Chris Bunten will not allow a painful bump in the road to knock Team Northumbria off course after insisting his new-look roster remains en route to WBBL success.
The 2016 Playoff champions let slip a winning position to go down 85-79 in an overtime thriller at Sevenoaks Suns.
But that heartbreaking defeat followed a first road win of the season at Cardiff Met Archers.
And Bunten saw enough during both games to believe TN can overcome Sheffield Hatters at Sport Central next weekend.
“The bigger picture is that we’re improving game on game and if we continue to do that then we’re more than capable of beating Sheffield,” he said.
“In terms of defence the performance against Cardiff was a big step up from the previous
“And although we lost against Sevenoaks our defence was consistent and we improved our offensive output.
“It’s easy to look at our results and a 1-2 start isn’t an ideal start to the season. But I won’t be pressing the panic button – I’ve watched all three games and I know we’re heading in the right direction.”
TN could – and should – be looking at a 2-1 record after leading by eight points heading into the final quarter at the Suns.
The hosts were playing catch up for much of a keenly contested clash and even need to sink a final three-pointer to take the match to overtime.
Sevenoaks converted from range to secure an extra five minutes and fatigue finally took its toll on TN after an energy-sapping weekend on the road.
“I think that played a part,” added Bunten. “You don’t want the second game of an away double header to go into overtime.
“But it felt like a missed opportunity. They hit a three off the backboard to tie the game at 71 apiece and we did all we could to defend our lead at the death.
“I don’t think we did anything wrong defending that shot but what we did do was lose our focus in overtime.
“We stuck to the gameplan for 40 minutes. The only problem was that we played a 45-minute match.”
An impressive 55-45 win at Cardiff was built on the type of total team defence Bunten has been striving for throughout his tenure as TN playcaller.
Restricting the Welsh side to fewer than 50 points was a huge positive for the visitors in front of a partisan homecourt crowd.
And Bunten added: “It’s never an easy place to go to and pick up the win. I wanted to see more in terms of our offensive productivity but defensively we made giant strides.”
Ali Gorrell bagged 46 points across the weekend with a game high 30 against Sevenoaks earning her the MVP award.
Bunten will assess the fitness of Kara Bonenberger heading into the Sheffield clash after the US centre rolled her ankle during the first quarter against the Suns.
Report by Simon Rushworth