Van Pelt wins race to lead Goldfields Giants

Neale HarveyKalgoorlie Miner
Matthew Van Pelt
Camera IconMatthew Van Pelt Credit: Unknown/Supplied

New Goldfields Giants men’s coach Matthew Van Pelt isn’t expected to arrive in Kalgoorlie-Boulder until January, but he said on Monday that groundwork for the 2024 NBL1 campaign was already under way.

The 32-year-old American was formally announced as Scott Manton’s replacement at the weekend and accepts the job with big expectations.

Originally from Rockford, Michigan, he is currently serving as head coach of Saigon Heat and the Vietnam national team.

The retired professional point-guard also lists skills training, overseas basketball consulting, international recruiting and advanced scouting among his credentials.

Van Pelt’s appointment to coach the Giants will be his first stint in regional WA.

Matthew Van Pelt
Camera IconMatthew Van Pelt Credit: Unknown/Supplied

“I expect to be there (in the Goldfields) during the first week of January,” he said.

“But I’ve already started my preparation as far as building my playbook, doing film work, learning our guys, learning the other teams, and I have been working hard spending several hours per day trying to find the right imports.”

Ahead of his arrival, Van Pelt ruled out major changes.

“Wholesale changes are not needed — we don’t want to buy a new team every year,” he said.

“Per my conversations with the board, we want to build something with some continuity.

“We want our core guys back and we want to develop the homegrown guys in the Kalgoorlie-Boulder area and those who have shown dedication to the Goldfields Giants organisation thus far.

“It will be a new situation for me, obviously, so I will have to learn our guys’ personalities and strengths and weaknesses in a hurry.

“But I believe we have a solid foundation and can add a few key pieces to complement them.

“Instilling a bit of dog mentality and athleticism never hurts, so we’ll see if we can add such pieces to the talented guys we already have on the roster.”

On whether he regarded himself as a hard coach, Van Pelt was firm on what was required to lift the squad back into top-eight contention.

“I’m not a military style coach and I’m not a pushover,” he said.

“I am going to hold guys accountable, but I generally do so in an even-keeled manner.

“Communication with my guys is most important to me — I want to build relationships and get to know these guys so we can have trust involved.

“I think my two best attributes I’ll bring to the organisation are my work ethic and my understanding that I need to evolve.

“The game is always evolving, and you cannot be stuck in your ways.

“I know this and I strive to find ways to improve daily — my top core value is kaizen, a Japanese word that essentially means you are striving to improve something in your life on a daily basis

“That’s my aim — I’m admittedly obsessed with the game and should probably have more life balance than I have, but I give too much to trying to be over-prepared.”

Van Pelt was firm on what type of game style he planned to bring to the club.

“Pack and pace I call it,” he said.

“Defensively, we’re trying to keep people out of the paint.

“Offensively, we’re playing with pace in a continuity where everybody is getting touches and we seek early offence.

“You hear a lot of coaches nowadays say they want to play fast

“Well, I’m no different — I like my guys getting up and down, so we’ll have to be in shape.”

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