There's not very many more experienced coaches in British Basketball than Durham Wildcats Head Coach Dave Elderkin , back for another tilt at the top of the game in Britain as he guides his young side through their rookie BBL season.
Elderkin is a very realistic, thoughtful coach whos always looking forward and planning. No surprise then that he could still pick out some good points from Durhams defeat at local rivals Newcastle Eagles last weekend.
That was a very tough loss. What was tough about it was weve made slow starts in the previous few games for whatever reason. Weve worked really, really hard on making a positive strong start tonight, changed the starting five but Im really, really disappointed with the start.
We gave Eagles the confidence to go for every shot and they just about made everything they took. But contrary to that I thought when we started subbing the English kids in I thought we did a much better job of the second quarter and I think that at one stage we pulled it back to thirteen. So I have to look at the positives.
Elderkin has been searching for a winning formula all season and after bringing in point guard DJ Galvan for forward Fred Hinnekamp he was also without the services of star shooting guard Ralph Bucci (193-G-75, college: St.Rose, NY) against The Eagles but he had already decided that he needed to change his starting five.
'I was very critical of them last week against Leicester and I've been very critical of them for a while now. But getting on to these guys just isn't working so I think it was more of a constructive approach trying to give them positives about the way the changes would benefit them and so on.'
'There's nothing wrong with the stuff that we run its just putting the ball in the basket has become a problem for us and this league is really tough to play in because everybody plays hard, everybody's got good athletes and everybody's got good shooters.'
'We have to play 30 games in the BBL plus all the University games so its a tough challenge but were hopefully seeing the end of the season in sight and we'll be able to bounce back from it.'
Not that Elderkin in any way regrets moving Durham in to the BBL no matter how tough it has been. They have been given tremendous off court support in making the transition from EBL.
'It's a big step up. The jump from EBL 2 to EBL 1 is not massive but the massive jump is from the EBL: to the BBL. I don't regret making it at all.'
'We've made a lot of good friends and have a great partnership with Durham County Council which has resulted in the partnership with Durham University growing tremendously this year. Their support has been absolutely fantastic and its giving these English guys a chance to taste it at this level and they're not letting me down at all.'
Whilst Durham have struggled and currently sit at the bottom of the BBL, in comparison with some sides in recent years that have found themselves not only rock bottom but out of the BBL, the Wildcats have been unlucky in a lot of games this season and have impressed many.
'We've beaten Cheshire twice and should have beaten Mersey but our Americans had a dreadful game against them. We've got guys here who've played at big schools and are used to big audiences and they're going in to gym's where there's not a great atmosphere but tonight the atmosphere was fantastic and I thought that would really lift them but it didn't.'
However, Elderkin did excuse 6' 9' American Centre Mario Flaherty (206-C-88, college: Houston Baptist) from criticism. The big man had a great game with 23 points, 13 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocked shots. Even then though Elderkin had words of caution for his star performer.
'Mario is an absolute warrior. The problem we've got now with Mario is that he has absolute belief in himself and he has absolute confidence in everything he does and he's just taking on stuff he shouldn't be doing as he's trying to compensate for others. When we got him out of that towards the end of the third quarter and gave him a rest our teamwork actually improved but make no mistake I absolutely love the guy.'
In the end though even Flaherty's efforts could not disguise the fact that Durham are very short of experience at this level and perhaps missed Ralph Bucci for that reason more than any other. Understandably Elderkin was not saying too much on the reasons for Bucci's absence.
'There was some stuff going around and Ralph and I talked it over and he just asked if he could take some time off while he considered the situation and at the moment that's all I'm prepared to say. I have heard he will be coming back to training this week but well wait and see.'
Going forward Elderkin is very optimistic about the future and is adamant that The Wildcats have a future both this season and in the future.
'I want to see this season out and try and pick up a few more wins on the board. We want to continue to develop the programme but we are looking forward to next season and we know what we have to do we have to do a really good recruitment job on the American scene.'
'We are absolutely not a one and done season team, I want to emphasise that right now. As I say the relationship with the University has strengthened. We had concerns with how the University would view working with a professional partner but they absolutely love it.'
'After the live Sky television game last week the Vice-Chancellor sent us a note to say what fantastic branding we had as Durham University was very present. He's absolutely 100% for it and is actually looking at now how other teams in the University might copy this model.'
The Wildcats have also had great buy-in from Durham County Council who are right behind the franchise's bid to establish themselves in British Basketballs top-flight.
'They've done a brilliant job. Their principle involvement has been in helping us develop the community programme, numbers are growing on that on a weekly basis and they've done a fantastic job with the venue. The one thing that was a positive from the TV game was how good the venue looked.'
'The new lights have made a terrific difference. I was looking at it and thought, my god I can even watch the DVDs now and analyse the games. It looked good and Fab (Flournoy) did a great job on the commentary and as he said the atmosphere in there was electric.'
'That's three good crowds in a row we've had now. Obviously we had a big crowd for The Eagles game at the start and then found out what life was really like in the BBL. But we've stuck at promoting the games and we've had three really good home attendances since the turn of the year.'
A positive note to end on and one that shows despite his long time in the game Elderkin is as keen as ever and determined to establish the Durham Wildcats on the big stage. The British basketball public wishes him and his team well.
Netherlands outgun Great Britain in Manchester - 14 hours ago
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Great Britain - Netherlands 71:83 Netherlands opened their test series versus Great Britain with victory. Five players scored in double digits for the Dutch team as they rolled to a comfortable victory. Worthy de Jong (194-SG-88) led the effort with 15 points. Netherlands got to a strong start to the game. The Dutch side grabbed a 29:22 lead after the opening quarter. Netherlands stretched the lead at 32-point mark at the interval 56:24. Great Britain picked up the tempo after the long... [read more]
Great Britain - Netherlands 71:83
Netherlands opened their test series versus Great Britain with victory. Five players scored in double digits for the Dutch team as they rolled to a comfortable victory. Worthy de Jong (194-SG-88) led the effort with 15 points. Netherlands got to a strong start to the game. The Dutch side grabbed a 29:22 lead after the opening quarter. Netherlands stretched the lead at 32-point mark at the interval 56:24. Great Britain picked up the tempo after the long break. They pulled closer in the second half but could not avoid the defeat. Yannick Franke (194-G-96) produced 14 points, while Thomas Koenis (210-C-89, agency: Court Side) and Arvin Slagter (191-G-85, agency: Court Side) finished with 13 points each for the Dutch side. Gabriel Olaseni (211-C-91, college: Iowa, agency: Pensack Sports) and Kyle Johnson (195-G-88, college: LIU Brooklyn, agency: Two Points) responded with 13 points each for Great Britain.
Cyberdyne Ibaraki Robots land Dzaflo Larkai, ex Manchester G. - 2 days ago
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Cyberdyne Ibaraki Robots (B League D2) tabbed experienced 35-year old British ex-international power forward Dzaflo Larkai (203-111kg-81, college: Bellarmine, agency: Interperformances). He played most recently at Manchester Giants in British BBL league. In 14 games he averaged 11.1ppg and 8.7rpg last season. Larkai also played that season for Leicester Riders (also in BBL) where in 6 games he had 10.2ppg, 6.7rpg and 1.0apg. Among other achievements he won Japanese BJ League championship... [read more]
Cyberdyne Ibaraki Robots (B League D2) tabbed experienced 35-year old British ex-international power forward Dzaflo Larkai (203-111kg-81, college: Bellarmine, agency: Interperformances). He played most recently at Manchester Giants in British BBL league. In 14 games he averaged 11.1ppg and 8.7rpg last season. Larkai also played that season for Leicester Riders (also in BBL) where in 6 games he had 10.2ppg, 6.7rpg and 1.0apg. Among other achievements he won Japanese BJ League championship title for three years in a row (between 2010 and 2012). Larkai received also All-GLVC 2nd Team award back in 2008 at his college time. Larkai was a member of British Senior National Team between 2008 and 2013. And here thanks to pro basketball he experienced life on three different continents. He is familiar with European, Asian and of course North American leagues. Larkai has played previously professionally also in Spain (L'Hospitalet) and Japan (Sanen Neophoenix, Sendai 89ers, Ryukyu Golden Kings Okinawa and Yokohama B-Corsairs) and United Kingdom (Liverpool). He is close to retirement age as a player. It may be one of last seasons in his extensive career, which he may end at Cyberdyne Ibaraki Robots. Larkai attended Bellarmine College until 2008 and it will be his ninth season in pro basketball.
Surrey Scorchers (BBL) added to their roster 29-year old point guard Albert Margai (183-87). It is actually his comeback to Scorchers as he has played here before. Margai has played for the last two seasons at Essex Leopards London in the NBL D1. In 23 games he recorded 7.0ppg and 4.9apg last season. The list of the past achievements is quite long as among others Margai's team won British EBL Division One Regular Season in 2015. He was also voted Eurobasket.com All-British EBL Division On... [read more]
Surrey Scorchers (BBL) added to their roster 29-year old point guard Albert Margai (183-87). It is actually his comeback to Scorchers as he has played here before. Margai has played for the last two seasons at Essex Leopards London in the NBL D1. In 23 games he recorded 7.0ppg and 4.9apg last season. The list of the past achievements is quite long as among others Margai's team won British EBL Division One Regular Season in 2015. He was also voted Eurobasket.com All-British EBL Division One 2nd Team back in 2011. Margai has played previously for three other teams: London Lions, Leeds Force and Newham Neptunes. He is a former Eurobasket Summer League player, which is considered top summer league for players who want to play basketball overseas.
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