Keilor Thunder has heated up like a microwave under first-year coach Liam Glascott in the Big V basketball men’s division 1 this season.
The Thunder is the hottest team in the Terrill conference with an 11-3 record and sitting three games clear in first – and it all seems to have happened overnight.
Glascott was approached to coach Keilor on the eve of the season after the defection of last year’s coach, Peter Godfrey.
Having coached the Thunder’s youth league team and showing an interest in more coaching after suffering two serious knee injuries, Glascott accepted the role and immediately got to work to ensure this season was not wasted.
He recruited strongly in a short span of time, bringing in a veteran on-court leader in Chuck Long, acquiring an athletic import in Jordan Coleman and picked up on-court general Jeff Crowe from nearby Melton.
And he empowered the youngsters already at the Thunder, some of whom have taken the next step in their careers this season.
In an instant, Keilor went from a respected also-ran to a genuine title contender.
“We just added a few pieces in the off season that we thought we needed to compete,” Glascott said. “It sharpened our group up and gives ourselves the best opportunity to win the whole division and move up.
“Our goal is to be playing state championship in 2018.”
Keilor had a rare slip-up on Saturday night, going down 74-68 to Melbourne University Black Angels at the Melbourne University Sports Centre.
But the Thunder is undeterred, seeing that loss and the two narrow defeats prior as mere speed humps en route to the play-offs.
“When we’re switched on for the whole 40 minutes, I don’t think anyone is going to get near us,” Glascott said.
“We’re such a good defensive team and offensively we’ve got a good spread of scorers.
“We’ve got a number of guys that can step up on any given night.
“You can try to stop one or two, but we’ve got a number of guys that are able to step up.”
Long has been a wise acquisition for Keilor.
The veteran big has offered a predominantly young team direction with his experience and is a tireless worker in the paint, averaging a double-double 13.2 points and 12.3 rebounds.
“Chuck’s a 34-year-old guy that played seven years in SEABL – five of those years as an import at Hobart and Frankston,” Glascott said. “When he got Australian citizenship, he moved to Dandenong to try, I guess, to chase a championship because they’re a more experienced group at that level.
“He was told he wasn’t going to be needed at Dandenong due to them going younger. So I sat down with him, we had a chat and I made him an offer. His experience at the next level for the younger guys has been fantastic.”
Crowe has added to Keilor’s back-court depth. The former Melton guard runs the point along with Matt Spencer.
Crowe is averaging 3.4 assists and 7.7 points a game, while Spencer is top five in assists in the league, averaging 4.6 to go with 11.7 points a game.
Coleman, who played with Latrobe City Energy last season, is the Thunder’s best finisher, both at the rim and from the three-point arc, averaging a team-high 16.5 points a game.
BJ Symons, a home-grown youngster, has also caught fire on the offensive end this season. He is averaging 15 points and 6.5 rebounds, but is a super-efficient scorer, going 62.9 per cent from the field.
“BJ’s a 19-year-old who has come out of our youth league program,” Glascott said.
“He’s an under-sized big, but he gets in the right spots, he’s got a very good set of hands at the offensive end and his work ethic is amazing. He’s a good fit for what we run offensively.”
Keilor will be looking to bounce back when it travels to face the Warrandyte Venom on Saturday night.