The NBL doesn't get too much love from non basketball loving folk and is the quintessential Kiwi domestic sporting league. Nick Barrow is a young man who has had a fair taste of the NBL with a few different teams, so we asked him a few questions which he answered...
Nick Barrow from Auckland, how does one come to play for the Waikato Pistons?
Yeah it is an interesting one. I was loving playing for the Auckland Pirates but once they went bust I wanted to continue studying in Auckland and was lucky enough to be contacted by Waikato and it was a great challenge to go down and play with a very young team and have an increased responsibility.
How'd the NBL pan out for you? Safe to say it was better than last season.
Definitely better than last season. We put ourselves in a strong position about 4-5 games from playoffs after beating Nelson away but fell over in the last few games by losing two games to Canterbury and then two extremely narrow loses to Wellington which really decided the playoff make up. So it was frustrating but an enjoyable season all the same.
Give us an idea of what it's like to play NBL basketball? In terms of schedule, travel, fitting it in to your studies/work?
It is pretty full on when training is an hour and a half away we train 2-3 times a week so the Auckland boys leave at 4 and don’t normally get home till 10pm that night. We also normally go down for a shoot around Saturday and home games on Sunday. Travel further than Hawkes Bay was all by plane which saves some time but trips are normally pretty short and full on often with double headers. So it is pretty tough to find the time to get study done so only took 3 papers and scaled back my work commitments. So I was lucky to be able to fit it all in, but it does slowly wear you down as it gets darker and colder on the drives.
What's it like playing alongside some of our best players?
It has been an awesome experience to learn from the likes of Dillon (Boucher), Alex Pledger, Lindsay (Tait) and many others over the years and a bit of a dream come true to be on their teams and they are all great guys who have taught me heaps and also all tell a good story. Casey (Frank) has been a great help to me this year and all the young guys as he gives you little tips along the way and as I play a similar position takes me through some one on one stuff. It is also great to be able to chat to them and hear about their experiences which are always fascinating. Pero (Cameron) has plenty of these as well
Is it easy to step in to this environment and know your role within the team?
Each year is different and it can be tough as it will often change week to week depending on the opposition. With minutes varying a lot depending on match ups and injuries. I always try and make sure that I play solid defense and work hard on defense and do my core role and then offensive execution is important and I like to help get our scorers open through screens, etc.
Any perks of playing in the NBL?
The biggest for me would be being able to play under guys like Pero Cameron and Judd Flavell and learn off all the veterans that I look up too. But there is some free travel and a bit of gear and money involved, but really it is because we love to play the game.
You've been in the NBL for a few seasons now, from a players perspective what do you reckon about the coverage, popularity of the league? It seems that there's many quality players coming to NZ to give it a go.
The league is a pretty good standard I believe and it gets great support around the provinces where local sponsors and the community get in behind it and support their team and often have great crowds. In Auckland it is a struggle which is a shame, but I think it gets lost in the big city and is also in the shadow of the Breakers organization which is doing great things for basketball. But it would be great to get a few more TV games as this will likely increasing popularity and sponsorship.
Any aspirations beyond the NBL? What will you need to do to get there?
The dream is always to play for the Tall Blacks but I know there is a huge amount of work to try and get there. My finishing and mid-range jump shot would be two major things and continue to get quicker and stronger to continue to get better.
What does the NBL off season hold for you? Back to normality?
I have 5 uni papers to do in hopefully my last semester and will be busy playing CBL as well as U23's and hopefully a few other leagues, while getting in the gym to work on my strength and also a fair amount of fitness work. So will still be pretty busy, but will be nice to do a bit less travelling for a while.