Extra incentive to be a Force for Ipswich
BASKETBALL: Keen to reward extra effort, Ipswich Force head coach Chris Riches delays finalising his starting five until he monitors preparation for a big game.
He did that well by thrusting Queensland Basketball League debutant Mitch Poulain into the fray during last weekend's season-opener against Cairns.
Although Force lost 106-88 at Llewellyn Stadium, Poulain was one of the team's best workers during his 22 valuable minutes on court.
With a showdown against Logan on Sunday, Riches wants to continue rewarding players, especially those in his youth-laden squad.
"We like to give everyone within our training sessions the opportunity to prove they are ready and capable to be a starter,'' Riches said.
"We see that as being a lot more merit-based, week to week, for those players who work hard.''
After some helpful lessons last weekend, Riches welcomes a 2pm Sunday clash on the long weekend.
"For us, it's beneficial because essentially we are on our home court,'' he said.
"The boys are in really good spirits, so we're just focused on the next task.
"That was always the biggest thing from the weekend - take the lessons we learnt from the loss and turn that into something positive.''
Glancing over last weekend's statistics, Force captain Jason Ralph was on court the longest, being rested for just one minute.
The guard benefited from an extended workout.
"Jason is one of those players that just keeps on giving,'' Riches said. "It doesn't matter if it's the first minute or the last minute.
"That's one of the things we spoke about . . . the ability to just push through any type of challenges or obstacles that we had, and keep focused on the task at hand and be in the moment.''
While he can work on his shooting, Ralph had "a phenomenally good game''.
"He's able to control the tempo,'' his supportive coach said. "For us as our captain as well, he provides a lot of beneficial leadership on and off the floor.''
Force recruit Garrett "G'' Hall (36 minutes) and vice-captain Kyle Harvey (32 minutes) also got heavily involved in the season opener.
Riches backed another newcomer Joe Owens, from Townsville, to be more influential in coming games.
"This is a new system, a new association and each and every training session that he's had, Joe gets better,'' the Ipswich State High School teacher said.
"Joe's a person of character so he sort of slides in that adversity, working hard and wanting to challenge himself.
"This is exactly the type of place where you see the real benefit of having his type of character involved. He keeps driving everyone to be better.''
The Logan line-up includes Brisbane Bullets player Mitch Young who provides solid opposition at QBL level.
Before their second game of the new season, the Force contingent is uniting for a meet the players community day at Llewellyn Stadium from 3pm on Saturday.
Riches is eager to build stronger ties with the people supporting his team.
"The boys can say g'day to them, say thank you to our sponsors, and from that point we'll basically focus on the game and have a good preparation leading into it,'' the head coach said.
QBL Sunday at Llewellyn Stadium (Booval): Noon - Ipswich Force women v Logan. 2pm: Ipswich Force men v Logan.