A brutal nine days ended in a fourth consecutive defeat for the Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles down in Sheffield yesterday afternoon. It was the perfect start to life in the brand-new Canon Medical Arena for The Sharks as they demolished a lack-lustre Eagles side.
The Eagles had made their shortest travel of the season hoping to spoil the Sheffield party and get their own season back on track. It was never to be though as in virtually every aspect of the game Head Coach Marc Steutel’s much-vaunted new roster were put to the sword.
Sheffield were efficient on offence moving the ball well, they were tenacious on defence giving the Eagles virtually nothing throughout and thoroughly deserved to celebrate the opening of their new home in some style.
For Steutel and his players it’s going to be some much needed rest and recuperation after having a lot of early season hope and anticipation wiped out in dramatic style. That said it is still early days in the campaign and there’s a lot of talent in this Newcastle outfit.
Talent though that has to be nurtured, worked at and with and must show the reasons why Steutel and the Front Office recruited this roster for this British Basketball League season.
The optimism that swept through the Club after an explosive pre-season and two wins from two in their opening league games has now been replaced with disappointment that has to be tempered and questions that need to be asked.
Their three-guard combo of Rickey McGill, Jordan Johnson and Larry Austin Jr. just never got going from the first tip although Austin Jr. did get some late baskets to be the second Eagles player to make double figures.
The first had been veteran Captain Darius Defoe who for much of the game looked like the only Newcastle player that could turn a tide that had pretty much drowned them in a first half where they never came to terms with the Sharks or their game plan.
They were outrebounded and outmuscled inside the paint as well as Sheffield ran riot getting scoring contributions right across the board from virtually all their roster including some big performances from the bench players. Newcastle simply could not cope.
The Eagles were nine down after the first period and then lost the second by even more to go into the locker room at half-time trailing by 45 – 21. At that stage they were shooting at a mere 23% having made only 9 of 29 shot attempts.
A big second half was needed and in the early going there were some encouraging signs but a mid-quarter burst by Sheffield of seven more unanswered points stopped any thoughts of a miracle Eagles comeback.
The Eagles did avoid the ignominy of being swept in all four quarters by tying the final period but by then Sheffield were in cruise mode as they turned their attentions to celebrations rather than the scoreboard.
Newcastle had never lost by 30+ points in Sheffield at whatever venue the Sharks used until they arrived at there new home. The Eagles shooting woes continued in the second twenty minutes and whilst statistics can often lie they didn’t on this occasion.
In the aptly named Canon Medical Arena perhaps the Eagles had their wounds attended to before they left as they certainly had plenty inflicted upon them.
They need to re-group quickly and use the eight days they have off until their next set of games to search deep into their locker and see what reserves they have before they face another tough run of games.
It starts at runaway League leaders London Lions on Monday 16th October before back-to-back games at home to Leicester Riders on Friday 20th and away at Bristol on Saturday 21st.