Wednesday, 5th December, 2012
Worcester Wolves v Newcastle Eagles
Saturday 8 December 2012
Worcester University (19:00)
Sherrad Prezzie-Blue (pictured) makes his long awaited return to Worcester University on Saturday evening as the home-town Wolves host BBL champions Newcastle Eagles.
The 26-year-old missed the opening stages of the season, but coach Paul James is delighted to have him back: “Clearly having Prezzie-Blue back at the point running the team is going to help us improve as a unit in more ways than one. Come the New Year, people are going to see a very different Wolves team!!”
Wolves go into the game in fifth place in the BBL Championship having split their first 14 games, while Eagles are currently second in the table with a 10-1 record.
It will be the third meeting of the season between the clubs, with Eagles winning 81-73 at Sport Central in the BBL Championship in September and then repeating the trick in the BBL Cup with a 107-85 victory.
With those two defeats in mind, James knows his team will need an improved performance on Saturday night: “We have not played well against them this season and need to improve in all areas and at the very least try to compete against them for 40 minutes. They have dominated us in the two games we have played, which is something we want to put right.
“The Eagles are one of the toughest teams to play in the league, and again this season they have shown their superiority and have made it through to the first final of the season, the BBL Cup final.
“They play hard at both ends of the floor and can overwhelm you at times if you allow them. Joe Chapman and Charles Smith have been and still are their key players, but I actually think in Damon Huffman they one of the best point guards in the league this season. When he really finds his feet he’s going to be a real handful for teams to deal with.”
Wolves’ small forward Alex Owumi is enjoying his time with the Wolves, and is looking forward to play with Prezzie-Blue: “It’s good here, and apart from the weather, I’m enjoying it. It’s great to have Prezzie back and we’ve got a week to get him acclimated to the plays as it’s a completely different team to last year. We play good ‘ball in spurts, and the coach is still working on the rotation. We’ve probably lost too many to win the league now, but the way the play-off are we can win something. We need to play well for the rest of the regular season and make sure we go into them in good form. Everything’s up for grabs in April.”
Owumi knows that his side face a difficult test on Saturday evening: “It’ll be a tough one, they’ve got some good players and run good sets. We played well the first time against them but some of the bigs got in foul trouble, and we made a lot of mistakes in the second game against them. So we need to focus, and with another shooter on the floor that should help us spread things.”
The Wolves went down to an 87-65 loss at UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders on Sunday, and both Owumi and James were disappointed with the defeat: “We put together three good quarters but got out of rhythm in the fourth period with too many turnovers down the stretch” said Owumi.
“It was a good effort from our top four players, and we can take a lot of positives from it that will help us out in the future.”
“I thought we played really well for 34 minutes of the game and let ourselves down in the last six minutes” said James.
With his side also in action at UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders on Sunday, Eagles’ guard Joe Chapman is looking forward to the weekend’s action: “It’s good to have a double-header, we like to keep playing with a rhythm. Sherrad Prezzie-Blue is back, and they were one of the favourites to win the league with him. They’ll be much tougher with him, and I imagine he’ll be my assignment to guard. I’m looking forward to that, we’re good friends and it’s great to play against him.”
Eagles’ player-coach Fabulous Flournoy believes that the return of Prezzie-Blue will change the way Wolves play: “We have played Wolves twice already, both times at home. They have a lot of size with Stanley Ocitti, Arnas Kazlauskas and Arturas Masiulis in particular, but in reality now that Sherrad Prezzie-Blue is available those games will have little impact on the way we approach this one. Owumi will now be able to play his natural position and we are expecting a very tough test.
“We have to rebound the ball well and play with energy and a commitment to defence.”