Michael House, the last man to coach Launceston Tornadoes to national basketball title, reflects on his time in the game in Launceston

BOUND FOR GLORY: Tornadoes coach Michael House farewells Launceston ahead of the 1995 SEABL grand final win. Pictures: Supplied

BOUND FOR GLORY: Tornadoes coach Michael House farewells Launceston ahead of the 1995 SEABL grand final win. Pictures: Supplied

Michael House is packing his bags once again.

The 1995 Tornadoes CBA championship-winning coach is set to take a similar flight path 23 years on.

But instead of firmly being behind the pilot’s wheel, the 63-year-old will enjoy the ride in the passenger’s seat. 

Living in Prospect and attending a game or two a season, House has waited longer than most to see Launceston back at the top of the basketball heap.

But it only took a sellout home crowd at Elphin Sports Centre to relate back to the club’s enduring connection to the community.

That is why House can’t wait for the final 40 minutes to witness the Tornadoes’ destiny against Bendigo on Saturday night in Melbourne.

LET'S GO: An exuberant Michael House celebrates with the Tornadoes bench.

LET'S GO: An exuberant Michael House celebrates with the Tornadoes bench.

“To me, it really all hasn’t changed,” House said.

“They have kept the spirit of the club in how it was set up back in 1994 and that is the local spirit that is behind it all, with the sponsors sticking with them too.

“Bendigo is very similar and we used to enjoy playing them. Being out of Melbourne, they were very similar to Launceston in many respects. So I think it’s fantastic for two regional teams playing off in the grand final.”

The coming trip reminds House of when Launceston first headed to Adelaide for the Continental Basketball Association – part of the forerunner to the SEABL – south conference final and next to West Sydney for the Australian Basketball Association national final.

The public’s interest back then was palpable. 

While there was no live live coverage of the club’s two biggest games in its history, scoring updates ran along the bottom of TV screens throughout the tense finals. 

OVERJOYED: Launceston basketball fans greet Michael House after the side's first championship as cpatured by The Examiner.

OVERJOYED: Launceston basketball fans greet Michael House after the side's first championship as cpatured by The Examiner.

“That’s how much interest the Tornadoes had generated back in 1995,” House said.

“It just built up and built up, and that’s what has happened to this club.”

But House also remembers the tough times. They were before the Tornadoes’ days.

The man who never played the game coached Launceston’s first basketball incarnation on the national scene.

Under the Condors moniker, it lasted barely a handful of years and its past is largely forgotten – for good reason. 

“Well, we lost every game. It’s when we played on court 1 at Elphin,” House said.

“I wasn’t the first coach of that team, but there were a number of coaches.

WE'VE GOT YOUR BACK: Support for Michael House comes in the form of a t-shirt during the Tornadoes' 1995 season.

WE'VE GOT YOUR BACK: Support for Michael House comes in the form of a t-shirt during the Tornadoes' 1995 season.

“When we lost every game, there was only about 20 people that came to watch.

“The girls had to raise all their own money to play.

“By the time we got to the Tornadoes, these girls had done it tough.”

Back in House’s time, games were 48 minutes not 40, and players had 30 seconds to put up a shot rather than 24-second clocks and a 14-second resets. Debbie Black was his star guard that made it to the WNBA.

But after viewing Lauren Nicholson and Ally Wilson guide the Torns home, he feels the more things change the more they stay the same.

“The game is only slightly different. It was a bit more structured, but that was the way it was,” House said.

“It was pretty good back then, but Saturday night was pretty good. They are doing an excellent job and they are an outstanding team.”

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