Chris Bunten will be looking for the right response from his underperforming players against league leaders Sevenoaks Suns on Sunday after what he described as Team Northumbria’s worst display of the season.
With a lengthy injury list finally showing some signs of easing, the hosts welcomed Cardiff Archers to Sport Central seeking to get their WBBL playoff push back on track.
And although star players Ali Gorrel and Hannah Shaw both saw significant minutes on the road to recovery it was the Welsh club who snatched a deserved 65-59 win.
“It’s a game that we should have won,” said Bunten. “I’m very disappointed.
“It’ the first time this season that I’ve been really annoyed and I know that the players came off the court feeling the same way.
“We just didn’t have any desire or passion.
“Cardiff got thumped the day before and I told the girls to hit them hard in the first half so that the only thing they were thinking about at half-time was the seven-hour journey back to Wales.
“In the end it was the opposite situation. We gave them confidence and belief that they could take something from the game and it was a very poor showing on our part.
“Hannah did her job offensively but wasn’t where we need her to be defensively. Ali was just trying to feel her way back onto court and find some kind of form after six weeks out.
“But it’s not about them. I’m just disappointed with the whole squad and how they approached the game.
“It seemed like every single possession one or two players weren’t focused and it was never the same two players. Everyone was culpable.
“It’s been tough with players missing through injury but that had nothing to do with the defeat against Cardiff. We had the players and the gameplan to win that game but we didn’t.”
Sevenoaks lost their first championship game of the season last weekend and Bunten believes that was the worst possible outcome for TN.
“The fact that Leicester defeated them makes our job a lot harder,” he added.
“The pressure is off them now. They’re not thinking about protecting that 100% record – it’s gone. So Sevenoaks can relax and I’m sure they’ll be doubly determined to get back to winning ways.
“I’d like to think we have enough in our locker to be competitive and give them some cause for concern. Kara [Bonenberger] and Kalina [Axetievas] could be back but Jodie [Tucker] rolled her ankle against Cardiff and so our bad luck with injuries just keeps getting worse.
“Having said that there is some light at the end of the tunnel and I can see a day soon when everyone is back and fit.
“My concern is that day will coincide with me, Hannah and Ali heading off to the Commonwealth Games. We’ve been looking forward to it for so long now but it looks like it could come at the worst time possible in terms of everyone being back and getting some solid weeks of practice in before the playoffs.”
TN host Sevenoaks at Sport Central from 4pm on Sunday.
Report by Simon Rushworth