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Congratulations to Jonathan Otten: 150 Big V Games

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The Blackburn Vikings will celebrate Jonathan (Jonny) Otten’s 150 games this Sunday, at Knox Basketball Stadium at 3.00pm as the Vikes take on the Eltham Wildcats. We caught up with Jonny ahead of the milestone.

Blackburn Vikings: When did you start playing for Vikings? When did you start rep?
Jonny Otten: Starting playing for Vikings in Under 8’s domestic program in 1996. Then joined Blackburn rep program in Under 11’s in 1998 and played until Under 20’s.

BV: When did you start Big V?
JO: I made my Big V debut in 2004 when I was 16 years old. I had been training with the team since pre-season, to start getting used to playing with bigger bodies and Glenn Rees gave me the surprise call up. It was a great experience and definitely helped with my development.

BV: What made you come back after a long absence?
JO: I had been playing domestic on Monday nights at Frankston and felt my rhythm starting to come back a bit, then my competitive nature thought I should probably play in a higher level again. I was considering playing somewhere local for Big V as I have moved down to Frankston. But a visit to the driving range where Nick George worked, we started chatting about basketball and he mentioned Vikings had entered State Championship Men and he said I should come down to open scrimmages on Thursday night, I told him I was way past that level but then I went home and thought about it. My wife and I chatted and before I knew it I was calling Paul and rocking up to training the next week. 5 years was a long time to miss at senior level so it took me a bit to get used to the pace, skill and athleticism again. It was lucky I had just finished training for a half marathon so my fitness level was pretty good, otherwise I would have really struggled and I doubt I’d be playing this year.

BV: What did you in your time off?
JO: I really got into my running after I finished playing. It wasn’t something I could do playing basketball with all the constant ankle tweaks and corkies. I ran numerous half marathons and one year I raised over $6.5k for a school in India I had visited whilst running in 8 half marathons and a full marathon in that year.

I got married to my lovely wife Kendall, we’ve had a little girl, Macy who is now 17 months.

Also been able to go to the footy which is difficult during the basketball season and in the first couple of years when I stopped playing I made an effort to get to all of Hawthorn’s home games, which was great as they were both premiership seasons.

Being able to socialise on the weekends without having to worry about the basketball fixture was also a lot easier to manage.

In hindsight you do realise how you manage to fit basketball into your life but that competitive nature is always somewhere there in the background, waiting to resurface.

BV: Who has helped you along the way?
JO: My first Big V coach was Glenn Rees who was great for my confidence and introduction into Big V. He always told me to go after the senior guys and not be scared of them.

Brian Rossetti taught me a lot about fundamentals and how to observe the game. He coached me a lot at rep level and Big V as well.

Robbie Baldwin who was our championship coach taught me a lot of about being patient and letting the game come naturally rather than going 110% straight away. He also taught me a lot about defense and leadership. A big point of this was keeping Marcus Timmons who was 5 inches taller and most likely 20-30kgs heavier than me very quiet during the Grand Final series.

BV: Who have been your toughest opponents? What about team mates?
JO: I actually can’t remember my toughest opponents but I’ve had some tough team mates in years.

My initiation into senior basketball was met with some senior guys who obviously wanted to show me who was the boss, Darin Maslin and Matt Wilson were definitely influential in my earlier years, Darin was a true professional at preparation and a very good player. Matt was very supportive and encouraging during my earlier years and always gave me a great encouragement.

Dave Mock and Sean Madden were some of my great mates through Big V and were very good at pulling me back a peg or two if needed at training or during a game. They are big boys and you could definitely feel their physical presence on the court. They always made it a lot easier out on the court. Sean is one of the greatest shot blockers I’ve had in my teams. Dave is one of the most consistent and best players I have every played with, along with Justin Aver. Also Brendan Trewella and I had some great duals whilst he was starting to develop into the player he is now. He never really liked me being physical with him when he was a bit younger. I can remember one season when he was starting to develop into his body, that anytime I would set a screen on him he would just attempt to run through me with a big hip and shoulder. It ended up during scrimmages that neither of us would attempt to screen each other but would actually attack each other with a good hip and shoulder. Neither would complain about being sore but we both later conceived a few years later that we both had some pretty sore shoulders after training. He has definitely reversed the roles on me this year.

BV: What have been your greatest achievements?
JO: Vikings last championship in 2011 was my favourite season and best achievement. It’s always hard to win a grand final, we had a very solid team and I believe we would have even challenged for the Division 1 title as well. We only lost 2 games for the whole year. I was also lucky enough to snag the Grand Final MVP.
I was nominated for the 2006, 07 and 08 Big V Rising Star award, in 2008 and 2010 for the Big V All-Star 5 and in 2009 I was a finalist for the All Star 5.

Coming back after 5 years to play State Champ Men, is a level I always wanted to play at. This team has been tough team to break into and the competition is the best I have ever played against.

My greatest achievement however at Blackburn is calling dibs on the new girl in 2008, on the women’s court during pre-season. That ‘new girl’ is my now wife Kendall. It seemed to have worked!

BV: Thanks for spending time with us today and congratulations on your 150 games.

Paul Lankford