It may be a new direction for the Georgian Grizzlies, but the man in charge will be familiar.
Todd Talbot, who served under former bench boss Andrew Broeren for the women’s basketball team last season, will be taking over as the head coach this year. It was a position he was interested in right from the start.
“I was an assistant to Andrew last year and he had expressed the possibility of stepping away for family reasons and things like that, so I knew that the opportunity would be available,” Talbot said. “I thought I’d put my hat in the ring and see how things turned out.”
Talbot, who played his high-school hoops in Sudbury, suited up for Cambrian College in Ontario Colleges Athletic Association basketball as a player before he put the whistle around his neck.
“It was really my son that got me into coaching,” Talbot said. “He’d expressed interest in basketball at an early age, so I started coaching him in Newmarket at the IEM house league. It just became a passion, being able to develop his game, as well as other kids and it was a great thing. I did that for a few years, and as he got older, I’d help him out through the Barrie Royals program when I could.”
Once Talbot’s son began to play with top-end teams in Toronto, he went back to Newmarket, to coach rep basketball, before winding up in Barrie.
“I’ve been working with the Next Level basketball program under Scott Seeley,” Talbot said. “We extend the boys season from April to June and the end of July for a couple of teams. We brought them to a couple of tournaments in the U.S. and, this year, I coached the primary Grade 6 and Grade 9 teams.”
The task of running the women’s program won’t be an easy one after the squad went winless in 2017-18.
“Last year, we didn’t have a great season and I felt that part of that was just the number of injuries we had,” said Talbot, whose team finished last year with just eight healthy players. “We didn’t have a full team roster throughout the season. But during that time, I was able to build real close relationships with the players. For the returning players, that’s a huge plus, bringing someone in who they’re familiar with and someone they’re comfortable in playing for.
“They sort of know what vision I have and they’re excited about that. We have some new players coming in who I’ve been in contact with and they’re looking forward to being here this season.”
In terms of flexibility, Talbot believes his system will allow for players to move around more, which will be a plus regardless of whether or not the Grizzlies are at full strength.
“We hope that there aren’t injuries, but certainly, that’s part of the game,” he said. “The system that we run will allow the ability to play at different positions. One of the things I’ve noticed from having players out on Monday nights, as well as the training camp we had (earlier in the summer) is that we will have a more athletic team. Players that can guard different positions is a huge bonus for a team, because we can move people between positions.”
While Talbot believes his system will put his players in a better spot to physically compete, he wants them to be able to do so mentally as well, which involves tossing a 0-17 season out of their minds.
“For me, the first year isn’t dependent on wins,” he said. “It’s a culture reset and we’re looking to change the culture of the team and put the mindset in there of being competitive and not being comfortable with losing. I want them to have a different mindset going into this year.”
With the hope for better health and athleticism moving forward, Talbot forsees the 2018-19 campaign as a big step in the right direction.
“It will be an interesting year,” he said. “I do believe that, if we can stay healthy, and with a new system in place and re-setting the team culture, we will have a fairly productive season.”
Photo: Todd Talbot is promoted from assistant to head coach of the Georgian Grizzlies women’s basketball team. Chris White photo