Sask. Rattlers make mid-season coaching change, move on from Demopoulos

After a season and a half at the helm of the Saskatchewan Rattlers, Dean Demopoulos’ time with the basketball organization has come to an end.

The longtime NBA assistant coach has been fired as Rattlers head coach, following a league-worst 4-8 record to begin the 2023 CEBL season.

“One message became abundantly clear and that was we all have to get on the same page,” said Rattlers general manager Barry Rawlyk. “It became obvious to me that just wasn’t going to happen under Dean’s leadership.”

Demopoulos guided the Rattlers to their first playoff appearance in three years in his inaugural season behind the Rattlers bench in 2022, however, he was not able to replicate that same magic this summer.

After starting the season with a 2-1 record, the Rattlers lost seven of their following nine games under Demopoulos who leaves the team with a career 16-18 record.

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According to Rawlyk, Demopoulos’ vision and coaching style eventually began to clash with the rest of the organization forcing the GM’s hand after conversations with players and staff.

“One of his great strengths I guess is his single-mindedness and his unwavering conviction that his way is the way he wants to do things,” said Rawlyk. “Paradoxically and particularly in this situation, that’s also his greatest weakness.”

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan Rattlers ready to hit the court for the 2023 CEBL season'

Saskatchewan Rattlers ready to hit the court for the 2023 CEBL season

For the remainder of the season, assistant coach Tanner Massey will be taking over on an interim basis.

Massey was hired by Saskatchewan in March of 2022 after stops in the NCAA, NBA G League, Japanese B League and time in Finland, as well as a stint with the Vancouver Bandits organization.

During that time he served as interim head coach for the Bandits while Dave Singleton was in COVID-19 protocols during the 2021 post-season.

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“I’ve been in this thing a while and at multiple levels,” said Massey. “I believe in myself. But that has to carry over onto the court and with our guys. I can’t wait to continue to tackle that this coming week.”

Forward Jermel Kennedy has called Massey’s coaching style more “direct” than Demopoulos’ approach, however, he added it has been a smooth process with Massey being on the court with the team all season prior to the coaching change.

“He’s been here the whole time so it’s not like he’s new,” said Kennedy. “We have an idea of his coaching style, so that was an easy adjustment for us.”

With a heartbreaking 89-88 loss to the Ottawa BlackJacks in Massey’s debut on Wednesday night, the Rattlers fell to a 4-9 record and have seen their chances at making the CEBL playoffs take another hit.

Despite the mountain to climb entering the back stretch of the regular season, Massey believes there’s still time to turn Saskatchewan’s season around.

“There is momentum here,” said Massey. “I know we’re getting kind of tired of losing some of these close games throughout most of the season. But I do believe that we can correct that and I’ve told the guys in the locker room that I firmly believe we will.”

The Rattlers are off until July 11, when they kick off a road swing in Winnipeg against the Sea Bears.

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Click to play video: 'Meet Saskatchewan Rattlers head coach Dean Demopoulos'

Meet Saskatchewan Rattlers head coach Dean Demopoulos

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