What a load of rubbish! No, not us and how the season ended although that wasn’t good, no I’m referring to my predictions. I got two right and two wrong. I won’t dwell on the right ones, but I will look at the wrong ones and one in particular, can you guess which?
So, London beat Worcester, but I so nearly got this one right. Joe Ik’s last-ditch saver and then double-overtime were needed for me to get that one wrong but, get it wrong I did. Congratulations Lions for upsetting my predictions.
Strangely enough having squeaked past Wolves I now expect Vince’s boys to take down The Rocks despite Rocks winning the regular season clash 2 – 1 and beating Lions on their home-court by 18 back in March. Why? Not sure just after seeing Lions they just seem destined for The O2.
So, Rocks fans, get your weekend’s in London booked now as given my record I’m bound to get one wrong! Who am I kidding, Eagles fans won’t even read this drivel let alone Rocks fans!
But, if I’m going to get one wrong I would have to say it’s going to be Rocks/Lions as despite their magnificent achievement in beating us, I think Flyers will be shot down by Riders who I also feel may well win both legs. This of course brings me nicely on to the topic of the one I got so, so wrong!
I don’t want to diss Bristol and Coach K’s boys, they thoroughly deserved it and have earned their place in the Play-Off semi-finals. Over the two games aggregate scores don’t lie and they certainly put us to the sword last Sunday.
But, after a few days to reflect I can’t help thinking that we lost this one rather than Bristol winning it. And where did we lose it? Well this is the sort of arty-fa**y analysis that makes analysis so wondrously weird as I believe we lost it in the first leg and not the second!
We were 18 points up with 4:12 to go. We were in the driving seat with no need to force it. Bristol were the team needing to force the game and wrestle control. The stats in that last 4:12 take some believing.
We shot six 3-point shots making two when we didn’t have to force it. They were two of four from long range in the same time frame. They outscored us 19 – 12 in those last four plus minutes when we should have controlled the game.
Of those 19 points, 11 came from the charity stripe where they were 11 from 11 in the last 4:12. We never went to the free-throw line once in that last period of the game, a period when they should have been forced to be the aggressor.
Now, I know the saying, there’s lies, lies and damn statistics but to me that final 4:12 just gave Bristol that little bit of belief and momentum going in to the second leg and then when Jure couldn’t play and Jaysean picked up two fouls in the first 58 seconds they sniffed the upset and the rest is history.
So, let’s close the season down and put it behind us. In the end we came up short. Third in the league and not making a semi-final in any of the cup competitions is not the Eagles way. But it’s also not the Eagles way to mope about it and look back in anger or with regret.
They say it happens. It certainly did this season. Did we bring in too many inexperienced but highly talented players that had potential but not a winning mentality. Did we also bring in too many that didn’t understand the BBL or the Eagles way? All could be debatable and discussed.
I stand by what I said at the beginning of the season. This team really excited me going in to the season, it looked balanced, it looked talented and it looked potent. The one big question mark was the experience factor and whether they would gel to the Eagles way.
The end result would seem to say that the question was answered in the negative and in a big way. I do tire when people say other teams would have swapped for our season. I don’t think that’s true. Surrey, Bristol, Leicester, Glasgow and London I would be prepared to say wouldn’t have swapped.
The other somewhat astonishing and very surprising stat is our road record. No wins at Leicester, London, Surrey, Glasgow or Worcester and our current run is seven in a row lost away from home. Very un-Eagle like and definitely one thing we need to look at for next season.
Did we not adjust well to our adversities? Probably not. Could we have adapted to a different style? Possibly yes. But our way is our way and it’s taken a long, long, long time to break it so we’ve never needed to fix it. But, it does look slightly in need of repair at the moment.
We do have to factor in our injuries. Probably one of the worst seasons we’ve had for injuries. Not so much the number and the severity but perhaps more the timing of some. Terry was just starting to look like he was turning the corner and then he was gone.
The politics and reasoning for not replacing or even being able to replace him are not for public consumption I’m afraid. Let’s just say if we could have replaced him we would have. We did almost sign a player just before the Commonwealths, but it fell through and then it was too late.
We probably would have lost Darius to the Commonwealths had he not been injured. Perhaps we could have planned around that a bit better. BUT and it’s a big BUT, there were other factors that had to be taken in to account at that time and which meant we couldn’t react the way we’d have liked.
But in the end the analysis is that we promised much and delivered, by our standards, not enough. It wasn’t for the want of trying. It wasn’t for the want of commitment. It wasn’t for the want of talking about it and trying to fix things. We did all that and more. In the end it just wasn’t our turn or time.
I have to say congratulations at this stage to Jaysean for picking up the Basketball Writers Association’s MVP of the year award. Perhaps slightly surprising and there may be more to follow. But, there’s no denying Jay’s ability and potential and he did lead the league in scoring.
Plus, he assisted and rebounded too with great numbers as a guard. He possibly could have had an even better season as at times he made it look ridiculously easy but also at times he looked like a 23-year old professional playing his first FULL year as a professional.
Will he move on? Will Saah, AJ, Jure, Darius, Kai, Jamal, Drew, Zarko, Fab and Themba be back as players? Who knows and believe you me at this raw time we don’t, but one thing’s certain there’s going to be another very interesting summer to come.
So, a longer than I thought blog! I haven’t even mentioned the new Arena and the very exciting, well to me it is, series of 3 x 3 I want to bring you, the first instalment of which is imminent and features two great pieces from two former Eagles which I think you’ll enjoy.
I do sometimes get carried away when I start typing and the thoughts start flowing and I probably lose a lot of you with the length but, I have my thoughts and views and I’ve been told by many, all of which I thank immensely, that you enjoy these.
I never forget though that I’m fortunate to be able to bring MY thoughts and you have to remember they are MY thoughts and nothing more. Blogs aren’t always meant to politically correct and they are also meant to be food for thought and discussion. I hope that’s what I convey to you all.