As he prepares to move to Canada to become head coach of the University of Calgary, UWIC Archers coach Damien Jennings admits it will be tough to say goodbye to British basketball.
It is sad to say goodbye to UWIC Archers and Great Britain, admitted Damien Jennings , but two years ago I decided I wanted to coach full-time so have been reviewing several overseas options as there simply arent many full-time coaching jobs in basketball in the UK that can match the situation I was in.
I really wanted to finish the cycle with the GB squad group we had recruited at UWIC given their commitment to our Archers Academy and perhaps we all just felt 2011-12 was the most important year of preparation so I turned down previous calls to leave for full-time coaching until the role at the University of Calgary fortuitously went to interview after the season had finished.
Damien Jennings leaves the Cardiff university with a record of success behind him: The Archers programme has made gigantic steps since 2006 from our days mid-table in EBL Division Two to winning over 35 medals/trophies in the EBL and BUCS combined.
Making five successive BUCS finals with three back-to-back championships along route, accumulating a 46-game unbeaten run, whilst achieving the EBL One Playoff title within three seasons of being promoted makes me incredibly proud of all the efforts of those that supported our ambition.
Over six years we have not just become an apprenticeship hub for GB talent but have helped nurture over 30 international basketball players representing six different countries!
As for the EBLs contribution to the future it is about establishing an appropriate, sustainable funding structure; development focused clubs and an investment in the improvement of coaching so that the EBL and the UK can be a genuine alternative to the USA system for our most talented players and a genuine vocation-based option for our aspiring coaches - I would like to think for at least six years we tried to achieve these ambitions in our business model at the Archers but unfortunately a sustainable funding stream became the glass ceiling.
GB womens assistant Damien Jennings believes that the future of team is in safe hands. Britain failed to get a win in their five games at the Olympics, but produced some excellent performances that drew praise throughout the sport, and went agonisingly close to beating silver medallists France.
The Olympics was obviously an excellent experience said Damien Jennings . To be more specific the whole preparation phase, given that we were together since May 6th was an invaluable experience and journey.
The future for Team GB and British basketball looks bright with Temi [Fagbenle] making the step-up to senior level from the Under 20s we took into Division A last summer and three of the Futures players making the final Olympic 12 - with Azania Stewart and Jo Leedham also eligible last year for the World University Games side we took to China - so again it just highlights that the youthful age, yet experience, of at least half of the Olympic 12 displays a future with prospects.
Damien Jennings guided the GB Under 20 team to promotion in 2010, and they exceeded all expectations last summer with an eighth place finish in their Division A debut. Damien Jennings also coached the World Student Games team in China with some encouraging results. Courtesy of: http://www.englandbasketball.co.uk
Leicester Riders join Nottingham Wildcats and Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters in the WBBL Play-Off Semi-Finals. WBBL Play-Offs, Quarter-Finals, First Leg Leicester Riders 70 (14,34,43) (Hayward 25, Livermore 21, Thompson 9) Barking Abbey Crusaders 64 (14,25,36) (Wilkinson 17, Johnson 13, Naydenova-Goryanova 9) Leicester Riders booked their spot in the WBBL Play-Off Semi-Finals with a 70-64 victory against Barking Abbey Crusaders. Matt Harber's side join Nottingham Wildcats and West... [read more]
Leicester Riders join Nottingham Wildcats and Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters in the WBBL Play-Off Semi-Finals.
WBBL Play-Offs, Quarter-Finals, First Leg Leicester Riders 70 (14,34,43) (Hayward 25, Livermore 21, Thompson 9) Barking Abbey Crusaders 64 (14,25,36) (Wilkinson 17, Johnson 13, Naydenova-Goryanova 9)
Leicester Riders booked their spot in the WBBL Play-Off Semi-Finals with a 70-64 victory against Barking Abbey Crusaders.
Matt Harber's side join Nottingham Wildcats and Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters in the last four after holding off a late charge from the visitors.
Dee Hayward (170-G-91, college: Armstr.Atlantic) netted a game-high 25 points to lead the Riders to victory with Erika Livermore adding 21 points and 13 rebounds.
After an even first period, Leicester began to pull away in the second as they established a nine-point advantage heading into half-time.
The Crusaders held the home side to just three points in the opening seven minutes of the third as they closed to within a point, before 6-0 Riders close.
A 9-0 run put BA 43-45 ahead only for the Riders to respond to lead 60-52 with four minutes left and were able to hold on for the victory.
Savannah Wilkinson led BA with 17 points, while Abigail Johnson tallied 13 points and 12 rebounds as their season comes to an end.
Two WBBL powerhouses have progressed to the WBBL Championship Play-off semi-finals as Nottingham Wildcats and Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters won on Saturday as the journey to The O2 Arena began. Wildcats, the top seeds and back-to-back league champions, swept Cardiff Met Archers aside as they won 77-46 with Ashley Harris(187-F/C-90, college: Wayne St., NE) posting a double-double of 26 points and 13 rebounds. Wildcats have unfinished business in the post-season, having twice been run... [read more]
Two WBBL powerhouses have progressed to the WBBL Championship Play-off semi-finals as Nottingham Wildcats and Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters won on Saturday as the journey to The O2 Arena began.
Wildcats, the top seeds and back-to-back league champions, swept Cardiff Met Archers aside as they won 77-46 with Ashley Harris (187-F/C-90, college: Wayne St., NE) posting a double-double of 26 points and 13 rebounds. Wildcats have unfinished business in the post-season, having twice been runners-up in the Play-offs.
Hatters, the 2015 Play-off winners, came on strong in the fourth quarter to get past Manchester Mystics, 75-90 on the road. They were led by Helen Naylor' 24 points, although Naomi Campbell was crucial down the stretch with ten fourth quarter points.
Nottingham Wildcats are through to the WBBL Championship Play-off semi-finals after overpowering Cardiff Met Archers 77-46 in the East Midlands on Saturday, with Ashley Harris posting another big double-double of 26 points and 13 rebounds.
Wildcats are unbeaten in seven WBBL meetings with Archers, and had twice beaten them by more than thirty in this campaign.
They were also unbeaten at home throughout the league season, and all of that showed as they were 14-0 up inside three minutes when Siobhan Prior opened the game with two early three-pointers, and Ashley Harris added two more on her way to eight early points.
Stef Collins single-handedly fought back for the visiting Archers, but Hannah Shaw came from the bench to make back-to-back scores for Wildcats, and they led 26-10 after ten minutes, with Prior adding another trey.
Wildcats average six three-pointers per game, and they had made as many by the end of the first quarter, while allowing Archers to shoot just 20% from the field in the first half.
Archers, who had made it into the last Play-off place with three wins in their final six games, had no way back against the league champions.
Harris added nine more points in the first five minutes of the second stanza, and the lead went through 30 as Harris added four more and Prior hit another triple in a 9-2 run in the third period, reaching 64-33 when Prior added two more three-pointers, shooting 6/7 to that point.
And it stayed at that margin as Wildcats held their visitors scoreless for the first five minutes of the fourth, in what was their third best defensive performance of the season, while Melisa Mendes and Maya Hyacienth added late triples.
Wildcats are the top seeds, they've won back-to-back WBBL Championship titles, but they have never followed that up with a Play-off crown, having been runners-up in each of the last two campaigns.
Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters are into the WBBL Championship Play-off semi-finals after winning 75-90 on the road at Manchester Mystics in a clash between the league's fourth and fifth placed sides.
Hatters, Play-off winners in 2015, came into the game having lost their last two league games, and three of their last four on the road, to finish in their lowest ever position in the WBBL. And they were soon a long way behind in this game as Mystics raced into a double-digit lead at 22-9 when Rheanne Bailey, Lauren Thomas-Johnson and Amy Browne hit early three-pointers.
But Hatters then rattled off a quick nine points in response, capped by Jo Lowry's 'and-one', and they were back within one shot when Georgia Gayle hit a three-pointer. Helen Naylor then opened the second stanza with another triple, and Hatters were soon in front at 32-30 when Steph Gandy scored consecutively.
The teams - who won once each in league meetings, the head-to-head settled by just three points - could then barely be separated until the latter stages, with seven lead changes and the teams tied on six occasions.
But Hatters, who beat Mystics in the regular season run in and took that head-to-head, came on strong late on, winning the fourth quarter 28-10, beginning as Gandy and Naylor opened the period to put them in front.
Naomi Campbell scored five to keep Hatters in front, and Gayle made an 'and-one' as that pair scored all of the points in the decisive 11-2 run, Campbell proving crucial with ten fourth quarter points as Gayle's triple made the score 82-73.
The lead was double-figures when Naylor scored heading into the final minute, to keep Hatters in the race for The O2 Arena and a shot at regaining the title.
The WBBL clubs/coaches have cast their votes for the WBBL All-Defensive Team of the Year for 2016-17 and it is as follows: Nicolette Fong Lyew Quee (Team Northumbria) The livewire guard has taken her game to new levels in recent seasons and not only at the offensive end of the floor. Her quickness and basketball IQ have made her a real power defensively for Team Northumbria as she leads her team in steals. Rheanne Bailey(174-G/F-92) (Manchester Mystics) Showing leadership all over the c... [read more]
The WBBL clubs/coaches have cast their votes for the WBBL All-Defensive Team of the Year for 2016-17 and it is as follows:
Nicolette Fong Lyew Quee (Team Northumbria) The livewire guard has taken her game to new levels in recent seasons and not only at the offensive end of the floor. Her quickness and basketball IQ have made her a real power defensively for Team Northumbria as she leads her team in steals.
Rheanne Bailey (174-G/F-92) (Manchester Mystics) Showing leadership all over the court, Bailey is a colossus for Mystics and has been setting the tone defensively in an impressive season since they moved to their new home last summer, with a WBBL Cup to show for their efforts so far.
Steph Gandy (Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters) The veteran knows how to get the job done for her team. Her ability to guard multiple positions remains most impressive to those opposing coaches trying to find a way to break down Hatters and evade the attentions of Gandy.
Brittany Winborne (Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters) She may not be the biggest in the paint, but the physical presence of Winborne and some spectacular work on the glass as the league's leading rebounder, has meant the WBBL rookie has been one of the few constants in a challenging campaign for Hatters.
Tricia Oakes (Caledonia Pride) Check out any action from WBBL newcomers Caledonia Pride and you can expect to see Oakes stuffing the highlights reel with blocked shots as she is the league's top swatter. She has also been a real leader on the boards for her team as well.
Off the Bench - Siobhan Prior (Nottingham Wildcats), Georgia Jones (Manchester Mystics), Dom Allen (Manchester Mystics), Jamila Thompson (Leicester Riders), Melisa Mendes (Nottingham Wildcats), Deanne Hayward (Leicester Riders), Stef Collins (Cardiff Met Archers).
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