14/04/2024
Newly appointed coach Scott Ninnis (left) with Adelaide 36ers owner Grant Kelley. Picture: Adelaide 36ers

Newly appointed coach Scott Ninnis (left) with Adelaide 36ers owner Grant Kelley. Picture: Adelaide 36ers

Adelaide 36ers owner Grant Kelley said newly-appointed coach Scott Ninnis has ‘restored pride’ at the club after a mammoth turnaround in the second half of NBL24.

While the 36ers finished ninth at the conclusion of the season, the club won more than half the games the interim Ninnis led at 8-7.

Despite speculation Brian Goorjian could take the helm, Kelley couldn’t speak higher of the appointed Ninnis.

“He’s a legend of the club having been involved in all four championships,” he said.

“He has been a close personal friend of mine for many years now.

“What has been most remarkable given his illustrious career is the phenomenal turnaround he’s engineered in the second half of the season.

“He’s restored pride in the jersey and respect from the other clubs.

“Most importantly, he’s inspired our fans.”

The 58-year-old coached the 36ers previously from 2008-2010, but had a less than glamourous ending to his tenure.

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However, a return to coaching more than a decade later at South Adelaide in the NBL1 competition saw a hunger return.

Kelley noted seeing the Panthers rise from ninth on the ladder in NBL1 to take home the title ‘spoke volumes’.

“We had always spoken about the club and his insights into the game of basketball and people management,” he said.

Kelley’s confidence in the interim coach grew, highlighted by a shock win over title fancies Melbourne United.

“In terms of the process, given some missteps in the past, it was crucial we do our diligence,” he said.

“Because of our relationship we were able to do an incredibly thorough due diligence process, as has been reported, but do it in a way which was transparent and preserve good will between Scotty and I.

“My great concern with the coaching speculation was that it would distract him, but it showed his mental toughness.

“It got progressively better and better, the victory over Melbourne United on that epic night, a record crowd, 25-year celebration of one of the greatest teams in NBL history.

“That triggered the finals charge, and I even look at last Sunday, you take a team who averaged 90 points in the NZ Breakers and hold them to 70 when they had everything to play for, spoke volumes.

“I believe we have made the right choice for our club, not just in terms of our fans, but in terms of our basketball excellence.”

Finishing the season on a high and the eventual withdrawal of Goorjian from the coaching race made Ninnis the Winx-odds favourite.

“We conducted a thorough process and there was no hesitancy on our part in doing that,” Kelley said.

“We spoke to several candidates, we did very thorough due diligence on all of them, and as part of that process, you refine your thinking.

“My thought of it was if it was to be Scott it would be terrific, but obviously we did speak to Brian (Goorjian), we have enormous respect for him.

“We know is the most winning coach in NBL history, we had to speak to him and others, but couldn’t be happier that Scott’s the appointee.

“Brian had voluntarily withdrew which had been accurately reported and knowing Brian as well as I do, I respect his reasons for doing so.

“In life, things tend to end up where they ought to be.”

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