After the Lord Mayor’s Show was the expression that came to mind on Friday night when Newcastle Eagles went down to a 73 – 55 defeat at the hands of Bristol Flyers in the BBL Championship at the Vertu Motors Arena.
In what was one of the most disappointing displays in recent memories, the Eagles failed to build on last weekend’s tremendous wins over London and Cheshire and took another step back in their rollercoaster of a season so far.
Head Coach Ian MacLeod was a deflated figure as he discussed the result and performance in his post-game review.
“I think it was naivety. We were bullied a little bit. We lost the physical battle and the mental battle followed. We went fifteen to five up but realistically they were missing shots during that time. Even at that stage I didn’t think we had control of the game.”
“If you wind the clock back before that it felt like it was four – four forever. Right from the beginning it just didn’t feel that our intent was there. No sense of urgency was a real problem.”
Eagles often talk about their defence sparking their offence but Bristol’s strong play inside at the Newcastle basket didn’t really give MacLeod’s side a chance to apply their usual springboard.
“They got forty-six points in the paint we got eighteen. We shot a lot of ten-foot, 12-foot shots from forty-five-degree angles and a lot of jump shots from the free-throw line. We just didn’t seem to have the intent to go in closer and try to finish strong at the rim.”
“One of their best weapons was an offensive rebound. Just their physicality and intent that we just didn’t match all night. I’m not going to take anything away from Bristol. They came with a game plan and executed it well.”
“We talked about their game plan and what we expected and it was the exact game plan we expected. So, I’m not sure we were beaten by Bristol tonight I think we might well have beaten ourselves and I don’t mean that in anyway disrespectfully to Bristol at all who did what they had to do.”
“I don’t think though they did enough to blow us out the way they did as far as scheme-wise. It was just our lack of intent and urgency allowed that to happen and we allowed them to win the game and take it by the scruff of the neck.”
During the game it was obvious that MacLeod and Assistant Jack Burgess were frustrated and kept trying different looks and tactics to raise their game but nothing seemed to work as MacLeod explained.
“We just tried to keep reminding the players of our game plan. There was no offence that Bristol ran that I was surprised by although despite talking about it my players did seem very surprised at times by everything they did because we weren’t present in the moment.”
“We’ve ran every play in our play-book to try and get better looks but the quality wasn’t there to execute it. We changed defence four times but it’s very difficult when players keep making individual errors. We missed open layups, free-throws at crucial times. It was just a catalogue of errors.”
It was perhaps even more galling for MacLeod after the two previous performances and then coming into a home game which on paper looked a very winnable game.
“It’s never as easy as it seems. My immediate concern is that we’re only getting up for the big games and that can’t happen. We have to bring it week in and week out. You’re not going to win week in week out but your intent has always got to be right and the same.”
“We played at a high level against level and against Cheshire although the level dropped a bit. It dropped again tonight and we got punished. Are we going to raise that level of intent next week? Then how do we progress? We have to bring the same level of intensity to every game.”
Certainly, Newcastle are going to need a big performance next weekend as they are on the road at current League Champions Leicester Riders a side that are bang in-form and that have already beaten the Eagles convincingly earlier this season.
The game will be live on Sky Sports Arena (with subscription), Sky Sports Mix (free for Sky customers) and free to watch on the Sky Sports YouTube channel as well as the BBL Player.