Niall Anderson: Favourite sons set to rule court

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The Breakers’ succession plan is likely to work out well for the reigning NBL champions, explains Niall Anderson.
Paul Henare is the best New Zealand has to offer, having cut his coaching teeth with the NBL-winning Southland Sharks. Photo / Getty Images
Paul Henare is the best New Zealand has to offer, having cut his coaching teeth with the NBL-winning Southland Sharks. Photo / Getty Images

Two of the Breakers' favourite sons have been given the keys to the kingdom.

Head coach Dean Vickerman and CEO Richard Clarke are heading out the door at the end of this season, but their replacements are two of the club's most exalted figures - Paul Henare and Dillon Boucher.

Henare will be the new head coach and Boucher will take over as general manager of the franchise.

By promoting from within, the Breakers are avoiding the fear of the unknown, putting faith in the processes which have brought them four championships in the past five seasons.

Vickerman and Clarke are significant losses, regardless of the succession plans.

Clarke has been with the club from the beginning, initially as marketing manager before moving into the general manager role two seasons later. Vickerman has been a member of the Breakers' coaching staff since 2007, and has had an enormous influence on the franchise's on-court improvements.

Clarke is off to join other former members of the Breakers - Andrej Lemanis and CJ Bruton - at the returning Brisbane Bullets franchise, while Vickerman's next step has yet to be confirmed.

Losing a combined 21 seasons of experience is not something to treat lightly, but such upheaval would normally cause uncertainty.

Not so for the Breakers, who have meticulously planned their next phase by promoting familiar faces - an important factor in a league where continuity is often key.

Henare is the best coach New Zealand basketball has, a sharp mind who has the respect of his players. A two-time New Zealand NBL-winning coach with the Southland Sharks and entrusted with the Tall Blacks, the former point guard has smart, personnel-driven defensive schemes and his rotations are rarely questionable.

While Henare's coaching credentials are conclusive, it's near-impossible to know what impact Boucher will have on the front office, just as it was to pinpoint the exact contributions Clarke made during his lengthy tenure. Most of the day-to-day operations rightly remain behind closed doors, inadvertently reinforcing the team-over-individual mentality that the franchise preaches.

However, Boucher has been groomed as Clarke's successor since he made the move upstairs, and has been part of the Breakers machine that has led to unparalleled success on the court and financial stability off it.

Whether the pair make a successful start to their tenure will have a lot riding on how the current campaign ends, with the Breakers suffering through a four-game losing streak, dropping outside of the playoff picture with a fifth-placed 11-10 record.

Miss the playoffs, and the Breakers' transition could be construed as a rebuild, especially with Corey Webster potentially getting another chance over the offseason to make a NBA team.

The makeup of the roster will be just one of the many questions needing to be solved by the new duo when the 2016-2017 season begins.

If history is any indicator, the Breakers should have the answers.

- NZ Herald

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