Team Northumbria playcaller Chris Bunten has admitted his new-look women’s basketball roster have plenty to do following a 1-3 start to their WBBL campaign.
The Sport Central side fell agonisingly short against early-season pacesetters Sheffield Hatters after hauling themselves back into contention during the game of the weekend.
And Bunten will be hoping TN can maintain their consistency for four quarters when Oaklands visit Tyneside on Sunday.
“We had opportunities to win the Sheffield game,” he admitted. “We were a key player down but that being said we still had enough talent and the players to win the game.
“We executed well for most of the game but in the fourth quarter we went through a five-minute period where we didn’t score, and then we went away from our defensive principles so they were able to pull the gap out a little bit.
“There’s a lot we need to work on.”
TN took a four-point lead into the final quarter and Bunten hoped his side had done enough to close out a key early-season clash.
“I was impressed by what I saw,” he added. “We were down 14 in the second quarter and we pulled it back to within four for the second half so we did a good job responding and that’s a credit to the group and how hard they play.
“It will be a process. There’s certain decisions that we will make in the right places and at the right time during the year.
“If we can eradicate some of those mental lapses, I know we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with and then when it comes to the games that matter no one will want to play us. I’m looking forward to seeing how we respond over the next few weeks.”
Bunten was keen to stress that with such a long season ahead, he was sure that his new look side would be able to make the necessary adjustments to make this a successful campaign.
“Defensively we need to look at our rotations,” he added. “I needed to make an adjustment against Sheffield.
“We haven’t really looked at doubling the post and that hurt us against the Hatters. It’s still so early in the season and it’s such a long season so some stuff we might not have covered yet.
“We’ll be putting new things in the game plan further down the line.
“It’s encouraging at times that we can play some very nice basketball and we can compete with some very good sides.
“We compete well for about 80% of the game but the players need to be pushing 100% in these tougher games.
“We need to work out how we can get to the free throw line. I need to make the adjustments offensively and we need to make better reads which will continue as chemistry builds throughout the season.
“The current group are an absolute joy to coach and they’re so responsive.
“However, we need to get better in training to make sure these slip-ups don’t happen again.
“They’re a brand new group and I’ve got some very talented players. It’s going to take a little longer for us to get on the same page.
“We’ve set ourselves some good targets for the season and we know that come the end of the season we’re going to be a very tough team to face. So as long as we continue to improve I’ll be happy.”
Report by Oscar Haley