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Adelaide needs the SEABL but SEABL doesn't need BA


SOUTH Australia needs to re-establish a presence in the SEABL and the longest-running and most successful interstate league in the nation really needs to nut out why it wants to be run by Basketball Australia.

Is it because BA did such a brilliant job with the NBL?

Well hell no. The NBL this season past showed all the signs of recovery after leaping unanimously out from under the yoke of Bloody Awful’s administration.

That left Basic Atrophy with just the WNBL on which to focus – and we know how well Bayonets Attached handled that.

Remember, the SEABL, the NBL and the WNBL all were started by clubs and NONE by the national federation.

There’s a reason for that.

But if the SEABL on Sunday wants to hand its history, its present and its future into the jurisdiction of surf lifesavers and frequent flyers, so be it.

The only argument “for” that I have heard is the gem about “sharing resources”.

I have never yet seen a situation where sharing resources didn’t mean a lessening of quality and the overworking of a select few.

No. Wait. The sharing of resources between Adelaide 36ers and Adelaide Lightning has been a reasonable success, albeit a key element to the WNBL presence staying in SA is the 10 double-headers the club has requested of BA.

Let’s see if Blasé Attitude complies or even notices.

The important role the SEABL plays in bridging the gap between state leagues and the NBL cannot be overstated and it also is where many of the big league’s second-tier players go to improve and develop their games for their next fully pro stint.

In the 1980s, when basketball was bouncing in South Australia – West Bearcats winning the NBL Championship in 1982 and Adelaide 36ers following suit in 1986 – the state federation (the Basketball Association of SA) in 1987 decided to suit a composite team in the SEABL.

It already also had three teams representing it in the WNBL and four in the then-WBC, which later became the SEABL’s women’s competition.

The Adelaide Buffalos stunned everyone when they won the 1987 SEABL Championship, maintaining their strong presence for several years.

But with the advent of the Australian Basketball Association, the BASA abandoned the Buffalos (and it’s women’s SEABL composite team, Adelaide Opals) to offer up the SA State League as an ABA “conference”.

Hence the “Central Australian Basketball League” misnomer under which the SA state league continues to labor.

Truth is, now that the (new) BSA has shown little or no interest in developing or fostering its elite league – even state associations start sounding more and more like their parent Backward Acceleration federation – it appears impervious and/or disinterested in its diminished quality or ability to produce potential NBL players.

It is happening even more now at both men’s and women’s levels, with solid quality national league players of both sexes more interested in a SEABL winter than a weekend trip to Hillcrest, Marion, St Clair or Port Adelaide.

(Spectator-friendly venues all … provided the spectators are cockroaches or rodents.)

While the 36ers watch and lament as Mitch Creek or Adam Doyle or Tom Daly head to SEABL programs, or Jason Cadee to the NZNBL, BSA is, as always, indolent to a fault – just so long as its draw is out and its stats near-enough to accurate.

The time has arrived for SA to again have an Adelaide presence in the SEABL.

Mount Gambier has shown the way for yonks and has been killing it for a couple of years now. Well you can count the former state league players thriving in the Pioneers’ environment.

They are off to a flying 8-0 start again and looking to build on last year’s Conference Championship and national runner-up finish.

Who is missing out?

Basketball in Adelaide, that’s who.

It was only when the state league here won ABA conference status that it shifted its games to weekend fixturing. The clubs had to be led, kicking and screaming, to accept that and to accept home/away responsibilities.

I recall Norwood Flames even talking about boycotting such a ludicrous move which was going to shatter the social life of its players and take out those players who worked on the weekend.

(Seems the club survived pretty successfully, despite all that.)

That was 20 years ago and times change.

Just as it was pertinent to move the competition then, it is pertinent to move it back now to women playing on a Tuesday night at Adelaide Arena, and men playing on the Wednesday.

It would give clubs greater access to NBL/WNBL-quality players for their midweek state league runs, while the best of them could play on the weekends in the composite SEABL lineups.

And with so many players contemplating and heading into US college situations – precisely those in the 18-22 age group the Youth League has been a total waste of time for and who would be ideal SEABL prospects – the time to act is now.

Connect the Adelaide SEABL programs to university studies and you finally have a situation which works on multiple levels.

If the city’s SEABL team is the Adelaide University Scholars or the University of SA Sixers, it potentially could solve a number of issues currently being ignored.

Sure, BSA’s priority is to its member constituents so it will heed the kicking and screaming of the handful of clubs who make a few bucks over the bar at their weekend home fixtures.

But crowds at state league games only number in the hundreds and often are either scattered around in facilities never built for spectators but for participation, or sardined against corrugated iron walls. So ideal in winter.

Get everyone back into Adelaide Arena, where fans can not only watch their team but the second half of a preceding game and the first half of the next match and suddenly you know over an evening, the attendance will top the thousand mark.

And they will be in a venue BUILT for spectator comfort.

OK, the screams will be about Tuesday and Wednesday night fixturing in winter.

You know what? It worked for 40 years and only ever stopped to accommodate differing times.

Those were great eras when you could head to the Arena - or the Apollo even earlier - and see Robert Rose playing for Forestville, then next game see Brett Maher and Butch Hays with Sturt.

Or Rachael Sporn leading West and Michelle Brogan and Carla Boyd pacing Noarlunga – all on the same night in the same place.

The league was never better and come the weekend, Adelaide’s SEABL teams were kick-a$$ sides.

They could be – and should be – again and 2015 is right for it.

Even if the SEABL is short-sighted and silly enough to throw its reins into the hands of the Bugger Awards crew.

Apr 29

Content, unless otherwise indicated, is © copyright Boti Nagy.