Coach Mark Price

Peter Kogoy of the Australian News reports that Mark Price is planning an aggressive approach in his role as coach of new club South Dragons.

“While Price’s coaching resume is limited to college and high school, the 40-year-old American brings impeccable playing credentials to the new Melbourne team.

A four-time NBA All-Star with Cleveland Cavaliers, Price had his first look at the Dragons yesterday, less than 24 hours after arriving.  He was suitably impressed. “I’m excited about the team’s prospects,” Price said. “My aim is to make this team competitive from game one.”

Price is convinced he has not set the bar too high.

Selected by Dallas Mavericks in the 1986 NBA draft, Price was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and spent nine seasons there “banging heads” against the likes of Michael Jordan in Chicago and Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics.

Price enjoyed further success with Washington and Golden State before ending his playing days with Orlando Magic in 1998.

“Jordan was an unbelievable opponent. He took basketball to another level,” Price said.

“Not only did he come ready to play every night, his will to win was something else.”

Price is relishing the chance to work with one of Australia’s best players, Shane Heal.

“As a rookie coach having Shane Heal here, fit and playing well, is a big piece to the puzzle,” he said. “Our paths crossed in the NBA and I know what it means having Shane Heal in a Dragons uniform, he brings respect to this club.

“But I’m just as excited about the rest of the Australian content, with the likes of Jacob Holmes and Frank Drmic, while Joe Ingles is an exciting prospect.”

Used to success as a player with Cleveland and as an assistant college coach with Georgia Tech, Price is demanding the same with the Dragons.

“The goal of any club is to get to the finals,” Price said.

“That being said, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and a lot of breaks along the way to make that happen.

“My goal is for us to be a team that, in December, January and February, is playing on all cylinders. Getting to that stage is going to take a lot of work.”

But for now, Price’s plan is to ease Heal, 36, through the pre-season.

Heal is battling a groin strain after coming out of a two-year retirement.

Price believes imports Todd Fuller, who towers over 200cm and played alongside Price at Golden State for a season, and German-born swingman Christian Anderson will complement a a solid core of Australians.

The Dragons’ first pre-season match under Price will be against Cairns Taipans at Knox Stadium in Melbourne on August 23 before tackling the pre-season tournament at Coffs Harbour.”