Vikings bank on youth for 2005 season
THE Grafton City Vikings play their first home game for the season when they take on the Port Macquarie Dolphins at the Cage tonight.
The Vikings have turned over four of their starting five from their previously successful team.
Top players Steve Smith and Stuart Tait have pulled the plug on what for both of them was a stellar 10 years with the Viking.
Nathan Chiswell has moved to Sydney, Cameron Fishburn is off to Western Australia and evergreen three-point specialist Lance Predo is also missing.
The Vikings committee has decided on a youth policy, resisting the temptation for a quick fix with an import or two and deciding to go with an all local content.
Although the players being groomed have not yet reached the standard of this league, due to their young age, they are showing great maturity and enthusiasm at training.
Coach Craig Howe predicts this team could be the best team Grafton has produced if they improve with each game.
The team will rely a lot on seasoned veteran at 22 in Matt Moran. Matt is one of the best players in the league, but will need to have an MVP performance in each game for the Vikings to be close at the fulltime whistle.
Another plus for the Vikings is the return of talented off guard Glenn Boorman, one of the top players Grafton has produced, but he is a few games off match fitness.
Other players the Vikings will be relying to step up will be Danny Boorman, Gus Noble and Nathan Martin. All these players have a wealth of experience, but being the leaders will be a new challenge.
Three young players will be fighting for the starting point guard spot in Sam Rhodes, Tim Kent and Dylan Parbury.
It is expected that Tim Kent will get the first bite of the cherry in a spot that will make or break the Vikings.
Any of these three juniors could end up another Steve Smith. They have all come through the local junior program.
A junior of great talent is Matt Buckley, but at only 14 years of age this player is not expected to see much court time early in the season, but if his form of the 2GF final is anything to go on, it will not be long before he will be a regular member of the team.
The team for Saturday will be rounded off with Nathan Darby home from Uni on holidays but indicating he will travel to training on a regular basis.
Cris Crawford, also at Uni, but travelling to play and another young player in Thomas Ellem.
The team will suffer from lack of pre-season games, playing only the one game against Coffs Harbour with one ref and no scorers of note.
This was excellent for the young players as it showed them what they will be up against. As well as it being their first game they played without three of their starters, making it doubly hard on the young kids.
The young Vikings will be competitive in their first home game.
The game is set for 7pm and doors will open at 6.30pm. A full canteen will operate during this time. Admission is $5 adults and $3 under 12s.