Force face testing QBL opener
WHEN his full squad arrives and clicks, Mick Conlon expects Ipswich Force to be a major state league threat this season.
However, his main mission on Saturday night is simple: Matching one of the Queensland Basketball League's strongest sides.
Having seven players with NBL experience, Gold Coast head to Ipswich stadium providing plenty of firepower.
However, those sort of challenges is what former Gold Coast mentor Conlon thrives on.
"A lot of the players I coached four years ago,'' Conlon said. "I know the guys really well.
"They are an extremely talented team.
"It's a good tester as they are extremely physical to play first up.''
Conlon is waiting to complete his 2016 QBL roster with players like Jason Ralph, brothers Ben and Jacob Wilson and promising Sudanese national Adoc Makwai still overseas or unable to play the first game.
However, the Force head coach has been buoyed by new arrivals including NBL prospect Brent Wallace.
He's been settling into the new Ipswich structure during a series of recent trials.
"We've had up and down results but we used that time to work on different things,'' Conlon said, keen to get the new season under way.
"Brent is really going to help us talent-wise on the court and the team has got to keep gelling. We'll get better as we go.''
Apart from local products like experienced campaigner Ralph, rising talent Kane Bishop and the athletic Jarrod Schulte, Conlon is excited about securing the Wilson brothers.
They have been playing college basketball with Idaho State University.
"Ben is destined to be an NBL player. He's extremely talented, a really smart player,'' Conlon said.
His younger brother Jacob is also highly regarded, especially for his shooting.
Other Force newcomers include former Brisbane junior Matt Strybos, who Conlon rates an intelligent player.
His starting five tonight features captain James Legan, fellow American import Kyle Harvey, Wallace, Jaryd Eustace and last season's big improver James Kuon.
Conlon is being assisted this season by astute basketballers Nick Such and Colby Stefanovic, with Brooke Norgrove managing the state league side.
The Ipswich Force women also open their season on Saturday against Gold Coast in the 5pm clash at Booval.
QBL season opener: Saturday (7pm) - Ipswich Force v Gold Coast at Ipswich stadium, Booval.
Ipswich Force squad: James Legan, Kyle Harvey, Jason Ralph, Brent Wallace, Jaryd Eustace, Ben Wilson, Jacob Wilson, James Kuon, Kane Bishop, Matt Strybos, Kobe Robinson, Dominic Cremasco, Adoc Makwai, Jarrod Schulte. Coach: Mick Conlon. Assistant coaches: Nick Such, Colby Stefanovic. Manager: Brooke Norgrove.
The Ipswich Force women play at 5pm.