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Looming Waves clash stirs bad memories for Herbert

Date

Jon Tuxworth

Canberra Capitals assistant coach David Herbert.

Canberra Capitals assistant coach David Herbert. Photo: Melissa Adams

Canberra Capitals assistant coach David Herbert has branded former club West Coast a coach's graveyard, and feels he was not given enough time to revive the struggling franchise into a WNBL force.

Herbert coached the Waves the past two seasons without pay before joining Canberra, juggling his role as a high-performance manager with Basketball WA's national intensive training program.

But after after the injury-ravaged Waves won just two games in 2011-12, Herbert was given his marching orders, which he described as ''difficult to swallow''.

In a dramatic prelude to Canberra's game against West Coast in Perth on Friday night, Herbert said he was just one of many Waves coaches over the past decade who were not given a fair chance to finish rebuilding the team.

West Coast is paying Herbert's replacement, New Zealand Tall Ferns coach Kennedy Kereama, to be its full-time coach this season.

''Obviously you get into a full-time role you can devote all your time to it,'' Herbert said. ''I never had that opportunity and I just hope Kennedy is getting the support he deserves, he's a great young guy and a good coach.

''Perth has been a graveyard for coaches over recent times - I really do think the lack of support at board level is a [cause] of that.

''I was a volunteer coach the whole time, I was doing a full-time job and doing that [also coaching the Waves] wasn't the easiest thing in the world, that's for sure. It's a big-time commitment and when you walk away from there and have given up so much, it's difficult to swallow in a way.''

Despite a lack of funding, Herbert guided the Waves to eight wins in 2010-11, with Opals legend Tully Bevilaqua and Melissa Marsh spearheading a squad brimming with inexperienced youngsters.

''The two seasons I had there we had Tully the first year and a few WA kids, we won eight games and we were pretty happy with that,'' Herbert said. ''We could have made the finals that year and that would have been a huge achievement.

''The second year we had Rohanee [Cox] and Melissa Marsh with their experience, then it dropped down to 18-, 19-, 20-year-old kids - and you're going to get some blowout losses when you're trying to rebuild things like culture. Give it a few more years - I was really focused on developing the local talent.''

Asked if he would have liked a few more years to finish what he had started, Herbert replied: ''Absolutely. That unfortunately has been the case for [former coaches] Joe McKay, for Paul O'Brien, for Rick Morcom, for Craig Friday …

''I really hope they look at Kennedy for the long term and give the support he really needs to ensure the players reach their potential.

''When Kennedy moved over I put him up, so I have no malice at all … They're doing a great job in keeping it going with the name change [from Perth Lynx] and a revitalised approach, it's good.''

Herbert is relishing the role as assistant coach at Canberra. He warns the Capitals (5-7) should not be dismissed as a finals chance just yet, and said the players had exhibited a steely resolve after the 46-point thrashing by Sydney Uni last week.

'''Graffy' [Capitals coach Carrie Graf] threw me a lifeline and I haven't regretted it so far. I think [this week] we've had two of our best training sessions for the year. The only way to respond is to train harder and really go for it - that's what the group's done.''

FRIDAY

West Coast Waves v Canberra Capitals at WA Basketball Centre, 10.30pm.

SUNDAY

Adelaide Lightning v Canberra Capitals at Adelaide Arena, 3.30pm.

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