Pineau a continual basketball influence
FROM having a successful college career with St Mary’s, to having setbacks to then being able to play in the National Basketball League (NBL) for a number of years, Dane Pineau has made an influence in the league and wants more after overcoming a major setback and eager for more to come.
Pineau firstly shares how he got involved into basketball, his pathway through to the NBL and being proud of his journey plus the challenges along the way.
“It was mostly my dad that was the one that introduced me to the game. He played basketball in the National Basketball League (NBL) a long time ago. He played in Devonport and played for the Melbourne Tigers for a little bit. Growing up, when there was pictures of me as a baby with a basketball in my crib and everything. It was kind of the same of what I always wanted to do because I saw my dad doing it when I was little.
“I got to go to the games with my dad, go into the locker room after the games and meet all the players and everything. I’ve been lucky to have someone like my dad in my life who’s been so supportive and amazing to have around and I always wanted to be like him. He was one of the ones that introduced the game and kept me going through it all. My dad and I have actually had similar careers, where we both have been mostly role players and each had one season where we got to start and play a lot on the court. It’s interested how it’s all worked out and that we’ve had very similar careers up to this point.”
“I feel really lucky and I’m super proud of all I’ve been able to do with basketball so far. I got to play in America, Sydney and Melbourne and all over Australia and I’ve been based in different areas in Australia so far in the NBL. Prior to that, I got to play in the U19 World Championships and travel to Europe and play. I feel like the game has given me a lot of different experiences, different cultures and made so many different teammates.”
“I guess last season was probably my biggest challenge where I’ve had a number of injuries that kept me out of playing for about 18 months, which was extremely frustrating. It just felt like for a year and a half, and every time I stepped on the floor, I happen to get injured and that would keep me out for a while, it is really frustrating, makes me really respect a whole lot of other players that have been through worse. You look at Kristy Wallace, in the WNBL for the Southside Flyers this year, where she had possibly three ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) reconstructions and was out for a really long time and you meet her and she’s so positive and to see her playing well, that’s amazing, she had a lot worse that I had. I struggled with the 18 months I had out of the game.”
“It was hard at times, not being able to move that I wanted to and then coming back, not feeling like I’m up to scratch because I can’t play the same pace as I use to and it was defiantly challenging. It was hard but it’s good. It’s good for life and things don’t come easy for anyone. It’s often we’ve got a struggle in all forms of work and in life and it was a good teaching road for me and you learn a lot about resilience. Things don’t come easy for anyone. I’ve got a lot of respect for other people who have gone through worse and come back. I look to them for inspiration when I was struggling. Hopefully I can appreciate the game as much as I can now. It feels like a long time where I couldn’t play for a long time I try and be grateful that I can enjoy it and it’s definitely given me a different perspective.”
College journey, road to playing in the NBL and growing up in a sporting family
Pineau spoked about his college journey, his road journey into the NBL and what it’s like growing up in a sporting family
“I love St Mary’s. I thought it was really important building block for me in my basketball career, learning how to work hard, they really push you in college. They expect a lot out of you but it does teach you that you can work a little bit harder, push yourself a little bit more and I definitely learnt that at St Mary’s and it was great for me. I loved that aspect of it. As far as being at St Mary’s, it was an amazing college where it’s a small community, not that may students that work around the campus and you know most people.
“I remember when I was struggling to make teams and I was a skinny young kid, my dad just told me to enjoy the game and I did that. If you want to keep playing and don’t want to be missing all these teams all the time, you’ve got to work really hard and my dad helped me so much and I played basketball almost every day. When I was the game of 15 or 16, every day I would have a ball in my and work together and the work I had with other coaches pushed me along into the nationals, where it got me into state teams and the national team to playing well in those tournaments.
“I got recognised enough that St Mary’s noticed me, went to St Mary’s and played well. That’s how I got into the NBL of having a good college career, that’s how they noticed me. After my college career, Sydney ended up recruiting me to play there. I guess it all started with all the hours I put in when I was a junior and that’s how I set myself up to make the NBL when I was a little bit older is trying to get ahead when I was younger. It worked out for me, it was a lot of hard work, but I’m thankful that I have those values. It instilled in me by my parents and my dad, especially when it came to basketball. I love that I’ve had this opportunity to play basketball for this long.”
“For me, I’ve learned a lot in different areas, defence, I feel that I’ve grown a lot in the NBL and being able to learn from the likes on Andrew Bogut a lot in Sydney, just with my positioning and in pick and roll defence. We’re obviously different players. I feel like I’ve grown in a lot of areas and Andrew was really helpful with his advice because he’s been around a lot of guys who do well and he was able to help me to get into positions to be an effective defender. I feel like on defensive that was one of my biggest strides. A big reason for that was my one year and learning from Bogut.”
Playing with the South East Melbourne Phoenix, playing indigenous round and Starlight Foundation
Pineau shared his thoughts of the season as it hits the halfway point of the season, thoughts of the indigenous jersey design and what it means to play for more than just basketball and playing in a the Starlight Foundation game last weekend against the Perth Wildcats.
“It’s been a really funny season. For some reason, it feels like it’s gotten to the halfway point quickly. But then, we started a long time ago, back in December. At one point, we had a month off between games and it’s very different with COVID around where as a league, you have to be so adaptable. We played three games recently, knowing that we had roughly five guys out with COVID and I was one of them. At that point, it was super challenging. When I came back and those guys played, I had to play a totally different position. I was playing out for a couple of possessions because we were so short on the rotation. It’s been a funny year with how much everything is changing all the time, games are changing all the time week to week and your never sure who your opponents are going to be and it’s been challenging.
“The Phoenix definitely have the best indigenous design on our jersey. I love it, ours is really really cool. I believe it was designed by Katie Budgen. It’s awesome, I love the indigenous round. I think it’s great for us as a league to learn a bit about the culture and pay our respects.
“For the South East Melbourne Phoenix to be apart of a round like Starlight, we try our best to get around the community as a club and we didn’t have more event community events back in the day. Now because of COVID, we have struggled to get out there and see everyone. By doing these rounds is nice and I’m looking forward to hopefully next season, where we can really relax about COVID, getting back out there to schools and go to see the Starlight Foundation, which is really important. I think it’s important for our club to be a big part of this community and that’s how you start building up a big supporter base, especially with a new club.
“I think it’s great to be out for young kids, especially to see athletes come out and be a positive influence on our life. It was a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to those coming back. I hope it comes back next season.”
Life outside of basketball, motivation and rituals
Pineau shared what he does away from basketball, his pre-game rituals, favourite sports to watch away from the basketball court.
“I’ve done a little bit of work at Westpac, in their commercial property team and I did that during COVID. At the moment, I study at the University of New South Wales online, where I’m doing a financial technology course. It’s nice to have these things to take my mind off basketball and I’ve been enjoying it.
“I’m from Melbourne so I love the footy and when that’s on, I get right into it. I do love watching pretty much all sports. I’ve been following closely the WNBL competition, I love the test cricket especially this summer as well. I was disappointed that the games were shorter than I wanted them to be because England wasn’t playing well but I have definitely enjoyed the summer of cricket, the test cricket.
“If there’s a late game, I like to take a nap. I always make sure I have a bit of food before I leave the house. I usually get to games two hours before. I don’t each too much, I usually try and have a chicken sandwich to get in the game to keep me going during so I don’t get hungry during the game.”
Playing in a team sport, being on the road and strategies staying calm
Pineau shared what it means to play in a team sport, what it’s like behind the scenes being on the road and strategies used to stay calm.
“For me, I love the relationships that I’ve got to build up over the years and all the friendships I have. I feel that when you work together and break the spread with others, it forms a bond that you don’t get otherwise in a team sport and working hard together. I feel that it brings people closer together and I have so many friends from basketball and I think will be friends for my whole life. My favourite part about the sport and being in a team sport is all the people you meet along the way.
“I do my best to think about that there are plenty of plays happening. If you mess out once, a minute and a half, there’s going to be three more plays where you can make a positive impact. If you’re going to sit there and dwell on a misstate, you might make another one or miss out on an opportunity or another play is coming and your head’s not in the right place. When things are going my way, I try and focus on doing things that require hard work, whether that’s running up and down the floor as fast as I can, try and get an offensive rebound. It doesn’t really take a skills, it’s purely playing as hard as I can. If nothing works for me, I can’t get anything going, I can at least leave the floor and say I tried as hard as I could. That’s what I focus on when things aren’t going well.”
Pineau named the toughest opponents he has had to face.
“One of my claims of fame is that I’ve had to play against is Nikola Jokic back when he was younger. He won the NBA MVP last year. He’s the best player that I’ve come up against. I also came up a bit against Ben Simmons when he was younger as well and he was pretty impressive. Around the NBL, I have my biggest problem guarding Shawn Long when he was with Melbourne United a few years ago and I’ve obviously had to guard Bryce Cotton quite a few times and he’s unbelievable. There’s been a lot of guys that are really good. I think those guys are the biggest names I’ve come up against.”
Role models for inspiration
Pineau shared who he Co’s biggest influences he’s looked up to.
“I definitely look up to both my parents. There’s been a lot of people who I’ve looked up to throughout my life but those two, I’ve always looked up to because of how much they supported me the example they have set. If you apply yourself and dedicated, you can achieve a lot in life and I’m very lucky to have had parents like that and the amazing job in helping, for any athletes, it’s a huge time save for parents working full time jobs, driving their kids all over the place to go to trainings, games, go to the weight room, it’s a huge commitment. They would have had sacrificed a lot of social events and everything to make sure they were there for me and I’m so grateful that they did that.”
Lastly, Pineau shares his wisdom to any upcoming basketballers wanting to improve their game.
“I say this a lot because I used to go out to camps and talk to kids at schools. I started to realise how many junior basketballers there are and the participation rates are through the roof, which is exciting. There’s a lot of kids now, especially with access to the internet, where you know how to train properly, get access to really good coaches and everyone can do that. It means you have to work even harder to separate yourself. Everyone else who plays for the Phoenix when we were younger, we were playing every day and always have a ball in your hand and that’s the only way.
“There’s too many kids now where they have talent and access to training. If you want to separate yourself and get yourself to the next level where you can play professional career basketball, you have to work really, really hard, put in those extra hours and do stuff at home, not just team activities, so that you can get better than anyone else. You can’t be satisfied once you get there, you have to keep working hard. It’s not anything new, but you’ve got to work hard.”