Ipswich coaches left to reflect on futures
IPSWICH Force's head coaches will take some time off to confirm their futures after both state league teams were bundled out of this year's basketball finals.
Force men's coach Mick Conlon was emotional after his team's gallant 97-85 loss to Brisbane Capitals at Auchenflower on Saturday night.
"I'm man enough to admit I had some tears in my speech,'' Conlon said, after his second season as head coach.
"I'm going to take a couple of weeks and decide (my coaching future).
"It's still too raw.''
Gold Coast-based Conlon has a year available on his Force contract if he chooses to continue.
He did a fine job this season bringing in a number of new players and instilling a positive attitude in the side.
However, after Force made the semi-finals in his first year and losing the past two quarter-finals to Brisbane, the perfectionist was arguably hard on himself.
"I feel like I failed by not making the semi-finals,'' he said.
"I'm one of the guys. I'll stand up and take it. If the team loses, it's my fault.
"I honestly thought we had the team this year.''
Conlon plans to spend more time in the gym and with his girlfriend after another demanding state league season.
Force women's coach Brad George was also dis- appointed after his team was similarly beaten by Brisbane in their quarter-final.
The Ipswich women went down 94-81 at Ipswich stadium on Saturday afternoon.
George will spend some time with his young family before committing to another season.
He's guided the Force women to the playoffs in each of his five seasons with the team.
However, this state league season was the toughest with a new team and straight after his role as assistant coach of the former SEQ Stars national league side.
"I'm thinking about coming back,'' George said.
"I haven't had a break for a while.''
George has provided stability and developed some exciting young players during his stint with Force's top women's team. But losing quarter-finals is never easy.
After upsetting compe- tition leaders Rockhampton the previous week, the Ipswich women fought hard in the first quarter to be level 25-25 at the first change.
However, Brisbane picked up the tempo in the second and third quarters.
Trailing 77-57 at three-quarter time, Force were unable to find the scoring strikepower needed against a hungrier Brisbane side.
The Brisbane team included former Ipswich player Stacey Howard, who played 20 minutes off the bench.
"We were never going to run down a 20 point lead,'' George said. "We only played the one quarter.
"They (Brisbane) really worked hard. They wanted it and you make your own luck when the shots drop.''
The Ipswich men were up 50-48 in their match before Brisbane also set up the win in the third quarter.
However, as they have all season, the Force men fought to the end, cheered on by a loyal group of Ipswich supporters.
"We were still in it, with two, three minutes to go,'' Conlon said.
"They (the players) were pretty heartbroken.
"They believed we were written off by everyone.''
State of play
QBL men second qualifying final: Brisbane 97 (Ryan Jeffries 25, Dusty Rychart 17) d Ipswich Force 85 (Kyle Harvey 21, Jaryd Eustace 15).
QBL women third qualifying final: Brisbane 94 (Heidi Freeburn 23) d Ipswich Force 81 (Shyla Heal 20, Shenneika Smith 17).