Direct from Brendon Egan at Stuff
"The Wellington Saints have parted ways with head coach Guy Molloy after a woeful start to the National Basketball League season.
Australian Molloy, who also coaches the Tall Ferns, was informed of the decision on Tuesday.
Defending champions Wellington, the most successful club in NBL history with 12 titles, sit second last on the NBL table with a 3-7 record. They are in danger of missing the top six finals for the first time since 2007.
Assistant Troy McLean, a Saints’ legend, who spent 16 seasons with the side and played more than 270 games for the club, will take over for the rest of the campaign.
Saints chief executive Jordan Mills made the decision after a forgettable weekend road trip, where Wellington lost both games to the Nelson Giants and Franklin Bulls. Wellington squandered a 15 point third quarter lead against Nelson and led Franklin by 19 points in the first quarter before losing.
“We’re not a club who will die wondering. We’ll do everything we possibly can and what we think to win a title or give us our best chance in this capacity to win basketball games,” he said.
Mills stressed it wasn’t anything personal with Molloy, describing him as “one of the best human beings I’ve been around in a very long time”.
The Saints’ miserable results and the way they had played together as a team had been well below their usual lofty standards. They have already lost more games this year than they have in their last three seasons – excluding the Covid-19 inspired NBL Showdown in 2020, where they didn’t participate.
Across the 2018, 2019, and 2021 seasons, the Saints went 54-6, capturing titles in 2019, when they went a perfect 20-0, and last year when they edged Hawke’s Bay in the decider.
Mills felt a different voice and coaching change was necessary to try and spark the stuttering Saints. Wellington have eight round games left with their next four outings all at their TSB Arena home, starting with the Bulls on Sunday (3pm tipoff).
“I can’t speak highly enough of Guy as a person and I honestly consider him a friend over the past couple of months. He’s a top, top man and a top individual, but the nature of the sport and game we’re in...
“We’re making some errors and I need to make a change to try and save our season and that’s what I think is going to help us in the interim.”
Mills, a longtime Saints guard, would assist the side on game day as lead assistant, helping out young assistant Jayden Smith. He didn’t believe there was any issue with an administrator serving as team assistant.
“From a personal standpoint no. I’ve been around this game a long time, so I feel like I know where I can help Troy. It’s more from an emotional standpoint I guess, try and get the guys going is where I think I can contribute.”
The Saints got off to a slow start with several top players delayed by their commitments in the Australian NBL. They lost their first four games, but even the arrival of Australian star Xavier Cooks and leading Kiwi Tom Vodanovich hasn’t solved their problems on court.
Mills said they were battling offensively against zone defences and had also been poor defensively all season, giving up the most points per game by any team.
“We’re going to drastically change the way we play from a stylistic standpoint to try and counteract what we’ve been doing wrong this season.”
With the NBL the most competitive it had been in many years and a congested table, the Saints will likely have to win the bulk of their remaining games to make the finals.
The team was taking it game-by-game and not looking any further than Sunday’s game against the Bulls, Mills said.
Given the club’s proud and successful history, it would be some fall from grace if they missed the finals.
“It’s a challenge. I’m actually excited for it. It’s a true test of character. Adversity builds character.
“I bleed blue. This is my club. I love this club and I want to do everything I possibly can to win games and turn this around.
“It’s definitely been disappointing, but I’m up for a challenge.”