|January 11, 2020||7:00 pm||BBL Championship||2019-20|
Rookie BBL boss Ian MacLeod has revealed he’s loving every minute of his first big job at the top level of the British game.
But as the 2019-20 campaign reaches it halfway stage, Newcastle Eagles’ interim head coach admits the pressure is on.
And MacLeod revealed a squad struggling for consistency is fully focused on rediscovering the homecourt form that underpinned an era of unprecedented success.
“It’s a big job but of course I’m enjoying it,” said the playcaller who succeeded Fabulous Flournoy last summer.
“There’s a lot more to it than running the BBL team. There’s so much more to focus on beyond performances.
“But that’s what I love about the job. I’m trying to build – or rebuild – form top to bottom on and off the court.
“Coaching Newcastle Eagles comes with a lot of pressure. When we lose a game it’s the end of the world and that’s as a result of the club’s history and how high expectations are.
“But we have to stay focused and look at the bigger picture.
“I’m planning for the long term but in the short term we want to get on a roll, find some rhythm and put a winning streak together.
“And we’ve got to be better at home. We know that.”
Newcastle hit the road again tonight to face an in-form Surrey Scorchers.
But the Eagles have often looked at their best on their travels this season and head south on the back of a stunning road win at Glasgow Rocks.
“The Christmas period told me a lot about this team,” added MacLeod. “We didn’t give a good account of ourselves against Sheffield but the response was exactly what I wanted.
“I have to give massive credit to the guys for turning things around two days later.
“By going to Glasgow and getting the win against a very talented Rocks side they flipped the situation on its head.
“What I have is a group of players with a lot of pride. They just want to play and we can’t wait for this weekend.”
Newcastle are still without Rodney Glasgow Jnr for the Scorchers clash although talks are taking place with FIBA to establish his eligibility now that a British Virgin Islands passport has been secured.
Sade Aded Hussein is back from injury and Mike Morsell is fully fit following a bout of illness last week.
But veteran forward Darius Defoe faces a late fitness test after tweaking a hamstring against Dunfermline Reign.
“Darius apart we’re in pretty good shape,” added MacLeod. “I think we’ve got a lot more to give.”
Even without Defoe Newcastle boast some serious strength inside – not least in the shape of Molten BBL Player of the Month for December CJ Gettys.
“He’s come in and done really well and gelled with the rest of the guys,” added MacLeod.
“It’s not all about CJ though. It’s the team that has helped him to do what he’s been able to do in such a short space of time.
“There’s a real understanding between CJ and his team-mates and it’s fantastic to see.”
Tonight’s clash at Surrey tips off at 7pm with all the action streamed live on the BBL’s YouTube channel.