By PETER JESSUP
The appointment of two expatriate Americans to run the men's and women's national teams shows a new attacking philosophy by Basketball New Zealand.
Tab Baldwin and Tracy Carpenter, appointed yesterday, are buoyed by last year's Olympic exposure but concerned to see the Tall Blacks and Tall Ferns play to win rather than just to compete.
Men's and women's coaches respectively, the pair will certainly bring more emphasis on attack.
Both appointments are logical. Baldwin is a five-time winner of the National Basketball League professional competition with Auckland.
Carpenter has been around the Tall Ferns since 1995, was assistant Olympic coach and has taken North Harbour to finals in the NBL.
Both are relishing the challenge, and it's a biggie. Each has only a 12-month appointment and the target is beating the medal-winning Australians at Oceania qualifying tournaments for the 2002 world championships, to be held in September next year.
Before that, the men play at the Goodwill Games in Brisbane and will invite other participants there to tour New Zealand, with the strong Argentine, Puerto Rican, Canadian and Brazilian teams to be targeted.
The women have no lead-up games and are still awaiting arrangement of a national competition.
"I'd crawl across broken glass for this job," Baldwin said yesterday of the unpaid position.
It's his third crack at it, the board having twice preferred Sydney appointee Keith Mair.
Mair is finally going after 13 years, which is way too long for any coach to remain in any national job.
Baldwin said he had no hard feeling about the previous rejections and looked on them as like climbing a mountain.
"It's frustrating, but when you get to the top the knock-backs all become part of it, and it makes it that much better to have achieved."
Baldwin, who is 42, came to New Zealand in 1988 from Jacksonville Beach in Florida with a high school coaching background and had two seasons with Otago, lifting them from the second to first division.
He then shifted to Southland for a year, where he met and coached future All Black Jeff Wilson in the South Island under-18 team.
Wilson was best man at Baldwin's wedding to Aucklander Raewyn in 1999.
In 1992, Baldwin moved to Auckland as assistant coach, was appointed head coach in 1994, and produced national titles in 1995-97, 1999 and 2000. His NBL record is 164 games for 130 wins, the 79 per cent success record outstanding in any sport or sporting measure.
In the off-seasons in 1995 and 1996, he coached the Perak Eagles in the Malaysian national league, for a first and second place.
Carpenter, 44, came here after coaching at high school level for 13 years, at Gavilan College in San Francisco for three years and as assistant coach at the University of California in Monterey.
He coached the Waikato men's team for two years, then shifted to Harbour, taking them to the finals last year.
"The Olympic team was better than any New Zealand team I've seen," Carpenter said yesterday.
For Sydney, the Tall Blacks and Tall Ferns gained entry as Oceania qualifiers - Australia had automatic entry as hosts.
Both sides will have to beat Australia's Boomers and Opals if they want to go to the world championships and the Olympics again.
All four teams will change markedly after the resignations of players who stayed on for Sydney.
Carpenter had plenty of time to study the Australian set-up at the Institute of Sport when the Tall Ferns played a pre-Olympic tournament there, and was impressed with its system.
By PETER JESSUP