Marc Steutel is demanding Newcastle Eagles up their defensive effort ahead of this weekend’s Championship double header following a dispiriting defeat in Scotland.
And Newcastle’s playcaller will double down on Justin Gordon’s Eagles rehabilitation after the forward failed to spark on his BBL return.
The men in black host Rahmon Fletcher’s Manchester Giants this Friday before the long trip to Bristol Flyers on Sunday.
And Steutel accepts his hot and cold roster has work to do after shipping 97 points at Caledonia Gladiators on Friday night.
“We need to get back to playing the way that we want to play,” said Newcastle’s frustrated head coach.
“That’s defensively and that includes understanding the shots that we want the opposition to take.
“Offensively we simply have to execute better against Manchester and Bristol next weekend.
“It’s going to be a tough weekend against two very good teams so we need to be at our very best.”
A fully match fit Gordon will surely help an Eagles team looking to claw its way back into this season’s playoff picture.
But perhaps unsurprisingly the 29-year-old former BBL Cup final MVP looked off the pace and out of sorts during a brief cameo against the Gladiators.
That Gordon picked up four fouls in just seven minutes coming off the bench didn’t help.
But Steutel insisted Newcastle’s latest mid-season signing can count on the full support of coaches and players as he bids to recapture his best BBL form.
“With Justin it’s all about that word ‘integration’,” added the acting GB national coach.
“Once we get him integrated and acclimatised within this group he’ll be an exciting addition to our roster.
“We want to see the best of him and it’s our job as a coaching team to bring that out of him in the future.”
Prior to tip off north of the border, Steutel had identified in-form Gladiator Jeremiah Bailey as the man to stop in a Caledonia jersey.
But the Eagles’ premature exit from this season’s BBL Trophy was largely down to the homecourt star’s game high 31 points.
Newcastle — seven-time winners of the competition after reaching the final 10 times — had no answer to red hot Bailey.
And Steutel confessed: “We needed to do a much better job on a very tough basketball player.
“We allowed Bailey to get into a rhythm and then we tried to disrupt his flow.
“But we still didn’t do a good enough job and gave him the opportunities to make some tough shots.”
Steutel headed to Scotland in positive mood following an upturn in Newcastle’s fortunes.
But the team’s least convincing performance for weeks left a sour taste in the mouth of their passionate playcaller.
“I think game management was our biggest problem on Friday,” added Steutel as he reflected on a 97-86 loss.
“Every time that we gave ourselves a chance to get back in the game — and we even led early in the second half — our execution and shot selection could have been better.
“We absolutely need to learn how to manage those situations and especially on the road.
“Even so there were some positives to take away from what was a tough night.
“I thought Denzel [Ubiaro] was really positive and we want to see him be impactful in those situations. That was the most pleasing thing to take away from the Gladiators game.”
Ubiaro sparkled with eight points in just 10 minutes off the bench and Donovan Johnson enjoyed his best night yet in an Eagles jersey.
The veteran American stayed out of foul trouble to bag 17 points, six rebounds and two blocks while Javion Hamlet led all Newcastle scorers with 19 points, six boards and five assists.
Tickets for Friday’s league clash with the Giants are available on the box office.