Coach Derrick Washington gets his new Launceston life off with a trip to Cataract Gorge

RELAXED: New Launceston coach Derrick Washington. Pictures: Paul Scambler
RELAXED: New Launceston coach Derrick Washington. Pictures: Paul Scambler

Tornadoes coach Derrick Washington could well be forgiven for jet lag, arriving just days earlier from the US.

Cars and steering wheels on the left-hand side, not to mention foreign roundabouts, are enough to keep the nervous driver off the road.

That’s nothing compared to an impromptu visit to Cataract Gorge, straight off the plane, that had Washington rubbing his eyes in disbelief.

“It’s really beautiful – I just liked it a lot,” he said.

“I was very surprised.

“I got a chance to see some peacocks and, I think, baby kangaroos. So that was a first – I thought I was at a zoo.”

But Washington insists the only sights that are more eye-catching is bringing the best out of the Tornadoes.

“Since I touched down, it’s been very different – obviously coming from a whole different country,” he said.

“But it’s not too bad. I think I have adjusted really well.

“But as far as basketball goes, basketball is basketball.

“You’ve got to put the ball in the hole and you’ve got score points to win.”

The 28-year-old mentor, with five years in WNBA coaching ranks behind him, took his Launceston-based players for their first training session on Thursday evening.

He was suitably impressed.

“They are hard workers,” Washington said. “The first workout they just didn’t quit.

NEW FACE: Washington speaks the media on his first day.

NEW FACE: Washington speaks the media on his first day.

“The players seem excited.

“I can feel their energy.”

The club’s second head US coach behind Tim Hayes has already done his homework.

Acutely aware the need to rise from their Torns’ conference final loss, Washington cooly remarks he wants to “take them over to the top”. 

“I want to bring in a lot of determination,” he said.

“I want to be able to bring in a lot of skill development.

“Just developing the players to become confident on the court and being able to take it to another level.”