WAGGA Heat have received a major boost before the upcoming Waratah League season, with former head coach Matt Bishop returning to the coaching staff.
The Waratah League draw was released this week, with the season to expand to 20 games. The Heat begin their campaign with a road trip to Springwood on Saturday, March 26, and the first home game is against Canberra Gunners Academy on April 2.
Bishop coached the Heat in 2019 before the club opted to take a one year hiatus in 2020, before the league was cancelled anyway due to COVID.
In Zac Maloney's first year as player-coach in 2021, the team lost all eight games before the season was again shut down.
Maloney is back in charge this year, but said he and the squad will benefit greatly from Bishop's expertise courtside.
Bishop's son, Chaz, is also back as point guard after a season with Albury in NBL1.
"It's massive win for us. Matt's one of the smartest basketball brains in the region and has previously coached a lot of boys in the team," Maloney said.
"It's been tough on the boys having a player-coach, and it's hard on me juggling a few things. (Previous coaching staff member) Rob Edwards was really good for me last year and a lot of his coaching came from working with 'Bish' as an assistant."
Bishop will assist with training sessions on Tuesday each week as well as games.
"He came to a session last week and the intensity was through the roof. He has a lot of respect from the boys and he's one of those coaches you'll always play your hardest for," Maloney said.
Maloney was rapt with the season draw, which ensures the Heat will only be on the road for back-to-back weekends once this year.
St George will field a second team this year, while Hornsby has also dropped down a division into the league.
"In terms of the season size it's one of the bigger ones we've had in recent years, and it's one of the most favourable draws we've had," Maloney said.
"We only have one patch where we're on the road two weeks in a row. We're very happy with it and keen to get going.
"Not only that, because we've had the main core of guys come back from last year most of the structure is already in place.
"They'll benefit from that and already playing some games together."
HEAT HOME GAMES
Saturday, April 2: Canberra Gunners Academy (5pm)
Saturday, May 7: Camden Valley (5pm)
Saturday, May 14: St George Red (5pm)
Saturday, June 18: Shoalhaven (5pm)
Saturday, June 25: St George White (5pm)
Saturday, July 2: Hornsby (5pm)
Saturday, July 16: Newcastle (4pm)
Saturday, July 23: Hills Hornets (5pm)
Saturday, July 30: Springwood (5pm)
Saturday, August 13: Central Coast (5pm)
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