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.
Al Nift Baghdad (Superleague) signed 22-year old American forward Shaheed Davis (206-95kg-94, college: Cent.Florida). He already started the season at DBL Sharks Sheffield in British BBL league, but left the team in Oct.'16. In four games he had very impressive stats: 16.0ppg, 7.0rpg and 1.5bpg this season. Davis just graduated from University of Central Florida and it is his first season as a pro. He won Southern Conference in 2014. By Eurobasket Data Center Check also Complete Transfe... [read more]
Al Nift Baghdad (Superleague) signed 22-year old American forward Shaheed Davis (206-95kg-94, college: Cent.Florida). He already started the season at DBL Sharks Sheffield in British BBL league, but left the team in Oct.'16. In four games he had very impressive stats: 16.0ppg, 7.0rpg and 1.5bpg this season. Davis just graduated from University of Central Florida and it is his first season as a pro. He won Southern Conference in 2014.
The Flexx Pistoia (Serie A) strengthened their roster with addition of 24-year old British international guard Teddy Okereafor (193-88kg-92, college: Rider), with a one-month deal. He already started the season at Parnu Sadam in Estonian Alexela KML. In four games he recorded 10.3ppg, 4.8rpg, 3.8apg and 2.0spg this season. Okereafor also played 3 games in Baltic League where he averaged 14.7ppg, 6.0rpg, 2.7apg and 2.0spg. He just graduated from Rider University and it is his first season... [read more]
The Flexx Pistoia (Serie A) strengthened their roster with addition of 24-year old British international guard Teddy Okereafor (193-88kg-92, college: Rider), with a one-month deal. He already started the season at Parnu Sadam in Estonian Alexela KML. In four games he recorded 10.3ppg, 4.8rpg, 3.8apg and 2.0spg this season. Okereafor also played 3 games in Baltic League where he averaged 14.7ppg, 6.0rpg, 2.7apg and 2.0spg. He just graduated from Rider University and it is his first season as a pro. He was also voted All-MAAC 3rd Team in 2016 at his college time. Okereafor's team was regular season runner-up in MAAC in 2015. Okereafor represented United Kingdom at the Qualifications to European Championships 2017 this year. His stats at that event were 6 games: 5.2ppg, 2.0rpg, 4.0apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 43.8%, 3PT: 22.2%, FT: 90.9%.
Teams entering this season's BBL Trophy now know who they might face in the Quarter-Finals of the competition after the completion of the draw. The race to reach the 2017 Basketball Trophy Finals at the Emirates Arena on Sunday 19 March begins in early January. As well as top flight clubs, the 2017 BBL Trophy also includes a number of other non-BBL sides looking to cause a giant-killing - including the likes of Reading Rockets, Essex Leopards, Boroughmuir Blaze and Derby Trailblazers.... [read more]
Teams entering this season's BBL Trophy now know who they might face in the Quarter-Finals of the competition after the completion of the draw.
The race to reach the 2017 Basketball Trophy Finals at the Emirates Arena on Sunday 19 March begins in early January.
As well as top flight clubs, the 2017 BBL Trophy also includes a number of other non-BBL sides looking to cause a giant-killing - including the likes of Reading Rockets, Essex Leopards, Boroughmuir Blaze and Derby Trailblazers.
Leopards will welcome Manchester Giants on Friday 06 January and will tip-off the competition along with Worcester Wolves, who host DBL Sharks Sheffield on the same night. The winners of the first tie will go up against either Boroughmuir Blaze or Plymouth Raiders, while Wolves or Sharks will face another tough match-up against either London Lions or Surrey Scorchers.
There is a mouth-watering clash between the high-flying Glasgow Rocks and Trophy holders Leicester Riders to enjoy in the first phase, with the winners getting to go up against either Derby Trailblazers or Esh Group Eagles Newcastle, who will be big favourites to advance.
Meanwhile Reading Rockets will be hopeful of upsetting Bristol Flyers so they can set-up a last eight tie against either Leeds Force or Cheshire Phoenix.
BBL Trophy Quarter-Finals
Force or Phoenix v Rockets or Flyers Leopards or Giants v Blaze or Raiders Lions or Scorchers v Wolves or Sharks Rocks or Riders v Trailblazers or Eagles
Quarter-Final games will take place over one-leg, on or around the weekend of 03-05 February.
For tickets to the 2017 Basketball Trophy Finals click HERE.
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