Paul Goriss is totally consumed by basketball during the season. So much so that he operates on about four to five hours of sleep, with his mind in overdrive.
Immediately after each game, win or lose, the preparation starts again for the UC Capitals’ next opponents.
Forty-year-old Goriss now has the keys to the Rolls Royce. It’s the most talented group of players he has had at his disposal during his tenure as head coach. With it comes the responsibility of ensuring a ‘team first’ approach.
Like many leading coaches, he has a philosophy of creating the best environment possible for his players.
He says, “My number one thing is I want to create good relationships and trust. I guess I look at them as people first and basketball players second. To me, if they are happy off the court, they will be happy on the court. I take pride in getting to know my players in the right way but also checking out how their families are. I making sure they are happy with Canberra and happy with the basketball program.”
That emotional bond with the players was laid bare when he choked up as he described what Marianna Tolo’s return meant to him. He demonstrated the same bond when Kristy Wallace suffered a season-ending knee injury just two games into her return from a reconstruction.
If he comes across as a holistic coach, there is a reason for it.
He was somewhat battered and bruised after the side lost 12 in a row last season with a resulting overhaul of the playing roster. Kelsey Griffin was the number one recruiting target. She was a winner and had the characteristics on and off the court that the UC Capitals were seeking to turn the team’s fortunes around. Griffin has turned out to be one of the most influential players in the club’s history.
As for Goriss, he says the experience of last season has made him a better coach. “I didn’t like how I handled some things last year,” he says. In other words, he learned a lot about himself. It’s been a long journey after starting as a coach at 17 years of age, in charge of his brother’s under 14s’ team in Townsville.
With the UC Capitals preparing to play in the finals for the first time since 2011, he will draw from those experiences.
When he talks about not getting too far ahead of themselves, and taking one game at a time, there is depth to his analysis. He will also have ensured that nothing has been left to chance in the preparations for the finals, even if it means operating on less sleep than the rest of us.