Q & A: Boise State's John Rillie

John Rillie was one of the greatest scorers in NBL history.

Over 16 seasons and 481 games at five clubs, the former Toowoomba junior torched the nets with 7861 career points and holds the record as the only player ever to make ten three-pointers in a playoff game.

Since ending his career in 2010, Rillie has spent the last six years as an assistant coach at Boise State in the Mountain West Conference and has been partly responsible for the development of two Aussies who have joined the NBL recently: Anthony Drmic (Adelaide) and Igor Hadziomerovic (Melbourne).


John spoke to to give the down low on the two young guns, and life after the NBL. 

What sort of player can Adelaide expect to get with their signing of Anthony Drmic?

With Anthony Drmic, NBL fans will first and foremost see a competitor.  Even when Anthony is having a "bad game" he still can find a way to help his team win.

More specifically, he can really shoot.  The rest of his offensive game will come as they will have to really respect his ability to make the three-ball.  Anthony is very capable off the dribble scoring or creating for teammates. His IQ is high. Defensively, he will not be backing down from anyone. I had a front row seat one night watching him frustrate Doug McDermott into a poor performance. 

He will not back down from anyone as he was always given a tough defensive assignment for us at Boise State.  

How much have you personally had to do with Anthony Drmic?

This may be a better question for Anthony!

I have seen him nearly every day for the last five years, so I know I have helped him some with his basketball... but certainly not on the same level as his mother when it comes to preparing food. 

You played against his brother Frank Drmic over many years. What are the differences in styles between Frank and Anthony?

Different players and body types, but both good basketball players.

Frank was more of a three/four who could cause match-up problems.  Anthony is a two/three with a more reliable stroke.  

(Yeah, yeah, Frank hit a game-winning three on me… We won the Championship against him in 1998!) 

You came straight out of college and won Rookie of the Year at Brisbane in 1995 – 21 years ago – how did you find the transition back then from college to NBL?

 College kids will always come back with an intensity and edge that college provides.

You need that mentality to compete against pros in the early years of your career. 

Anthony has this, and with his high level skill set, I think he will find meaningful minutes as a rookie. 

Anthony will have an impact...  Time will tell if he can have the impact of that joker in 1995!

Last year  Igor "Iggy" Hadziomerovic went to Melbourne United and showed great signs before injury ended his season early. What were some of the great things he did for your program?

Iggy's senior year we won the Mountain West Conference title and played in the NCAA tourney. He's team value will never be measured by stats, and I think United fans saw that last year before he got injured.

Defensively he's versatile and loves the challenge of taking the other team’s best player. Offensively he made timely baskets, shot a very good three-point percentage and created easy scoring opportunities for teammates.  Maybe the thing he did best was offensive rebounds from the guard spot. I value a guard that can rebound. 


You have another young Aussie on your list - Nick Duncan. What is the main difference that Aussie players in the college system bring to the table?

The three Aussies we have had in our program all tasted success because they chose a great level. Also our style of play lends to an international kid's skill set.   

Nick Duncan is a great example.  Not heavily recruited but is having a very successful career because we appreciate his extremely high IQ and ability to shoot the ball. He is truly a match-up nightmare.  He is going to be tough to replace.  

All these kids came in with international experience and had played against the best in the world.  They are not intimidated and know they can compete. 

Is Boise State going to be a regular home for Australian players moving forward?

I certainly hope so.  Our track record speaks for itself. 

What is your official job description and what does that involve on a day-to-day basis?

I'm an assistant coach who's just finished my sixth season in the USA at Boise State.

Day-to-day duties include, recruiting, individual work and on the floor coaching.  Game preparation and scouting the opposition would be included as well.

How are you finding coaching after such a prolific NBL playing career?

I really enjoy working with this age of athlete. Besides helping improve their on-court skills, the mental side of the game is huge.

I love sitting around talking with our guys about this aspect of the game. So many of these kids have been the best on their previous teams. 

At this level, they will certainly have days where their comfort zone is tested. 

How do you get better and how do you handle this? 

I feel I can impact in this area. 

What needs to be done so you can find consistency in your performance, both in games and practice?

My playing career allows me share ideas on how to attain this. 

Even though you are obviously heavily involved in your program, do you get a chance to keep an eye on the NBL?

No doubt I keep an eye on the NBL.

Basketball in Australia has provided a lot of opportunity for me so I'm hoping the current momentum continues so more of the Australian talent can return home and join the NBL.  

Even though you played for five clubs and had success at all of them, fans will probably remember you most for your time at the Townsville Crocodiles. What is your favourite memory?

My fondest memory would certainly be rolling into Perth during the playoffs (2009) and winning!

Very few people had the belief that we could go in and win.  The silence in there after my eighth three-pointer, changed that thought. 

Nothing beats silencing a home crowd. 

Those suckers were quiet until Corey "Homicide" Williams took off his jersey and started running around like he had won the World Cup.

Your 1323 career three-pointers makes still ranks third all-time behind Andrew Gaze and Shane Heal. That’s quite elite company you have there?

I guess that stat just shows I didn't pull the trigger enough!


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