Basketball: Daly-Taylor quits, ex-Hawk Hill takes charge

By Anendra Singh -
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Kirstin Daly-Taylor's face has resignation written all over it as she watches the Hawks succumb to the Canterbury Rams in Napier on Tuesday. Photo/Paul Taylor
Kirstin Daly-Taylor's face has resignation written all over it as she watches the Hawks succumb to the Canterbury Rams in Napier on Tuesday. Photo/Paul Taylor

Hawks basketball coach Kirstin Daly-Taylor resigned yesterday after a "panic attack" following the Anzac Day loss to the Canterbury Rams in Napier.

Daly-Taylor, who found herself at the helm of the Taylor Corporation-sponsored National Basketball League (NBL) team last year, abruptly ended her five-year term amid allegations she had lost the respect of some players.

"That's it, I'm done, I'm gone," the 47-year-old former Tall Ferns player was heard saying as she stormed out of the locker room at the Pettigrew-Green Arena on Tuesday night about five minutes after the 106-89 loss to the Canterbury Rams.

Franchise board chairman Keith Price last night confirmed Daly-Taylor had handed in her resignation yesterday morning before the board held a meeting at 5pm to ratify it and appoint board member and former Tall Black Ben Hill, of Napier, the interim coach for the remainder of the season.

The Hawks were embarking on their second game on the road at 4pm today to play against James Blond Supercity Rangers at Te Awamutu in a 7pm tip-off tomorrow.

Former Hawks and Waikato Pistons forward Hill, who has four NBL crowns as a player and is the son of Tall Blacks legend Stan Hill, has appointed former teammate and ex-Hawk/basketball administrator Clifton Bush and Kaine Hokianga as his assistants.

Hokianga is a Havelock North teacher who was involved with the defunct Manawatu Jets.

Daly-Taylor didn't return any calls yesterday but Price said the board had received feedback from her via franchise general manager Kevin Wagg.

"Basically she's resigned because she can't get the best out of the Hawks and she's a Hawk so she feels someone else might be able to get more out of them than she could."

Price, a Napier city councillor who had made it clear eking out wins to become champions again was the drive when the franchise took over in 2015 to allay fears the province would not be flying its flag in the NBL, said Daly-Taylor had stepped down "in fairness to the team".

"She's frustrated and she's very, very sad."

Former Hawk Aidan Daly, who under sister Daly-Taylor's reign also assumed the mantle of Hawks co-captaincy last season after a hiatus from the NBL, makes way as this year's assistant coach.

"Aidan basically is all good about it and is loyal to his sister and she's gone so he's gone - there's no issue," said Price although the other assistant coach, Shane Brown, has not yet made a decision.

Brown is coaching the Hawke's Bay under-14 representatives camp in Rotorua for two days but Price said Hill was happy to keep him in the mix and the franchise was hoping he would stay.

Team manager Rachael Hinchco also keeps her position in keeping with the board's conscious efforts to minimise changes in the upheaval.

Daly-Taylor had raved about the franchise board's initiative to establish a Shawn Dennis-type programme that would attempt to secure players for three to five years as well as entice home-grown talent from high schools.

Dennis, an Australian ANBL coach, is the only coach to take the Hawks to an NBL crown, winning in 2006.

Price said the board was of the impression that Daly-Taylor, a Napier Boys' High School science teacher and dean, was adamant about leaving and did not try to dissuade her. "I think she needed to go and I don't mean it in a horrible way."

Her departure had a correlation with the poor patch in performance.

"I say that in a nice way."

Price was at pains to emphasise Daly-Taylor's passion was unrivalled but she was perhaps "too devoted".

"The results did affect her," he said.

"I mean it will affect anyone. When you're winning, it's easy."

He confirmed the panic attack and hoped she was going to be all right.

"I want to have a cup of coffeee with her. She's a bloody top person and she'll be hurting more than anyone but she'll do anything for this team to do well. She'll be hurting for a while."

The Jarrod Kenny and Everard Bartlett co-skippered Hawks have plummeted to last on the NBL table, below the Mike Pero Nelson Giants, with just one win this season after finishing as the cellar-dwellers last season.

"I've done a lot of coaching. It's either a good team or a bad coach," he said with a laugh.

Conversely did Price feel that if Daly-Taylor wasn't a bad coach then are the Hawks players guilty of a poor ethos?

"Mmm ... I tell you I just can't really nail it."

Reflecting on Brown's interview in Hawke's Bay Today Price said it appeared as if "something wasn't gelling in the set up."

He said many people had their takes on what the problem was with the team and how it could be fixed but his mission statement was clear and remained on course since he took over last year.

"I'm here to get us back on track. I think we've come a long way and this is just a little hiccup along the way to progress," he said as the Hawks broke a 24-match losing streak last month.

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