First season Frankston RSL head coach Andrew Harms has experienced a baptism of fire during the 2018 SEABL season.

After 12 rounds, the Blues have won just 3 games and it is a situation that was not lost on Harms. He explained that after a number of years of uncertainty, the program was focused on rebuilding for the long-term and sometimes that comes at the expense of short-term success.

“Absolutely, we are kind of living our reality,” said Harms on acknowledging the challenging start to his coaching career. “Our club has had 4 or 5 coaches over the past 5 years and with that come instability. We are trying to establish a new culture and we are in a transition phase. We have been competitive and quite often in a winning position but not been able to close out. We feel we will be pretty competitive in those with 5 games of the season, with a view to 2019.”

Indeed, the Blues have more often than not gone into the fourth quarter in control before succumbing down the stretch. Harms was philosophical, and remained focused on turning their competitiveness into wins.

“First and foremost we have to recognise we have been competitive in games,” added Harms. “We have been right there to win games.

“Unfortunately we have had been in the mindset of holding onto leads rather than playing to win. We have had some instances of late where we have capitalised on leads. That’s the next step for us. We are aiming to become a contending team and play finals and to do that we have to convert those leads into victories.”

As Harms alluded to, the Blues have been able to turn recent leads into wins. Back-to-back victories against Geelong and then the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence signalled their improvement. However it was a case of two steps forward and one step back in the return road encounter with the Supercats.

“We were up 6 at the start of the fourth, but we lost our way, we lost our identity a bit,” explained Harms.

“Credit to Geelong who forced us to deviate from our offensive sets. But then Nathan Herbert had his big game too, exploding for 20 odd points in the fourth quarter on his way to scoring 37! He put on a vintage Nathan Herbert performance, plus it’s always hard to win on the road.”

The Blues are looking to bounce back in their tough double-header this weekend, including a Friday night road trip to the Mount Gambier before returning home the next day to host Albury-Wodonga. It’s a challenge that Harms feels has come at the right time to test just how far his side has come.

“It’s a really tough one, a real test for us to come off a short turnaround,” said Harms. “We have put some things in place with our strength and recovery team to mitigate any player fatigue and optimise their recovery. However our focus is on Mount Gambier first, especially for the players, as they are always tough, and even tougher at home.

“The coaching staff have also looked at Albury-Wodonga ahead of the second game back at home. We go into the game – both games – with no excuses, that’s our mindset.”

With just 5 games remaining and the chance of playing finals a distant memory, Harms reinforced that the foundations established this season will form the Launchpad of success into 2019 and beyond.

“I think for us, we want to be on that continuum moving forward,” summarised Harms. “We want to see who will form the nucleus for our side in 2019.  We will keep working on the on court stuff and further develop our identity and what kind of basketball we want to play and the culture of the team.”

With a long-term vision, Harms experience this season with a losing team may be a blessing in disguise, both individually and for the club moving forward.

“Honestly, I have learned more this season than I probably would have if we were sitting more comfortable with .500 record,” express Harms. “For us as a club, we are truly on the build. We are getting the structures right, and bringing together a core nucleus with a view to the future. That structure includes the youth league too, and providing opportunities for them to show their wares.”