Coach Drane to step down from Senior Team after season

Coach Drane has enjoyed remarkable success since founding the Senior Team in 2011 (Image: Pavel Kricka)

Ipswich Basketball Club Head Coach Nick Drane has announced that this season will be his last with the club’s senior men’s team.

Drane says he has “a number of reasons” why he is stepping down but, most notably, he feels he needs to concentrate his efforts on junior coach and player development for the next few years.

“When we set the Men’s team up back in 2011 we had a five year plan,” he said. “Our goal was to establish Ipswich as a top-level team in the National League, with a high-level exit route for our elite academy players. We wanted to achieve that by being in NBL Division Two by the end of that five year period, and we have achieved everything we set out to do and more”.

Ipswich actually made it to Division Two within two seasons, with Drane leading the team to back-to-back promotions and to the Play-Off Final of English Basketball’s second tier by their third season. Through the team’s first three years of existence they had gone from Division Four to the top of Division Two, winning an impressive 54 out of 66 games – a winning percentage of 82%.

“It was never the intention for me to coach the team forever, in fact I was due to step down at the end of our fifth season, but after such a difficult season with injuries, myself and some of the senior players felt we needed to give it one more year,” continued Drane. “Sadly we have had even more injuries this season and as a consequence, we haven’t been able to get to where we wanted to be”.

Ipswich’s rise as a leading senior programme nationally has taken a phenomenal amount of time and work by a number of people and Drane was quick to point out he hasn’t done it alone. “The players do the winning and the losing out on the court, we have won a heck of a lot more than we have lost. I have loved coaching this team for the past six seasons. I have significantly grown and a coach and as a person.

Drane in the club’s earlier days, alongside assistant Matt Ward

“I have been fortunate to work with some outstanding people during this time. I’ve had some excellent assistant coaches, Nick Newman, Matt Ward, Adam Davies, John Ellis and Rob Schatten – they have all been unbelievably hard working and loyal to me. However, my highest praise has to be for my longest serving and most committed partner in crime, Terry Rigby, without whom I would have stopped a long time ago”.

Terry Rigby is Drane’s long standing Team Manager and will also be stepping down after the season – to have a well earned break from senior national league. “Terry is someone I have genuine love for – an unbelievable servant to this club and someone who will be very difficult to replace,” added Drane.

In all competitions Drane has led Ipswich to a 116-50 record over five and a half seasons, a winning percentage of 70%. His second main reason for standing down is simple: “I need a rest”. By the end of this season, he will have coached nearly 180 national league games, and has also been to two European Championships with the national team. A rough estimation suggests he has travelled around 18,000 miles on a mini-bus during this time.

“I think we worked out that I’ve travelled the equivalent distance of Australia and back on a mini-bus with this team,” Drane laughed. “That’s a heck of a lot of time away from my family and I’m ready for a break, and I’m really excited about working more with the junior teams and coaches on a weekly basis. I’m also really excited about having a bit more spare time to enjoy being a husband and a Dad”.

Drane the “driving force” – Leach

While Drane’s absence will leave a huge gap in the club’s senior men’s set up, his experience and leadership will be invaluable to the club’s junior programme, as acknowledged by Ipswich Basketball Club Chairman David Leach.

“Nick is unquestionably the most influential person in our club, nobody will dispute that,” David said. “I would argue that he is the most influential person in any club in the country, I know that because I see how much he does on and off the court on a daily basis. He’s the driving force and personality behind the Ipswich Basketball machine.

“He will continue to oversee the men’s team and I’m certain if things slip he will be right back in there sorting it out, but this is the right move not just for Nick but for the club. We have some very talented young players and coaches and everyone will benefit a massive amount from him being able to give more time to everything else.”

Coach Drane will continue to lead the team for the rest of this season. With his final game looking likely to Newham Neptunes at home on the 11th March, unless the team can find a way of squeezing into the top 4 and gain a home court draw for the play-offs, which is unlikely as the team is five games behind the fourth placed team with ten games to play.

Home games are always an occasion in Ipswich, the final home game of any season in particular and with this being Drane’s last at the helm of the team, it is certain to be an emotional affair.