[phpwiki]Townsville Crocs

Team Info

 Founded          1986 as Townsville Suns, joined NBL 1993
 Stadium          Townsville RSL Stadium
 Capacity         5,257
 Owner            n/a
 CEO              None
 Head Coach       Shawn Dennis
 Championships    None
 Other Names      Townsville Suns

Rosters

 2014-15 Townsville Roster
 2013-14 Townsville Roster
 2012-13 Townsville Roster
 2011-12 Townsville Roster

All Stars

 Robert Rose 2004
 Brad Newley 2005, 2007
 Derek Rucker 1995, 1996, 1997
 Clarence Tyson 1995, 1996, 1997
 John Rillie 2005
 Robert Brown 2005
 Corey Williams 2008
 Gary Ervin 2013
 Peter Crawford 2013
 Larry Abney 2006, 2007

Retired Jerseys

 David Blades  #7
 Robert Rose #21
 100% Croc #100%

Team Game Records

 Most Points in a game       53 Ricky Jones, 23/09/93
 3 Pointers made in a game   11 Derek Rucker, 20/03/98
 Most Assists in a game      16 Derek Rucker, 25/05/96
 Most Blocks in a game       7  Ray Owes, 15/03/98
 Most Steals in a game       9 2 Players
 Most Rebounds in a game     25 Clarence Tyson, 23/06/95

All Time Records

 Games        TBA  Peter Crawford
 Points       4406 Robert Rose
 3 Pointers   533  Robert Rose
 Assists      1266 Robert Rose
 Blocks       128  Robert Rose
 Steals       364  Robert Rose
 Rebounds     1600 Robert Rose

Club History

Former Brisbane Bullets guard Mark Bragg, a Townsville resident, began campaigning to bring an NBL franchise to Townsville in the late 1980s. The franchise adopted the name of Townsville's State League team, becoming the Townsville Suns. The NBL was ready to admit the Suns, along with fellow Queenslanders the Gold Coast Cougars, in 1990, but financial backing for the Suns' venue fell through.

Local government then got behind Bragg's bid, and the Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre was completed in time for the Suns' debut in February 1993.

With Bragg at the helm as head coach, the Suns struggled during their debut season, but it only took five games before they recorded their first-ever NBL win, a victory over the Newcastle Falcons. Townsville broke the mould in 1993, becoming the first Australian team to hire an 'import' player from a country other than the United States of America; Lithuanian player Rimas Kurtinaitis was a crucial part of the team during their debut season. The Suns finished 4-22 and took the wooden spoon. Townsville would not reach the playoffs in its first six seasons, although they came perilously close in the 1997 season; needing only one win from their final six games to ensure a historic playoff appearance, the Suns went 0-6 after centre Clarence Tyson suffered a season-ending knee injury in Canberra. After a disappointing 1998 campaign, Mark Bragg was sacked as head coach.

Throughout, Townsville fans stuck by the team, ensuring the club set an Australian record for attendances; the Suns sold out their first 69 games at the "Furnace" (capacity 4,141), a streak that was only broken after the venue was expanded for the 1998 season (new capacity of 5,257).

Name change

It was a very different team that took the court in the 1998/99 season. The team had been involved in a dispute with the NBA's Phoenix Suns, who held the "Suns" trademark in Australia. Faced with the prospect of paying Phoenix royalties on merchandise sales, the team changed its name to the Townsville Crocodiles. New head coach Ian Stacker? took the reins, and immediately attracted top-name talent like Australian Olympic player Sam Mackinnon, but it would take one more season before Townsville's long-suffering fans saw playoff basketball.

The 2000s

The Crocodiles finished second in the NBL in 1999/2000 with a 22-6 record, meaning they got a first-round bye in the NBL playoffs. But they faced a battle-hardened Perth Wildcats team in the semi-finals, and were defeated 2-1 in front of their disappointed home fans. Perth would go on to win the championship.

The Crocs again went 22-6 the following year and, under the league's new playoff system, eliminated both the Sydney Kings and the Victoria Titans. It came down to the grand final series, where the team lost 2 games to 1- 95-92 in the final game- after a thrilling fourth-quarter comeback by the Wollongong Hawks. Townsville missed the playoffs in 2002 and the 2003 season looked no better, but the Crocodiles strung together a 16-game winning streak to again finish second on the NBL ladder. (The streak equalled an NBL record.) Townsville lost the opening-round series 2-1 to Wollongong, but by virtue of NBL rules, got a second chance to advance; they were then finally eliminated by the eventual champion Sydney Kings.

After another disappointing season in 200506, Townsville head coach Ian Stacker's contract was not renewed. The Crocodiles again failed to make the playoffs. Trevor Gleeson was appointed coach and the team improved on their failed 2005-06 season by making the play-offs. They won their first final against one of the newcomers in the Singapore Slingers but lost their second to the Sydney Kings. 200708 saw the Crocs struggle in their first ten games, only winning three matches. Before the season, the team was struggling with injuries with Ben Pepper (back), Greg Vanderjagt (knee) and Bradley Sheridan (back). The team ended up losing newly signed import Rosell Ellis who suffered a freak injury when he tore his pectoral muscle during a weight session just after two matches. In those two matches saw Ellis get 27 points and 11 rebounds in both matches. The Crocs then brought in streetball legend Corey Williams which saw the Crocs turn back into a strong team. With also help from the Crocs bench saw them finish the season in fifth place with a record of 17-13. But just like the 2006-07 season, saw the Crocs win their first game against another newcomer Gold Coast Blaze but were once again saw them smashed by the team who finished one win higher than the Crocs in the Perth Wildcats 96-78. The Crocs have now made a push to make it to the top four in the 2008-09 season when they re-signed imports Williams and Ellis and also signings Brad Williamson and Steven Broom from the Brisbane Bullets and former Boomer Russell Hinder.

The 2008/09 season saw them struggle to have a full roster with Bradley Sheridan (ankles), Ben Pepper (personal reasons) and Steven Broom (shoulder) leaving the club before the season had even began. The local fans were able to rally behind the club to finish 5th. The Crocs were unable to make the grand final series as they were knocked out by eventual champions South Dragons.

The Crocs would welcome back Peter Crawford before the 2009/10 season & also picked up former Sydney Kings import Rolan Roberts. But Roberts failed to play at the same level he did in Sydney, despite this the Crocs kept him as their second import for the season. The Crocs hung around the middle of the ladder for most of the season before going 3 - 1 in their last 4 games of the year, pushing them to 3rd on the NBL ladder. Corey Williams would win league MVP, being just the second Croc to take out the award (first Croc was Robert Rose in 2001). But the Crocs were knocked out in the semi finals 2 - 1 to the Wollongong Hawks.

The 2010s

At the start of the 2010-11 season the Crocs said goodbye to Corey Williams and signed NBA big man Luke Schenscher as well as promising young forward Ben Allen and Nathan Crosswell. The Crocs rolled through the season finishing 2nd on the ladder with 17 wins. Trevor Gleeson won the Coach Of The Year award, Luke Schenscher was voted onto the All NBL Second team & Peter Crawford made the All NBL Third team. The Crocs let go import Gabe Freeman after just 11 games, citing "family issues" as the reason. He was replaced by former Crocs import Rosell Ellis. The Crocs were knocked out in the semi finals by QLD rivals Cairns Taipans 2 - 1. At seasons end Trevor Gleeson would leave the Crocs to sign with the Melbourne Tigers.

During the pre-season Russell Hinder suffered a season ending injury. Luke Schenscher also sat out the first few rounds with a serious hip injury. Despite this the Crocs stayed in the top 4 hunt, due to import Eddie Gill's MVP play. Including a 27 point half against the Melbourne Tigers. The Crocs held down a top 4 spot for most of the season, at the end of the year they tied 4th place with the Cairns Taipans but the Crocs made the playoffs based on the head to head W-L record against the Taipans. In the Playoffs the Crocs upset defending champions the NZ Breakers in game 1, but lost the next 2 games and were knocked out of the playoffs.

During the 2012 off season the Crocs lost Luke Schenscher to the Adelaide 36ers. They did not sign import duo Elvin Mims or Eddie Gill. The team re-signed most of the team and added imports Jason Forte and Curtis Withers. But neither import played a regular season game for the Crocs as in September 2012, just two weeks out from the season tip off, both players were fired. [1] A week later the Crocs had announced the signing of 2011 MVP Gary Ervin and former Croc Larry Abney.

The Crocs got off to the worst start in team history in 2012-13 when they started the season at 0-10 before winning their first game, against the Adelaide 36ers. Townsville were dealt another big blow when import Larry Abney went down with a career ending injury during the losing streak. He would retire from basketball after just 9 games in the 2012-13 season. The following week the Crocs signed Luke Nevill after his brief stint in the NBA summer league camps. Even though Nevill had a quiet debut, he helped the Crocs to their first win of the season. Townsville would go on to win 5 out of the Crocs next 6 games as Gary Ervin & Nevill dominated. Despite all the odds, the Crocs were in the playoff race until the final round of the season when they lost to the Sydney Kings.

On March 28th Paul Woolpert was released by the Crocs.[2]

"Leaving" the NBL

On April 8th 2013 Barrier Reef Basketball shocked the basketball community when they had announced that the Townsville Crocs had handed back their license to the NBL and would not play in the league in 2013-14. [3]

Chairman George Colbran had said that the club had ran at a loss of 2.5 million dollars over the past 6 seasons and had advised previously that if the club kept running at such a loss of $400,000+ per season that Barrier Reef Basketball could no longer back the team. This caught everyone by surprise, including players and staff as just 2 weeks earlier the Crocs re-signed Mitch Norton to a 3 year deal.

Later that day Basketball Australia rejected the return of the teams license saying "An immediate surrender of license would require the club to demonstrate they are insolvent."[4] The Crocs are looking into setting up a community model so they can stay in the league, using the same model that saved the Cairns Taipans and Wollongong Hawks. YouTube news report on Crocs leaving the NBL

In mid April the Crocs started a "Save The Crocs" campaign, receiving pledges from the public to keep the team alive for 2013-14 season and move towards a community model. Barrier Reef Basketball advised that they would sell the license to the new group for almost nothing, just to keep the team alive. Barrier Reef Basketball also gave the new group free office space. Townsville Entertainment Centre almost halved the rent for the 'Swamp' if the team are able to stay in the NBL.

New NBL

On May 9th 2013 the Crocs re-signed Todd Blanchfield, Russell Hinder and Mitch Norton. A few days later the Crocs announced their newest head coach, former Perth Wildcats assistant coach Shawn Dennis. The NBL later de-merged with Basketball Australia, allowing the Crocs to stay in the NBL and play in the new NBL.

Townsville went on to sign Greg Vanderjagt, Steven Markovic and Mirko Djeric along with imports Josh Pace and Brian Conklin. Townsville played well with their budget roster and were in the race for the top 4 early in the season until a mid-season slump saw them drop out of playoff contention. Team captain Russell Hinder retired at the end of the season and the team announced that Pace would not be re-signed. This is likely due to a late season DUI which saw him suspended for 1 game by the club. Pat Reidy stepped down as CEO in April 2014.

In May 2014 the team announced that after 21 year they will be leaving The Swamp (Townsville Entertainment Centre) and all home games will now be played out of Townsville RSL Stadium, a capacity of around 2,000 - 2,500. The following week the team also re-signed import Brian Conklin and new import Mickell Gladness.

Links

Old Townsville Crocs Articles


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