Marc Steutel is convinced the Hasahn French factor can fuel Newcastle Eagles’ last gasp push for the 2023 Play-Offs.
And Steutel wants more of the same from the club’s mobile man mountain with fierce rivals Sheffield due in town this Friday.
“When Hasahn’s assertive he’s a big, big threat,” said Newcastle’s playcaller as he counted down to the last six games of the regular season.
“With that self-confident approach comes better decision making, added pressure on defence and the ability to draw in opposition players.
“As assertive Hasahn is so hard to handle. He’s able to finish, exert that pressure in the paint and get his team-mates involved.
“He’s bought into the cause from day one and nobody can fault his effort.
“At a time when we’re undermanned he has the potential to bring something different to the party and we need that right now.
“During the run-in we need a few more performances like his display against Surrey. If we can get that out of Hasahn then he can put us in the best position possible.”
French and Darius Defoe dominated the post position at the Surrey Sports Park on Sunday as the dynamic BBL rookie joined forces with the league’s most decorated player to snuff out the Scorchers’ favoured pick and roll.
It was a dual defensive effort that delighted Steutel and he added: “The way they worked for each other was fantastic to see.
“Hasahn and Darius love a physical match-up and they were outstanding defensively.
“I’m hoping it’s a case of same again for Sheffield as we can’t allow Bennett Koch to get a foothold in the game like he did earlier in the season.”
The Sharks make the short trip north as one of the BBL’s form sides with former Eagles favourite Rodney Glasgow Jr pulling the strings in the backcourt.
Sheffield reeled off six straight wins before last weekend’s narrow loss at Cheshire and Steutel is steeling himself for another tough night at the Vertu Motors Arena.
The Good Friday fixture is looking like the latest in a series of noisy sellouts and Newcastle’s head coach insisted: “It’s a game we have to take.
“After the effort we put in down at Surrey we absolutely need to make it back-to-back wins.
“But the Sharks are always a tough team to beat and right now they’re on a roll.
“They’ve added some real pace to their play and they’re getting up and down the court with a bit more fluidity.
“Sheffield has a clear identity heading into the business end of the season but I know that the best version of Newcastle Eagles is good enough to beat them.
“We need to be the aggressor on Friday and play with a siege mentality.”
Steutel accepts that Newcastle’s failure to close out games from winning positions has piled the pressure on the men in black as they chase down eighth-placed Plymouth.
But the Eagles successfully closed out the Scorchers clash with a combination of smart clock management and improved shot selection.
“People will look at the 24-second shot clock violation near the end but even then the intent was right,” he added.
“We haven’t controlled games as well as we could have done this season and we know that.
“But we have a clear idea of what we want to achieve in those winning positions and I’d like to think last weekend’s win will give us the confidence to stick to our principles.”
A limited number of tickets remain for Friday’s BBL Championship clash against Sheffield (7.30pm tip). Visit the box office for more details.