Category: Mens Team

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Dan Pearson takes charge of mission control

It is with great delight that Dan Pearson is the new Head Coach of the Reading Rockets and Academy Director. Pearson joins the Rockets after 5 years of being assistant coach at the University of Calgary.

Pearson moved to Calgary, Alberta in 2016 to take a job at the University of Calgary. After two years on the staff, Dan was promoted to Lead Assistant for the Dinos where he took the lead for many of the operational roles, including skills development, recruitment, and camps for the program. During his time with the Dinos he amassed an 84.6% win percentage over his 4 season stay with the club which included 4 Final 8 appearances, 2 National Title Game appearances, 2 CanadaWest Regular Season Championships, 2 CanadaWest Tournament Championships, and the school’s first ever National Championship victory in 2018.

Before joining the Dinos team, Dan spent two years coaching at Helena Capital High School where he led the Bruins to a 2nd place finish in Montana and an eventual State Championship. After his achievements at Helena, he joined the coaching team at Carroll College. There he achieved many accolades including helping the Saints go from 2 wins to 18 in just 2 years, improving the team GPA to 3.1, and strengthening its performance in several statistical categories. While coaching at Carroll, Dan went on to receive his Master’s in Organisational Leadership: Servant Leadership from Gonzaga University.

Alongside this, Dan has also worked extensively in camps and AAU system across the US and internationally, spending 10 summers throughout North America and Europe with NBC Camps and is the co-founder of Elite League Basketball Camps in Montana.

Dan is extremely excited to get started, he said: “Today I am thrilled to accept the role of the Head Coach of the Reading Rockets and Academy Director. I am grateful to the Johnson’s and the rest of the Rocket family for putting their trust in me to help lead this program.” He also expressed his desire to continue to develop the Rockets basketball programme. “I relish the opportunity to continue to build on the foundations of those who came before me and am committed to being a singular piece in building a culture and style of basketball that the Reading community can take pride in.”

Club chairman, Gary Johnson, is very happy at the appointment of Dan Pearson as the new head coach and academy director, he said:

“I am absolutely thrilled at the prospect of Dan joining us as soon as we can complete his visa requirements. His North American experience in the States and Canada will be invaluable to Rockets and especially to the Academy players and the Division 1 Men. Our contacts across the world gave us a surprising large quantity and quality of applicants but Dan shone through and is definitely the person to take us into the next chapter of Rockets history as we head for our 25th anniversary next year. I wish him all the very best as he takes up this key post and I can assure him that Rockets Leadership Team and our committed supporters will be keen to meet him and encourage him as he settles into the cosmopolitan town of Reading.”

Rocketeers let’s give Dan a warm welcome and wish him luck as he leads the club into a new chapter!

Vacancy: Elite Coach for Reading Rockets Div. 1 Senior Men and JMA Basketball Academy

Vacancy

Elite Coach for Reading Rockets Div. 1 Senior Men and JMA Basketball Academy.

Job Description

Reading Rockets are looking to appoint an elite coach to act as the Head Coach for the NBL Div. 1 Men’s team and for the Basketball Academy at the John Madejski Academy. The coach will be responsible to Rockets’ Director of Coaching.

The role is ideal for an ambitious coach who wants the opportunity to develop and progress their coaching career, having already served as Head Coach or Assistant coach of an academy (or similar) team and of a Div.1 or 2 NBL team (or similar). Rockets are looking for an experienced coach with excellent basketball knowledge, combined with enthusiasm and strong interpersonal and leadership skills.

Location

The job will be based in Reading, with accommodation provided in the locality, if the successful applicant doesn’t live within reasonable travelling distance.

Responsibilities

  • To be the Head Coach of Rockets’ Div. 1 team and to perform at all times to a very high level of coaching performance commensurate with that which may be reasonably expected of a basketball coach of this level of team. This will include team practices, National Basketball League games, leading individuals, video analysis and other associated roles.
  • To be the Head Coach of the Basketball Academy at the John Madejski Academy, developing the 16-19 year old players who will compete in the EABL and other competitions. Again this will include team practices, games, structured development programmes for groups of students, video analysis and other associated roles.
  • To do everything necessary to develop and maintain the fitness of each of the academy students and senior players.
  • To coach within the Key Stage 3/4 Junior Basketball Academy (11-16) at The John Madejski Academy.
  • To approach coaching from a player development perspective.
  • To work within the club’s framework and philosophy.
  • To take a professional approach in the planning, preparation and organisation of their work.
  • To build and maintain relationships with various partners in the community and within the club.
  • To help support and develop other club colleagues and coaches.
  • To be flexible with working hours, including unsocial hours, and prepared to work at weekends as required.
  • There will be further opportunities to develop this role dependent on the appointed coach’s strengths and interests.

Qualifications

  • Significant elite coaching experience
  • Experience of coaching players of all ages and abilities in a wide range of environments (schools, colleges, club and community sessions)
  • Experience of working with other coaches, including mentoring younger coaches
  • Experience of monitoring and oversight of programmes
  • Current and clean driving licence
  • Ideally Level 3 Basketball England basketball coaching qualification or equivalent
  • Preferably educated to degree level
  • Awareness of safeguarding and child protection issues – the appointed coach will be required to take further safeguarding and other appropriate training
  • First Aid qualification
  • An enhanced DBS certificate (or for overseas coaches, criminal records check from their country)
  • Experience and good level of IT literacy, word processing, spreadsheet and database packages
  • Evidence of successful career to date; personal goals; achievements
  • Successful references from your current/ most recent employer and/or club

Start date: 1st September 2021

Salary:: Competitive pay for this role dependent on experience

How To Apply

Please send a copy of your CV and letter of application no later than Sunday 13th June 2021 to Rockets’ Director of Coaching matt.johnson@readingrockets.co.uk. For further information, call Matt Johnson on 07834 372952. Interviews will take place before the end of June.

Club Statement: Head Coach Alan Keane departs

It is with disappointment from both parties that Rockets’ Chairman Gary Johnson announces that Head Coach and Academy Director Alan Keane is leaving the Club.

Alan has been a great servant of Rockets for 3 years bringing his European experience to our academy and being instrumental in securing scholarships to top American colleges for many young men and women.  ‘His is going to be a tough job for me to fill’ said Rockets’ Chairman ‘but I’m thrilled to say Alan is helping find his replacement’ Johnson added.

With the role also encompassing being Head Coach of the Div. 1 Men’s team too, we’re looking for a special person Johnson said . ‘We have faith that the right person is out there and we need patience to find that person.’ For those maybe thinking they can fill these big boots, look on Rockets website as to how to apply.

Keane added that he was leaving the best job in English basketball at a very exciting time for the club but his family circumstances now mean he’s moving to Scotland so there’s no way he can stay, much to his disappointment.  “It is with deepest sadness that my time with Reading Rockets and JMA Rockets is coming to an end. The club and academy is a special place. The resources, provisions, aspirations and people involved are first class. My time at Reading gave me more than a job, more than coaching and more than basketball, it came with friendship and a family atmosphere. I will forever be thankful to Rockets, JMA, the Johnson family and the players who all gave me incredibly opportunities on a daily basis. To say I will miss the club and academy is hugely understated. However I’m truly excited for whoever takes on my current role knowing what’s ahead for the club as it continues to progress and go from strength to strength.”

Overtime to game to finish league season

Reading Rockets 105 v 112 Essex Rebels

In a game where Rockets started slowly and finding themselves 14 points in arrears, they recovered magnificently with a last minute gasp to win it in normal time, but went down on the first overtime game they’ve had all season.

The very experienced Sam Toluwase got Rockets scoring before Rebels hit the first of their trebles coupled to a pair of free throws before Reis Pinnock  drove to score and Kivuvu Live sent an assist to Toluwase. Rebels found themselves at the penalty stripe on too many occasions and were very successful from there adding to Rockets’ frustrations. A Toluwase coast to coast cut the deficit but Rockets made a couple of turnovers from which Rebels scored leaving Rockets a double digit distance behind behind at 12-22.  Ben Dixon took a charge and made  a pair of interceptions but Rockets failed to capitalise. Chuck Duru finished with a floater but Rockets had been defended too well to have even put up a treble effort until the last 2 minutes when they missed one but Jaz Bains stroked a buzzer beater to see Rockets at the first break 21-28 adrift.

Rebels scored off their first two offences to extend their lead before they hit another treble to lead 35-23. A Dixon tip in followed by an assist to Live to lay up and a Bains stop gave Rockets encouragement. O’Showen Williams came to the party in a big way with a long two and an audacious treble  seeing Rockets just 34-37 down midway through the second period. Rockets missed a treble effort and turned the ball over as Rebels went on a 6-0 run to open the gap again. Despite a Bains assist to Williams to hit a treble and Dixon drive and score drawing the foul and adding the bonus point Rebels still went on to have a 14 point lead at 48-34 as the interval approached where the score was 52-42 in Rebels favour. Rockets had only led for 6 seconds and needed Head Coach Alan Keane to guide his team.

And how well did they respond shooting out of the changing rooms with academy power forward Live spinning to score and then hitting a brace of free throws.  Pinnock took a key and big defensive rebound and Sam Grant benefitted with a slam dunk finish. After Dixon took another charge, he drained a treble and Rockets were within a single point of Rebels at 54-55. Rebels took a  time-out after the 12-3 Rockets run but still Rockets came, levelling the game on 57 and taking the lead moments later with a Pinnock finger roll. Then the scorers were busy as the game was levelled with almost every play on 59, 61, 63 and 65 before a tough call when Rockets were scoring was overturned by the officials and Rebels hit four quick points. Bains drained another treble but Rebels returned the compliment. Williams hit a treble and though Rockets won the quarter 30-27 they still found themselves 72-79 as the final period beckoned.

Williams lit up the arena with five trebles in the 29-22 quarter advantage for Rockets as Toluwase also imposed himself on the boards and inside.  Rockets trailed by one at 79-80 but Rebels had a short run to lead 93-85 before Rockets fired again with a 8-0 run to tie the game on 93 with just over 3 minutes remaining. Being in team foul trouble, Rockets were sending Rebels to the free throw line for the rest of the game but a Dixon pair of free throws saw Rockets edge ahead again on 95-94. Four Rebels points were stopped with a big Toluwase slam dunk to see the score 97-98. Rebels were first to the hundred mark and had a 2 point advantage with less than 14 seconds left. Toluwase was fouled and hit both free throws to tie the game on 101 but Rebels had possession with 6.3 seconds left. Rockets made a stop and the first overtime of this much disrupted season lay ahead.

Rebels scored off their first possession as did Rockets via Dixon who was having an outstanding game, and then Toluwase had a slam to give Rockets a 105-103 lead in this 5 minute overtime period. Rockets caused Rebels into a 24 second violation  but missed a treble shot. Rebels scored with their treble attempt and took the lead with just over a minute remaining. 3 from 3 from the penalty stripe saw Rebels take the win 112-105 but what an end to the league season before the Play-offs next weekend where Rockets will play Loughborough away.

Top scorers for Rockets were O’Showen Williams with 33 points including 8 trebles, a Rockets record. Ben Dixon hit 21 points, Sam Toluwase 18 and Sam Grant 12 .

Rockets outgunned by Riders

Loughborough Riders 75 v 68 Reading Rockets

Rockets lost out away in the Play-off Championship  as sharp shooting Riders capitalised from turn-overs and the free throw line, to end Rockets season earlier than they hoped. This was destined to be a tough game without the injury to Jaz Bains making him unavailable but Rockets hit the University court running as O’Showen Williams stroked an early treble , Sam Toluwase made a hook score and Leome Francis worked inside to finish. When Ben Dixon took a charge  and Reis Pinnock made a block, the two big power forwards Francis and Toluwase gave Rockets a 13 -6 early advantage causing Riders to take a time -out. This didn’t stop Rockets as Pinnock hit four quick points with a floater and drive before defending well to deflect a Riders pass out of play and stop them scoring. Developing young power forward Kivuvu Live joined the party as he scored from an offensive rebound giving Rockets a 19-10 first quarter lead.

Riders responded with 6 quick points against Chuck Duru’s score before Toluwase hit a mid-range shot. However Rockets were running up the personal fouls from which Riders benefitted with a three from three and then hit three more trebles to gain the initiative before the interval. Duru made another block  and Williams drove to score though it was obvious he wasn’t himself, the team only finding out afterwards of the tragic death of a friend back home in America. 35-38 was a true reflection at the interval of how competitive the game had been and was to remain till the final buzzer.

Nearly all Rockets best work was being done inside as both power forwards caused major concerns for Riders but unfortunately Riders guards were much more influential than Rockets guards though Francis got Rockets off to a great start to quarter three with a drive and a hook as Rockets took the lead again. For many minutes the lead swapped with every score but an 8-0 Riders run gave them the initiative and a 56-45 advantage. Duru stopped the rot and Dixon sent an assist to Francis to finish but being in team foul trouble saw Riders open up a 62-49 lead going into the final quarter.

Though winning that period by 19- 13 it wasn’t enough to see Rockets progress in the Play-off Championship despite the efforts of Francis,  Toluwase and Pinnock who worked tirelessly to try and reduce the deficit. Williams hit his second treble of the afternoon coupled to a Toluwase brace from the free throw line which saw Rockets just eight points behind within ninety seconds of the re-start but Riders traded baskets until Williams scored , drew the foul and made it a three point play as Toluwase again went inside to score causing Riders to take a time -out at 59-68 . Toluwase reduced the difference further and then sent an assist to Pinnock to see Rockets in with a chance of victory at just five points adrift at 63-68 with two minutes twenty to go. Riders score and a three point Rockets effort comes back off the ring  but Rockets cause Riders into a twenty four second violation before Toluwase hits a big treble leaving Rockets even closer at 66-70 with forty seconds remaining. Despite Sam Grant scoring , Riders went to the line as Rockets were in team foul trouble and saw the game out 75-68.

Yet another close encounter for Rockets and again Rockets were so competitive in most areas of rebounds, assists, blocks and steals but lost out from the penalty stripe by 7 to 17 points coupled to points from turnovers where Riders had 19-10 by Rockets. Top scorers for Rockets were Leome Francis with 19 points and 7 rebounds as Sam Toluwase hit a double double with 17 points and 10 rebounds as Reis Pinnock returned to his old club with 10 points and 7 rebounds.

(Photos by Riders Media Team)