So, what can I say, we reach Christmas second in the league and in the quarter-finals of the BBL Trophy with a home tie to look forward too. We may even get an indication of how that could go with our last game of 2017 being away in Sheffield.
Many, if not all of you, will be buying/wrapping Christmas presents, doing the food shopping for the big day and in general making plans to be with family and friends at this time of the year. We are no different.
By my reckoning at least six of the team have flown these pastures and gone home for the festive season to be with family and friends. They will all return of course in plenty of time to prepare for the Sheffield game but for now it is right that they get to spend time away.
I read a couple of comments on the various forums that with us losing three league games in a row and three out of our last four overall that they shouldn’t be allowed home and should stay to work on what we need to put things right.
Stuff and nonsense, I say. Perhaps a break from the pressures, each other and the chance to re-charge the batteries is exactly what they need. Time to clear the minds, think of other things and re-group. Personally, I think that’s best, but time will tell.
So, what of the season. Well, the W’s are W’s and take care of themselves. No matter how they came they are in the right column and that’s all we need to think about where they are concerned.
It’s the L’s we need to look at in more depth. All of them have really hurt but two have really disappointed us and it’s the one’s that we lost by a single play. Now, I subscribe to the theory that basketball is a 40-minute game and lots of things happen within that time-frame.
Ultimately a wide-open lay-up could be missed on the first play of the game or a needless turnover may occur early that could have been avoided. They may have been the play that changed the game and not the ones that got highlighted.
But what of the “highlighted” plays? I guarantee that 999,999 times out of a 1,000,00 Fab gets the play right against Cheshire and we’re in the semi-finals of The Cup and by now possibly even The Final.
He didn’t, we aren’t and no-one, absolutely no-one knows that more than Fab. But, it’s basketball, these things happen and it’s how you react to that, that matters. We reacted well until we got to Plymouth.
On the basis of what we saw in that game, Raiders are the best team we have faced this season. They were up for it, they were ready, and they took full advantage of us being without both Z and at the last-minute Kai.
Sometimes you just know when a team is going to raise its game against us and it’s pretty often to be honest. That was one of those occasions and again, we needed to put it behind us and move on. Unfortunately, it may, and this is only my opinion, be that one that counted most.
The next one was Glasgow. We had a week to be ready, we were at full-strength and they weren’t, so we were confident going in to that one. What transpired wasn’t good to watch. They came out of the traps like five Usain Bolt’s and we didn’t.
We gave them all the momentum and they held on to it. We rallied too late and ultimately paid the price. But, the series is merely tied 1 – 1 now and if we get them the next time it will be a good comeback. Plus, they’re out of The Trophy too!
Leicester last week was another harrowing one. Jaysean got a lot of stick for his reaction to the steal and dunk that put us ahead by three. Yes, he should have took a leaf out of Terry Dozier’s book and challenged the inbound but two other things should have happened.
Firstly, it was a steal and he was clear so there was a need to ensure he was covered and we needed no-one else forward. Then of course Bernadini got open and drained the triple. Credit to him as he was ice-cold before that play and could easily have missed it.
But, were they the two plays that made the difference? Well they made A difference but not necessarily THE difference. There were other plays and one thing we do need to look at is that we came up with 26 offensive rebounds but clearly didn’t convert enough of them.
However, it’s all ifs and buts and in the end, it was a hurting loss BUT only a two-point loss. Could we have played better? Absolutely? Should we have played better? Absolutely? And if we had would Leicester have been able to stop us? Not sure they would have.
I might be wrong in my assumption and I often am, but I sensed that Riders felt they dodged a bullet and that with their roster and the way they played got away with one. People have said all season long that this is not a good Leicester team.
From what I saw on Friday I’d agree BUT, they keep winning and they seem to keep pulling it out in tight games too. That makes them perhaps not the best but perhaps the toughest and it also means as we go in to the New Year they are on the front foot driving forward.
I think from what I’ve seen they will not necessarily get better, I’m not sure they have the personnel now to get any better but what they have got is very effective, good enough to beat most of the rest and keeps winning.
I, for one, think we can still improve and will still improve. We have work to do of that there is no doubt but if we can come back strong from the break, re-group and channel our undeniable talent in to an effective team unit then I think we’ll be as tough as anyone.
That’s perhaps why this break comes at a good time and we probably need it more than others. The players will be with family and friends. They will eat, drink and make merry, that is what they should do and is their right as it is ours.
But, I can tell you this team cares and I know in those quieter moments when they’re away they’ll be chewing things over in their minds, re-setting and re-appraising and be doubly determined to come back and show that the last few weeks have been a blip and are behind us.
That’s what the focus is and that’s why we’re all in this together. Christmas is a time for reflection, contemplation and decisions for all and that includes the Basketball world we are engrossed and enamoured in.
We’ll be back.