has built a squad capable of delivering that.
Having Perth Wildcats development player Mason Bragg so far this season has helped that as he has formed a fast moving backcourt alongside new import John Isenbarger, Matt Vinci, Nick Palleschi, Rowan Mackenzie and even at times Michael Garbellini.
But allowing the Lightning to play at a fast pace is the remarkable rebounding presence of the returning Jarrad Prue. He is averaging a simply dazzling 22 rebounds a game and he will soon receive good help inside by the versatile Daniel Alexander.
While Bragg’s time with the Lightning is coming to an end, Daniels wants them to continue to play at a fast pace and he’s looking forward to seeing how that develops as 2018 rolls on.
“We will keep playing at the same pace, that won’t change. That pace fits Mason’s game perfectly so obviously without him things will change a little bit, but we’ll continue to push the ball. We are really young and a little undersized, but we have really good depth in those guard spots,” Daniels said.
“Nick Palleschi can come in and continue to push it, Jack is going to push it and Vinci has done a fantastic job. I’m really impressed with his improvement.
“Michael Garbellini can step up as well. We are also asking those guys to guard people that are bigger than them but they are battling, fighting and scrapping so I’m proud of them.”
Isenbarger has been impressive in his first three appearances for the Lightning.
While he’s clearly capable of shooting and being a natural scorer highlighted by averaging 27.3 points already, Daniels likes him for what he can offer from an all-round perspective and he will take on more ball carrying duties once Bragg departs.
“He can really shoot it but the thing I really like about him is that obviously we want to push the ball, and even when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands as much with Mason here, is that he’s such a great decision-maker,” he said.
“He fits our system really well because he can score when he needs to and can make plays for other people. He has a real high basketball IQ.”
Daniels was already aware of the legend of rebounding monster Prue before he arrived to take over as Lakeside coach. But nothing could have prepared him to see a man who has come back from two years in retirement to average 22 rebounds a game to start the 2018 season.
“There’s no way I knew what to expect. I had heard about him actually for several years because of our connection with Athletes in Action and I had some friends living over here. So I had heard about him but until you see him you can’t explain it,” Daniels said.
“He is just a complete warrior. He is a leader, a great teammate and the thing that’s most amazing about him is that he’s a great guy, a great person, father and husband. The rebounding numbers he is getting is remarkable and he is just so mentally strong.”
Daniels wouldn’t trade Prue’s warrior-like mentality on the floor for anything and he couldn’t be happier to have him playing, but it’s much more than just the rebounds he collects that he has been impressed by.
“There aren’t words to describe how happy I was when he decided to play,” he said.
“I’ve been coaching this game for a long time, but it makes it worth it to be around people whose company you enjoy and who are good people and care about the right things. Jarrad just brings that element and to me he is a joy to coach and be around.”
Giving Daniels plenty of reasons for optimism that the season can still go well for the Lightning is the fact that Alexander will shortly be arriving.
He was an MVP-calibre player with the Lightning two years ago as a big man who can bang inside and score in the post and rebound well. But he also runs the floor, can even be a point forward at times and is a more than capable mid and long-range shooter.
Daniels can’t wait for Alexander to arrive and like Prue, much of his excitement is because of the quality of person he is as much as what he will produce on the floor.
“He is going to fit us in so many ways. Obviously he brings us another big body that we desperately need but he’s an athlete who runs and shoots, which suits what we want to do,” Daniels said.
“He is another super quality guy as well who just happens to be a great player and athlete too. We’ll be excited to get him here and take another step as a team.
“There’s an excitement with the way we have been playing as we continue to build so when Daniel gets here things will take several steps forward.
“But he is such a quality guy who wants to fit into what we are doing, which is similar to what Mason has done so far. Then Daniel just adds another dimension defensively, shooting, running, handling the ball and he can just flat out play in so many ways.”