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.
Scorchers take sixth league win in seven outings in front of a sell-out crowd in Bristol BBL Championship Bristol Flyers 74 (13,29,48) (Ali 20, Cosby 17, Edozie 12) Surrey Scorchers 85 (24,48,64) (Ogedengbe 26, Taylor 19, McCray 17) A blistering start by Surrey Scorchers paved the way for a successful south-west raid as they outpaced Bristol Flyers 74-85 in front of a full house at the WISE Arena. Having lost 24 hours earlier in the derby match-up at Plymouth Raiders on BBC Sport, Flye... [read more]
Scorchers take sixth league win in seven outings in front of a sell-out crowd in Bristol
A blistering start by Surrey Scorchers paved the way for a successful south-west raid as they outpaced Bristol Flyers 74-85 in front of a full house at the WISE Arena.
Having lost 24 hours earlier in the derby match-up at Plymouth Raiders on BBC Sport, Flyers were looking to bounce back, but were left stalling on the starting line as they failed to get in gear.
In stark contrast, Scorchers caught fire from the tip and posted the first 11 points of the game. Even when Flyers eventually came alive and threatened a renaissance, 14 points in 16 first-half minutes from Tayo Ogedengbe (198-F-87) kept the hosts at bay, as Surrey built a commanding 48-29 advantage at the interval.
Bristol tried to recover the situation when the action resumed, but it looked like the damage had already been done as Scorchers kept them at arms' length.
It was a different story during the last period, as Flyers set up a tense finale when they clicked offensively and a drive and score from Daniel Edozie briefly cut the gap to 76-72.
But, Scorchers were able to close out the win to continue their super form of late as Ogedengbe eventually finished with 26 points, while the defeat wrapped up a miserable weekend for the home side.
The history keeps on happening in the WBBL and it proved to be a landmark and dramatic Saturday as Caledonia Pride came back from a double-digit deficit to stun Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters 79-78 and take a first ever home floor victory. Natalie Bastian sunk the crucial free-throws at the death and also top-scored, but it was a pair of go-ahead triples from Scottish guard Hannah Robb heading into crunch time which made the difference. There was then drama at the unveiling of the... [read more]
The history keeps on happening in the WBBL and it proved to be a landmark and dramatic Saturday as Caledonia Pride came back from a double-digit deficit to stun Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters 79-78 and take a first ever home floor victory.
Natalie Bastian sunk the crucial free-throws at the death and also top-scored, but it was a pair of go-ahead triples from Scottish guard Hannah Robb heading into crunch time which made the difference.
There was then drama at the unveiling of the brand-new Archers Arena as Cardiff Met completed a memorable first outing with an absorbing 58-55 success against Team Northumbria as Judit Fritz (183-G/F-87, college: St.Francis, NY, agency: Interperformances) hit a last-gasp triple.
Finally, there was great heart and resilience shown by Manchester Mystics in the third game of the day which was also exhilarating. Great Britain guard Georgia Jones registered 24 points and 12 rebounds as the visitors took a magnificent 82-80 double overtime win at Barking Abbey Crusaders.
Caledonia Pride collected a historic first ever home success in the WBBL after coming from behind to take a famous 79-78 triumph against Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters.
Doubling their league win tally for the season, it was a huge scalp for the Scottish side, as rather fittingly, the game's top scorer Natalie Bastian calmly iced a pair of free-throws to complete a fantastic comeback.
Having trailed by 12 points with less than five minutes remaining on the game clock, it looked as if the Pride's elusive search for a first home win would continue a bit longer.
But, off the back of some very nice defence and a flurry of three-pointers, including a pair from Scottish star Hannah Robb, it put them back in contention.
As Hatters cracked down the stretch despite 22 points and 15 rebounds from the powerful Brittany Winborne, the locals celebrated a hugely exciting victory on home soil for the first time.
The first game at the impressive new Archers Arena will never be forgotten by those who were fortunate to attend after Judit Fritz nailed a dramatic late triple to hand the hosts a gripping 58-55 win against Team Northumbria.
With an eye-catching crowd on site for its first WBBL match-up, the supporters inside the Arena were rewarded for their attendance after a nail-biting but exhilarating conclusion - although it had looked like Northumbria might spoil the party.
They went into the locker rooms at the half holding a 32-24 advantage and having thrown a defensive blanket over Archers.
But after making some half-time adjustments, Cardiff got themselves back into the contest, with Sarah Wagstaff instrumental as she supported the game-winning effort of Fritz with 16-points in a dramatic final quarter.
Claudia Baraut posted a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds in defeat.
A brilliant team performance underpinned by 24 points and 12 rebounds from Great Britain guard Georgia Jones facilitated a wonderful 82-80 double overtime triumph for Manchester Mystics at a crestfallen Barking Abbey Crusaders.
The home side had been on the front foot for almost all of the game and looked like a lock to take victory, but Mystics would not go away and a late rescue mission saw them come back from 10 points behind with less than five minutes of regulation remaining.
Some great play from Rheanne Bailey including a big three-pointer put them on the path to recovery and as Amy Browne sunk two free-throws, the first period of overtime arrived at 65-65.
It again looked like Barking would finish the job but Jones had other ideas as she made an off-balance three-pointer to save her team again and force another five minutes of action.
Manchester then finally got the edge and were able to finish the job - despite the home team benefitting from double-doubles from Savannah Wilkinson and Abigail Johnson.
There were mixed fortunes for last week's BBL Trophy finalists on a dramatic Friday night in the BBL. Leicester Riders saw their club record 16-game win streak come to an end as they were beaten 93-91 by Worcester Wolves, who were led by 24 points from Danny Huffor. Meanwhile, Cory Dixon scored 32 points as Plymouth Raiders bounced back from their Final disappointment with an 85-62 success over their South-West rivals, Bristol Flyers. Esh Group Eagles Newcastle ran out convincing 96-65... [read more]
There were mixed fortunes for last week's BBL Trophy finalists on a dramatic Friday night in the BBL.
Leicester Riders saw their club record 16-game win streak come to an end as they were beaten 93-91 by Worcester Wolves, who were led by 24 points from Danny Huffor.
Meanwhile, Cory Dixon scored 32 points as Plymouth Raiders bounced back from their Final disappointment with an 85-62 success over their South-West rivals, Bristol Flyers.
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle ran out convincing 96-65 winners against Manchester Giants as Deondre Parks scored 22, while Cheshire Phoenix edged out London Lions 86-87 on the road with Mike DiNunno (180-PG-90, college: E.Kentucky, agency: Interperformances) netting the late game-winner.
Plymouth Raiders bounced back from their BBL Trophy Final disappointment with a much-needed victory as they defeated South-West rivals, Bristol Flyers, 85-62.
Cory Dixon was in inspired form and poured in 32 points to go with 11 rebounds, while Daryl Corletto netted 14 of his 16 points in a pivotal third quarter for his side.
Both teams raced out of the blocks and the game was tied at 14 at the mid-point in the first quarter before Plymouth edged ahead.
The home side went on a 13-0 run late in the second, but a deep three from Hameed Ali ended the first half with Bristol down 10.
Corletto found his range in the third with 11 points in a row as he fired in four triples in total in the quarter as the Raiders extended their advantage out to 18.
There was no let up in the fourth as Plymouth ensured there was to be no fightback from the Flyers with Dixon turning on the style for the home crowd with consecutive dunks in quick succession en route to victory.
A win for Bristol would have put the two teams level, but it's the Raiders who pull away from their rivals with the important head-to-head secured.
BBL Championship London Lions 86 (29,52,68) (Taylor/Hassan 24, Niktash 21) Cheshire Phoenix 87 (21,43,69) (Allen-Jordan 25, May-Thompson 22, Brown 14)
Cheshire Phoenix claimed an 86-87 win on the road against London Lions following late heroics from Mike DiNunno.
The American guard was 0-7 from downtown before stepping up with two huge triples in the final minute to continue the Nix's recent win streak.
Dii'jon Allen-Jordan had a game-high 25 points for the visitors with Raheem May-Thompson adding 22 points in the win.
After a delayed start, the Lions were the quickest out of the blocks and they opened up a 29-21 advantage by the end of the opening period.
Navid Niktash raced to 19 points with a string of triples to ensure the Lions remained in command at the break. However, Cheshire hit back in the third and took the lead on the back of a 14-2 burst.
The Lions restored their advantage, but it would be the visitors ahead going into the final 10 minutes by the narrowest of margins.
London went on an 8-0 run to lead 76-71 but the game went right down to the wire with DiNunno tying the game with a three in the final minute.
Taylor held his nerve with two free throws to edge Lions ahead before DiNunno struck again from downtown for the win.
BBL Championship Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 96 (20,54,72) (Parks 22, Fletcher 17, Martin 16) Manchester Giants 65 (19,33,47) (Okoro 14, Toluwase 11, Jones 10)
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle returned to winning ways in dominant fashion as they recorded a 96-65 victory over Manchester Giants.
Fab Flournoy's side had lost ground in the title race with recent defeats, but powered their way to a 20th league win of the season.
Deondre Parks put up 22 points in the win in a balanced scoring attack from the Eagles, who were still without Darius Defoe.
The visitors made a bright start and were down by one at the end of the opening 10 minutes before Newcastle broke clear.
34 points were poured in by the home side in the second as they stormed into a 21-point lead at the interval with Rahmon Fletcher and Parks combining for 32 at the half - one short of Manchester's total tally.
The lead continued to grow in the third with Orlan Jackman scoring five straight to move his career BBL tally to 1000 points and he would finish with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Joe Hart started the fourth with back-to-back triples as the Eagles led by as many as 36 as they completed a comprehensive win.
Jerelle Okoro led the Giants with 14 points, while Callum Jones posted a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds in his 200th BBL Championship appearance.
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