Returning favourite Ali Gorrell can’t wait to get back to business when the long overdue Women’s British Basketball League season finally tips off this weekend.
But the Newcastle Eagles guard confessed she’s never gone into a competitive game without a single pre-season clash under her belt.
And Gorrell admitted today’s WBBL Cup tie at Nottingham Wildcats will be a step into the unknown for Chris Bunten’s talented team.
“Everyone knows that these are special circumstances and it’s a situation nobody could have foreseen,” said the US star.
“This weekend will be about blowing away the cobwebs and it could be a little chaotic.
“I won’t really believe that basketball is back until we’re on the road to Nottingham.
“And even then I’ll be waiting for that first whistle to sound.
“For several weeks now we’ve been practicing day-to-day not knowing what might happen.
“Last month we had friendlies cancelled and the new lockdown presents the WBBL with fresh problems.
“But we’ve been working towards this weekend assuming everything will go ahead as planned.
“And Chris has pulled together an extremely adaptable group.
“We’ve had a lot to deal with but we’re ready for the challenge.
“Everyone’s very excited about playing together competitively for the first time.”
Gorrell left Newcastle in 2018 following two stellar seasons with Team Northumbria.
And she returns to Tyneside on the back of two successful campaigns in Sheffield and Germany.
But Gorrell hasn’t thrown up a meaningful shot since March and admitted there were times this year when she wondered when — or if — she’d play again.
“This is the longest time I’ve gone without a competitive basketball game since I was a kid,” she added.
“It’s going to be tough facing the Wildcats after such a long lay-off.
“But I guess everyone’s in the same situation right now.
“I’m very fortunate that I was able to spend a lot of time earlier this year back home in the mountains of Colorado.
“I enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with family and not worry about where my next contract might be.
“It was a time to take stock and refresh my body and mind but when Chris came calling I was ready to get back to basketball.
“To be able to play for a coach I know well, for an organisation I respect and in a city where I feel safe means so much during these uncertain times.
“I’m very lucky to be here and very optimistic about what we can achieve together as a team.”
Gorrell watched Newcastle from afar last season and saw Bunten shape a side capable of challenging for silverware.
The spring lockdown stopped the fast-improving Eagles in their tracks but this season’s roster looks capable of mounting a fresh challenge for silverware.
“I watched quite a few games last season and kept in regular contact with Chris,” added Gorrell.
“It would have been interesting to see just how far that team could have gone if the season had been completed.
“I’m coming into a situation where there’s a lot of talent and I’m very excited to join the group.”
Newcastle Eagles WBBL are in action from 2:30pm and you can watch the live steam from the Wildcats Arena from Nottingham’s YouTube channel.