Joey Wright has such faith in the Adelaide 36ers organisation that signing up for a further five NBL seasons as coach was a no-brainer as he looks for the club to become the next powerhouse.
Wright has now coached the Sixers for four seasons taking them three Finals appearances including the 2014 Grand Final.
They won the club’s first minor premiership since 2002 in this season recently completed on the back of his previous stints at the helm of the Brisbane Bullets and Gold Coast Blaze.
While the 2016/17 campaign didn’t quite end how he or the 36ers were hoping with a semi-final defeat at the hands of the Illawarra Hawks, Wright couldn’t help but be delighted what is building.
Having seen what the New Zealand Breakers and Perth Wildcats have been able to accomplish splitting the past eight NBL championships with stable core groups, that is Wright’s goal with the 36ers.
The recent re-signings of Nathan Sobey and Matt Hodgson will help him bring back a similar core group now for the 36ers in the 2017/18 season.
Wright is hoping to build something special on the back of what they accomplished in 2016/17.
“Having those guys here for another couple of years is really important,” Wright told NBL Media.
“If you look at the standout programs in Perth and New Zealand and what they’ve done over the last 10 years, they have really locked down their core group. They have that core group of players who they focus around and that’s why they have been so successful.
“It took New Zealand a while to get it right, but once they did they had a great run. Then once Perth got it right the last few years you can see what they’ve done. We are just trying to position ourselves to be the team that now gets it right over the next couple of years.”
Looking back on this past season where Adelaide did such a good job following a slow start to the season to go on a run of winning 14 of 15 games to claim the minor premiership, Wright was proud of what they did.
He’s not content, though, and that provides the building blocks now moving forward.
“I was happy with a lot of what we were able to accomplish. I think at the end of any season the way the coach wants to feel is that he’s maximised his talent pool and got the best out of his team,” he said.
“It still doesn’t feel good all the time, but at the end of it you have to take that approach and say that we did maximise our talent and that we got the best out of what we had. We just didn’t get that final hardware that we wanted.”
While Wright is happy to have the majority of his Australian contingent locked away, he’s not in any hurry with the imports and that includes superstar Jerome Randle.
What he does know is that he thinks sharing the import spots between a point guard, three man and a big will again work best for the Sixers.
“Right now at this part of the season with imports you don’t really focus too much on what they are going to do because they have so many opportunities right now, and so do we as a club. We just kind of leave it at that for now and wait and see what happens,” Wright said.
“I think that is the best way for us to go. We have a fairly strong contingent of Australian players so we can space out and we don’t have any holes anywhere right now.
“So we can space out our imports in terms of the positions they play so we can sign a point, a mid and a big. That’s kind of the way we are thinking at the moment.”
For Wright, it was a no-brainer to recommit to the 36ers for a further five years. He couldn’t be more satisfied and excited with the direction the club is heading on and off the court, and with life in Adelaide for him and his family.
“It’s a great opportunity for us. We have a great, young nucleus of players, we have a great owner on board who is giving us some stability and along with the league going so well, I think it’s a great time to commit to being around the NBL for that next five years,” he said.
“First and foremost as a coach, what it starts with is the club because you don’t really get the chance to choose the city. We have to go with the best club and where the best opportunity is, and I think that’s in Adelaide.
“We’ve worked hard over the past four years to get the right people on the court, the right people in the office and the right ownership group. I think it’s just a prime time to be here and there are some exciting times ahead for us.
“But I do enjoy living in Adelaide and I like the blue-collar nature of the state and how our fans are one of the best in the league, if not the best. They really look after us and treat us well.”
Wright has enjoyed spending a large majority of his adult life in Australia beginning as an import player at the Geelong Supercats and coaching at the Bullets, Blaze and 36ers since.
He already likes to consider himself Australian and by the time the 2017/18 rolls around he hopes to have that official by being presented with his citizenship.
“I would like to call myself an Aussie by the time the season rolls around. It actually does mean a lot to me,” Wright said.
“I have spent more of my adult life here in Australia than anywhere else and I identify as Australian. I just like the ethics of the country and what it’s about so I would like to officially be Australian before too long.”