Date Time League Season
January 13, 2023 7:30 pm Men's Trophy 2022-23

Marc Steutel might have returned one of the most dynamic players of the modern era after sealing a deal for homecoming hero Justin Gordon.

But ahead of tonight’s cross border clash at Caledonia Gladiators, the Newcastle Eagles playcaller has already settled on his on-court leader.

And after in-form David Cohn rocketed into this week’s BBL All Star starting five, Steutel is demanding more from the astute all-rounder.

“I’ve actually said to David that I’d rather his voice be heard more than mine,” said Newcastle’s head coach.

“The way that he plays offensively and what he sees offensively is a real asset for us.

“Being more familiar with his team-mates and with his environment has really helped but David’s somebody who can impact the game at both ends of the court.

“His IQ has never been in doubt. David would agree there was a little bit of an adjustment period when he first arrived.

“But the way he played throughout the game against Surrey last week — and particularly in that third quarter — was electric.

“We ask David to be assertive and the more familiar he’s getting with his team-mates, the more he’s dictating the tempo for us.”

The mouthwatering prospect of Cohn and Gordon penetrating the paint in tandem will have Newcastle fans drooling after the latter committed to a third spell on Tyneside.

Just how many minutes the 2021 BBL Cup final MVP will get against the Gladiators tonight remains to be seen.

But Gordon should be firmly back in the groove by the time former team-mate Rahmon Fletcher and his Manchester Giants hit the Vertu Motors Arena next week.

For now the focus is on a Caledonia roster admired and respected by Steutel — with the two teams tied at 1-1 for the season.

“The basketball we’ve played against the Gladiators so far this season has been really good to watch,” he added.

“We were really proud of the win against them here — or at least proud of the second half performance — and that showed the resilience we have in this group.

“We put some defensive stops together for longer spells of that game and that helped us get to where we are today.

“That opened up our game offensively and when we guard that way we’re really solid.

“But Caledonia are really talented offensively. Jeremiah Bailey is a tough cover for anybody in the league and their backcourt is talented.

“Gareth Murray is doing a good job with them. They’re playing really well and they’re really disciplined.

“But we’ve watched the Surrey game back again and we understand why we were good for longer periods — now I have to challenge the team to be better towards the end of the game and that starts against the Gladiators.

“That’s what’s going to be important now as we get towards the second half of the season.”

Newcastle have won three of their last four games to arrest a frustrating six-game losing skid.

And the Eagles have finally locked in the consistency and game management lacking for the first three months of a challenging campaign.

Cohn’s leadership — coupled with the smart recruitment of aggressive forward Hasahn French — has underpinned a long overdue revival in Newcastle’s fortunes.

And it’s hoped that adding proven BBL performer Gordon to the mix can elevate the Eagles to the next level.

But Steutel warned: “We have to maintain our consistency week in, week out.

“Justin’s recruitment is a real boost but I’m not asking him — or anyone — to be some kind of saviour.

“This group has pledged to share responsibility for everything we do and that won’t change.”

The BBL Trophy First Round game tips-off at 7:30pm and can be watched live on the BBL’s YouTube channel.