Levett Essex Leopards are delighted to announce that Thomas Baker will remain as the club's coach for the 2017/18 season.
The 27-year-old play-caller was thrown in at the deep end when he took over the job with four games remaining, and although three heart-wrenching defeats in four games - along with a thrilling double overtime win at Worthing - saw the Big Cats suffer relegation, Leopards' board of directors had no hesitation in handing him the job for next season:
"We've been really impressed with how Tom handled a difficult situation" said general manager Dave Ryan.
"To come in with four games to go when we were a terrible losing streak and make such a positive difference left us in no doubt that he was the right man for the job.
"He commanded respect from the players but also gave them a chance to express themselves. The team spirit in those last few games was greatly improved and they showed a lot of guts to get the win at Worthing after the heartbreak of relegation in Lancashire.
"We now have a long summer ahead of us to build a team that will bounce straight back and bring silverware to the Leopards.
"Tom's appointment strengthens our links with Oaklands Academy and shows the benefits of the two organisations working together."
Baker played basketball at East Durham College before moving into coaching in 2009, and joined Oaklands Basketball Academy as Performance Analyst/Academy Coach in 2012. He graduated from University of Hertfordshire in 2012 and was Performance Analyst of England under-18 women's team between 2012-2015. He has also been regional East under-15 and under-17 Head Coach since 2013. Michael Ball, Oaklands' Director of Basketball, is delighted that Baker will coach the Leopards during 2017/18: 'I could see that Thomas truly enjoyed the last four games of this season and that the players and fans responded positively to his approach. I know that he is going to be looking at an exciting mix of young talent together with some experienced players.
"It is really positive that a young English coach is getting this opportunity and that more of our performance players at Oaklands College basketball academy are going to get the chance to be part of the future of the Leopards.'
Baker is raring to go in his new job: "It's a great feeling for me right now," he said "I thoroughly enjoyed the four games I had at the end of this season with Leopards, and I felt like even though we didn't get the results we needed that we are still capable of competing at the Division One level.
"It was a great experience to see what basketball is like in Division One and having been involved in national teams previously I was no stranger to scouting and the detail that must go into preparation before these games. The feeling at the end of the season was we all wanted more games together so to know that I will be coming back next year is great. "Preparation for next season starts now. It is important we are all aware of the task ahead and whilst I feel we can get promoted straight away back to Division One, no one is going to come out and roll over next season, so we must have a good off-season and hit the ground running in pre-season and be ready to come together and compete in every single game.
"Players must be ready to be held accountable to the decisions they make and also we must all work together collectively to continue to improve each and every game. "The team behind the scenes at Leopards have done an outstanding job building a fantastic team and matchday environment over a number of years now and being a highly ambitious coach I can't wait to carry on that work. it is going to be a pleasure to lead the team during next year in Division Two and I am confident we will be back where we belong in no time.
"I want to help the club bring back performances that will excite the fans and continue to raise the profile of what is already a well established club in the British game."
Townsville Heat adds Anderson to their roster, ex Cheshire P. - 1 day ago
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Townsville Heat (QBL) added to their roster 27-year old British forward Jamell Anderson (200-90). He just played at Cheshire Phoenix in British BBL league. In 33 games he recorded 10.7ppg, 5.0rpg, 2.5apg and 1.9spg this season. The last season Anderson played at Leicester Riders (also in BBL) where in 34 games he averaged 6.6ppg, 3.2rpg and 1.5apg. He helped them to win the regular season and make it to the final. They also played in the Cup final. A very spectacular season in his career... [read more]
Townsville Heat (QBL) added to their roster 27-year old British forward Jamell Anderson (200-90). He just played at Cheshire Phoenix in British BBL league. In 33 games he recorded 10.7ppg, 5.0rpg, 2.5apg and 1.9spg this season. The last season Anderson played at Leicester Riders (also in BBL) where in 34 games he averaged 6.6ppg, 3.2rpg and 1.5apg. He helped them to win the regular season and make it to the final. They also played in the Cup final. A very spectacular season in his career as he was voted to Eurobasket.com British BBL All-Defensive Team. The list of the past achievements is quite long as among others Anderson's team won British BBL Cup for two years in a row (2013 and 2014). He represented United Kingdom at the 3x3 World Championships in Greece five years ago. Anderson has played also professionally for other British teams like Nottingham Tribe and Essex Pirates.
It's our penultimate line-up of 2016-17 and while a trio took their last opportunity to shine as their respective seasons came to an end, two of our starters will be hoping to re-appear as they head into the Play-Offs! Mike DiNunno (Cheshire Phoenix) As the curtain fell on an eventful season at Phoenix, the playmaker signed off his participation in spectacular style with a typically influential contribution. Di Nunno lit it up at Cheshire Oaks Arena against Leeds Force by harvesting a ma... [read more]
It's our penultimate line-up of 2016-17 and while a trio took their last opportunity to shine as their respective seasons came to an end, two of our starters will be hoping to re-appear as they head into the Play-Offs!
Mike DiNunno (Cheshire Phoenix) As the curtain fell on an eventful season at Phoenix, the playmaker signed off his participation in spectacular style with a typically influential contribution. Di Nunno lit it up at Cheshire Oaks Arena against Leeds Force by harvesting a massive 36 points in just 22 minutes, after sinking a sizzling eight scores from beyond the three-point line. He also had three rebounds, three assists and not a single turnover during his time on court.
Callum Jones (193-G-85, college: Pace) (Manchester Giants) They may have finished propping up the table, but there was at least a smile of sorts heading into the summer for Giants as they ended their participation with an exciting home win against Plymouth Raiders. That was largely down to a magnificent effort from Jones, as he led his team to victory with a quite brilliant line. The guard finished with a majestic double-double of 26 points and 16 rebounds, while adding seven assists for good measure.
Earl Brown (Cheshire Phoenix) Finishing the season with a flourish and arguably the most consistent performer throughout a campaign of changes for Phoenix, Brown was in scintillating form against Leeds. While his team-mate DiNunno excelled in the backcourt, the forward scythed down Force by registering a huge double-double. He did the business in the paint with an astonishing 84% from the field for 28 points and also added 14 boards and five steals.
Leslee Smith (Bristol Flyers) Despite their worrying start to the season, Flyers find themselves in the Play-Offs after a weekend win double which catapulted them into seventh place. It was imperative Flyers got off to a positive start in their double-header and Smith brought the noise in a big way against Manchester. He was sensational and very much the difference-maker in a hard-fought victory against Giants with a monumental 19-point and 21-rebound double-double to delight the locals.
Tony Wroblicky (DBL Sharks Sheffield) The Sharks are now looking to defend the BBL Play-Off title they famously won at The 02 in London last May and if they manage to do it, you can expect Wroblicky to have a big hand in it. He was on fire for Sharks as they ended Worcester's record winning streak by beating them on the road and in front of the BBC Sport cameras. He weighed in with an outstanding double-double of 25 points and 13 rebounds, also not spilling the ball once in 30 minutes on the hardwood.
Off the Bench - Rashad Hassan (London Lions), Kieron Achara (Glasgow Rocks), Jermaine Sanders (Leeds Force), Rahmon Fletcher (Esh Group Eagles Newcastle), Hameed Ali (Bristol Flyers), Chaz Rollins (Surrey Scorchers), Rob Marsden (Leeds Force).
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