Marc Steutel has challenged his Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles’ to build again — starting with the Friday night Sky Sports clash against Bristol Flyers.
The club’s seven-game winning streak was abruptly halted by Surrey Scorchers in front of a full house at the Vertu Motors Arena last week.
But Steutel is confident his reshaped roster can rediscover its winning form in time to close out the year in style.
And the Coach Of The Month contender admitted it’s thrilling to be at the centre of one of the most compelling Championship battles in years.
“This is such an exciting league right now and we’ve really played our part in adding to the entertainment,” said Steutel.
“Of course I’d love it if we were winning every week but from a neutral’s perspective it really is impossible to predict what might happen next.
“Bristol followed up a narrow loss against Caledonia last weekend with a close-fought win against Sheffield 48 hours later.
“London have lost another game this week and of course the Scorchers came up here and snatched a win.
“It’s nothing but positive for the league as a whole but we have to focus on our own journey.
“The next stop is the Flyers — a team we’ve played twice already this season and a side we know we can beat.
“There should be no surprises tonight. They’ve brought in CJ Jackson to bolster their ranks but we’ll be ready for them.
“We won seven games in a row before the Surrey loss and it’s time to start all over again.”
Steutel has had a week to reflect on a frustrating defeat against the Scorchers and knows where Newcastle need to improve.
“There was lots to like about some of what I saw last week and we maintained our intensity throughout,” he added.
“But it’s clear that there’s room for improvement when it comes to rebounding and finishing the chances we create.
“This team is still learning how to finish games when we’re in a tight spot. You can’t open up a four-point lead at home with two-and-a-half minutes to play and then lose the game.
“We missed a few free throws and Surrey hit theirs so we’ve talked about being more clinical and defending the three-point line better.
“We need to be back to our best against a very challenging Bristol team but I have full confidence in this group and their ability to respond.”
Steutel relishes his match-ups against Flyers’ playcaller Andreas Kapoulas and another sell-out crowd on Tyneside can expect a fascinating tactical battle tonight.
The two friends and rivals have claimed one victory apiece this season following two full throttle clashes in Bristol.
And Steutel added: “Flyers have had their challenges with injuries this season but they’re one of the most dangerous teams in the league.
“We will have to be the best version of ourselves if we want to move to 2-1 in this season’s series but Bristol won’t want to slip up.
“This league is exceptionally competitive and I suspect the TV game will only underline that level of competition.”
The game tips off at 7.45pm with remaining tickets available from the box office.