New Eagles coach seeks to build winning culture

Max Viitala has joined the Craigieburn Eagles. (Ljubica Vrankovic) 353161_25

Oliver Lees

Craigieburn Eagles coach Tim Annett is hoping to build a brand of winning basketball in his first season at the Big V men’s division 2 side.

The Eagles had a challenging 2023 campaign, finishing the season in second last with just three wins and 15 losses.

Annett said his focus this pre-season has been setting the foundations for a new mindset at the club.

“I’m trying to change the culture of what Craigieburn is known for, we’re here to win it,” he said.

“It’s definitely been long [the pre-season], so we’ve been looking forward to round one for quite a while.

“The main thing we’re thinking is we want to put ourselves in that winning position.”

The Eagles have also been busy finding new talent for this season.

In January, the club announced LeWayne Grant had signed with the club.

Originally from Florida in the United States, Grant has college basketball experience playing in the point guard position.

“Our new import LeWayne comes to us a little late after signing with us in January and he brings a lot of leadership to the group, he’s been training the house down,” he said.

He’s a natural point guard but he’s very flexible, he doesn’t need to have the ball in his hands all the time.

“He’s very physical for his size so we’re very excited to see what he can do.”

Mark Berezdecky has also made his way over to the Eagles after playing with Sunbury Jets in the Big V championship last year.

He averaged seven points and six rebounds per game across the season at the Jets, helping them finish in second place in the regular season.

Annett himself has spent the previous three seasons coaching at Wallan.

His time at Wallan helped him to secure the signature of Max Viitala, who spent time at Wallan before moving to Hume City Broncos.

Like Berezedecky, Viitala brings championship experience to this new look Eagles side, he averaged 11 points and six rebounds across the season for the Broncos.

The Eagles have retained a total eight players from last year’s roster, with Guy Dupuy the most notable departure.

He averaged 13 points and five rebounds throughout 2023.

“I believe it wasn’t talent that held them back, I think it was a matter of leadership,” Annett said.

The Eagles started their season with a solid win against the Southern Peninsula Sharks.

The Eagles led by seven points at the first break and were able to extend that to 16 at half time.

The match would be closer in the second half, but the Eagles had done the damage, winning 70-52.

Viitala top scored with 25 points.